MEDINA, Tex. -- On the limestone bed of a creek cut through Texas Hill Country, a fresh rendition of the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty 2500 truck applies the power of a hunker new 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine to all four wheels so the nubby tire treads splash through the wet stuff but still keep a keen grip on the slick stone.
Heavy Duty: That's the tell-all descriptive for a new series of big and powerful work trucks by the Ram brand.
The 2014 Ram Heavy Duty 2500 three-quarter-ton pickup is a behemoth vehicle designed expressly for truck-type work like toting loads of 2-by-10 lumber planks, towing a trailer teeming with horses, hauling hay up to the high pastures, crawling over a rocky trail in the Sierras -- or slithering through a Texas sluice.
Dressed in new sheetmetal, Ram Heavy Duty trucks look strong and assertive -- and impossible to miss, should the image of one suddenly appear in your rearview mirror.
A massive get-out-of-my-way prow dominates the design with the stair-step hood of a big-rig Peterbilt and the massive horse-collar grille scored in cross-hair chrome.
Ram Heavy Duty 2500 trucks for 2014 configure as a 2-door Regular Cab, a 4-door Crew Cab or 4-door extended-length Mega Cab, with a truck box in back stretching to 76 or 96 inches long. Trims include Tradesman, SLT, Outdoorsman, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Power Wagon, plus regional issues like Big Horn.
Constructed on new frames using high-strength 50000-psi steel with hydroformed main rails and fully boxed rear rails, the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty 2500 trucks gain a new 5-link coil rear suspension system plus an optional air rear suspension system.
Traction choices include rear-wheel 2-wheel-drive (2WD) or 4-wheel-drive (4WD).
With 4WD traction, two Borg-Warner part-time transfer cases are available.
The BW 44-46 unit is an electric shifting part-time transfer case with 2WD/4WD-High/4WD-Low/Neutral. The BW 44-47 version is a manual shifting transfer case in 2WD/4WD-High/4WD-Low/Neutral. Both versions get a low-range ratio of 2.64 plus locking differential from front to rear.
Regarding powertrains, the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty 2500 trucks show three powerful engine options.
The standard plant is a heavy duty V8 gasoline rendition of a fabled HEMI engine design. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with VVT (variable valve timing) develops 385 hp at 5600 rpm with 400 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm.
That muscle is managed through an electronically controlled automatic 6-speed transmission, the 66RFE.
Ram's first power upgrade option is the new 6.4-liter HEMI V8 with VVT that yields 410 hp at 5600 rpm and torque of 429 lb-ft at 4000 rpm.
Ram HD 2500 also lists a 6.7-liter in-line-6 Cummins turbo-diesel engine which musters up to 370 hp at 2800 rpm and 800 lb-ft of torque at only 1600 rpm to soar in the hefty league with towing weight capability rising to 17,940 pounds when properly equipped.
Ram HD 2500 has gooseneck (center-positioned ball in the bed) or fifth-wheel towing capability.
The "Hitch 'n Go" towing prep package features an in-box connection junction and standard Class-4/Class-5 receiver hitch with 4-pin or 7-pin connector on the bumper.
Brakes to rein so much tonnage with such powerful engines by necessity must be big and strong. The Ram design installs four massive discs. Front rotors measure 14.17 inches in diameter and are clasped with dual-piston calipers, as rear rotors span to 14.09 inches and also use dual-piston calipers.
The big brakes tie to a computerized anti-lock brake system (ABS) plus an electronic stability control (ESC) device to nix lateral skidding.
One special variation of the Ram Heavy Duty 2500 truck is the Ram Power Wagon. This model is not some muscle-bound SUV, but a big and strong work truck designed for 4WD forays over rugged terrain.
Ram Power Wagon is configured with a 2-door or 4-door cab plus a conventional truck box in back.
It carries the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 with running lights on the roof, a modified front 3-link system incorporating high-movement links for added flexibility and axle articulation, and an arsenal of 4WD armaments designed to enable the Power Wagon to crawl across rocks and dip through ravines of harsh off-camber terrain with the sure-footed stance of a mechanized mountain goat.
MSRP figures for the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty 2500 trucks start at $29,600 for a 2-door Regular Cab/2WD.