brought along comparable diesel models from Chevy and Ford for side-by-side
tests in hauling 5500 pounds of payload and towing a 13,500-pound trailer.
Drivers could quickly switch between vehicles and cover a short mountain
course to compare pulling power, ride & handling, interior ergonomics
and even such esoteric features as visibility with tow mirrors. With aggressive
but manageable low-end torque, the Dodge matched its best-in-class claims
against all the competitors. A radar speed gun was positioned below the
summit of San Marcos Pass so drivers could record top speed in each vehicle,
and the Ram never lost. Dodge engineers invited the press to try other
tests while towing, such as side-stepping clutch at idle while parked
uphill. The Ford and Chevy often coughed and died but the Dodge recovered
with enough torque to pull up the hill under zero throttle.
The new Cummins “600” engine simplifies life for the heavy-duty
lineup and gives Dodge a strong foundation for an important segment in
its overall truck strategy. The venerable V-10 has been dropped from the
Ram 2500/3500, although you can get it in the 1500 as part of the wicked
500-horsepower SRT-10 package. The base engine in the 2500/3500 is the
345-horsepower Hemi, but 73 percent of all Ram heavy-duty customers spend
the extra $5,760 to get the diesel option. Dodge used to offer a standard
and High Output (HO) diesel engine, and the HO engine was not available
in California. Now the Cummins “600” is the only diesel in
the Dodge lineup and it’s certified for all 50 states.
was always under-represented for us,” says Frank Kelgon, vice president
of the Dodge truck product team. “Our market share and volume went
up but California was stagnant because of the diesel limitations. There’s
now a tremendous opportunity for us in California with the “600”
development of the new Ram “600” diesel is a showcase of technology
that will be found on all future diesel engines as emissions standards
tighten. A Bosch common rail fuel system capable of handling upwards of
23,000psi (around 4000-5000psi at idle) is the hardware, but a very sophisticated
engine management computer makes the fuel-delivery decisions.
controlled fuel injectors and such high pressure in the fuel lines, an
injection strategy can be developed to deliver optimum power and a more
complete combustion to reduce emissions. Instead of pushing one large
spray of fuel into the cylinder on the compression stroke, engineers can
program the computer to send small “pilot” injections before
and after the main injection. By varying the timing and volume of the
pilot injections as well as the main injection, engineers can fine-tune
the engine for various loads and rpm.