With new spy photos of what appears to be a refreshed 2023 Ram 2500/3500 HD truck hitting the internet, it is a good time to consider what to expect. New engines? Transmissions? Here’s what we know.
The latest generation of Ram 2500/3500 HD trucks was revealed all the way back in 2019. Yeah, remember that time before Covid-19? This new Ram HD was the first to cross the 1,000 pound-feet of torque threshold, and the new interior as well as exterior styling really caught people’s attention.
Through the last few years, Ram has made minor tweaks to the lineup with special editions, upgrades to the vaunted Power Wagon and an increase of towing capacity to more than 37,000 pounds. However, with the truck now entering its fourth year on the market, it is time for a larger refresh keeping with the 7-year launch cycle with a mid-cycle refresh in the middle.
As of today, we simply don’t know a lot about what to expect, but we do know a few things.
First, the expectation is Ram will add a 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel to the product mix to better compete with the Ford F-250 Tremor. Now, Ford has positioned the Tremor as a Power Wagon competitor, but that’s not exactly accurate. The Tremor has more payload and offers a diesel engine, where the purpose-built Power Wagon does not.
It makes sense then for the Rebel to enter the market as a true Tremor competitor. This Rebel would be cheaper than the Power Wagon while offering some of the same off-road gear, unique off-road inspired styling on the exterior and interior.
There is also an expectation the new Ram 2500/3500 HD trucks will feature a new digital driver’s display while keeping the massive 12.3-inch vertical infotainment screen in the dash. This digital driver’s display will likely be customizable and available on all trims except for the work truck Tradesman trim (due to keeping costs down for work trucks). The display would make the truck more competitive with others who are now offering a digital display and likely will make its way into a refreshed 2023 Ram 1500 as well.
Another tech feature we expect to see is with the towing mirrors and more towing technology overall. The tow mirrors are expected to gain some additional functions like LED puddle lights and more spotlights options like forward facing to help on the farm/ranch at night. This would be similar to Ford’s Zone Lighting feature which allows you to turn on perimeter lights for different sections of the truck (front, rear, left/right side) from an app on your phone or through the Uconnect 5 infotainment system.
As far as other towing technology, except to see the addition of more camera views and enhancements to the towing setup screen to specify the trailer information. We might also see more semi-autonomous features like hands-free trailer back-up assist. This is on top of the latest update for the 2022 model year with a digital rearview camera and a remote camera to allow you to see behind the trailer. There is also talk of adopting GM’s “invisible” trailer feature, which basically makes the trailer look invisible on infotainment screen. It is a pretty slick trick.
What about the engines and transmissions? There has long been a rumor about Ram HD trucks getting an Allison transmission that GM uses on their HD trucks. That’s still a possibility for sure. However, Ram has an ongoing relationship with ZF and uses its transmissions throughout the Ram lineup. There are currently aftermarket options for putting an Allison transmission with a Cummins diesel, though, and it will be interesting to see which way Ram goes with the refreshed truck. Do they just leave it alone? Do they make the change now or wait until say 2027 when the next generation of Ram trucks will come out? My guess is they will wait until the next generation before doing a big change like the Allison, but Ram is fairly aggressive with making changes.
Another interesting tidbit for future Ram HD trucks is the possible introduction of a hydrogen powerplant. As part of the Stellantis’ Dare Forward 2030 presentation, which included a mention of Ram 1500 battery electric truck, there was a mention of a hydrogen powered HD truck. While battery-electric trucks are just starting to roll out to consumers, concerns over towing abilities and charging times are keeping the excitement muted among most truck fans. That is to say, these BEV trucks simply can’t do the job nearly as well as an internal combustion engine vehicle. However, hydrogen is an interesting alternative.
With a fuel cell, like I experienced with Toyota’s hydrogen semi, you get the clean air benefits of no tailpipe emissions plus you get a fueling time similar to a diesel engine. Plus, you get all the extra torque provided by the electric motors allowing you to pull off the line more smoothly and haul over grades more easily. The challenge, with hydrogen, has been the lack of infrastructure in the U.S.
While a hydrogen Ram 2500/3500 HD is a likely not to appear for the 2023 model year, it does lead one to wonder if Ram will bother to update its internal-combustion engines with the wholly different hydrogen powerplant on the horizon. Many companies have already announced they are done improving internal-combustion engines and instead are focusing their efforts on battery technology. Could Stellantis, the global parent company of Ram, follow suit? It’s likely with global emissions standards pushing them towards this future.
Finally, what about the other stuff like styling? Similar to most brands, expect Ram to offer a new front-end style with different grilles and lights as well as minor changes to the interior.
Also, you can expect some special edition models to be discontinued and then reintroduced in future years to generate interest in the HD trucks as time goes on.
Also, expect the higher trim level trucks to get much fancier while the work truck trucks will largely go unchanged.
While a new truck sound exciting, don’t expect to see massive changes for the 2023 Ram 2500/3500 HD trucks. There will likely be one or two big changes for the headlines with a host of small changes.
The big question is really going to be about how far will Ram go with this refresh to capture more market share now. Or will it hold back some features with the inventory difficulties everyone is facing? Really, why unleash a bunch of new features to get consumers excited while you simply can’t build the trucks in the first place?