Although we usually cover vehicles that spend much of their life off-road, we know that many of you are towing your off-road toys to your favorite backcountry destination. You need strong trucks that cannot only tow well on the highway but also be able to get to your staging area off-road so you can unload your other vehicles for play.
With that in mind, we were excited to receive a brand-new Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab 4x4 dualie pickup equipped with the new Cummins 6.7 inline-six turbodiesel and 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission. The Cummins produces 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque and includes a factory-installed exhaust brake. New this year, like all diesels, to meet stringent federal emissions requirements, the Cummins has new emissions controls. Do the emissions controls hurt performance? We plan on driving this truck for a while to answer that very question.
We can tell you right from the start that the new 6.7 diesel is quiet - so quiet that people think there's a gasser under the hood. We're getting about 11-15 mpg average from a brand-new vehicle. The Cummins doesn't really break in until about 7,000 miles are on the clock, so fuel economy should improve. We also need to tow some heavier loads to break in the diesel. We can always find the right gear with the new six-speed automatic and its two overdrive gears. Although we haven't towed anything heavy yet, we can tell the exhaust brake will be a major help in the mountains we live and tow in. So far, we can report there have been no strange clouds of white smoke or other unnerving things happening with our emissions diesel engine.
The rest of the big Dodge is like others we've tested in the past. The suspension is a four-link (or five-link if you count the Panhard rod) coil-spring front and leaf-spring rear. The solid axles in our truck feature the stock 3.73 gears that are fine for towing the loads we expect. There's a 35-gallon fuel tank for exceptional range. The hydroformed frame is strong - much stronger than what was offered in trucks just a few years ago. Our truck came with a Mopar under-the-rail bedliner and trailer tow mirrors.
Inside, the Ram includes about every comfort option available. There are power adjustable pedals, dual-zone heating and A/C, heated leather power seats, navigation with Sirius satellite radio, a rear DVD entertainment center, and power windows, including a power rear slider. Would we put all these options in an off-road-only truck? No. Would we want them in our highway cruiser that hits the dirt about 10-percent of the time? Yes!
We plan on putting this truck through its paces and reporting on our experiences with it. We may not get to keep it as long as we had the Power Wagon, but we'll have it long enough to see if it runs as well as it promises. Keep reading.