2014 Ram 2500 Dollar-Smart Tow Rig Upgrades
Progression is a double-edged sword in the off-road hobby. If you’re like us, you cut your teeth wheeling your daily driver. As years progressed and the trails you enjoy to attack became increasingly more difficult, you may find your trail toy is no longer the most suitable everyday machine. This is where a tow rig comes into play. We recently sold off a few of our bastard-child 4x4 projects and picked up a Cummins-powered ’14 Ram 2500 4x4.
This four-door pickup will serve as more than just as a trail rig hauler. It’ll be our daily driver, parts store runner, and yes, even grocery getter. Late-model ¾-ton trucks can be optioned as far as your budget will allow from the factory, but sometimes those factory add-ons can be had for much less money and at a higher quality, from the aftermarket. We’re not talking about a fifth-wheel prep group but more along the lines of easy-to-install steps, floor liners, and even bedcovers.
After owning our truck for a few months, we quickly realized what we needed and what we could live without. So, we spent a few hours browsing Summit Racing online for a host of applicable upgrades. In the end, we ordered a handful of quality products, which not only saved us some coin but offered more function to our Ram. Gathered here are the key items we found to make our tow rig a better all-around truck and how they attach to the rig.
The ’14 Ram has a bevy of interior storage bins. Our WeatherTech rear liner spans the entire length of the rear floor and allows us easy access to the under-floor storage bins.
If you use your bed for hauling more than groceries, you’re going to want to protect it. WeatherTech has expanded its portfolio with a line of bedliners the company calls TechLiners. Essentially, the company uses a similar heavy-duty liner material that you get inside your truck and puts it out back. Included with the TechLiner kit is a tailgate guard and drop-in bedliner.
To secure the TechLiner, WeatherTech uses a series of adhesive-backed hook-and-look fasteners. For the tailgate, the liner gets bolted as well.
Just like the interior liners, the TechLiner is formed specifically for your application. So far, we’ve hauled a few loads on the liner, and it seems to be holding up well. The surface offers a touch of grip, so most parts don’t go sliding around. If you’re trying to drag a heavy axle from the back of the truck, we found it will leave a mark, but the TechLiner is easy to clean up.
Long trips typically require us to move some gear to the bed of the truck. To keep prying eyes at bay, and offer a little element protection, we picked up an Access Tonneau Lorado-series soft tonneau cover from Summit Racing (PN AGI-44179). This low-profile cover is designed to attach inside of the bedrails via a series of four bolt-on clamps per side. A small vise or clamp will be needed to initially fit the rails in place if you are doing the job solo.
The roll-up-style tonneau is great for when you have to haul larger items. It even comes with integrated straps so you can quickly secure the cover.
A commercial-grade vinyl is used for the top material and supported with a series of aluminum bows. Access designed the low-profile cover to only stick 1-inch above the bedrails, which makes for a clean look. While we have enjoyed the functionality of the cover, we have found that it will occasionally let water leak in. Don’t get us wrong, they aren’t large puddles, but we’ve had a few boxes come out with soggy bottoms.
Call us old, short, or some other adjective of your choosing, but getting in and out of the new Ram ¾-ton is no small feat. We appreciate the ground clearance, but we’re not rockcrawling with our tow rig. To help make the daily vertical transition easier, we added these 5-inch oval tube Lund steps to our Summit Racing order (PN LND-23984003).
The step support brackets simply attach to the body of the truck. No drilling or modifications to the body are required. The slotted mounts offer slight adjustments of the brackets, which makes assembly extremely easy.
10. While Lund has a large variety of step options, we opted for the polished stainless steel versions of the steps. Although, a little on the bling side, we found the steps are easy to clean and match to look of our truck. Lund equips the steps with a grooved five-inch step pad to make sure you don’t lose your footing getting in or out of the truck. We especially like that the step sticks out from the truck to keep door-slinging parking neighbors away from our sheetmetal.
Like most 3⁄4-ton trucks, the stock treads were well-suited for the street, but not so much for the dirt. We wanted something that was competent on- and off-road, so an all-terrain tire made the most sense. We were able to get our hands on a set of Nitto’s brand-new EXO Grappler AWT tires in a LT275/70R18 size. This all-weather tire is designed as a jack of all trades. So far, we’ve been impressed with the low road noise and grip, but we’re looking to log some serious miles before we hand in our verdict. Keep your eyes peeled for an in-depth review of the EXO Grappler in the May ’15 issue of Four Wheeler.