Upgrades to Ram and Ford Trucks
By Howard J. Elmer
Chrysler’s Ram truck brand has been taking some heat from truck buyers (and auto writers like me) for lagging behind Ford and GM in the power and capacity department. So, in a not completely unexpected move, they have released a mid-cycle upgrade of the HD Ram that nicely closes that performance gap.
By Howard J. Elmer
Announced at the recent Chicago Auto Show, Ram HD’s will now offer the following upgrades.
- Cummins 6.7L turbo diesel will now be rated at 800 lb-ft of torque (up from 650 lb-ft)
- Max trailer tow weight rises to 22,700 lb
- Gross combined weight rating is increased to 30,000 lbs
- Cummins will be backed by a five year 160,000km diesel warranty
Changes to the Cummins diesel include a new powertrain control module (PCM) that allows the High-Output 6.7L six-cylinder turbo to reach peak torque at 1,600 rpm and exceed the previous model’s output from 1,200 through 2,800 rpm. While peak horsepower remains the same (350 @ 3,000 rpm), the engine’s new calibration delivers more than 40 additional horsepower at typical highway cruising speeds.
Other improvements include a new higher-rated torque converter and a new crankshaft damper, reducing engine noise and vibration even more.
New Ram Trucks with the up rated 800 lb-ft Cummins will feature a “High Output Cummins” badge on their tailgates.
This towing upgrade is part of a new package called “Max Tow” which features (in the 3500 dually for example) a rear 4.10 gear ratio, new rear-axle pinion, new helical gears, upgraded bearings and a heat-dissipating, finned aluminum differential cover. Also new is engine-mounted oil-to-coolant transmission cooler and upgraded power steering oil cooler. These improvements are what will give the Max Tow package a 30,000 lb GCWR – up from 24,500 lbs. The High Output Cummins-equipped Ram 2500, 3500 HD pickups and the 30,000 GCWR Max Tow package will go on sale in the second quarter 2011.
Also released at the Chicago Show was a Ram truck surprise – the new Tradesman. This value-priced option package is aimed at needs of small business, construction jobsites and commercial fleets – a significant part of the overall pickup truck market.
The Ram Tradesman is based on the Ram 1500 ST trim package and adds useful features such as a standard 5.7 Litre HEMI engine with five-speed automatic transmission. Also included in the package is a standard Class IV trailer hitch with four and seven-pin trailer wire connectors. Tradesman also features heavy-duty engine cooling and a heavy-duty transmission oil cooler. Equipped like this, Tradesman will tow 10,450 lb.
Tradesman is available in both regular cab short-bed (6 ft, 4 in) and long-bed (8 ft) models, with a choice of 4×2 or 4×4. Buyers can choose vinyl or cloth 40/20/40 split bench seats in dark slate and medium greystone, and either carpeted or vinyl flooring. Other standard equipment includes 160-amp alternator, 17-inch steel spare wheel and full-size spare tire, 3.55 rear axle ratio, 700-amp maintenance-free battery, bright chrome grille, block heater, cargo bed lamp, front and rear heavy-duty shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars, halogen headlamps, locking tailgate, rear wheel well liners, rack and pinion steering, rear dome lamp and sentry key theft-deterrent system.
Inside, Tradesman features include air conditioning, a 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, media centre with CD and MP3 player, six speakers, audio jack for mobile devices, automatic headlamps, behind the seat storage, driver and passenger assist handles, instrument panel with tachometer, tilt steering wheel, tinted glass, variable and intermittent windshield wipers.
The Ram Tradesman package is $500 over the MSRP on a Ram Regular Cab ST HEMI. Tradesman will go on sale in the second quarter 2011.
Ford Towing Power
For the second time since the April 2010 release of the latest generation of the Ford Super Duty, the company has announced (Feb 7, 2011) further upgraded towing capacities. The first upgrade, in August of 2010, was a computer remodulation that increased the power output of the 6.7L Power Stroke diesel to 400hp and 800 lb-ft of torque. This latest upgrade though includes a beefed-up frame and hitch which now puts its max tow rating at 17,500 lb.
This new limit represents an increase of more than 9% compared with the Super Duty at launch in April, 2010.