Ram 3500 Aids Surge to No. 2 Slot in U.S. Sales

August 7, 2019 by
Filed under: Weekly test drives, Autos 

Ram’s 3500, right, and the extended-build of the outgoing Ram, left, boost combined Ram sales past Silverado and second to F-Series.

By John Gilbert
Regular readers of Newcarpicks.com have probably gathered over the years that I love cars of all kinds, and I also like trucks of a reasonably modest size. The difference between “love” and “like” is not insignificant. We also can reiterate that whether dealing with pickups or SUVs, my theory is that anything bigger than big enough is too big.

Cutting back on fossil fuels remains a key as we rumble down the street toward electrification of our vehicles. It never makes good sense to haul around a couple thousand extra pounds and several extra feet of length, and a ton of extra weight — unless you need it. We also bow to public preference, which has caused the top three vehicles in U.S. sales to be full-size pickup trucks, and the next two to be compact crossover SUVs, before we get to the best-selling cars.

The biggest surprise in over a decade is that the traditional 1-2 stature of the Ford F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado has been disrupted, as the Ram has forcefully passed the Chevy with an extreme upsurge and is closer to challenging the Fords. Those sales figures include heavy-duty trucks above and beyond the full-size, so let’s examine two of the biggest, most potent, most capable, and perhaps the best monster.trucks available.

Long bed and 6.4 V8 means Ram 3500 can haul away most of Farmer’s Market products.

One is the Ram 3500, and not “just” the 3500. It’s the Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 Long Box, almost as long as the truck itself, which is about as huge as you can visualize a truck that is still legal to drive on city streets. Power is immense, from its 6.4-liter V8, which has 410 horsepower and 429 foot-pounds of torque, capable of towing 31,210 pounds of trailer, and that is if you don’t use the built-in fifth-wheel deal in the bed. The Ram, equipped with dual-rear wheels (dualies) comes in at $81,190.

Ford F250 Super-Duty lacks Dualies, but its 6.7-liter Diesel can tow mountainous cargo.

The other big boy in this week’s evaluation is the No. 1 target of all pickup makers — the Ford Super-Duty F250, SRW 4×4 Crew Cab Limited Style-Side, without the dual wheels or the longest bed, but with a 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel that runs with almost alarming silence — compared to the diesels we know and love — but carries a big stick. Or several of them. How about 32,000 pounds of sticks, or cement blocks, or anything else you can imagine? This potent turbo-diesel puts out 450 horsepower and an unheard of 935 foot-pounds of torque.

It is the smallest of the Ford Super-Duty family, which rises above the F150 and also includes the F350 and F450. But if you give it enough power, the F250 is plenty. This one is priced at $84,105, with the base price of $80,240 including just about all the luxury stuff Ford could think of.

Always the trouper, I drove both of these monsters around downtown Duluth, Minnesota, where the steep avenues were no match for either of these power plants. Because of the construction that dominates downtown Duluth, I had to circle around a couple of one-way streets, and then I remembered that my prized little Panasonic Lumix pocket camera, with the fantastic Leica lens, had stopped working. It’s about eight years old, and I would estimate that I’ve had about 10,000 photos published out of that little gem’s digital heart. I pulled into a diagonal parking slot right in front of Duluth Camera, making sure to swing wide enough for  my dualies and the Kardashian-like rear wheel housings would clear, and fit tightly between the yellow stripe.

There were no parking meters in sight, so it looked like a free-parking area. I had parked adjacent to a year-old Ram 1500, so I shot a meaningful picture of the two of them together. I was in the store just long enough to find out they no longer do camera repairs, and walked back out to find a parking ticket wedged into may large driver’s door. Closer scrutiny of a small sign at the top of a pole said the block was set up for using a Smartphone to call in your license number and credit card to cover the required expense.  A stealthy and quick parking control monitor had given both Rams parking tickets.

The significance of the old-style Ram is that while the 2019 Ram 1500 won everybody’s Truck of the Year competition for its redesign and sophistication, the company would continue to build and sell the old-style Ram as a bargain truck. Both are selling beyond the most optimistic hopes.

Automotive News, which compiles statistical evidence of everything automotive, shows there were 2,992,382 new cars sold in the first six months of 2019, which is a 9 percent drop from last year’s first half; compared to 6,841,952 light trucks, which includes pickups and SUVs, which represents a 2.1 percent rise — a total of more than twice the number of trucks to cars sold!

Ford’s F-Series retains its No. 1 status with 448,398 sales in the first six months of this year, but that is a tiny decrease of 0.6 percent from a year ago. The Silverado sold 255,463, a 12.1 percent drop, just when the new Ram — with came out about the same time as the renewed Silverado — sold 299,480 units, a whopping 28.2 percent increase.

By vaulting past the Silverado, the Ram moves into a strong, challenging second place to the F-Series. For the last month, F-Series sold 79,426, a slight increase of 0.3 percent  over July of 2018, while the Ram sold 68,098 — representing a quite-astonishing 56.4 percent increase from the same month in 2018. The new Silverado sold 45,455, a decrease of 15 percent from the same month in 2018.

The lure of a home-made ice cream shop was incentive to .parallel park the Ram 3500,k long box, dualies, and all.

For those interested, the top 10 in U.S. vehicle sales are: 1. F-Series, 2. Ram, 3. Silverado, 4. Toyota RAV4, 5. Honda CR-V, 6. Honda Civic, 7. Toyota Camry, 8. Nissan Rogue, 9. Chevrolet Equinox, and 10. Toyota Corolla. The only three cars among the top 10 for the year are the Civic, the Camry and the Corolla. The Rogue, which stood fourth a year ago, ahead of prime rivals RAV4 and CR-V, has dropped 22.5 percent, but still holds fifth.

Truck-folks rule, and if you doubt it, I stopped to get some gas in the Ram, which took some serious maneuvering to avoid knocking over the gas pumps or the building itself, and as I opened the door and stepped with perfect timing to land on the instantly-appearing running board before descending the rest of the way to Earth, a pleasant female voice said, “Nice truck!” A woman refilling her Silverado pickup on the other side of the pumps, has a big truck, but she truly admired that I had a BIG truck.

For those hauling a heavy trailer, or a trailer house, it would seem logical to go up to the huge (huger?) turbo-diesel, a 6.7-liter inline six that climbs to 900 foot-pounds of torque, but there definitely is something to the sound of the 6.4 normally-aspirated V8 that sounds almost Viper-like with its throaty roar. And it takes off and hits 60 in about 6.2 seconds, if you believe Motor Trend. Stability and road-holding are exemplary in the big Ram, which, as they say, drives smaller than it is. The spacious room in the rear seat, with all the leather flaps and trim items that make it almost limousine-like, reinforces the image established by the front bucket seats.

The big Ram 3500’s surprising agility helped when I had to negotiate about 80 miles of single-lane orange-cone maneuvering for Interstate 35 resurfacing while driving to Minneapolis and back. And I showed 16.5 miles per gallon, which, as they say, is not bad for such a large truck.

It is a full crew cab with all of the luxury features that have made the Ram the darling of the pickup segment for 2019, with Laramie’s embossed leather interior, and that iPad-size 12-inch center screen that allows more connectivity functions than you and I could have imagined a couple of years ago. And it has the longest bed in the pickup world, fully sprayed with grippy stuff. The combination of the longest occupant compartment and the longest bed make something like its ParkSense front and rear parking assistance electronics seem somehow mandatory but inadequate. Parking is simple: Just find two parking places end to end and use ‘em both.

The Ram was painted Walnut Brown Metallic, with light mountain brown interior on its premium leather bucket seats.

Ford Super-Duty becomes a light show with LED brightness in all directions.

The Ford Super-Duty is similar in utility and versatility, and helps keep Ford atop the segment for now, because along with the “normal” sized F150, the 250 joins the 350 and 450 among the heavyweights, and also has a new baby brother in the Ranger, which is a modest, medium-size pickup we will be reporting on in a few weeks.

The impressive thing about the 6.7 Turbo-diesel is that Ford is making its own diesel these days, and figured out a way to put the new clean-diesel fuel to good use and make the thing run strong and without the mind-numbing thrum of every other diesel in the truck biz. It has a 6-speed automatic, compared to the Ram 3500’s 8-speed, but the overflowing torque doesn’t seem to betray any shortcomings.

The Super-Duty Ford was painted Silver Spruce, which was a modest silvery-green that was very attractive, and harmonized with the Camelback leather interior. Like the Ram, it had running boards that slide out electrically from the body to meet your feet and at least go halfway toward reducing the pole-vault requirementt otherwise necessary to enter the vehicle.

I must confess that I didn’t get enough miles on the Super-Duty to require refueling, although when it was full it showed 700-some miles available before running out.

Sprayed-on bedliner gives Ford Super-Duty grippy surface, large capacity.

In spacious rear, Ford F250 console has multiple plug-ins.

Both trucks had the gooseneck trailer towing device, surround-view rear camera, keyless entry, and all the connectivity and audio gadgets. If you’re real tall, you could sleep more comfortably in the extra-long Ram bed. If you want to go seriously off the road, you might prefer the Ford Super-Duty, which seems to have more skid-plate protection on the underside. If you like fancy interiors, you’ll have to choose for yourself. If you like powerful audio, both have premium units, with the Ram installing a 17-speaker Harmon Kardon upgrade and a power sunroof, while the F250 Super-Duty has a twin-

Electric running board eases pole-vault-height entry into Ford F250.

panel moonroof, and a 4G WiFi hotspot. Both of them had heated and cooling ventilated seats, and it had a massage feature on the front buckets.

My wife, Joan, found the Ford controls for the seat massagers. I never looked for them on the Ram. It probably had them too. Tough choice, but the Ram is on a sales rampage and could close the gap more as 2019 progresses. I haven’t yet become convinced that a gigantic truck that gets southward of 20 miles per gallon is the ideal vehicle, unless you really need it.

If you’re hauling a house trailer or a large RV, then get into the same mindset you had when choosing a house. Just be aware that your first house may not have had the amount of room of either the Ram 3500 or the Ford Super-Duty.

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