Future Curbside Classic: 2012 Ram 3500 Big Horn – Sergio Paraphrased Sir Mix-A-Lot When He Said “I Like Pick Ups And I Cannot Lie”

There is an old gamblers adage about going big or going home.  Since I’ve had pickups inexplicably on my mind, finding this Dodge Ram makes for an interesting delve into the purpose and utilization of such pickups and this adage leads to a journey I’d like to take you on.

Without further ado, let me invite you to Rural America.

Modern pickups often appear to provide a biblical experience for some internet commenters due to their wailing and gnashing of teeth when commenting.  Why acknowledge profound improvements in capability, efficiency, and drivability when one can endlessly growl, fume, and fuss about their perceptions of them being bloated facsimiles of their ancestors, only hauling the owners ass, nobody needing anything like that, so forth and so on.

When reading such comments, I’m always tempted to ask a few questions:  How many of these people own a five passenger Accord, Camry, Passat, Maxima, Fusion, etc, and never carry five passengers?  Have passenger cars not grown taller and heavier?  Do you know the situation of the pickup owner / driver?  I confess; there is a time or two I may have succumbed to the temptation.

Since I’m out to challenge perceptions by introducing different experiences and perspectives, I figured I may as well go for the gusto and ante up the biggest example of pickup I could easily find.  Which leads us to our featured Ram, found for sale recently in Missouri’s state capital.

For those elsewhere in the world, this red state (not a politically tinged statement; thank wiki for the map coloring) is Missouri, a place I often reference; I live square in the middle.  Missouri is the 18th most populated state in the United States and Monsanto, Edward Jones, and Enterprise Car Rental are based here.

Covering an area of 69,704 square miles, Missouri is just over half the physical size of Germany.  Among the 50 states Missouri is mid-pack in area, being the 21st largest.

From Missouri Ruralist

A heavy component of the Missouri economy is agriculture.  The rocky terrain that encompasses a respectable part of the state does not play well with row crops, so beef and dairy cattle, frequently owned by individuals, are considerable in Missouri’s overall agricultural output.

President Truman with mule team

As an aside, Missouri still has a respectable amount of horse and mule breeding, currently having the seventh highest horse population in the country according to the Humane Society.  I mention mules as Missouri mules helped win World War I, with one farm alone in Missouri selling 180,000 mules to the British military.  One source stated at the onset of WWI, Germany had six million mules to the combined four million of France and England; the United States had 25 million.

There are other agricultural examples that could be used, but for illustrative purposes, let’s stick with cattle.

So here’s your hypothetical situation, presenting but one scenario illustrating why this type of pickup is important, vital, and relevant:  Many people in Rural America own acreage and raise cattle for extra income.  The cattle grazing on your 5 to 500 acre (2.0 to 202 hectares) homestead have to be taken to market, generally to one of the many cattle auction houses that dot the state.  Buyers for your cattle just don’t show up at your front door and the auction is part of the process in how beef cattle are shuffled to market.  How are you going to transport them?  As you possess finite resources, you need a tool that serves many purposes since single use tools are not generally a wise financial decision.

From the University of Montana’s Rural Institute

Let’s not think Missouri is alone in the need for enterprising individuals to transport various types of large loads, agricultural or otherwise; one can figure some variation of this to be similar in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Colorado, Wyoming, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, The Dakotas; the list will get long.  It’s quite obvious the United States possesses a lot of rural territory.

Having cattle to sell (or buy) you need the right tool, a tool that will haul your cattle, carry feed, move implements, and perform whatever tasks around your property, all while being capable of toting passengers as needed since additional vehicles cost your tight budget even more to buy, license, operate, and insure plus all related and various taxes.

Think something like this Tacoma will work?  It’s a fine little pickup, but keep in mind an adult Holstein will weigh 1,500 pounds (680 kg) and your trailer needs to be stout enough to hold a huge pissed off animal, so one should anticipate even a smaller sized cattle trailer to weigh 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) or so.  If you don’t like Holsteins, a Hereford will weigh 2,600 pounds (1,180 kg), about the same as a Charolais.

The tow rating for a four-cylinder Tacoma is 3,500 pounds so one could pull their empty trailer.  Maybe.

Another factor to consider in pulling a cattle transport is how a fifth-wheel trailer (sometimes called a gooseneck) is much more stable than a bumper hitch trailer.  Any number of RV related sites will confirm this, although there is sometimes a fuel mileage penalty.

Incidentally, not all cattle trailers are this long.  Shorter ones in the 3,000 to 3,500 pound range are built and they work great with half-ton and three-quarter ton pickups (think Ram 1500 and Ram 2500, respectively).

You have multiple heads to transport, just like you do at most auctions.  How many trips do you want to make?  And how safely do you want to do it?

Allow me to introduce you to the Dodge Ram 3500.

This example is (most likely conservatively) rated by Chrysler to pull 22,750 pounds (10,319 kg).  It has a Gross Vehicle Rating of 12,300 pounds (5,580 kg) which is roughly 50% higher than a 1982 Dodge Ram 350 crew cab, the next to final year for a crew cab of that generation.  Pickups have come a long way.

It is heavily knocking on the door of a double cab Hino 155DC’s GVR of 14,500 pounds (6,575 kg).  A toy the Ram is not.  It’s also worth noting the Ram 3500 is middle of the pack for Chrysler as far as nominal load ratings; there is also a heavier duty Ram 4500 and 5500 but those are generally obtained as a chassis and cab, like said Hino.

In the interest of full disclosure, I picked the Hino brand as it was the first randomly chosen brand I found that had a truck with a comparable weight rating and cab configuration; no doubt it’s a fine truck and I’m by no means knocking it.  Hino also has an internationally known name and this is an international audience, which works out well.

A pickup of the capability and magnitude of our featured Ram is a unique thing.  For international reference, Ford’s UK website lists the rest of the world Ranger has having a 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs) tow rating; in other words, it’s twice that of the referenced Tacoma and roughly one-third of this Ram’s rating.  If thinking in terms of farming, the Ram grows bigger corn and has bigger steak.

Let’s continue our comparison to the Hino.  Here’s a peek into its interior.

Here’s the Ram’s interior.  In addition to being more creature friendly inside, the Ram has a wider aptitude given its four-wheel drive.

The 210 horsepower and 440 ft-lbs of torque in the Hino is nice but it is simply outgunned by this Ram’s Cummins diesel.  There is no mention of fifth-wheel capability for the 155DC on the Hino website, a trait that is a prerequisite in Rural America.

Even if stepping up to the larger Hino 238 series, the body chart references nothing but van and refrigeration bodies.  This could likely be equipped with a fifth wheel, but Hino isn’t talking about it.  Standard power is still modest at 230 horsepower.

The featured Ram’s 385 horsepower and 930 ft-lbs of torque is simply more conducive to moving that 22,000 pound trailer at prevailing highway speeds in hilly territory and it’s built to pull the type of trailer to most safely do so.  Towing here is a different set of circumstances than it is in many other places.

Cost is another factor to consider.  

Looking at commercialtrucktrader.com gives me a new 2019 Hino 155DC for $50,899.  That price is for a cab and chassis only; one still needs to procure some type of bed.

Looking for a modest flatbed, Bert’s Truck in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, has a brand new Knapheide flatbed built for a dually truck.  Presuming it will fit a Hino, the cost is $4,700 – and it’s a leftover bed manufactured in 2015.  So this Hino will run a person roughly $56,000 – assuming it can be equipped to pull a fifth-wheel trailer.  Perhaps it can, but Hino is tight-lipped about it.

Conversely, one can build a new 2018 Ram 3500 with 405 horsepower, in Big Horn trim and comparable to our featured pickup, for $57,675.  It’s also possible to obtain a 14,000 pound GVW package on the 3500, bringing it within 500 pounds of the Hino’s GVW.  That’s about the weight of a round bale of hay.

Judicious use of options can make one’s pickup much more reasonably priced.  For example, I was able to spec out a regular cab 3500 with a gasoline engine and four-wheel drive for $38,500.  Many of the one-tons I see are lower trimmed models; this Big Horn isn’t atypical but it isn’t typical, either.

What about sales and service for those of us in Rural America?  There are 193 Hino dealers in the entire United States with the one nearest me being approximately 110 miles away.

There are 35 Ram dealers within a 100 mile radius of my zip code, nineteen of which are shown here.

There is simply no comparison about which is the better proposition for the outlined purposes.  The Hino will be great in urban delivery uses while the Ram, whose dealers cover a larger area of the United States, will be superior in rural uses.

Our particular Ram is nothing special or unique.  It’s a run of the mill one-ton pickup in basic white and is a Clydesdale among workhorses.  It’s also a durable workhorse as it is advertised as having 281,000 miles (452,200 km) and, while it doesn’t come through in the pictures, it has obviously pulled a trailer for many of those miles being equipped with both a fifth-wheel hitch and a well used receiver hitch.

Might a person see this rig going down the road unloaded?  Quite likely.  Is that a reflection of how this pickup is always used?  Hardly.

For us in Rural America, we are always subjected to how those “monster” pickups are compensating for shortcomings in manhood, they are only purchased because they are “needed” for towing, are a status thing, ad nauseam.  Sure, there will always be a small but highly visible contingent of people who overshadow the rest, much like all the small economy cars with fart-can exhausts, spoilers the size of a barn door, and neon illuminated undercarriages.  They exist.

However, when it comes to pickups, those of us in Rural America use pickups for the tools they are.  Being the owner of a modest parcel of property, anything smaller than a half-ton pickup is utterly useless for my needs and similar applies to many other people.  The proliferation of extended and crew cab pickups is a reflection of other elements, primarily the smaller size of current sedans and the ongoing need to carry people.

None of this has been intended as an advertisement nor to extol any virtues – signaled, implied, or stated.  It’s simply to draw contrasts and to create some context on why pickups are popular and why pickups, even these one-ton units, are so necessary and how they are a superior tool.  It’s also meant to challenge mindsets by providing insight into actual applications; hopefully I’ve found some success with that.

Despite the mileage, this Ram will likely still be earning its keep long after this article has faded into the mists of cyberspace.