Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
In the 3-way war among Ram, Chevy and Ford, the Ram HD lands squarely mid-pack. With its Cummins diesel the Ram HD offers better tow ratings than the Silverado/Sierra twins, but falls short of Ford’s impressive F-250/350 trucks. When it comes to comfort and luxury, however, it’s hard to best what the Ram line has to offer.
You'll Like The 2017 Ram 3500 If...
With all the power most will ever need for hauling and towing, the 2017 Ram HD pickup — available in 2-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-drive configurations — also affords a wide array of trims and configurations ranging from the basic “don’t-mind-if-it-gets-scratched” work truck to the luxurious “wipe-your-boots-before-you-get-in” Limited.
You May Not Like The 2017 Ram 3500 If...
If you’re a GM or Ford loyalist, making the switch to a truck with a less desirable reliability and resale history might be a leap of faith too far. Those looking for diesel power without the added heft or price might look to the Ram 1500 or Nissan Titan XD.
Changes to the 2017 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD pickups are mostly cosmetic. A new Power Wagon trim celebrates the classic 1979 Macho Power Wagon, while the Ram 2500 4×4 offers a new Off-Road package. The 6.7-liter Hemi V8 is now standard in Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Limited trims.
You might expect something with "Heavy Duty" in the name to be utilitarian, but the 2017 Ram HD pickups are surprisingly polished. If that’s not enough, the higher-end Laramie models are downright luxurious, with leather-lined and climate-controlled seats, a heated steering wheel, high-quality interior materials, and so on. The long and deep center console is massive enough to swallow a larger laptop or multiple tablets; it can even hold a set of hanging files. Reclining rear seats are one of the perks to be had with the Mega Cab, while Crew Cab owners enjoy convenient under-floor storage compartments.
Despite the nice interior, "elegant" isn’t a word we’d use to describe the exterior of the 2017 Ram Heavy Duty trucks. These tough-looking trucks share a basic similarity with the smaller Ram 1500, but are even brawnier. The Ram HD trucks come in three cab configurations — 2-door Regular Cab, 4-door Crew Cab and 4-door Mega Cab — while bed lengths vary between 6 feet, 4 inches and 8 feet, depending on cab style. The rear axle can be configured with two or four rear wheels for maximum capacity. Note that these are enormous, and you should measure your garage carefully.
When it comes to ability, Ram’s heavy-duty 2017 2500/3500 HD pickup trucks have more than enough muscle to back up their bold and rugged appearance. Models equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 can tow up to 13,900 pounds and when equipped with the larger 6.4-liter V8, a class-leading 16,320 pounds. Opt for the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel in the 3500 and a 5th-wheel-equipped model can pull an astounding 31,210 pounds, a figure certified by using SAE J2807 testing criteria (if you’re a truck person you’ll understand). The Ram HD’s unique 5-link, coil-spring rear suspension delivers an impressively smooth and controlled ride, while the various cabs, particularly on the Laramie and Limited trims, are simply some of the nicest, most comfortable and well appointed in the industry.
The 2017 Ram 2500 Tradesman, with a regular cab and standard bed, starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $33,500; add about $500 if you want the 3500 model. You have to move up to the SLT trim to get the 2500 Mega Cab for about $42,600. However, keep clicking options and you’ll find yourself well past $60,000 for a fully loaded Laramie Longhorn. That’s pretty spendy, but it’s in line with competitive models from Chevy, GMC and Ford, which also span the low-$30,000 -to-$60,000-and-above range. Whatever you decide, check out KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price tool to see what others in your area are paying for their heavy-duty pickups. The downside is that the Ram HD trucks don’t have the resale strength of their Ford, Chevy and GMC competition.
The base fleet-manager Tradesman form for the 2017 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD comes pretty sparsely equipped. There’s a 40/20/40-split front bench seat with rear storage, air conditioning, vinyl flooring, cruise control, a driver-information center, automatic on/off headlights, a tilt steering wheel, even manual windows and door locks. The 6-speaker audio system features a USB port for digital music players, and all audio systems feature Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. Safety features include six airbags and a full complement of electronic-stability aids.
We’ll forgo the multiple bed-and-cab pairings available on the 2017 Ram HD, otherwise we’ll be here all day. Instead, note that the Ram HD lineup offers tech-savvy options such as touch-screen navigation, conversational voice recognition, a 10-speaker premium sound system by Alpine, backup sonar proximity sensors, power-folding trailer-tow mirrors and a rearview camera for easier trailer hookups. If you upgrade to the SLT, Outdoorsman, Laramie and Power Wagon models, an integrated trailer brake is also standard equipment.
UCONNECT ACCESSThe Uconnect system is one of the best infotainment interfaces in any car at any price. We love the bright, colorful 8.4-inch touch screen, the excellent voice-recognition software and the large screen icons that make it easy to operate while the vehicle is in motion. CLASS-LEADING POWER AND TOWINGWhether it’s powered by one of two gasoline Hemi engines or the incomparable Cummins turbodiesel, the 2017 Ram HD’s towing prowess is never in question. Properly equipped, the Ram HD can pull up to 15 tons, roughly the equivalent of two full-grown African elephants.
Under the Hood
Standard on the 2017 Ram 2500 and 3500 is a gasoline-powered 5.7-liter Hemi V8, with an upgrade to a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 available. These strong engines are good, but serious haulers and towers should pick one of the Cummins turbodiesel engines. Two versions of the Cummins inline-6 are available in both the 2500 and 3500, one with 660 lb-ft of torque (manual transmission), and another with 800 lb-ft of torque (automatic transmission). An even higher-output version exclusive to the 3500 puts out an incredible 900 lb-ft of torque. Gasoline-powered Ram HD models get only a 6-speed automatic, while the diesel buyers can choose between that or a segment-exclusive 6-speed manual transmission. Diesel models also feature exhaust braking for added stopping power. Two-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive is your choice. 5.7-liter V8 (Ram 2500)383 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm400 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A 6.4-liter V8 (Ram 2500, 3500)410 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm370 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm (Mega Cab only)429 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A 6.7-liter turbocharged diesel inline-6 (Ram 2500, 3500)350 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm (manual)660 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm (manual)370 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm (automatic)800 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm (automatic)385 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm (Ram 3500 only)900 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 rpm (Ram 3500 only)EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
Although the Ram 1500’s capabilities continue to evolve, when it comes to serious payload and towing there is no substitute for the 2017 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD pickup trucks. In the 3-way war among Ram, Chevy and Ford, the Ram HD lands squarely in the middle, offering a higher tow rating than the Silverado/Sierra twins, but falling short of Ford’s impressive F-250/350 trucks. As for torque bragging rights, the big three are really splitting hairs as the two rivals offer only slightly higher output than the Ram’s 900 lb-ft of torque. The Ram HD’s multi-link rear suspension, choice of two powerful Hemi gasoline engines and an available 6-speed manual on diesel models further sets it apart from the heavy-duty pack.