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Sneaking a Peak at Auto Show Launches

Big Detroit Auto Show is next week and Chrysler is working to make a splash - Ram Power Wagon anyone?

Heavy duty pickups remain one of the perks of farming. You have a reason to buy those heftier versions of popular 150/1500 class rides because you need the lifting, hauling, toting capacity offers by the 250/2500 and higher classes of truck. Earlier this year Ford launched its new Super Duty series at the Texas State Fair with an all-new engine design. Dodge is pushing ahead with its strategy in the heavy duty class too and while some folks worry about Fiat ownership and what that might mean, you wouldn't know it from the specs we're seeing.

For the 2010 North American International Auto Show, Chrysler is showing a series of new cars and trucks. Chief among them is the Ram Truck brand, which you might have noticed in a series of TV ads on NFL games this fall. The truck brand is breaking out on its own and those engineers are pulling no punches.

The the Ram Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 pickup line is already winning awards from the auto press due in part because of a lot of new features the big rigs offer. For 2010, the Ram line punches up the gross vehicle weight rating on the 2500 4x4 crew cab diesel models to 9,600 pounds, from 9,000 pounds. The diesel models - yep the Ram is still Cummins powered (more on that in a moment) - are the only trucks in their class to feature a standard exhaust brake which can reduce brake fade and prolong brake life.

As for that diesel power, that 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel engine produces 350 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,500 rpm. Standard oil change intervals for the diesel engine is 7,500 with major-overhaul intervals of 350,000 miles. To meet emissions standards - which we all know are changing on diesel-powered vehicles, Cummins uses a diesel particulate filter and an adsorber catalyst to reduce oxides of nitrogen by as much as 90% to meet mid-2010 requirements. Chrysler notes that Ram Heavy Duty's DPF approach offers a lower-cost alternative to diesel emission fluid injection systems.

The Ram Power Wagon gets a two-tone paint look for 2010 and could be a popular choice for heavy duty truck buyers.

A top-end choice in this line is the Ram Power Wagon with its electric locking front and rear differentials, electronic disconnecting sway bar, Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires (32-inches is not a typo), underbody skid plate protection, 4.56 axle ratio for hill climbing and a custom-built Warn 12,000 winch accessible through the front bumper.

The Ram Power Wagon offers a lot of great features and when paired with the Cummins diesel it might be an interesting choice for the farm. It's just interesting to watch as Chrysler firms up its brand strategy into 2010. While there's all this talk about the need for smaller cars and those are coming; it's comforting to see the Ram brand push ahead with a full line-up of light- and heavy-duty pickups for a range of buyers. Pickups still represent a significant part of the corporation's business and it appears the powers that be know it.

An interesting side note - for the 1500-series Ram. The release announcing it's appearance at the 2010 Detroit show notes a long list of awards the new-style trucks have received. One of my favorites is from Maxim magazine which recognized the truck for "Achievement in Party-Enabling Technology" with the Rambox. This storage areas built into the sides of the pickup bed apparently can be put to very creative uses.

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