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.
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.
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.