“Oh, this is badass,” was my first thought as I met the delivery driver to receive the keys to the blacked-out 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie, its 6.7 liter Cummins turbodiesel engine lightly clattering away as I signed the paperwork. While many truck buyers do make purchasing decisions based on relative badassery, those who buy “heavy duty” pickups are generally looking to work them hard for at least some portion of their lives. In my case, I had a racecar to move and figured it was a great opportunity to explore Ram’s newest HD truck.
What Is It?
This is a 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie with the crew cab and 6’4″ short bed. In Laramie trim, Ram will allow a crew cab and longer 8′ bed, or their somehow-even-bigger Mega Cab paired to the 6’4″ option. My tester had the optional $9,100, 6.7 liter Cummins turbodiesel engine. This regular-output Cummins produces 370 horsepower and 850 ft-lb of torque, paired to a Chrysler 6-speed automatic transmission. This drivetrain in the 2500 allows for a maximum tow rating of 19,680 lbs – far beyond my seemingly-dinky aluminum enclosed trailer’s loaded weight of about 6,500 lbs.
Ram does offer a Cummins High Output diesel making 1,000 ft-lb and paired to an Aisin 6-speed automatic, but only on the Ram 3500.
As mentioned, my truck was a Laramie trim. Notable, additional options include rear-only air suspension ($1,700), Night Edition package ($2,295), Laramie Level 2 package ($4,095), and 12″ UConnect infotainment ($1,295). The truck’s MSRP came to about $78,000 and included a host of options that made towing a breeze, alongside plenty of luxury.
Driving the 2020 Ram 2500
I’d briefly driven the Ram Heavy Duty trucks when they were introduced in mid-2019, and they made a good first impression. Spending a week with this 2500 Laramie only furthered those thoughts. My tester had an interior covered in black leather, with all four outboard seats heated and the front two ventilated. I kept my hands toasty with the heated steering wheel, too. Ram has partnered with harman/kardon for their up-level sound system and it, like most other h/k systems I’ve heard, is very good.
Ram offers a unique take on a heavy duty (truthfully, 2500- and 3500-series trucks are considered “big light duty” in context of all-things-truck) pickup, in that all Ram 2500 trucks use coil springs instead of the traditional leaf spring suspension. This change was made for the 2014 model year and carries through to this new generation of 2500.
My tester, as mentioned, also had rear air suspension that could be lowered at slow speeds or while stopped. In general, the ride quality was very good, both unloaded and with my trailer attached. Given the Ram 2500 can carry over 3,000 lbs of payload, the unladen ride was still a bit firmer than what you’d see in a smaller half-ton truck. There is no mistaking the primary work-truck focus of this vehicle, even with the leather and giant touchscreen to distract.
We were met with some cold mornings during my loan, and the truck occasionally took a few extra seconds to run the glow plugs before cranking the big inline-six Cummins to life. Regardless, it was handled easily with the remote start or now-standard push-button ignition. Once running and warmed up, the Cummins turbodiesel was quiet enough, yet still a bit school-bus-y in its noises and somewhat gruff character. I found it fitting given the truck’s character. From a stop, the truck doesn’t feel fast, per se, but once rolling the turbo steps in and provides a seemingly-endless wave of torque to shove you down the road with ease. The Chrysler 68RFE transmission clicked off smooth shifts and was generally unobtrusive. Given the power band of the torquey diesel, six gears was plenty.
Maneuverability was easy and I found steering to be good enough given the truck’s size and capability. The one difficulty I faced in a more urban environment was height. The Ram 2500 sits higher than the “lesser” 1500 sibling, and it was nearly impossible to find a parking garage with enough clearance. Yes – city problems – but worth mentioning.
Ever-larger touchscreens seem to dominate center consoles in today’s market. Ram brought the first “big” touchscreen to pickup trucks with the 12″ UConnect system. I liked it but don’t know if it’s utilized well enough to justify the $1,295 upcharge. UConnect’s navigation was slow to respond and difficult to search, so I reverted to Apple CarPlay – which has no idea what to do with a vertically-blessed screen, so it just occupies the top half. The truck’s backup camera could not be configured to occupy the whole screen, which was a missed opportunity when trying to align a trailer to the hitch ball. Thankfully, Ram offers a more traditional 8.4″ UConnect system that appears better-integrated for now.
Towing With the 2020 Ram 2500
I heard a narrative at the Ram HD launch surrounding the power tailgate release, rear air suspension, and cargo camera. In theory, someone can utilize those three buttons in that order and hook up to their gooseneck trailer with ease. My trailer is a tag, so I couldn’t quite put the whole suite to use, but I did use the Alternate Trailer Height button (lovingly referred to as the “Carolina Squat mode”) to lower the rear axle and make it easier to attach the trailer.
As mentioned above, the drivetrain was great. With a trailer attached, it made acceleration effortless, and braking was aided by an automatic exhaust brake.
Ram also added a button to the driver’s door panel that allows power control of the outer, convex tow mirrors. It’s a small feature to add, but it was very appreciated when I was setting my mirrors to tow on a cold day and able to do so from a warm driver’s seat.
Tech-wise, while Ram touts a “side view” camera system, it is intended to guide the driver while backing a trailer at slow speed. The Ram 2500 does have blind spot monitoring, but it doesn’t work with a trailer. Ford uses sensors in their taillights to allow this (very helpful) technology and I’d hope to see Ram adopt something similar in a future model year. It adds a good deal of confidence when towing at night.
A Cummins-Powered Companion
I can usually come up with one or two items I dislike about a particular vehicle. In this case, it was difficult to find anything too glaring. There are some technology improvements that could be made, and I’m not sold on the giant touchscreen yet. The truck is quite tall and the noise of the big Cummins turbodiesel could be quieted a bit. In general, though, the Ram 2500 was an excellent companion for my racecar-hauling needs. It’d be an excellent high-mileage highway companion.
Just stay away from city parking garages.