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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:

Model GVWR Max Payload Max Trailer Wt. Max GCRW
Mega Cab 1500 8510 lbs. 2430 lbs. 8750 lbs. 15,000 lbs.
Mega Cab 2500 9000 lbs. 2650 lbs. 13,000 lbs. 20,000 lbs.
Mega Cab 3500 9900 lbs. 2970 lbs. 15,900 lbs. 23,000 lbs.

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:

Model SLT 4x2 SLT 4x4 Laramie 4x2 Laramie 4x4
Mega Cab 1500 $32,760 $35,980 $37,895 $41,075
Mega Cab 2500 $35,065 $38,180 $40,160 $43.275
Mega Cab 3500 $40,410 $43,500 $45,505 $48,595

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.

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