“The pickup market is not dead.” So proclaimed Frank Klegon, executive vice president, Product Development, Chrysler, as he unveiled the 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups and the Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 chassis cabs at the Chicago Auto Show. According to Klegon, approximately one out of eight vehicles sold in the U.S. is a pickup. That may be a far cry from what the numbers were not all that long ago, but not a segment that can be missed. Klegon pointed out that they’re now offering a crew cab for the heavy-duties, which is beneficial because that style accounts for half of the units sold. The trucks are built at the Chrysler Saltillo Assembly Plant in Coahuila, Mexico.
The lead designer on the Ram heavy-duty models is Mark Surel. Surel said that compared with the standard Ram 1500, these vehicles have greater cooling needs, which led to a larger, even more aggressive grille. In addition to which, there is a taller hood to accommodate a cooling module (there is a Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel available, or a 5.7-liter HEMI), yet, he said, that there is a chamfer at the front of the hood that is a visual cue for the driver so as to know where it is in space. Another significant difference compared with the standard truck is that the big bumper is chrome all over, so it is chrome-to-chrome where the bumper meets the grille, there is not a piece of black or body-color polymer on the top of the bumper. Surel’s favorite aspect of the heavy-duty exterior design is the sheetmetal on the side of the box on the dually models: there is no huge shoulder or bump-out, but rather an undulating flow to accommodate the second set of wheels.—GSV