Loaded down with 2,480 lbs of payload, I climb into the regular cab 2019 Ram 2500 HD Tradesman and put the new truck into gear rousing the 6.7L Cummins from its idling slumber. East bound and down with cruise set to 70 MPH, the new truck impresses in several ways.
On the Road
Putting the bare-bones Tradesman on the highway, it was immediately surprising how much quieter this truck is versus prior models. Ram has installed new sound deadening glass for the windshield and first-row of glass as well as redesigned the door plus added Active Tuned Mass Dampers on the frame. All of these items work in unison to create a whisper-quiet cabin. It is a bit startling at first.
Also, a bit startling is how powerful the truck feels with the 6.7L Cummins and how effortlessly it shifts through the gears. There is no gear hunting nor is there ever a sense of needing more power. In fact, on one occasion, I had to put the pedal down to avoid traffic and it felt like the bed was empty rather than having more than 2,000 lbs of 6×6 beams.
During the day, I got to swap driving with fellow automotive journalist Nicole Wakelin who hasn’t towed or driven HD trucks as much as I have. This provided for some great feedback with her remarking how quickly she got the hang of it and how easy the new Ram 2500 HD was to drive. Instead of the harder ride quality often attributed to HD trucks due to their frame, it literally felt like a half-ton pickup’s ride quality. This is due in part to the now 98.5 percent of high-strength steels used in the frame, a new aluminum hood and the aforementioned powertrain changes allowing for 143 lbs of weight loss.
Is it as good as the new 2019 Ram 1500 ride quality? Nope, but it is markedly better.
Inside the Cabin
The Tradesman model is the bare bones trim among Ram HD trucks and while it lacks the big 12″ screen of the luxury models, it is still well equipped for the work customer.
For starters, the bench seat has storage for 3 cups, another storage bin on top of it and more storage on the floor along with multiple USB connectors for charging and cruise control buttons easily located on the steering wheel.
It also comes with a 5.0 radio screen with standard Bluetooth for routing phone calls through the trucks base 4-speaker system (6 speakers for extended and crew cab models).
There is also additional storage behind the front seats and we were able to fit our bags and camera gear with no problem.
The only negative to the interior is the placement of the USB connectors which can be a bit tricky to get to especially when in motion.
Starting with the exterior, the new Ram HD trucks continue the big, brawny look they first introduced 1994. It literally has the feeling of looking at a semi truck and Ram even expanded on this look by widening the grille to 39 inches and 1.5″ taller. Incredibly, even making this larger, they were able to reduce the drag co-efficient down to .409 – an 8 percent improvement over the existing model. A new bumper and front clip also helped reduce the drag.
Other notable changes may catch people’s eyes like moving the mast antenna into the shark fin, color-matched plastic sensors (plastic tends to not freeze as much as metal), new headlight design with upgraded LED lights vs the prior generation trucks and a Tradesman specific wheels, bumper and grille.
Finally, our test model had the Level 2 Equipment Group ($995) offering notable upgrades like heated exterior mirrors, active noise canceling system, 4-way adjustable head rests, remote keyless entry (grab the door handle and go) and rear sliding window.
The last big improvements, and arguably the most important, are for the powertrain with three engine options: a 6.7L High Output Cummins Diesel, 6.7L Cummins Diesel, 6.4L V8 Hemi. The high output Cummins has drawn the most attention with its 1,000 lbs-ft of torque (400 HP) claim thanks to Ram and Cummins working together to drop 60 lbs through re-examining various engine components:
- Cast-iron cylinder head
- Compacted graphite iron block
- Exhaust valves and springs
- Rocker arms
- Lighter and stronger pistons
- Low-friction rings
- Connecting rods
They also created a new exhaust manifold to mount the improved variable-geometry turbocharger with lamented heated shields and improved the boost pressure up to 33 psi.
It comes with a 28 gallon fuel tank as well.
The second Cummins engine produces 370 HP and 850 lb-ft of torque.
Finally, the gasoline-powered 6.4L V8 Hemi (base engine) produces 410 HP and 429 lb-ft of torque with a larger 32 gallon fuel tank.
These engines are mated to a variety of new transmission options. The 6.7L High Output Cummins gets mated to a new Aisin AS69RC 6-speed automatic transmission with a new transmission controller and double the memory. This allows it to shift faster and more precisely than prior models.
Next the 6.7L Cummins gets equipped to an upgraded version of the 68RFE six-speed automatic with improved shifting thanks to a new variable-force solenoid controls for the torque-converter clutch.
Finally, the gas engine gets an 8-speed 8HP75 automatic transmission operated by the rotary e-shift dial.
All told, the new 2019 Ram 2500 HD Tradesman provides a smooth ride, plenty of power and a reasonable starting price of $34,845 with Keyless Go, 5″ radio and Bluetooth now standard equipment. Adding the Cummins boosts the price up $9,100 and our truck was priced out to a total of $51,010.
With the Cummins, we were rated to tow 19,200 lbs with a 3.73 rear axle and carry 2,680 lbs of payload. Not bad at all.
While your needs for a work truck will vary as will your budget, I think Ram hit a home run with this HD truck and expect to see them increase their market share in the years to come.