2019 Ram HD First Test: How 1,000 LB-FT Performs at the Track – MotorTrend

“Hey, man,” the Ram PR dude said to me. “Would you mind starting out in the Hemi 2500 Tradesman?” No, dude, I silently thought to myself. I did not drive 47 miles to spend the night at the Four Seasons Westlake Village only to drive some dirty old gasoline-powered Ram HD with only—only —429 lb-ft of torque.

No, sir! I made the sacrifice to stay in a five-star hotel away from my sleep-averse toddler only to play with the big dog, to experience the main event, to drive the Ram with the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-six with—are we all sitting down—1,000 lb-ft of torque! A Hemi 2500? Come on! “Sure,” I said, knuckling under to petty authority. “That’s fine.”

The shocking part is, said Hemi-powered truck is much better than fine. I remember back at the 2017 Truck of the Year competition, Ram lent us a gasoline-powered 2500. Hated it! Hated it to the point that I questioned why anybody would ever buy a gas-powered heavy-duty.

Well, let me announce that the 2019 Ram 2500 Hemi answers that question. Because it’s terrific. Same engine, in fact, so the question is, why is the 2019 version so much better? Gearing. The new version is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission (the 2017 model had a six-speed automatic), and that alone basically solves every issue I had with the last gen. Suddenly, the low-spec Ram HD feels quick, sporty, and swarming with torque. Even though the job-site-white, crank-window(!) Tradesman had 2,500 pounds of lumber in the bed, the thing still felt fleet and darty. Sure, any truck is going to ride better with weight in the bed, so yes, Ram PR totally tricked me.

However, if you actually use your truck to move stuff around, the 2500 Tradesman is a great, low-dollar, high-capability alternative to a half-tonner. Ram hasn’t announced pricing yet, but I’d guess you’ll be able to slide into the Tradesman’s vinyl-skinned interior for about $35,000 with no options whatsoever, just like the example I drove.

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