Dodge also made changes up front. Bucket seats with a center console are now optional over the familiar 40/20/40 front seat. More upscale finishes are available, and a new instrument panel features white gauges. The center stack now has enough room for a navigation system and the audio controls are larger and easier to use. New air vents, plenty of storage options, cup holders that do a pretty good job of handling water bottles, redundant controls on a 4-spoke steering wheel and optional adjustable pedals are all welcome touches. The exterior also received a freshening with a new grille, angular headlights, one-piece body-colored fascia with chrome applique and hood with a more pronounced crown effect continue to manifest the Ram’s traditional big-rig, in-your-face design.
But heavy-duty truck buyers also want performance and capability. Still working off a long-bed chassis, engineers retuned the suspension to handle the added weight. An independent front suspension is standard on 2-wheel-drive models while 4x4s get a solid front axle with a 5-link/coil spring suspension. Disc brakes measure nearly 14 inches front and rear. The standard ABS is enhanced with electronic variable brake proportioning to help balance front-to-rear brake effort under light cargo loads.
As with previous Dodge heavy-duty trucks, two engines are available: the 5.7-liter Hemi rated at 345 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque and the 5.9-liter Cummins diesel rated at 325 horsepower and 610 lb-ft of torque. The Cummins is no longer the torque king, having been displaced by an upgraded 2006 GM Duramax with 650 lb-ft, but it’s still a workhorse. I towed 8,000 pounds easily in a 2500 Cummins model through the tight, rolling hills of Virginia with confidence and also pulled a a 4000-pound boat behind a Hemi-powered 1500 Mega Cab. Again, smooth and plenty of power when needed.
The Mega Cab will be offered in three models with a choice of the SLT or Laramie trim. Here’s a quick overview:
Remember, these are maximum numbers. Capacities may change due to engine/transmission choice, 2- or 4-wheel-drive and axle ratio.
The added sheetmetal and amenities have packed on a few extra pounds. A 2-wheel-drive 1500 model tips the scales at over 6000 pounds. Curb weight for a 4-wheel-drive Mega Cab 3500 with the 6-speed manual transmission is just under 7500 pounds. And that’s with the single rear wheel as Dodge will not offer the Mega Cab in a dually configuration. Officials say the launch will focus only on single rear wheel even though Dodge does offer a Quad Cab 3500 on the 160-inch wheelbase with dual rear wheels, so the engineering is in place.
Our speculation for the future of a Mega Cab dually focuses on a few interesting possibilities. First, the Mega Cab now lends itself to a special edition that would serve those towing big RVs. This special model could feature captain’s chairs n the back for added passenger comfort or a fold-down sofa bed in the rear for long-haul drivers or rodeo contestants who make long trips towing horse trailers. As we all know, there is a torque war going on between Detroit’s truck makers. It won’t be long before there’s a more powerful, maybe even bigger Cummins engine that will be offered in the Ram. And what better way to introduce it than to bring out a dually with even higher towing and payload capacities to please the numbers worshipers.
Speaking of numbers, here are the MSRPs for the Mega Cab lineup:
The SLT trim includes air conditioning, CD player, power windows/locks and manual-shift on 4x4 models. Optional equipment includes bedliner, trailer tow mirrors, power sliding rear window, moonroof, adjustable pedals, 6-disc CD changer, navigation system, satellite radio, rear-seat DVD, power seats and electric-shift transfer case on 4x4 models.
Laramie trim includes dual-zone climate control, power-sliding rear window, 6-disc CD changer, Infinity speaker system, satellite radio, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, leather seating, power/heated front seats and power windows. Options include moonroof, navigation, side-curtain air bags, bucket seats and electric-shift transfer case.
The Mega Cab will be built at the Saltillo assembly plant in Saltillo, Mexico.