Dodge Ram 2500 HD, 2013 model year, Ethan Holmes’ review.
First, as an introduction of sorts, allow me to say that I am not a SAE certified mechanic, I just play one on TV. Second, I am not a car salesman. I tried it for six weeks right smack in the middle of a recession and got myself fired after climbing over the desk after the sales manager. You see, I don’t like being called an a*hole for not chaining four guys to the lamp post on the lot until they agree to buy a truck. I’m weird like that.
As I write my reviews, I am not going to spout all kinds of technical information on the product or service I review. You can get all that information directly from the manufacturer, provider and other reviews. So why repeat all that? I am of the distinct opinion when people, intelligent people that is, want reviews, they want the layman’s/user’s take on the experience, not information they can already get from other sites.
As you read my reviews you will get truthful and, hopefully, useful information about my own personal experiences with the products and services. These reviews will be based on facts and yet must be noted as, overall, my opinions and only my opinions based on those facts. The rest will be up to you.
Back to the Dodge Ram 2500 HD, 2013 model year.
The truck I purchased approximately seven months ago was a difficult monster to find. The four door, quad cab, long bed model is not real popular among the general population because of it’s size. I am not sure what profound difference there is in adding a few feet to the bed but apparently it scares the general public into backing into things and scraping the side mirrors completely off the truck. I suppose small is good if you can’t drive.
This was my first foray into the world of diesel. I have been driving mostly trucks for the last twenty five years. They were all gas and got horrendous mileage. My last 2006 Ford F250 could never get better than 12.5 to 13 miles per gallon with a 5.7 liter engine. The Dodge Ram 2500 HD with a 6.7 Cummins Diesel in it gets me an average 18 mpg driving local and between 21 and 23 plus on the highway. Yay me! Any time I can almost double out the gas mileage in exchange for a ten to fifteen percent increase in the cost per gallon is okay with me.
Let’s talk about the motor for a moment, the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good- Buying a Dodge Ram 2500 HD with a Cummins motor in it ensures that wherever you go, on whatever terrain you drive, you will always have immediate power on demand. I’m talking about the kind of power that most people will never need or use. Anything you pile in the truck, it doesn’t know it’s there. Anything you attach to the back end of this monster, it doesn’t know it’s there. The first time I hooked my single axle 1800 pound trailer to it I kept having to look in the rear view mirror to make sure it hadn’t fallen off and careened off into the desert.
If I put that same empty trailer on my old F250, the mileage would immediately drop to 9 per gallon and the truck would piss and moan up every grade of every sort. The Cummins Diesel provides more than sufficient power whether the truck is full of heavy stuff or if you have a trailer on the back, even heading up the steep mountain ranges around here.
Stepping on the gas peddle of the Dodge Ram 2500 HD is akin to stepping on the gas peddle of a giant sports car. This thing takes off no matter where you’re sitting. Several dealership mechanics have advised me to ‘drive it like you stole it’ to prevent soot build-up at low rpm’s but none of them are offering to pay the speeding tickets. This truck will easily do 60 mph down a city street if you’re not careful. Getting on the interstate, even an on-ramp heading up a mountain is zero problemo. I could easily be up to 80 mph without trying. Of course, the harder you drive this truck, the worse your gas mileage will be. It can and does suck fuel when you stomp on the pedal. I’ve watched the computer drop a full mile per gallon off the average just taking a four mile sojourn up a mountain side on the interstate.
As a final aside, it is widely said that the Cummins is a monster engine that you can easily expect to get 4-500k out of and you could throw a grenade at it and it will still run. I will simply say that it remains to be seen on this end. We all know, from experience, that you can rarely buy things today that don’t have to be returned, replaced, serviced or thrown away within a few months of taking it home.
The Bad- If you’re not into selling fracking leases at a premium for drilling into your front lawn and don’t happen to have a dead grandma who left you six million to take care of her ancient ankle biting poodle, don’t buy the Cummins diesel. Dodge adds an $8000 premium to the price of the truck just for that privilege. The Cummins is also much more expensive to maintain than a gas engine.
The oil capacity is 12 quarts compared to less than half that for most gas motors. You will replace two batteries instead of one. Fuel filters, air filters and other maintenance items are substantially more expensive than gas. Then there’s the newly required by law, DEF additive, an eight gallon tank sitting on top of the gas tank complete with it’s own in-dash gauge. DEF is a uric acid based fluid sprayed on the exhaust as it is exiting to meet stringent EPA Clean Air Act standards. You must use it and keep it replenished in this truck or the Supreme Overlord Computer will actually shut your truck off and not let you drive it.
(These are issues for a ‘working man’ who still lives on a budget, not the retired, financially secure people who go out and buy the Dodge Ram 2500 HD to haul their fifth wheel around in an effort to see all fifty states and Canada before they die and leave the whole mess to the kids.)
The Ugly- The nice thing about owning a new vehicle is Dodge’s three year, 36K miles full warranty and the five year, 100K miles power-train warranty. Theoretically that means you don’t have a thing to worry about for a while as long as you take care of the vehicle the way Dodge tells you to. (Why do I sometimes feel as though this is not really my truck with the computers and Dodge all telling me what I can and can’t do with the vehicle?)
The scariest thing for me was doing the research on repairs for this vehicle. It’s not uncommon for repairs on a Cummins to average in the thousands of dollars. I better warm up the printer.
Dodge Ram 2500 HD Cosmetics-
This is what I call the cosmetics; the interior/exterior style, comfort and looks of the vehicle. Dodge has always made ‘pretty’ trucks since at least the late ’90’s. I had a ’97 Burgundy and Grey 1500 that was gorgeous to look at but was a piece of junk mechanically speaking.
The interior is well appointed on my Big Horn model. The seats are very comfortable and my first thought upon driving it was how nice it would be to take a trip in it. Everything is in easy reach and their Uconnect media center can handle just about anything you want to do but probably shouldn’t in a truck, at least not while driving. The cab is quiet and well insulated from outside noise. Close the door and you can barely hear the engine running unless that’s just me going deaf with age. (Now I know why I climb back into the truck after a while and the volume on the radio is mysteriously cranked to 25.)
I sat in a similar model Ford F250 just before going to see this truck and it felt like I was sitting in a plastic Tonka Toy compared to the Dodge. Dodge gets it about creature comforts and trip taking in a pickup truck. There were even nice little surprises like a built-in power converter plug so I can brew my espresso while I am rolling over people on the highway. Another nice feature was in the in-console air brake option. I did not like the fact that none of the cigarette lighter plugs work once the truck is off since I like to leave my phone in the truck to charge while I am out doing other things like, say, working.
I don’t have to say anything about the exterior. I get it. It’s pretty, even when it’s full of trash bags full of yard debris and a wheel barrow with two broken shovels sticking out the top. Quit pulling up to me at red lights and telling me how pretty my truck is as though it’s some sort of trophy wife. (Come to think of it, they’re both expensive.) I get enough of that on my vintage motorcycle.
I HAVE ISSUES-
Now we’ll talk about the things that have gone wrong with the Dodge Ram I drive or that make me flat out nuts unless I stay on my medication.
The transmission, especially in local driving is somewhat clunky. Perhaps it’s too much power to be kept under reign trying to hold varying speeds between 20 and 35 while the pinhead in front of me plays with their phone and tries, simultaneously, to figure out which fast food joint to stop at and text their way through the drive-through window. In addition, the electronic shift control, which is located on the gear shift handle is a thoroughly annoying rocker switch which has exhibited the vexing habit of not responding to my efforts at switching gears, especially in local driving while I am trying to at least pretend I don’t want to kill all the texters. I was told to ‘keep the rpm’s up’ but that’s kind of difficult when the truck won’t do what you wish.
One day I made the terrible mistake of trying to change the tire pressure on my truck because, God forbid, I was actually going to use it for the purpose for which it was built. I was going to haul something heavy in the bed. One of the computers that runs this truck went absolutely nuts on me as in, “Danger! Danger Will Robinson! The truck is no longer in ‘light truck mode’. You must correct the tire pressure immediately or the truck will self-destruct!”
Well, something like that. Perhaps I have my tongue firmly inserted in cheek as I don’t wish to say what’s really on my mind when a vehicle tells me what to do instead of the other way around. I don’t like people ordering me around. I surely like it even less when an unseen mechanical entity does the same. Especially when the ‘UME’ doesn’t know what I am about to do. I should be able to set my damn tires at whatever pressure I think is applicable to the situation at the moment. Yeah, good luck with that.
I don’t like the fact that the doors on this beast have taken to beating me to death. All four doors seem to be set at a tension that only requires you blowing on them to shut them. You people need to work out more.
When I open a door, it’s usually because I am loading stuff in there. (Example; I rarely go anywhere without a large cooler in the back seat to keep groceries from becoming a fresh cooked dinner in the truck courtesy of high desert summer heat.) It is for such reasons that I don’t appreciate the door in question slamming back on me every time there is a breeze or if I am on the slightest grade. We’re not all skinny, 127 pound old guys with wives twice as big as we are. I can handle a big door no problem. When it’s open, I want it to stay open until I stuff the cooler, not try to take my legs off at the knees.
The most vexing issue with this model Dodge Ram 2500 HD is the truck’s habit of not really being in Park and refusing to release the fob that serves as the ignition key. I pull into a parking lot and shift the truck to Park. (That’s what you’re supposed to in a parking lot, right?) The indicator shows up as a big green P for PARK! Except, like most of my ex-girlfriends, the truck is lying to me. It’s not really in Park. I know this because the fob will not go all the way to the Off position and the fob will not release. I have to turn the fob to the run position and shift the truck back to D for Drive and then back into Park. Then it will allow me to turn the fob to the Off position and give me the damn fob. Approaching no less than two dealerships about this problem leaves everyone scratching their asses and walking off muttering things like, “Never heard o’ that before.” Well, ya can’t say that anymore, can ya?
To this day, I continue to be amused and frustrated by how little the personnel at various Dodge dealerships know about this truck. Often, I know more about it than they do and I find myself giving them more information than they had when I walked in. What’s up with that?
Lastly, I don’t do ratings. I’m not going to give this truck three and a half tires or any number of stupid gold stars. We’re not six years old any more and I am not certain you should base a purchase decision, (especially a major purchase), on the opinion or number of stars from another person. What I will say is this. If you’re a working man like me and not an independently wealthy author like I’m trying to be, then the purchase of a truck in this class is going to be like getting married. (Well, at least, that’s what I hear.) It’s going to cost you.
That said, the Dodge Ram 2500 HD will do anything you ask it to do unless it’s ‘change the tire pressure’ or ‘park it and give me the damn fob’. You will also have to put up with strange people pulling up to you at lights or standing in the parking lot gazing longingly at the ‘pretty truck’ and asking you stupid questions like “How much that thing cost ya, buddy?”. Maybe I should see if they can get the damn fob out.
Stay tuned, sign on, climb on board, become a follower! There will be more reviews coming from author Ethan Holmes sprinkled generously with a somewhat acerbic wit and a more than slightly twisted sense of humor!