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2012 Ram High-Output Cummins Vs. 2011

Posted in Project Vehicles on July 1, 2012
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The car world is currently experiencing a power war between GM, Ford, and Chrysler with their retro pony cars: Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger. Not to be left out, truck enthusiasts have noticed a power war happening between the same manufacturers and their diesel trucks. The most recent shot across the bow is the new high-output Cummins turbodiesel with 800 lb-ft of torque in the ’12 Ram trucks. We recently drove an ’11 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab with the standard-output Cummins (650 lb-ft) and then jumped into a ’12 model with the same trim level, cab, and automatic transmission but with the new high-output engine for a quick comparison. The ’12 Ram was also optioned with the new Max Tow Package, which includes a 4.10:1 axle ratio and a pair of transmission oil coolers.

Last year’s Cummins-powered Ram 3500 (below) put out 350 hp at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm for a towing capacity of 22,500 pounds with its 3.73:1 gearing. Even though we filled the cab with four people and the bed with all of our son’s belongings, and flat-towed his Baja Bug to college, we were still short of maxing out the ’11 Ram by 19,700 pounds! We probably could’ve moved our entire household (and house!) and still not maxed out this rig! Of course, since this is America, plenty is never enough. So, for 2012, Ram and Cummins have upped the ante.

We’ll tell you right now that had it not been for the change in paint color (Deep Cherry Red Crystal to Sagebrush pearl coat), we could not have told the two trucks apart sitting still—save for the tailgate badge saying “High-Output” on the Sagebrush-colored one. Both had aggressive styling, polished Alcoa wheels, attractive and quiet leather interior, and a Cummins under the hood. Driving both trucks only unearthed one small difference: The high-output truck had a slightly raised cruising rpm (with just a bit more engine hum) due to its lower axle gearing. Well, that and the way the extra torque squeezes you deep into those leather seats when you hit the throttle. Just remember that this extra power is for doing more work, not for racing. It’s not the make-you-scream-like-a-schoolgirl, high-rpm pony car power. It’s a maintaining-speed-uphill and leaving-stoplights-fully-loaded-and-keeping-up-with-traffic kind of power.

While the massive size of a 1-ton dualie doesn’t make the best trail vehicle, the Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 had a quiet cab and a firm but not harsh ride. Just because it has dual rear wheels doesn’t make it a 4WD. Anyone who has driven a dualie knows that dual rear wheels don’t help all that much for traction—they are there mainly for stability and load carrying. We were glad our vehicle had a transfer case and a driven front axle when we got stuck trying to turn around in the snow. By the way, keep in mind that the turning circle is over 47 feet.

The new Rams have a rated tow capacity of 22,750 pounds. Now we don’t know what you need to tow that’s almost half as much as what big rigs tow, but, if you have a giant fifth-wheel trailer loaded down with lead bricks to move, well, then you’ve just found your truck. Read on to find out what else we noticed with the newest soldier in the diesel power war.

The Ram has one the most (if not the most) comfortable interior of any pickup truck. Power everything, navigation, leather, plenty of storage bins, cup holders, and folding rear seats. The high-end Laramie Longhorn trim package comes with embroidered scrollwork on the seats to make the leather resemble hand-tooling. The scrollwork is duplicated with laser-etched metal surfaces (gauge bezels), and the seat pockets have buckles that look silver-plated. If you consider all this a bit over the top, we agree. Still comfy, though.
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