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Auto blogFri, 18 Jan 2013 19:30:00 EST
In the past few months, Chrysler's Ram brand has gone from also-ran status behind Ford and General Motors to a class leader in many truck categories including fuel economy (25 miles per gallon highway) and towing (30,000-pound maximum capacity). Now, based off these spy shots recently taken, it looks like Ram is preparing to introduce the be all and end all of pickup trucks, with a production version of its leviathan 2011 Long-Hauler Concept.
Our spy shooters recently caught the two-year-old concept truck running around Auburn Hills, MI covered in stickers that would indicate the truck could be testing for a production model, and last we heard back in September, Chrysler has been trying to build a business case for the massive hauler. On the other hand, seeing as how the only changes made to this truck since it was first unveiled are a full factory tailgate and various Mopar accessories (mud flaps, exhaust finisher and bed step), it doesn't appear that any changes have been made that fit in with the recently announced 2013 Ram HD models.
As a refresher, the Long-Hauler rides on the 197.4-inch wheelbase of the Ram 5500 chassis - usually reserved for stake or box trucks - allowing it to combine the luxury of the Mega Cab with the cargo capability of an eight-foot bed and enough room in between to fit a 60-gallon reserve fuel tank. This, along with the 50-gallon, in-bed fuel tank and the truck's factory fuel tank means that the Long-Hauler has the ability to carry 162 gallons of diesel fuel - enough for one incredibly long haul.
No one can accuse Ram of backing away from the full-size truck arms race. Chrysler has officially dropped the payload details on its 2013 Ram Heavy Duty, and the 3500 now packs a maximum trailer weight of 30,000 pounds. Chew on that number for a moment. That's 15 tons, or the equivalent of a dozen Mazda MX-5 Miata convertibles stacked on a trailer, and it's also a whopping 6,900 pounds more than the closest competitor to the Ram 3500, the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD. Ram engineers have cranked the truck's 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel engine to a ludicrous 850 pound-feet of torque, up 50 lb-ft over the 2012 model. "Shock the world" figures, all.
Throw in a stiffer frame, stouter transfer case, beefed-up transmission and brawnier U-joints in the driveline, and you have what Ram is calling "the most capable trucks we've ever built." That includes the Ram 2500, which has seen its towing capacity swell to 18,350 lbs and its Gross Combined Weight Rating jump to 25,000 lbs. Look for the 2013 Ram 3500 HD to bow at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, and be sure to check out the full press release below for more information.
Looking at the fullsize pickup landscape, automakers are bringing more and more luxury to the mix. Ford has its King Ranch, GMC has the Denali and now Chevrolet is adding a High Country model, but it sounds like Ram might be looking to make a step up from its already posh Laramie Longhorn trim (shown above). Speaking with new Ram boss Reid Bigland, Automobile is reporting that Chrysler could be looking to reach even higher to add even more premium accoutrements to its truck line.
It's hard to imagine how much higher Ram could get with its luxury especially considering the 2013 Ram 3500 HD Laramie Longhorn used for our recent First Drive carried an as-tested price of $70,285 - even lighter-duty 1500 models start at $45k in LL trim. We wonder if this means we might finally get to see a production version of the Ram Long Hauler that we saw testing earlier in the year. Either way, high-dollar pickups add up to massive profit margins for automakers, so as long as there are customers willing to pay the price, we'll doubtlessly continue to see more premium features inside future trucks.