This pick-up truck goes big — really big

Because of rain, I had trouble getting quality time in my regular dusty green fall office. So to fill the days, Chrysler Canada sent me a Ram 3500 Mega Cab in premium trim with the Cummins diesel coupled to a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission.

Mega Cab really is mega. The cabin is 20 inches longer than the Ram Quad Cab, and it provides rear-seat legroom of 44 inches. With the regular Quad Cab, you can pick a short bed or long bed, while the Mega Cab gives you the short-bed only.

The sticker price is $101,545 before rebates. Keep in mind the base price for this 3500 Limited comes in at $84,495.

When I looked at the option sheet, there was only one item that I was willing to do without, and that was the Diamond Black Pear paint costing a bit more than $250. The paint colour is great and I really like it, but my trucks spend so much time dirty that it seems a waste to spend any money on a shiny paint job. Then again, my wife liked it, so it would probably stay.

On a truck like this, the only way for my wife to get in easily was to bring her own conductor’s step. So, Ram has a power operated, retractable running board available on some trim levels, and these boards were on my test truck. I had zero problems with the set on this Ram, and my wife loved them.

I took a close at the mounts, seals and actuators. I personally like the system, and I think it will work in our cold and icy winters. Ram engineers assured me that they have done a lot of research into how the boards might freeze up and have done what they can to make sure it doesn’t happen.

The rest of this Ram 3500 seems to be engineered the same way. The Cummins engine has been the company’s go-to engine for decades in the Ram. Aisin transmissions are relatively new and have earned a reputation for being solidly built. The 4X4 system has high/low ranges as well as shift on the fly between 2 and 4 high.

Cummins still uses the urea additive to clean up diesel emissions. With ultra low sulfur diesel now the standard, regeneration should occur less frequently than in the past.

Some owners like to use commercially available grades of biodiesel to provide some of the lubricity that sulfur once provided. All Cummins asks is that the fuel meet current standards for use in Canada. If you do use biodiesel occasionally, remember that it does act as a system cleaner, so I would carry an extra set of filters just in case.

The driver and front passenger get heated, eight-way adjustable power seats while those in the rear have to settle for heated seats. When it comes to seat room, the Mega Cab option adds enough space front and rear that occupants have more legroom than a business class passenger on a plane. With the rear seat folded, the amount of space available looks like a small, weather-proof truck box.

Back up front, the driver has all the controls at his fingertips. It just takes a bit of getting used to their location. A friend of mine has had Ram trucks for a few years and when he hopped in for a quick drive, he was right at home. I haven’t had the same opportunity, so I fumbled about for a couple days before I felt comfortable.

Getting the driver’s seat to fit took about a minute. I moved all the standard items like the seat, steering wheel and the power adjustable trailer towing mirrors. I then spent another nine minutes scrolling through the menus on the large dash-mounted touch screen. Menus for the heated seats and steering wheel as well as ventilation, the display itself and of course the Sirius XM radio and the radio and entertainment functions were easy to get to and figure out.

With my act together, I was now ready to start actually driving this thing. I turned the key and the computer warmed the glow plugs, set the throttle and started the truck when it was ready.

When you put the truck in gear and move out, you are going to notice that ride quality is excellent, even on the dreaded washboard. The electronic controls don’t let the tail step out or let the truck move around much. Yet, these controls are never intrusive, unless of course you insist on doing silly things — then you realize how much help these systems provide to make you look like a good driver.

Personally, I liked this Ram 3500 and can recommend that it be on your shopping list if you are looking for a new truck. And, if you do go for a test drive, remember to look under the top of the centre console armrest. You will find a reminder that Ram is about being a truck.

Charles Renny is a Canadian professional automotive reviewer.

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