The Cummins 6.7-liter engine was first introduced to the market in March, 2006 with Ram's announcement that they were reentering the chassis cab market with their 3500 chassis cab truck. The 3500 chassis cab was given a model year 2007 nomenclature (TDR Issue 52, page 118.) The 4500/5500 chassis cab trucks were introduced later (February, 2009).
Then on January 1, 2007 Ram and Cummins introduced the 6.7-liter engine to the consumer 2500/3500 market. The January introduction coincided with new emissions legislation and all Ram consumer 2500/3500 trucks made after January 1, 2007 are known as '07.5 vehicles (a mid-year produce change). Credit goes to Ram and Cummins: With the '07.5 6.7-liter engine, they were one step ahead of the competition. Not only did the engine meet the 2007 emission requirements, it also met the future 2010 requirements.
Over the past two years, the 6.7-liter engine has had its share of teething problems, mostly software and engine calibration updates (flashes). I am pleased to report that warranty problems on the 6.7-liter are now lower than those of the final year of the 5.9-liter engine that was used from model years '03 - '07. Additional good news about the 6.7-liter engine: In April of 2008, Cummins announced that it had earned the Automotive News PACE (Premier Automotive Supplier's Contribution to Excellence) Award for the 6.7-liter engine (Issue 61, page 48).
Likewise, in late 2007 the folks at Cummins worked with long-time TDR Writer and television guy, Sam Memmolo, to develop a video to explain the exhaust after treatment controls. For those of you who would like to take the vide route, here it is.
Thank you for viewing this video or reading the TDR. We hope we have entertained and educated.
By the way, if you missed my "take away," I will give you my conclusion. Ram and Cummins have developed a solid engine with a proven after treatment system. After five years in the market, how does the Ram compare to the competition? Well, just try a simple web search on 2010 Power Stroke engine or 2010 Duramax engine.
Dodge gathered a number of journalists in Santa Barbara, California in August for a chance to get behind the wheel of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500. Like a lot of press launches, the program consisted of a vehicle walkaround with marketing, design, and engineering representatives, then a drive in the vehicles out to a central location where a number of variations of the Ram 1500 were available to take out on test loops, as well as opportunities to tow and haul and to drive competitive products.
Patton, St. Laurent, Whale and I covered the introduction of the Ram 1500 at the Detroit auto show in Issue 60, pages 120-125. That information stands, but I would like to clarify a couple points:
The 1500 truck has two frame sizes, a 120-inch and 140-inch wheelbase. From these wheelbases the various cabs and beds will be fitted.
How so? The short 120-inch wheelbase architecture will be for a Regular Cab, 6’ 4” box economy-type truck. The 140-inch wheelbase architecture is the basis for all of the other cab and box configurations:
Regular Cab with 8’ Bed Quad Cab with 6’ 4” Bed Crew Cab with 5’ 7” Bed
What frame sizes will we see with the HD trucks? Obviously a longer frame for Quad Cabs and Crew Cabs with 8’ beds. How about the Mega Cab? Mega Cab with an 8’ bed? I wish I had some insight. The HD trucks will be unveiled at Detroit’s North American auto show in January, 2009. I guess we’ll have to wait until then to find out.
Other details: the center console with floor shifter is an option. The cargo management system is included with the RamBox. The RamBox is only offered with the Crew Cab with 5’ 7” bed. And the future light-duty Cummins diesel engine is reportedly a V6.
Thoughts on Design
Since a number of Rams were traveling on the same route, one thing a ride-and-drive event like this affords is an opportunity to see the vehicle out in its natural habitat for the first time. Sometimes impressions of a design can be quite different from seeing it on a lit-up auto show stand (or in the middle of herd of cattle!) to what it looks like out on the road. Now that I have become more used to what it looks like, the 2009 Ram is still a handsome truck. I’m even getting used to the enormous Ram badges. One thing I hadn’t noticed, however, is how squared-off the roofline looks when viewed from the rear. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for a truck, but I’m seeing a design theme similar to boxy look of the current minivans, which I don’t care for.
Another somewhat interesting design point was made by head designer Mark Allen, who claimed the beltline was not raised, but rather the sill was lowered 40mm, giving the illusion of a higher side, while offering a lower step-in height, helping aerodynamics, and hiding the frame. The latter seems important to them, as wheel well liners are also standard equipment on all models, which I suppose does contribute to a more finished look. A curious detail noticed was the rear contour of the chrome bumper on higher end models does not match up to the wheel well, though it does match up on other variations.
The interior is magnificent. Still made of plastic, but of high-quality soft touch materials. Even things like the air vents have a substantial feel, though are also still plastic. I still think the optional console takes up too much space, visually and physically. Control layout is intuitive, with the minor exception of the adjustable pedal switch (if equipped.) It’s out-of-sight above the tilt wheel lever; I admit to driving 50 miles and not being able to get comfortable, and later locating the switch via the owner’s manual. However, this qualifies as one of those things that’s only annoying the first time. Once you knew where it was, it wouldn’t be a problem. One quality issue was that the silver painted trim piece that goes around the center stack was rather ill-fitting on the handful of trucks I looked at. Though it should be noted here that these were said to be “one iteration away” from production trucks, so issues like this are not unusual and will hopefully be rectified.
We grabbed a top of the line Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 which stickered out at $44,935 including $795 in options, and $900 destination. No RamBox, though there were Ram Box equipped trucks on hand. Interestingly, as of this writing Automotive News is reporting RamBox won’t have a price tag until October and won’t be available at the initial launch, which has some dealers miffed. They speculate it would be popular if priced cheaply, though the fact they are bundling it with the cargo management system might make it pricey.
On to the first part of the drive, it was about 100 miles of smooth California highway, which didn’t tell me a whole lot about the truck other than it was quiet. A few nice comfort and convenience things jumped out. The gauge cluster is really nice to look at, with white on black numbers with a sort of backlit effect. Front windows are one-touch up and down.
All new half-ton trucks ride smoothly on smooth roads, so I was happy to see the afternoon’s activities would take place around a ranch in a rural area with a variety of less than smooth road surfaces. The true test of the new link coil suspension would be how it rode empty, and by extension, if it would maintain good ride quality when loaded. I probably don’t have to remind this audience that leaf spring suspensions are tuned to ride smoothly when loaded, at the expense of a bouncy ride when empty. One of the Dodge guys quipped that there’s a factual basis for the expression “rides like a truck.” In addition to the points we discussed in Issue 60, Steve Williams, senior manger of Dodge Ram synthesis put it very succinctly when he said the key advantage of the link coil setup was that it separated the duties of suspending and locating the axle.
As we rolled in to the ranch at lunchtime, I eyed the lineup of competitive trucks from Ford (a 2008 as ’09 aren’t out yet), Chevrolet, Nissan, and Toyota available for drives. I said to the Dodge folks they should have had an ’08 Ram, to which they replied they did. I’m not sure how I missed the “Detonator Yellow” 2008 Ram 1500 Quad Cab Sport Hemi 4x2 sitting out there. This will make for a good comparison.
In any case, I took the 2008 Ram out after lunch on a recommended drive loop. My first thought was this really isn’t too bad. I was even thinking I could live with one at the bargain basement prices I’ve been hearing about as they close out the 2008s. The white-faced gauges looked a little glaring to me, but the plastic factor of the interior and the relative bounciness of the ride seemed fairly normal to me as a truck guy.
Upon returning, I was pleased to find an equivalent 2009 Ram, a Sport Quad Cab Hemi 4x2. It was at this time I blew what was to be my only chance to drive the one R/T package truck they had available. It has unique R/T badges, a 4.10 rear axle ratio, a special torque converter and is said to do zero to 60 in under six seconds. But, I wanted to be fresh in my comparison to the 2008 on the same roads. The verdict? Big difference. It’s not that the bumps disappear, you still feel it in the suspension, but the body doesn’t move nearly as much. Additionally, the front end feels a lot more stable and planted since the rear isn’t bouncing around.
While I was most interested in driving the new generation Hemi, my next experiment was to drive a stripper 3.7-liter V6 Crew Cab. There was no sacrifice in ride quality. At this point, I stopped at the off-site towing demonstration. There were Rams hooked to a boat and a horse trailer, but I took a 20-mile drive in one towing a 5800-pound Airstream. A vehicle synthesis engineer who had been working on the Ram suspension and steering for the last three years rode along. We discussed my observations, and he added that with the improved ride quality of the link coil suspension, they were able to make the steering more responsive and dial in less understeer, which results in a better handling truck. He also said there are some tuning differences for different models, but that is so the different size trucks and tires have similar ride and handling qualities.
As far as towing, I could definitely feel the trailer, whereas I may not have in a Heavy Duty, but it felt stable, and ride quality was smooth. The ESP, Electronic Stability Program, includes trailer sway control, but I didn’t feel it engage. Running at the 55 mph speed limit, the transmission was fishing in and out of overdrive quite a bit. Judging by brisk acceleration with the trailer, the Hemi wasn’t lacking power, so I think that speed was in between the ideal gears. I couldn’t help but think it would have been happier at 70 mph.
Next, I did the drive loop in a Crew Cab Hemi with 1000 pounds in the back. That cinched it for me. There was no appreciable difference in ride quality loaded or unloaded. On a side note, this truck had the heated and ventilated front seats. It was parked in the sun, but the ventilation feature cooled the seat very effectively. This option will automatically cool the seats when the optional remote start is used above 70 degrees. Similarly, it will automatically heat the seats below 40 degrees. Nice touch.
Since this is a diesel magazine, just a few notes on the gas engines. The 3.7-liter V6 and 4.7-liter V8 are carried over. The next generation Hemi with variable valve timing boasts some pretty impressive numbers on paper, with horsepower and torque up to 390/407 from 345/375. My initial seat-of-the-pants impression was there was not a significant difference in acceleration, though to be fair, I had less than 20 miles in the 2008. The biggest advantage seems to be that the four-cylinder mode can be used longer and more often. EPA estimates jumped one to two miles per gallon depending on configuration.
That basically concluded the day’s activities. My driving partner from the morning and I were the last journalists there, and were left with the only Ram available –the same stripper Crew Cab I drove earlier – for the drive back to the hotel. Good thing we started the day in a Laramie instead of working our way up! We compared notes on the way back as he had done the opposite of what I had and drove all of the competitive trucks. I have driven them all in the recent past with the exception of the Toyota (not for lack of trying.) He felt the Ram was by far the quietest, thought the Chevy had the worst steering, and that the Toyota Tundra with the 5.7-liter V8 had the best engine and transmission.
The 2009 Ram 1500 banks heavily on appealing to personal use owners. It’s a sound idea to differentiate more from the Heavy Duty lineup. Anyone towing and hauling a lot can pick up a 2500 or 3500. Unfortunately, that type of private half-ton buyer is becoming more rare in the current economic climate, and forecasts for long-term gas prices don’t bode well for the future of pickups in general. But there are still a lot of pickups being sold, and the Ram 1500 will certainly win some people over from the competition. I wish them luck with the Ram 1500 - it’s a great product. And one thing’s for sure: it’ll make a fine platform for a light duty diesel.
This past Spring Dodge and Cummins held meetings at 58 key dealerships. There were several objectives of these meetings:
To say thank you for your Dodge/Cummins purchase
To discuss the 5.9-liter engine and provide updates
To discuss the 6.7-liter engine and provide updates
To engage in a question and answer discussion
To correct misinformation about products
I was fortunate to attend one of the presentations. And I am pleased to file this report as it gives the Turbo Diesel Register (TDR), Dodge, and Cummins a chance to dispel the incorrect and reinforce the factural stories that are prevalent at fuel islands, trade shows, race events, internet web sites, etc.
This report was updated as of August 27, 2009 to update several "flash codes" that are applicable to the 6.7-liter engine.
Join me on tour with Dodge and Cummins as you read about the presentations that they made last Spring.
A recent study by the Rand Corporation, a non-profit research organization, found that light trucks and autos powered by advanced diesel technology or hybrid technology can provide larger societal benefits than traditional gasoline-powered automobiles.
John Graham, dean of the Pardee Rand Graduate School and senior author of the research paper said: “Advanced diesel and hybrid technologies show very well in this study, in terms of benefits to the individual and society overall,” Graham said: “E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) simply doesn't provide the same benefits.”
The research examines the benefits and costs of three alternatives to the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine for the period between 2010 and 2020: gasoline-electric hybrid technology, advanced diesel technology, and dual-fuel vehicles that are powered continuously by E85.
Click on "visit site" below to read the entire article and post your input.
To an outsider it would appear that each issue of the TDR has a different problem du jour. We could go back and chronicle the various problems, but that’s the reason for the phenomenal index that was supplied by Bob Vallier and published in previous Issues: 57, 53, 49 and 45. Prior to Bob’s summaries, indexes in Issues 41, 37, 33, 29, 25, 21, and 17 were compiled by Clay Maxam. We are indebted to Bob and Clay for their many hours of research.
Although some will dwell on the problems, the majority of TDR members take the initiative to solve/correct anticipate/prepare for a future situation. That’s what the TDR is all about!
Surprisingly, there have been comments by those unfamiliar with the truck (a prospective buyer of either a new or used truck, or a visitor on the internet or at the truck show) that “the Turbo Diesel certainly has its share of problems.” To them, no doubt, the grass looks greener on the other side. However, thanks to the TDR membership group and the support from Chrysler and Cummins, we are equipped with answers and solutions, rather than the dismay and isolation that would exist without a support group.
With that brief introduction out of the way, Issue 58 includes our yearly review of Dodge Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) issued to date (8/2007).
Previously, Dodge vehicle TSBs were published in CD format and were available for purchase in July/August. As a service to the members we would purchase the TSB directory and then search through the CD to isolate only those bulletins relating to the Turbo Diesel truck.
The TSB directory is no longer available. However, the service that replaces it is an improvement. Armed with your truck’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and a credit card you can log on to www.techauthority.com and, for $20.00, you can view/print all of the TSBs that apply to your vehicle.
Using several VINs from years 2003 to 2007.5 we downloaded the TSBs and have summarized the subject, the description of the problem, and the corrective action. Should you need the entire text, you should consult your dealer or use the www.techauthority.com web site to purchase the bulletin(s) pertaining to your truck. See page 102 for further information on TechAuthority.
In an effort to consolidate the TSBs for the magazine, we use the same index system categories as Chrysler. Below are the index categories.
A note concerning the TSBs and their use: The bulletins are intended to provide dealers with the latest repair information. Often the TSB is specific to the VIN. VIN data on the Chrysler service network helps the dealer in his service efforts. A TSB is not an implied warranty.