When you need a big truck, boy, have I got a recommendation for you.

This week I had the chance to test drive the 2012 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 heavy duty pickup equipped with the 6.7-liter turbo Cummins diesel engine.

To say this truck is big would be an understatement.

Yes, it is big in physical size, but itís also big in its ability to get big jobs done in a hurry.

For example, it has best-in-class gross vehicle weight rating of 19,500, and its tow rating is equally impressive.

Itís also one very big truck.

But you donít need a commercial driverís license to operate it.

I checked.

Chrysler thought I was being funny.

Other than avoiding drive-through windows at fast food restaurants, I did enjoy my week behind the wheel of the Ram 3500.

Unfortunately for me, my wife had a busy week at work and that long list of ďhoney-doĒ projects reserved for the next time I had a pickup to evaluate didnít get done.

I know, Iím devastated as well. I was so looking forward to being able to write about what a great job this truck did carrying a load of mulch for my wifeís garden or hauling away a load of brush to the recycle center.

Iím all torn up about it.

But I have seen demonstrations of the Ram 3500ís capabiliy and it is one rock solid workhorse of a pickup.

For 2012, the Ram 3500 is available with two engine choices. The standard engine is the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that delivers 383 horsepower and 400 lbs.-ft. torque using regular unleaded gasoline (mid-grade unleaded recommended).

Buyers have the option of the turbo diesel I-6, delivering 305 horsepower and 610 lbs.-ft. torque.

Both engines are mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission.

As with nearly every truck model, thatís just the beginning of the available choices.

You can pick rear- or four-wheel drive configurations; regular or crew cab body styles with 2- to 6-seat passenger options; regular- or long-box bed length (regular cab); three trim levels ó ST, SLT and Laramie ó as well as a nearly infinite list of optional features and accessories to choose from.

The level of choices is so vast, suffice it to say if you canít get what you want on a Ram, then thereís just no pleasing you.

The Ram 3500 is an extremely capable work truck.

As I mentioned earlier, it is big ó in more ways than just its size.

It is also very nicely equipped ó at least it can be. In terms of amenities and comfort features, Iíll even say the Laramie Longhorn test vehicle was comparable to many of the luxury models I evaluate ó only it is a lot bigger.

In addition to a number of specialized towing features, this weekís test truck was a virtual office on wheels, complete with backup camera, super high-tech audio/information/navigation system and heated first and second row seats.† †

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts


2012 Ram 3500

2-, 3-, 5- or 6-seat heavy duty pickup †

Rear- or four-wheel drive

Regular or crew cab body style

Regular or long box

Trim packages:

ST, SLT, Laramie




5.7L HEMI V8

(383 horsepower/400 torque)

6.7L Cummins turbo diesel I6

(305 horsepower/610 torque)


6-speed automatic

FUEL: Regular unleaded (mid-grade unleaded recommended) for HEMI V8/Ultra low-sulfer diesel for Cummins I6


TOWING: Up to 18,600 pounds when properly equipped


FUEL TANK: 22 or 52 gallons