Power move: Ram hits 1,000 lb.-ft of torque

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Grunt now needs an extra digit.

The diesel pickup torque tug-of-war being waged among Detroit’s truck brands lurches into 2019 with a change at the top of the leaderboard: The re-engineered 2019 Ram heavy-duty 3500 pickup arriving soon at dealerships sports the industry’s first engine to crank out 1,000 pound-feet of torque.

That torque figure is not a PR and marketing gimmick — although the figure will no doubt feature prominently in ads. It’s an important measurement buyers who tow and haul heavy loads consider when they shop for heavy-duty pickups. The 1,000 pound-feet rating is a 70 unit bump over the outgoing 2018 truck’s top torque.

Ed Kim, AutoPacific’s vice president of industry analysis, says retail customers of heavy-duty trucks are attracted to the ability to “haul massive amounts of stuff” and they also like to have bragging rights to the most powerful truck engine.

The engine will be optional only in the biggest, most expensive Ram, the 3500. A lower-power six-cylinder diesel will be offered along with a gasoline engine in the Ram 2500 and also the 3500. Ram is dropping the manual transmission option in the 2019 models.

The power boost comes courtesy of the next-generation Cummins diesel engine. Though it remains 6.7 liters and an inline-six, the engine has been redesigned to not only boost power, but also to reduce weight, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says.

Ram, which has used a Cummins-built inline six in its heavy-duty trucks for 30 years, edges out Ford’s 6.7-liter Powerstroke diesel V-8, which has a torque rating of 935 pound-feet. The 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V-8 in the redesigned heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups coming midyear is rated at 910 pound-feet of torque.

When it comes to horsepower — which is more closely related to a vehicle’s top speed, not its hauling capability — both the Ford and GM diesel heavy-duty V-8 truck engines outhustle the Ram’s inline-six. Ford’s Powerstroke heavy-duty diesel is rated at 450 hp and GM’s Duramax is 445 hp. Ram is rated at 400 hp.

Upgrades to the Ram’s Cummins engine include:

  • A new lighter, stronger cylinder block made of compacted graphite iron, which replaces cast iron. The new block reduces vibration and helps lower weight by 60 pounds.
  • A hollow camshaft, new rods and low-friction bearings.
  • Lighter and stronger pistons with low-friction rings.
  • A redesigned exhaust manifold and improved turbocharger with higher boost pressure.
  • Fuel injectors that can handle 29,000 pounds of pressure.

One key piece of information Ram has not revealed is the price of the 3500 with the 1,000 pound-feet engine. But the price bump over lower-powered counterparts is likely to be significant, perhaps around $11,000. On the 2018 Ram 3500 with the high-output engine, the price walk looked like this: Choosing the Cummins engine over the available gasoline Hemi V-8 added $9,300. And getting the high-output diesel meant adding another $2,695.

Ram’s lead in torque and maximum towing may be short-lived. Ford plans to launch a redesigned Super Duty pickup second half of this year.