When moving up to a larger fifth-wheel trailer, the smart move is to upgrade your tow vehicle as well. Dodge has just expanded your choice for a true medium-duty hauler with the introduction of the 2008 Ram 4500/5500 chassis cab. The Ram 4500 and 5500 will compete within the Class 4 and 5 segments with a gross vehicle weight (gvw) range of 14,000 to 19,500 pounds.
These trucks are designed for commercial use with target buyers in the construction trades, service vehicles or even tow/wrecker trucks. Our attention, however, centers on a different type of towing, and that’s recreational towing.
Why look at anything beyond the typical 3/4-ton, or even full-ton pickup to haul your fiver? The main reasons are to have the power, the brakes and the ability to stand up to the daily demands when venturing into towing robust — and usually very heavy — fifth-wheel trailers.
The standard 6.7-liter I-6 Cummins High Output Turbodiesel is rated at 305 hp at 3,000 rpm and 610 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm. When compared to big-block gas engines, this diesel delivers superior fuel economy while ensuring durability and low cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle, and that equates to a manufacturer-mandated life-to-major overhaul interval of 350,000 miles. Experience has shown that towing larger fivers with medium-duty trucks allows RVers to enjoy their purchase for the long haul — and additional savings when they unknowingly overload a truck that’s not designed to tow ultra-large fifth-wheels.
And if you’re thinking about doing your part to help keep the air cleaner and the planet greener, the Cummins 6.7-liter is on your side with B5 biodiesel compatibility and a reduction in particulates and nitrogen oxide (NOx) that comply with 50-state 2007 emission standards.
Rounding out the powertrain package, the Dodge Ram 4500/5500 offers a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission, both with power-take-off capability. An available electronic-shift transfer case is offered and a factory-installed exhaust brake contributes to both safety and additional service brake life. And speaking of brakes, the standard four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system ensure added safety and crash-avoidance capability — especially when towing.
A five-link front suspension with a beam axle is standard and the rear suspension includes two-stage leaf springs for greater load-carrying capacity. Four cab-axle lengths (60, 84, 108 and 120 inches) are available, offering a wide variety of cab and carrier combinations. Maximum gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) is 16,500 pounds for the Ram 4500 and 19,500 pounds for the 5500 line. The gross combination weight rating (gcwr) for both models is 26,000 pounds. Tow ratings range from 17,550 to 18,450 pounds, depending on vehicle and options ordered.
Because the Ram 4500/5500 meets all cab-axle and industry upfitter specifications, the flat, “clean” frame rails with 34-inch frame-rail spacing provide versatility for aftermarket towing beds. The fuel filler is routed through the frame and an optional 22-gallon mid-ship fuel tank (in addition to the standard 52-gallon fuel tank) keeps the chassis balanced for better handling. Upfitter wiring circuits and electrical schematics are identified in the body-builder guide, further adding to the ease of installing a towing bed.
Style & Grace
Available with a Regular (single) cab or the Quad Cab, the Ram 4500/5500 continues the trademark Dodge “Big Truck” look with its massive crosshair grille and large headlamps, reinforced by an equally bold hood and fender combination. Large 7×10-inch trailer tow mirrors are standard, and the trucks are delivered on 19.5-inch wheels. The Ram 4500/5500 is available in three trim lines: ST, SLT and the Laramie. That means full-size interior comfort blended with commercial strength. Comfortable oversized seats, including optional bucket seats with leather trim, provide relaxing support while adding an upscale atmosphere to the interior.
Quad Cab models provide seating for up to six adults and feature a 60/40 folding rear seat. Seat cushions fold up to create a tall floor-to-ceiling storage area, or an optional floor section under the back seats can fold open to form a flat-load floor with additional storage in each of the foot wells. Regular Cab models offer generous storage behind the seat, which also provides room for reclining the driver and passenger seats.
Fourteen advanced safety technologies and enhanced accident-avoidance features include an energy-absorbing steering column; knee bolsters that restrain and position the occupant properly and enable the air bags to work effectively; a multi-stage air-bag system; seatbelt pretensioners to immediately remove the slack from seatbelts during the first moments of an accident; integrated remote keyless entry transmitter and ignition key; and a security alarm.
So, if you’re in the market for a new tow vehicle, the Dodge 4500/5500 has the largest standard fuel tank, the largest brake rotors (390mm) and a claimed best-in-class first-gear launch for optimum acceleration on vehicle take-off — and with more than 1.5-million test miles on the odometer, it’s ready to sign on for a full-time job: towing your fifth-wheel.
Dodge/Chrysler LLC, (800) 4ADODGE,