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2019 Ram 3500 HD Max 35,100 Tow – First Drive


2019 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Tradesman Regular Cab Dually

Armed with a big 6.7L Cummins V8, a new Aisin transmission and a new frame, the 2019 Ram 3500 HD can move a maximum of 35,100 lbs. We recently had the chance to hop behind the wheel and see exactly what moving that much weight felt like. In short, it is pretty damn impressive.

Ram flew us out to Las Vegas, NV and then had us drive outside of town for a towing demonstration. One of these rigs was the max tow variety setup with long flat bed with construction equipment and a pallet of blocks. The rig was a regular cab, dually truck with the high output 6.7L Cummins producing 400 HP and 1000 lb-ft of torque.

Before we get into how the towing demonstration went, let’s go through the new changes for 2019 (if you already know this, skim down below).

Styling Changes

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.

Inside, Ram decided to use a carryover cabin and while some may have bemoaned at this, it is literally night and day inside. Essentially, Ram took its award-winning interior from the new Ram 1500 and swapped it into the HD trucks. This is a really smart move and it simply works brilliantly like it did in the 1500. The fact is, if you want the best truck interior on the market, Ram has it.

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 LED projector lights on the top trim with 15 degree swing for turning, new wheels, bumper and grille specific to each grade.

2019 Ram Heavy Duty Tradesman Black optional cloth

New Technology Changes

With the new exterior and interior design, Ram was able to make a host of changes for technology. For example, they were able to incorporate a slew of new cameras to allow for a 360-degree surround-view camera to appear on the infotainment screen.

For higher trims, they also brought over the large 12″ infotainment screen that has gotten tons of acclaim from the 1500 and also incorporated the new SiriusXM 360L for a customized listening experience from the 17-speaker, 750-watt Harman Kardon sound system.

Finally, with towing being such a big part of HD usage, they added a new tire pressure monitoring system for 6 pickup tires, 12 trailer tires with 4 trailer profiles.

2019 Ram Heavy Duty – 6.7-liter I-6 Cummins with 400 hp and 1000 lb.-ft of torque

Upgraded Engines

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
  • Bearings

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.

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.

2019 Ram Heavy Duty – Aisin transmission

New Transmissions

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.

On the Road

The towing demonstration was a downhill 5% grade to the bottom of a canyon with a wide turnaround and then back up the hill. It was about 6 miles of some rather tight turns and roads.

Disengaging the parking brake and shifting the truck in gear, the truck slowly rolled forward under its own power and holding back the momentum with a combination of the transmission, exhaust brake and tow/haul mode.

This allowed us to handle the larger weight by restricting the speed and holding it below 30 MPH. We also used the gear restrictor button on the steering wheel to hold the gear as well.

While we had 35,100 lbs behind us, it never felt like the weight was pushing us forward at a rate of speed to make the drive unsafe. Instead, it was a confident downhill experience.

After turning around and heading back up, we put all 1000 lb-ft of torque to use making it up the hill. This is really where the 35,100 lbs was felt and one of the more impressive things was to see how much power this truck really produces.

At one point, we had a straightaway with a slight grade. Rolling to a stop and then putting our foot to the floor, we were able to achieve 33 MPH at the top of the grade. In comparison, we did the same towing experience with a large RV trailer. With the RV trailer weighing just 14k lbs, we were able to hit 45 MPH and had to slow the truck down with a turn at the end of the road.

Lastly, the noise canceling features of the truck also helped reduce driver fatigue and it was really surprising how quiet the Cummins sounded going up the hill and the exhaust brake going down the hill. In both circumstances, the truck was really quiet.

All in all, the new max towing Ram 3500 HD is quite the rig. Plenty of power, a smooth ride and a quiet cabin should make for sought after truck for commercial operations.

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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