2012 Ram HD


2012 Ram HD Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Ram HD was new.


Performance: 8.0

Test drivers write that the Ram Heavy Duty trucks are plenty powerful, but they especially like the six-cylinder diesel engine, which offers stronger towing abilities. A few mention that the truck’s ride can be harsh when compared with other heavy duty trucks, although its steering is predictable and it’s fairly maneuverable for the class. The Ram HD doesn’t lead the class in either towing or hauling. Those bragging rights belong to the Ford Super Duty and the Chevrolet Silverado 3500, respectively.

  • "Even though the 2012 Ram 3500 was built to tackle the most demanding of pickup duties, it remains comfortably composed in most situations.” -- Edmunds
  • "Huge and heavy, these are built to haul and tow. If you don't tow and haul stuff, it will just feel a bit crude to drive every day.” -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Ram 2500 comes standard with a gasoline-powered V8 that makes 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, though it can be equipped with a 350-horsepower six-cylinder turbodiesel engine. The diesel makes 650 pound-feet of torque when paired with the available six-speed manual transmission, but can put 800 pound-feet of torque to the ground when it’s mated to the six-speed automatic transmission. The Ram 2500’s gas engine is only available with the six-speed automatic, and the Ram 3500 is only available with the diesel engine. Neither the Ram 2500 nor the Ram 3500's fuel economy has been rated by the EPA.  

Test drivers say the diesel engine is plenty strong, and that anyone who plans to do a lot of heavy-duty towing and hauling will want to opt for the automatic transmission because of its better towing capabilities. Still, the Ram is the only truck in its class available with a manual transmission, so shoppers who love driving a stick can rule out the Ram HD’s three competitors. Otherwise, the Ram 2500 and 3500 should offer enough power for most buyers, according to reviewers.

  • "The diesel engine is strong and provides plenty of power for towing and hauling heavy loads. We recommend picking the six-speed automatic transmission, as its 150 extra lb-ft of torque over the diesel with the manual gearbox makes a noticeable difference in towing ability.” -- Edmunds
  • "Diesel clatters loudly.” -- Car and Driver


Handling and Braking

Though no heavy-duty pickup truck will have the plush ride of a Lexus or the sporty handling of a BMW, test drivers say the Ram Heavy Duty is fairly comfortable, with responsive steering. A few note that its competitors are smoother over bumps, saying that the Ram’s ride is too firm for their taste. Two-wheel drive is standard in most trims, while four-wheel drive is optional.

  • "If bouncing around the farm in your Daddy's 1972 Dodge pickup formed your opinion about how trucks should behave, you owe it to yourself to experience the smooth, comfortable ride afforded by the 2012 Ram Heavy Duty pickup trucks.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The steering is responsive and the truck tracks through turns in a composed manner. Though not harsh, the Ram's ride isn't quite as compliant over the bumps as its Ford and GM competitors.” -- Edmunds
  • "Once accustomed to the outside dimensions, the Ram HD is not hard to drive. You need to allow a bit more space for stopping distance than the average car but that's easy given the visibility from the higher driving position.” -- New Car Test Drive
  • "With serious capability comes a rock-hard ride. …” -- Car and Driver

Towing and Hauling

The Ram 3500 can tow as much as 22,750 pounds in diesel models with two-wheel drive, a regular cab, dual rear wheels and a 4.10 axle ratio. The base, regular cab Ram 2500 models with two-wheel drive, single rear wheels and gasoline engine can tow 11,400 pounds. The Ram 2500 can haul at least 1,590 pounds, while the Ram 3500 can haul a payload of up to 5,280 pounds in dual rear wheel, diesel-powered models with the automatic transmission and 3.42 axle ratio. The Ram can haul and tow a lot, but if you have even heavier loads to move, you should keep in mind the Ford F-450, which can tow up to 24,500 pounds.

The diesel engine can tow and haul more than the gas engine in most cases thanks to its greater torque. Shoppers should also remember that adding heavy features like a crew or Mega cab, rather than a regular cab, or four-wheel drive instead of two-wheel drive tend to decrease towing capacity. That’s because these features increase the truck’s weight, and therefore lower the amount the truck can tow in addition to its own weight.

  • "We tested a Ram 3500 Laramie Crew Cab by towing our 20-foot enclosed test trailer loaded to about 6,000 pounds total weight, from Los Angeles to San Diego and back. We found the Ram 3500 comfortable, smooth and supremely stable. … In short, we think this is a wonderful tow vehicle ready for big, cross-country pulls.” -- New Car Test Drive

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