The 2016 Ram 2500 is a top pick for a heavy-duty truck thanks to its refined interior, forgiving ride and tremendous towing and hauling capabilities.
Availability of the 5.7-liter V8 fueled by compressed natural gas has been expanded to include regular cab and crew cab/rear-wheel-drive configurations. The top-tier Laramie Limited trim gets a revised exterior.Read more
Monumental torque with diesel and automatic powertrain; high-quality cabin; Mega Cab's roomy rear seat; highly off-road-capable Power Wagon version; quiet, comfortable ride.
If you're looking for a pickup and find that regular light-duty 1500-series trucks can't meet your towing or payload requirements, it's time to step up to a heavy-duty workhorse from Ram. Like the smaller Ram 1500, the 2016 Ram 2500 is available in several different configurations involving cabin, powertrain and box length choices. But the difference between the two is in the 2500's superior towing and hauling abilities.
When properly configured, the heavy-duty 2500 can tow up to 17,980 pounds and carry 3,990 pounds in the bed.
There are few competitors in this segment, but none enjoy one of the Ram's best features: a coil spring rear suspension. Whether you're towing or driving around with the bed empty, the coil spring provides a more compliant ride compared to the leaf spring setup used by its rivals. Note that if you are also considering the Ram 3500, that even more capable machine uses traditional leaf springs in the rear.
Subtlety is not part of the 2016 Ram 2500's repertoire.
Competition is limited to the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD (and its GMC Sierra counterpart) and the Ford F-250. All boast similar tow ratings, although the Ram earns a slight advantage thanks to a third engine choice, a 6.4-liter V8 that slots between the 5.7-liter V8 and turbodiesel 3.0-liter six-cylinder. The Ram also gets a nod for its best-in-class interior. More than just utilitarian, the 2500's interior is plush and inviting. It makes the truck eminently livable outside of work duty, and the comparatively supple ride only enhances that quality. Its "A" rating reflects its top standing in this class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup is available in three cab styles: two-door regular cab, four-door crew cab and a four-door jumbo crew cab ("Mega Cab"). The regular cab comes with an 8-foot bed only, while the crew cab has either the long bed or a 6-foot-4 short bed. The Mega Cab rides on the same wheelbase as the crew-cab long bed, but it combines an even bigger cabin with the short bed.
The standard Ram 2500 is available in seven trims. The Tradesman and SLT are available on all three cabs, while the Big Horn/Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited versions can only be ordered on the crew and Mega Cabs. An off-road Power Wagon variant (crew cab/short bed only) can be ordered in Tradesman, standard or Laramie forms.
The Tradesman is the most basic Ram 2500 and comes with 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, black grille/bumpers, a locking tailgate, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, a tilt-only steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with a USB port and an auxiliary audio input. Vinyl upholstery and flooring are standard, but a cloth bench seat is a no-cost option. Power windows and locks (including the locking tailgate) are standard on crew-cab models, as are power heated mirrors, while regular cabs have manual controls and non-heated mirrors by default. Available for the Tradesman and geared toward commercial users is "Work Grade" heavy-duty vinyl upholstery.
The SLT adds chrome exterior trim, 18-inch steel wheels, an integrated trailer brake controller, power heated mirrors, a power sliding rear window (manual on regular cab), keyless entry, an overhead console, cloth upholstery, carpeted floors, full power accessories, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen interface and satellite radio.
The Big Horn (Lone Star for shoppers in Texas) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, chrome grille slats, foglights, remote ignition, a 115-volt power outlet, a 10-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), premium cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.
The four-wheel-drive crew cab gets a unique Outdoorsman trim, which is similar to the Big Horn but adds tow hooks, a transfer case skid plate, a two-tone exterior (with black lower body cladding), fender flares, a body-color grille frame, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors with puddle lights and rubber floor mats. This package also includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with satellite radio and an SD card slot, an upgraded instrument cluster with a 7-inch color driver information center, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Uconnect Access, a subscription-based smartphone app that provides WiFi, voice-to-text messaging and emergency assistance.
The Laramie builds off the Big Horn/Lone Star and adds two-tone paint, more chrome trim (including the bumpers), projector headlights, LED taillights, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, a six-way power front passenger seat (with power lumbar), heated and ventilated front bucket seats, a heated steering wheel and a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system. It also adds the exterior mirrors and infotainment system from the Outdoorsman. The limited-slip differential is dropped as standard equipment, but is available as an option.
The Laramie Longhorn adds to the Laramie's substantial features list by including a chrome mesh grille, cream-colored bumpers, running boards, a spray-in bedliner, remote ignition, a full center console, upgraded leather upholstery, wood interior and steering wheel trim, power-adjustable pedals (with memory settings), heated rear seats, a navigation system and HD radio.
The available RamBox cargo management system is an innovative solution for both work and play.
The Laramie Limited trim adds monotone paint, color-keyed bumpers, 20-inch wheels, additional chrome exterior trim, automatic high-beam headlight control, automatic wipers, the RamBox cargo management system (includes bedside storage compartments, an adjustable bed divider and tie-downs), keyless entry and ignition and special black leather upholstery.
Finally, the off-road-themed Power Wagon (available only in crew-cab 4WD with the short bed and 6.4-liter V8) features unique 17-inch wheels, tow hooks, skid plates, all-terrain tires, a manual transfer case, a 4.10 axle ratio with electronically locking differentials, hill descent control, a power front winch and a front antiroll bar that can be disconnected electronically to improve wheel articulation off-road. The Power Wagon's three trim levels (Tradesman, standard and Laramie) approximate those of the regular truck, with the standard trim offering similar features to the SLT.
Many of the upper trims' features are available on lower trim levels as options. Other option highlights include a load-leveling rear air suspension, a cargo-view camera, fifth-wheel trailer preparation, off-road tires, a CD player and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on most versions of the 2016 Ram 2500 is a 5.7-liter V8 gasoline engine that produces 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The 5.7 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A modified version of this engine that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) is available, producing identical power figures to the gasoline-fed version.
The 2500 is available with either rear-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive, except the Tradesman and all versions of the Power Wagon, which are available in 4WD form only. Tradesman and Power Wagon models feature a manually engaged transfer case for the 4WD system; an electronic transfer case is optional on the Tradesman and standard on non-Power Wagon Rams.
There are two optional engines for the 2500: a 6.4-liter V8 and a turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel-fueled inline six-cylinder. The 6.4-liter produces 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque and is backed by a six-speed automatic. The turbodiesel produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque when matched with the available six-speed manual transmission, or 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque with a beefed-up six-speed automatic.
In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Ram 2500 crew cab with the 6.4-liter V8 went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. Equipped with the 6.7-liter turbodiesel, another 4WD crew cab accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.
Depending on body style and rear axle ratio, the Ram 2500 is rated to tow up to 13,890 pounds with the 5.7-liter V8 (the CNG version tows up to 12,520 pounds), 16,320 pounds with the 6.4-liter V8, 16,890 for the manual-equipped diesel and 17,980 with the automatic and diesel engine. (Ram stipulates that any trailer over 17,000 pounds requires a fifth-wheel hitch.)Properly equipped, the maximum payload for the 5.7-liter is 3,060 pounds (2,350 pounds for CNG), rising to 3,990 pounds for the 6.4-liter engine but falling back to 3,160 pounds for the diesel.
Standard safety equipment for the 2016 Ram 2500 includes antilock disc brakes, front-seat and side curtain airbags, stability and traction control and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Power-adjustable pedals are available on all models except the Tradesman. A rearview camera is available across the lineup.
In Edmunds testing, various versions of the Ram 2500 came to a stop from 60 mph in 136 to 144 feet, depending on equipment. This is average for the segment.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Ram 2500 offers the nicest interior in the heavy-duty full-size pickup kingdom. On higher trim levels, soft-touch materials and tasteful stitching are abundant throughout the cabin, while the plush seats and metallic accents transform this work truck and are almost too nice for work truck status.
Is there such a thing as a heavy-duty luxury truck? That's how fancier versions of the Ram 2500 feel.
As is typical in full-size trucks, there's plenty of room for passengers of all sizes; however, if you make regular use of the rear seats (and don't need a long cargo bed), you'll find that the Mega Cab is particularly accommodating thanks to expanded legroom and reclining seatbacks. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes. The unique RamBox feature places a pair of lockable compartments over the rear fenders adjacent to the truck bed.
Cabin controls are within easy reach and user-friendly, especially in trucks with the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen interface. With large, logically located virtual buttons, reasonably quick response times and ample functionality for smartphone users, this is one of the best executions of a touchscreen in any vehicle. When equipped with the optional cargo-view and rearview back-up cameras, the cargo camera displays on the 8.4-inch screen, while the conventional back-up camera displays on a smaller screen in the rearview mirror. It's nice to have both cameras onboard, but in practice, it can be hard to see the back-up camera display.
Even though the 2016 Ram 2500 is built for serious towing and hauling jobs, it's fairly civilized in everyday driving, and wind and tire noise are nicely suppressed. The coil spring rear suspension makes the heavy-duty Ram's ride smoother and more comfortable than you might expect. Mind you, there's no getting around a firm ride quality in a truck built to tow and haul this much, but that suspension certainly makes the ride less bumpy and skittish. The Power Wagon feels stiffer on pavement, but its modified front suspension, hill descent control, electronically disconnecting sway bar and locking differentials significantly increase off-road performance.
No one will complain that the "RAM" lettering on the 2500's tailgate is too small.
All three of the Ram's engines provide solid performance, but if you're regularly towing and hauling very heavy loads, there's no doubt that the turbodiesel engine paired with the automatic transmission packs the biggest punch. The diesel does emit a signature diesel growl when accelerating, but it quiets down at cruising speeds.