Photography by Byron Hurd. 

Price as tested: $44,365 (Incl. $950 destination charge)
Major equipment: Crew Cab SLT (Base Price: $38,480). 5.7L HEMI Gasoline V8, Preferred Package 25T ($1,030), Premium Cloth Seats  ($900), Media Center ($1,565), Luxury Group ($680), Technology Group ($495), Roof-Mounted Lamps ($80), Remote Start ($185).

In the fleet:
April 2010 

B. HURD: Narrow streets. Traffic lights. Pavement. Parking lots. Trees surrounded by neatly-manicured grass and concrete curbing. This is home. So what do you do when you have a week to play with Chrysler’s highly-praised new Ram 2500 in Suburban Maryland? Well, as it turns out, you do exactly what 90% of the area’s truck-driving population does: go from stoplight to stoplight at full throttle in smug, satisfied comfort. 

 

Really? Yep, really. Make no mistake; the Ram 2500 is a lot of truck–enough so that it gets looks of approval from my go-big-or-go-home neighbors. Suburban cowboys aren’t strictly a Texas phenomenon. There’s no shortage of lifted HD variants around Annapolis or “Cowboy Up!” vinyls on the back of chicken-farm 4x4s on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Are these trucks used? That’s another debate entirely, but they are undoubtedly capable. So in as much as I’m driving a capable truck in an area that requires no such capability, I fit right in. Imagine my relief. 

Now that’s not to say that the Ram’s utility was entirely lost on us, but an evening trip to the barn, while more comfortable in the truck, is easily within the skill set of any of the more down-to-earth (or pavement, in this case) vehicles in our collection. We don’t need a truck much more so than the hundreds of thousands of buyers who pick one up each year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it just as much as they do. 

With 383 horsepower and 400lb-ft on tap, the Ram is a stoplight surprise. And why not, right? Well, I suppose there’s one reason: 383 horsepower from 5.7L in a ~5800lb doesn’t exactly return Prius-like gas mileage. Given the 2500’s commercial-grade classification, Chrysler isn’t even required to publish EPA estimates. Suffice it to say that the gas mileage isn’t fantastic. 

But the rest of the driving experience really is. Surprisingly so, in fact. Interior materials have improved drastically across the entire Ram lineup. Even in our mid-spec SLT model, there was no shortage of comfort or convenience. The cloth seats were supple and supportive and had excellent adjustment. The unladen ride was fantastic, with just a hint of feedback from the rear axle over particularly nasty surface imperfections. It’s pretty safe to say that this is a truck that rides like an SUV. A compliment, to be sure. 

For die-hard car aficionados, the ergonomics of a truck interior are often puzzling, but it takes only a slightly open mind to appreciate the differences. On the whole, everything is bigger. Why? Because if you’re using a truck to work, you need bigger. You need bigger buttons with more space between them because with your work attire on, you’ll fat-finger your way into a Taylor Swift marathon when you really wanted weather and traffic. Try working the cruise control system on a typical steering wheel or column interface while wearing oversize winter or work gloves. Makes sense, right? And regardless, you’ll need to get used to this front-and-back button placement on the wheel spokes if you plan on buying a current Chrysler product, as this seems to be the norm for their newer interfaces. 

Large wheel control buttons are unusual compared to most, but everything you need is still there.

 

To boot, the result is also far less cluttered than a lot of smaller cars’ multimedia/multifunction interfaces. And, as usual, Chrysler’s Multimedia Center/MyGig integration is top-notch, boasting one of the most attractive GUIs in the industry. The tech goodies don’t end there, however. Our tester also came equipped with a back-up camera and parking assistant. While handy, we only found it useful in situations where surrounding obstacles were significantly shorter than the edge of the bed, as most snags were readily apparent thanks to predictably excellent outward visibility. 

Mind you, it still feels huge. 

The sum of these parts is a solid, comfortable truck with excellent, go-anywhere road manners that just barely fits into the daily grind. It’s no wonder Chrysler’s latest heavy duty entry is so widely-praised, and we won’t hesitate to throw our recommendation on the pile. 

Look for Part 2 of this Supersized Speed Read in the coming weeks.  Zerin Dube takes a 2010 Ram 2500 Cummins for a back country romp in the great state of Texas.

                  

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Byron Hurd

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