With a fitting start in new ProMaster 2500 vans shuttling reporters to the special event, the Ram Trucks lineup's towing, payload and other capabilities and innovations were on display and being put to use Tuesday at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Chelsea Proving Grounds test facility in Chelsea, MI.
"The story of the day is Ram Truck capability. We're catering to our theme of hauling," said Dave Elsoff, head of Ram brand communications. The event — the "Heavy Hauler Program" — had Ram vehicles from a ProMaster City van to the commercial-grade 5500 Chassis Cab available to pull loads and trailers around a 4-mi. test track, complete with a highway-type lane and another featuring a range of rough road conditions.
The star of the show had to be the 3500 Heavy Duty pickup, which boasts an available Cummins 6.7L Turbo Diesel I6 that's been tweaked for 2016 to produce 385 hp and a whopping 900 lb.-ft. of torque, up from 865 lb.-ft., and the ability to pull 31,210 lb. of trailer.
"It's the king of towing; it's the heaviest of the haulers," said Troy Davis, chief engineer for the Ram Heavy Duty and Chassis Cab products. He noted the work Ram and Cummins did on the 6.7L diesel and that it's mated to a commercial-grade, 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission and coupled with "a massive driveline and an 11.8 in. rear axle to deliver all that torque to the ground."
Check out some footage FCA released from the event, with commentary by Davis and Bob Hegbloom, head of the Ram brand for North America:
The 3500 also has an available load-leveling air bag assistive rear suspension to bolster the traditional leaf spring suspension. Davis also pointed out that the entire Ram pickup line has been tested to meet SAE International's J2807 standard.
"This was developed several years ago," Davis explained. "All the OEMs got together and realized that we needed to develop a standard to make fair, accurate comparisons for tow ratings and tow vehicle ratings.
"The J2807 standard, briefly, is a set of criteria under which manufacturers test their vehicles. Start with performance. There's an acceleration test, all while towing a trailer; there's a passing maneuver test; there's a climbing grade test at extreme temperatures. There's also dynamic testing, or limit handling, and then there's brake testing. Finally, there's a hitch structural test.
"Ram Trucks today is the only pickup manufacturer to deliver our full line of pickup trucks to meet and be compliant to the J2807 standard," Davis said.
Here's a look and listen from behind the wheel of a 2016 Ram 3500 hauling a payload around the CPG test track at highway speed: