Mountain Wheels: Ungodly huge Ram 2500 diesel gives new meaning to ‘big pickup’ |

Mountain Wheels: Ungodly huge Ram 2500 diesel gives new meaning to ‘big pickup’

The 2018 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Laramie Limited has surprisingly good handling on mountain roads despite its enormous size.
Courtesy 2017 FCA US LLC

At various times during a week with the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty, I found myself thinking that it just wasn’t big enough.

This was of course crazy, as the enormously full-sized, diesel-powered goliath is already a high-riding, totally imposing monster, more so with the 8-foot-long box and the added height and articulation of the 4×4 setup — making even its optional 20-inch wheels look small, by comparison.

How big is the Ram 2500, in this configuration? So big that a full-sized inflatable stand-up paddleboard fits comfortably in the pre-lined, LED-lit bed — and anyone who clambers aboard to mess with it looks like they’re standing in a deeply lined tennis court, with the bed rails coming up to my chest when I stood next to it.

Climbing aboard the 77.6-inch-high truck is a technical feat, helped a little by a set of body-colored running boards. It feels like you sit about 4 feet above road level, so the steering wheel, an A-pillar grab handle and a big leap are required. Getting out also involves a 2-foot drop from the running board to the pavement.

In the case of the new and ultra-fancy Limited Tungsten edition I got to drive — a $57,895 truck stickering for a hefty $76,400, though that includes the optional 6.7-liter Cummins diesel ($8,700) and a full air suspension system ($1,595) — you get bits of leather everywhere, including those grab handles.

There are also very impressive carpet-infused floor mats, scroll-y stitching and even hand-tooled-looking cargo pouches on the rear seatbacks. The cumulative effect, the top of an eight trim-level food chain, certainly puts the Ram 2500 in equal King Ranch territory. The orange dome lights on the roof also tell you you’ve moved into mega-truck land.

While I still see a surprising number of heavy-duty trucks of this ilk as oversized passenger vehicles (the massive rear seat, which also offers 61 cubic feet of storage, makes that totally plausible), the real story here is the Ram’s towing capability. In my setup, equipped with that inline-six turbodiesel and a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission, you’d be able to haul 16,750 pounds, with other models capable of toting nearly 18,000 pounds.

The Cummins is a monster, clattering like a diesel-powered Caterpillar earthmover on startup, but if you’re hauling that much trailer, the power is pretty daunting. Depending on the transmission, you can generate as much as 370 horsepower and torque is rated between 800 and 900 lb.-ft.

That kind of power, mixed with the Ram’s truly massive curb weight and physical breadth (259.4 inches on a 168.9-inch wheelbase), is kind of magical. Starts are a little slow (and full-speed stops also occasionally precarious, so be warned) but unladen acceleration above 65 MPH is like a freaking rocket, sneaky and terrifyingly fast. Despite my horsing around, I was still able to get more than 18 MPG during my drive.

Learning to handle that much real estate doesn’t take as much adjustment as my experience last year with an even broader dually model. Steering is a bit heavy — there’s a lot of wheel and body weight to handle through that broad, glossy-trimmed wheel — but it’s otherwise pretty easy to navigate and keep in lane, and even nimble on a twisting mountain road. Who knew?

Super-wide, silver-capped trailering mirrors do pose a threat of kissing construction signs or mirrors on other full-sized pickups, so beware. Your brain does eventually re-compute and Ram 2500 can be angle parked or even parallel parked with the help of radar proximity beepers and a backup camera.

Ride quality definitely depends on road surface. Around town, Ram was pleasant and the air suspension system ate up ruts and bumps, but on longer stretches of concrete freeway, the overly long truck did a lot of cab-hopping and bobbling. That’s an acquired taste. It’s also a gigantic truck.

Design is as macho and cubic as possible, in keeping with the competition, with a huge power-dome hood — surprisingly resistant to yet another Front Range hail storm — plus a broad, metallic grille and massive projector headlamps. Even the fog lamps look like the headlights on a normal car.

There’s oversized utility and comfort in the cabin, with a leathery, two-stage cargo box in the center console, zillions of storage cubbies and slots and clear view of the ship-sized prow.

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