If you refer back to our last installment of the “OE Spotlight” series, you’ll see we took an unlimited budget and build the biggest and most capable GMC possible. Today’s heavy-duty trucks are pricier than ever. However, since our article is hypothetical and money is no option, building the ultimate truck is what we’re after. To that end, let’s see what we can get. Like the GMC, the 2023 model RAMs are not yet available to build on the manufacturer’s website, and since you can still order a 2022, we’ll build the coolest possible ’22 RAM 3500. For reference, in our opinion, the GMC build topped out at $92,225. Will the RAM be higher?
The base MSRP for the RAM truck in Limited trim is $77,020. This is without making any additional selections. From here, we can nickel and dime our way into a new truck, but we want the best of the best. We are going to tack on four-wheel drive, the highest package possible for this pickup (Limited), and hit every upgrade that we think is necessary for a truck that will more than likely be put to the test on a daily basis.
Configuration/Powertrain: 4×4, Dual Rear Wheel, Limited, 6.7-liter Cummins Turbodiesel H.O.
To begin, we have a few choices to make. The Limited trim RAM 3500 is available in a few different configurations. These trucks are available in both two and four-wheel drive, single and dual rear wheels, and come in a Quad Cab, Crew Cab, and Mega Cab, in both short- and long-bed form (Mega Cab is only available with a short bed). Wanting to maximize our available interior space, we opted to go with a Mega cab and short-bed platform. If we were planning to pull a fifth-wheel camper/trailer, we will need a slider hitch with the short bed.
Like the GMC, we went with a dual-wheel rear axle for maximum towing capability. This upgrade gives us a 14,000-pound GVWR. The numbers don’t lie, either. The 2022 RAM 3500 boasts best-in-class available diesel towing capacity of 37,090 pounds and 1,075 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the H.O (high-output) 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine. With the addition of the 6.7-liter Cummins engine, we’ve earned the AS69RC Aisin six-speed automatic transmission. This total upgrade was $12,395 which seems steep, but think about what is included. Now we’re at $89,415.
In our opinion, there aren’t nearly enough color options for the RAM 3500. Out of the seven available options, we chose Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat ($200). Other options include Diamond Black Crystal Pearl Coat ($100), Granite Crystal Metallic ($200), Patriot Blue Pearl Clear ($100), Delmonico Red Pearl Clear ($200), Bright White Clear ($0), and Pearl White Clear ($100). For wheels, we took the one and only option, the dually ($995) 17-inch by 6-inch machined aluminum black wheels. Everything looks better with black wheels, right?
Continuing with the exterior extras, we upgraded to LT235/80R17E OWL on/off-road tires, a deployable Mopar-branded bed step ($365), and a tri-fold tonneau cover ($695). Moving to the interior, the colors are indigo and frost. This Limited RAM comes standard with a Uconnect 5 NAV with a 12-inch touchscreen display, but the options don’t stop there. We upgraded to a power sunroof ($1,195), instrument panel-mounted auxiliary switches to work any extra accessories ($155), adaptive steering system ($300), and trailer tire pressure monitoring system ($445).
The adaptive steering offers steering assistance at low speeds, which typically requires a bit more effort — for example, in a tight parking lot. Conversely, at higher speeds (such as highway driving), it makes the vehicle respond smoother, allowing the steering system to react more precisely to input by the driver. The trailer tire pressure monitoring system displays live pressure readings for up to four different trailers and up to 12 tires per trailer on the driver information digital cluster.
Auto-Level Rear Air Suspension
The auto-level rear air suspension is probably one of the coolest available upgrades RAM 3500 has to offer. The suspension delivers a smooth, comfortable ride with automatic load-leveling in response to pressure from a trailer hitch, shifting cargo, or changes in the road camber. The driver can also adjust the suspension height with a push of a button to make connecting and disconnecting a trailer even easier.
Although it is a $1,705 upgrade, this makes trailering so nice. Not only will the truck ride smoother and adapt to each and every load, but this also makes for easy trailer connections. In fact, when RAM allowed us to test their new trucks a few years ago, they showcased this feature by hooking up a horse trailer without getting out of the truck. The air suspension was lowered, then the truck backed under the hitch. When the hitch ball was located under the hitch, the truck was raised back up.
Ram Tough Packages
When it comes to packages, we spared no expense. We selected the Night Edition, Cold Weather Group, DOT-certified Roadside Safety Kit, Heavy-Duty Snow Plow Prep, and Towing Technology Group packages. The Cold Weather Group earns us a Winter front grille cover for the cold weather conditions and a block heater ($145). The DOT-certified Roadside Safety Kit got us those breakdown essentials which include a fire extinguisher, reflective triangles, spare fuses, and red flags ($195).
The Heavy-Duty Snow Plow Prep package gives our transfer case a skid plate cover to ensure plowing debris doesn’t get into it and cause damage. Lastly, the Towing Technology Group package ($790) includes a surrounding-view camera and trailer reverse guidance. The surrounding-view camera is for a bird’s eye perspective of the vehicle and its surroundings. This 360-degree view allows you to see all angles of the truck in those hard-to-see areas.
The trailer reverse guidance is great for those who are constantly using a trailer. It allows you to see your trailer connections without getting out of the vehicle. This is an adjustable view of both sides of the truck and trailer. These can also be fitted with a rearview camera of the trailer. The Night Edition package is an additional $1,295 which includes the 17-inch black wheels, and black everything. This includes badges, mirrors, headlamp bezels, door handles, auxiliary mirrors, grille, tow hooks, and front and rear bumpers.
So, where did we end up? After our base price of $77,020, $21,270 worth of packages, and a non-negotiable destination charge of $1,795, we stop the ticker at $100,085. For some, this is a house. For others, this is the best thing they could build off of the RAM website. Could someone buy a used truck for a third of this and get the job done? Easily. But, that isn’t what we were looking to do. We wanted to build the ultimate rig that RAM has to offer.
This build utilizes every possible package that we felt was necessary for a truck of this magnitude. With this high-output RAM 3500, we’ll be able to tow just over 34,000 pounds with a trailer and 5,580 pounds of payload. This Cummins makes an impressive 420 horsepower and 1,075 lb-ft of torque. This is one serious machine and will more than likely do anything it is asked. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think this truck, or anything for that matter, is worth it?