While luxury trucks of all sizes from all makes are growing in popularity, they are particularly prevalent in the heavy-duty segment, where they tow toys worth far more than the truck itself. Want proof? The volume-selling GMC Sierra HD is actually its most expensive version: the Denali, slathered with leather and chock full of convenience features. But the person who buys this 2019 Ram 3500 4×4 Big Horn Regular Cab would say they don’t care about any of that crap. This is a dedicated tool for towing and especially hauling — even more dedicated than the Ram 2500 HD that was also overhauled for 2019. It has a regular cab with a three-person bench and no back seat. It has the longest bed available at 8 feet with the heftiest payload. Packing a standard 6.4-liter 410-horsepower Hemi V8, it can tow as much as 17,490 pounds.
The 3500 is also the only Ram pickup that doesn’t have a coil spring rear suspension. The five-link setup with coils in the 1500 and 2500 are abundantly strong for their respective segments, while providing superior ride and handling to boot, but when you enter 3500 territory, the old-fashioned leaf spring is still required (an auto-leveling rear air suspension that still utilizes the leaf springs is optional, but our truck was not so-equipped).
Remember this when you’re choosing between 2500 and 3500 trucks, because if you don’t need the 3500’s extra capability (more on that later), you’re going to be suffering when the bed isn’t loaded or the tongue isn’t attached to something humongous. The ride is quite simply appalling, crashing over bumps and launching you from your seat into the shoulder belt. The 2500’s is far superior. But of course, anyone who has ever driven a “1-ton” pickup would find such a comment charming. “No kidding,” they’d likely say, “tell us something we don’t know.”
Well, it probably wouldn’t be that the ride settled down substantially when I loaded it with a relatively paltry amount of weight. The 500 pounds of mulch I dropped into the bed was quite obviously a light lift for a truck with a 4,660-pound payload, but I can’t dump river rock into every truck I test. I also didn’t have a 17,000-pound something around to tow. I hereby apologize.
Yet, the point of this heaviest-duty regular-cab pickup was still made. If you owned a number of different vehicles or needed something to keep on a ranch for working purposes only, this is exactly the type of truck to keep on hand. It’s no-nonsense and ready for anything, but you wouldn’t use it for anything but a clear docket of tasks. It’s a meat cleaver, not a Swiss Army knife. Towing the Challenger? Grab the Ram. Need to empty the Washugal River of rocks? Grab the Ram. Need to drive into town with the kids to see “Avengers 9″? Grab whatever else is in the garage — anything else.
There’s an honesty of purpose to this thing that I appreciate, which goes beyond just its body style and capability. After all, this is also a Big Horn, the higher of only two trim levels available as a Regular Cab (the other is the bare bones Tradesman). You can’t get a Laramie, Longhorn or Limited in this bodystyle. Starting at $43,590, the Big Horn includes a rearview camera, a 5-inch touchscreen, two USB ports (regular and USB-C), another charge-only USB port, a six-speaker sound system and the lovely diesel gray cloth upholstery found on our test truck. For that hypothetical dedicated ranch truck, this is more than enough.
However, this particular truck had a worthwhile collection of options, most of which fall into the functional category. There’s a 5th Wheel/Gooseneck Towing prep group ($445), a transfer case skid plate ($95), a spray-in bedliner ($565), black tubular side steps that even tall folks will want to consider ($395), LED bed lighting ($165) and the Premium Lighting Group ($995) that swaps the head-, tail- and foglights for LED units. Even the eloquently named Level 2 Equipment Group at a whopping $4,195 is packed with useful stuff: alloy wheels, a dampened tailgate, power-folding tow mirrors, remote ignition, parking sensors, an eight-way power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals (unlike the 1500, the heavy-duty Rams don’t have a telescoping steering wheel), and then a handful of stuff you won’t regret having on board: heated seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Really, only our truck’s Sport Appearance package ($895) could be deemed truly frivolous.
The grand total is $52,135, which is actually a bit LESS than a pretty similar Ram 1500 4×2 Big Horn Crew Cab I recently had. That could fit three people in its palatial back seat; this could haul a rhinoceros in the bed.
Which brings me back to payload, which is really the reason you’d opt for a Ram 3500 rather than the 2500. You see, the 2500 actually has a slightly greater towing capacity — 17,210 pounds for a 4×4 Regular Cab with the 6.4-liter Hemi versus 17,130 in a comparable 3500. This is due to the 2500’s lower curb weight. Payload is a different story, however, as this particular 3500 boasts the aforementioned 4,660-pound capacity versus a comparable 2500 that can manage “only” 3,680. A thousand pounds makes a big difference (and for $1,295, the 3500’s dually option can jack it up further to a truly nuts 7,280 pounds).
As such, if your tasks will mostly involve towing and don’t want to spend extra for a turbodiesel, you should really stick with the 2500. If, however, you’re cool spending extra on a 3500, then get your saddle ’cause Ram has some horses (and torques) for you. For $9,100, the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six produces 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. For $11,795, the high-output 6.7-liter produces 400 hp and 1,000 pound-feet. Yep, four-digit torque total. Yee hah. With that, a 3500 Regular Cab 4×4 with the single rear wheels can tow 22,220 pounds. Opt for the dually and you get 34,690 pounds, or seven rhinoceroses and a large water buffalo.
What our 3500 Big Horn would look like with the dually rear axle.
To sum all of this up: if hefty payload is the priority, any 3500 is superior to a 2500. If towing is the priority, it’s more complicated. You could get a diesel with this body configuration. You could get a dually with any engine. Or, if your needs are more manageable and would prefer a smoother unladen ride, stick with the 2500 that comes with the same 6.4-liter Hemi V8 as our truck had. It packs 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque, which may seem weak sauce compared to the monsters up there, but don’t worry, it has plenty of guts. Sounds mean, too, in an old-school, rumbling V8 way made all the better by the fact there’s less cab between you and the exhaust.
That’s one more benefit of the regular cab, but here’s another: it’s smaller and therefore easier to park and maneuver in tight spots. At 232 inches in length, the regular cab and its 8-foot box are 6 inches shorter than a Crew Cab with a 6-foot-4-inch box, and 2.4 feet shorter than a Crew Cab with the 8-foot box. Heck, this 3500 is actually shorter than a Ram 1500 Crew Cab, regardless of bed length.
Really, the facts and figures surrounding this thing could go on forever, but that’s kind of the point. Unlike any other vehicle types, heavy-duty trucks are purchased for specific reasons that require a specific set of capabilities. And somewhere a truck buyer will know exactly what he needs, will carefully study the spec spreadsheets, and come to the conclusion that those needs perfectly align with 3500 Regular Cab with a single-wheel rear axle and gas V8.
No matter who that person is, however, he’ll ultimately be getting a very good truck. For as much as I’ve discussed this specific truck’s capabilities, it’s still a 2019 Ram, and as such, is blessed with the same thoughtful and well-crafted cabin, a stronger chassis, improved ride (yes it used to be worse), reduced noise and more precise steering that made navigating my mountain road evaluation route less spooky than expected. If anything, stripping it of a back seat and most of the new-fangled gizmos makes it easier to appreciate the new Ram HD’s underlying goodness.
RAM 3500 Information
– 2019 Ram 3500 Regular Cab Big Horn Review –
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