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Overview (Final Score: A-)
There are heavy-duty trucks and there are heavy-duty pickup powerhouses. The 2500 class of pickups might be HD for the masses, but the 3500 class is the workhorse for the serious-minded towing and hauling set. In that heavy group of big trucks stands the 2017 Ram 3500.
Carrying over virtually unchanged from the 2016 model year, the Ram 3500 continues to be the best-in-class marketing machine for the brand. There are no less than three cab configurations, two bed lengths, two rear axle options, three engines and three transmissions offered for this truck. Trim levels range from the simple Tradesman workhorse to the luxurious limousine-quality Limited.
Towing capacities in the 2017 Ram 3500 range from a surprising 13,910 pounds to a massively jaw-dropping 31,210 pounds. Yet no matter its tow capacity, the Ram 3500 drives smoothly and brakes confidently all of the time, whether loaded or not.
That makes the 2017 Ram 3500 one of the best heavy-duty trucks you can buy and we give it a well-deserved “A” rating for that.
What We Love About the 2017 Ram 3500:
- Excellent powertrain and drivetrain choices
- Solid performance in towing and fuel economy
- Wonderful interior experience no matter the trim level
What We Don’t Love About the 2017 Ram 3500:
- Difficult to gauge safety in this segment
- Base gasoline engine seems near-useless for a truck this big
- Some useful things like bed steps and the like are not available
Performance metrics for a heavy-duty pickup truck are dependent more on muscle and capability than they are on speed or handling. There are three engine options for the Ram 3500 and both rear-wheel and 4-wheel drive can be had along with a single or dual rear axle.
The base engine is a 5.7-liter V8 gasoline engine (aka Hemi) outputting 383 horsepower and 400 foot pounds of torque to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A natural gas version of this engine can be ordered as well. This engine gives the Ram 3500 up to 13,910 pounds of towing capacity when properly equipped.
The next step up is another gasoline-powered powerplant in the 6.4-liter V8 that churns out 410 horses and 429 lb-ft of torque. The 6-speed automatic is still there. Towing is rated at up to 16,370 pounds.
Finally, the big diesel and it special heavy-duty transmission. This can tow up to an astonishing 31,210 pounds when so equipped. The 6.7-liter turbodiesel six produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft with the 6-speed manual transmission, 370 hp and 800 lb-ft with the 6-speed automatic, and 385 horses and 900 foot pounds with the heavy-duty automatic transmission. We drove the latter with a dually rear axle and 4-wheel drive with a Mega Cab and 8-foot bed.
In that setup, we towed a 11,000 pound gooseneck trailer and cargo without issue. The 2017 Ram 3500 barely seemed to notice it was there, and accelerated and operated just as it would without any load at all, with the exception of an improved highway ride and better handling (surprisingly) on dirt roads due to the added weight on the rear axle. The optional factory-installed wide and push-out trailer mirrors, dual rear cameras (one on the tailgate and one on the rear cargo light) were a boon when hitching up as well.
Given its performance with a relatively light load for the truck, we expect that with a trailer twice as heavy, the Ram 3500 would still do very well as a towing machine.
Pricing and Value (9/10)
For those who need a truck with the kind of capabilities that the Ram 3500 offers, the 2017 model is a good choice. Excellent towing, high resale values and a popular design are all reasons to buy the 2017 Ram 3500. For those who do not need a truck this large, the return will drop significantly with the value being negated by over-compensation.
The Ram 3500 is a working truck that is meant to be used to tow and haul things. As an everyday driver, it’s a terrible choice for commuting and will be difficult to park (at best) in most situations. As a machine meant to tow big loads and carry heavy things, there are few in the same league as the 2017 Ram 3500.
Total Score and Competitive Comparison (72/80, 90%)
Competition in the 3500 segment is slim. Theis a popular choice with similar engine options and a lot of muscle, but with a less highway-friendly ride and lower overall towing numbers. Likewise the Chevrolet 3500HD and GMC 3500HD twins are not as good on the highway, but do offer better real-world fuel economy in their gasoline engines.
The 2017 Ram 3500 is the king of workhorse trucks in this heavy-duty segment. The Ram offers good looks, an excellent interior, and superior towing and hauling capabilities along with a smooth ride and smart fuel economy. The powertrain choices can fit most any need in the HD realm as well. This is definitely HD done right.
Read the FULL REVIEW Now to learn about the 2017 Ram 3500’s safety, reliability, fuel economy, interior, exterior, technology and more.