Normal full-size trucks are plenty capable machines, but sometimes, a light-duty truck is just too light-duty to get the job done. In the extremities of hauling and towing, something better, faster, and stronger is needed. This is where the 3500-series trucks come in, and Ram – no, don't call it a Dodge – is more than happy to oblige. With an astounding six trim levels, three engines, and four transmissions, there's a 2018 Ram 3500 rig to suit the needs of even the most demanding truck buyer.
What's New for 2018
There's a new Limited Tungsten option group for Limited-spec trucks, the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system now has better resolution, rearview cameras are now standard across the board, and there's a new fleet telematics module for better vehicle tracking.
Choosing Your RAM 3500
Call in sick or play hooky from work – it'll take the day to determine what trim, options, and configurations to purchase.
Predictably, there's nothing weak-chested about any of the three engine options. But for those wanting the whole nine yards, the only way to go is with the Cummins 6.7-liter inline-six turbodiesel. There are three different versions of this workhorse, and the one that ends up under the hood is determined by transmission choice. The least potent powertrain is paired with the six-speed manual – the only way to get a stick-shift in any full-size truck from any manufacturer – and makes 350 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed 68RFE automatic gearbox brings with it 370 hp and an impressive 800 lb-ft of torque. Topping it all off is the Aisin-built AS69RC six-speed automatic that boasts 385 hp and a whopping 930 lb-ft of torque.
Pairing the turbodiesel with the Aisin transmission is the only way to unlock the 31,210-pound tow rating (best-in-class, per Ram) and equally impressive 6,580-pound payload rating. This kind of grunt doesn't come cheap, though. Depending on trim, it takes $11,395 to be able to lay claim to those bragging rights.
The other two engines available are of the gas variety, and, as such, can't lay claim to such stump-pulling torque and tow ratings. The larger of the two is a 6.4-liter V8, and is rated at 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. If payload capacity is paramount, the 6.4 is the way to go – its 7,390-pound payload rating is the best within the 3500-series lineup. The 6.4 will also pull a maximum 16,370 pounds. It's standard on all but the low-end Tradesman, SLT, and Big Horn trims, where it's a $500 option.
The least-capable engine is the 5.7-liter V8, which anyone familiar with Ram's family tree will recognize as FCA's ubiquitous Hemi. In this application, it makes 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Towing and payload ratings are 13,910 and 4,080 pounds, respectively. It's regulated to base engine duty on the Tradesman, SLT, and Big Horn.
Three cab styles and two bed lengths are available. The Regular Cab is the traditional two-door pickup, and can be had only with the longer eight-foot bed length. The Crew Cab uses smaller front-hinged rear doors to give off the impression that it's a tidy-sized four-door pickup. Don't fall for it – the 169-inch wheelbase (when paired with the eight-foot bed) speaks to how big this thing is. It can be equipped with either the eight-foot box or the smaller 6'4" box.
If the crew is too cramped in the Crew, the aptly-named Mega Cab is available. With four full-size doors, cabin space is generous, with a healthy 43 inches of rear legroom. The sheer length of it means that it's only available with the 6'4" box.
Probably the most distinctive option of the Ram 3500-series trucks is the available dual rear wheels. They're available for every trim level and cab/bed combination except the Crew cab with the 6'4" box, and cost $1,295. Four-wheel drive is also available for all trims and cab styles, and costs an additional $2,800.
Options available throughout all trims include a 4.10 rear axle ($145), a fifth-wheel hitch rated for either 20,000 or 30,000 pounds ($1,075 or $1,375, respectively), and an auto-level rear suspension ($1,595). LED bed lighting is $165 and clearance lights are $95. A third brake light with integrated cargo camera is $345 and is available on all trims but the Tradesman. A roadside emergency kit is $195, and a Tow Prep Group is $445. The latter brings all the necessary holes and hardware for attaching a fifth-wheel. Two-tone paint is available on most trim levels for $495, as is a $1,095 sunroof.
All starting prices listed below represent the cheapest potential combination of bed, cab, and drivetrain.
At $11,395, the Cummins turbo-diesel is excellent but mighty pricey. We'd stick with the 6.4-liter V8 unless serious towing is a frequent occurrence.