Even lengthier than its name: 2020 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Longhorn Mega Cab

Even lengthier than its name: 2020 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Longhorn Mega Cab

A decade ago, Ram was a fledgling brand, newly created out of Dodge trucks. Fast forward to 2019 and Americans bought a record 703,023 Ram vehicles, of which 633,694 were pick-ups. Will COVID-19 result in a crash back to earth in 2020? And what new or extra models are coming in the 2020s?

FCA did two particularly clever things when it launched the latest Ram 1500. Number one: making sure that the new model had an especially attractive interior helped justify lifting sticker prices. Buyers responded, deeming the 2019 model year trucks to be worth the extra money, this continuing for the embellished 2020 models.

Clever thing number two was to keep the old Ram 1500 going, albeit slimming down the vast range of choices and dropping prices on what remains a much-desired line of trucks. There is no publicly stated end point for production of what is these days known as the Ram 1500 Classic either. FCA knows a golden goose when it sees one, so why would it stop building a product that has been in such high demand? At least that was the strategy pre the recent production hiatus for North American manufacturing operations.

The 1500 Classic is available in three model grades: Tradesman, Express and Warlock. As of now, Ram's official position is that there is nothing to say about any potential 2021 model year trucks. When pressed for a comment either way, a spokesman told just-auto.com in February simply, "Ram 1500 Classic continues on for the 2020 model year".

FCA's (soon to depart) head of Sales Reid Bigland told reporters at NADA last month that production of this model at Warren Truck would stop later in the year, albeit temporarily. The pause is to allow a retooling at the Michigan plant ahead of the introduction of the future Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. There would be 14 weeks of downtime, Bigland noted, adding that Ram 1500 Classic would continue to be made there. He did not state how long for or when exactly Warren Truck would be brought back online. Further, how the sudden shut down of production at FCA plants all over the Americas will affect the Ram Classic manufacturing strategy is not yet clear.

Unofficial sales reports claim that Ram's best selling model, the newer 1500, had been going gangbusters until recent days. New for the 2019 model year and nine inches longer than the 1500 Classic, it retains a mainly steel construction even though the frame was a new design. FCA US says that 98 per cent of this chassis is constructed from high-strength steel.

In changes to powertrains, both 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and 5.7-litre Hemi V8 evolved into 48V mild hybrids so as to improve fuel economy. Added torque at take-off and regenerative braking are part of what FCA terms 'eTorque' and there is a belt-driven motor-generator powered by a lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt-graphite battery. The 12V lead-acid battery draws its power via a converter.

Production of V8 trucks commenced in January 2018 and the vehicle was in US dealerships from March 2018. The V6 was added in August 2018.

Compared to the DS series Ram 1500, average weight is down by 102 kg. Some of that is due to aluminium being used for the tailgate, engine mounts, front-axle centre, front suspension, transmission crossmembers and the electric power-steering system gear.

The 3.0-litre V6 EcoDiesel was new for the 2020 model year, rated at 260hp (264PS) and 480 lb-ft (650Nm). This engine is supplied by FCA's Ferrara powertrain plant in Italy.

The 1500 could be one of the vehicles to be powered by GME-T6. Fiat Chrysler's 'Global Medium Engine Turbo-6' is said to be getting closer to production. The Pentastar name will likely be used again and rumours claim that even the most powerful variants of this straight six will have a capacity of under 3,000cc.

As well as the addition of what is being unofficially called the Rebel TRX, the DT series trucks should gain a minor refresh for the 2021 model year in an attempt to limit the impact of a new Ford F-150. As per the Rebel TRX concept from 2016, Ram's high performance truck should be packing a 6.2-litre supercharged Hellcat V8 as well as lifted suspension and chunky off-road tyres. Even if the 707 horsepower engine from the Dodge Challenger is detuned, this truck should make the F-150 Raptor seem a little lacking in the muscle department.

There may be a second facelift for the 2023 model year, with the rumoured PHEV and EV probably also appearing at around the same time. The successor should be announced in CY2025 or 2026, at which point the DT will become the Ram 1500 Classic.

The brand's newest model, or rather models, are the HD 2500 and HD 3500 trucks, each of which is made in Mexico at Saltillo Truck. These full-size pick-ups alone are estimated to generate a significant percentage of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' global profits.

Fresh for North America's 2019 model year, the Heavy Duties' world debut took place at last year's Detroit auto show. For the 2020 model year, the HD 2500 and HD 3500 had some minor changes.

One difference in powertrains between the pair is an engine that produces in excess of 1,000 pounds-feet of torque (1,356Nm). That is the output of a Cummins-supplied 400 horsepower 6.7-litre 'High Output Turbo Diesel' engine which is uniquely available as an option for the HD 3500. Torque exceeds that of the previous Cummins diesel by 70 lb-ft. Unlike the diesel in the previous shape trucks, this one has a block made of compacted graphite iron rather than cast iron. There is also a version with lower outputs: 370 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm and 850 lb.-ft. of torque.

The alternative to the big in-line six diesel is Chrysler's own 410 horsepower 6.4-litre Hemi V8, which delivers 429 pounds-feet of torque. The latter drives through a TorqueFlite-branded eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Heavy Duty trucks will more than likely gain equipment and other tweaks for the 2022 model year so as to be ready for new equivalents from Ford. A facelift should come for MY2023 and then a new generation in CY2026.

FCA also sells three Ram chassis cab commercial trucks. The current generation ones, which were new for the 2019 model year, premiered at the Chicago auto show in February 2019. These are the 3500 (Class 3), 4500 (Class 4) and 5500 (Class 5 GVW ratings) work trucks.

Reports for many other manufacturers' future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database. That includes Ram vehicles missing from the above report, such as the 700 and 1000.

This was the sixth and final feature in a series examining the current and future models of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' passenger vehicle brands. The first looked at Fiat and Lancia and that was followed by Maserati and Alfa Romeo, Chrysler and Dodge, Ferrari, and Jeep. The next OEM to be featured will be Chery Auto.

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