The truck wars continue here in the Motor City as new performance specs were recently announced for the 2021 Ram HD. As of this writing, the Ram 3500 with a Cummins 6.7-liter High Output Turbo Diesel has the most torque of any HD truck on the market at 1,075 lb-ft. Ram’s new torque number sneaks past Ford’s PowerStroke (1,050 lb-ft. of torque) and handily surpasses the current Duramax (910 lb-ft. of torque).
Of course, torque numbers only tell part of the story. There is a lot more that determines how well a truck will handle heavy payloads and trailers. High torque numbers make headlines (hence this article) but remember to consider your truck as a whole rig and not rely on just one set of numbers. Aside from that, we still have to hand it to Ram.
“Ram regains capability leadership by delivering the highest ever torque rating for a diesel pickup truck and heaviest gooseneck towing capacity,” said Mike Koval Jr., Head of Ram Brand. “We understand the attributes that are most important to our customers within the heavy-duty segment; they demand hardworking, long-lasting capability.”
Difference Between High Output & Standard Output Cummins Engines
Ram and Cummins increased boost from the variable geometry turbocharger and upped the fuel delivery system’s flow rate. The changes for 2021 account for an additional 75 lb-ft. of torque versus a 2020 model. It’s worth noting the torque figure of 1,075 lb-ft. applies to the High Output version of the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel, which is only available for the Ram 3500 HD. If you opt for a Ram 2500, the truck will come with the standard output Cummins engine with 850 lb-ft. of torque.
Another key difference is where the peak torque hits in the rpm band. The standard output Cummins provides peak torque at 1,700 rpm, while the High Output version will do so at 1,356 rpm. High Output engines benefit from a heavy-duty Aisin six-speed automatic with a 3.75 first gear, whereas the standard Cummins uses an FCA-built six-speed auto box (68RFE) with a 3.23 first gear.
Horsepower will differ as well, although only slightly. The standard Cummins delivers 370 ponies while the High Output version pushes out 400 horsepower.
Both engines feature a compacted graphite iron block, pushrod-operated overhead valves, and a high-pressure common rail fuel injection system in terms of internal, mechanical construction. Oil capacity (12 quarts) and coolant capacity (23.8 quarts) is unchanged between the two engines.
2021 Ram HD: Essential Foundations
Equally necessary is the foundation of the 2021 Ram HD. That High Output Cummins, though impressive, needs a solid backbone on which to reside. The 2021 Ram HD relies on a ladder-style frame with fully boxed rails and a unique structural crossmember specifically for fifth-wheel and gooseneck towing.
Ram can do the necessary fifth-wheel and gooseneck hardware installments at the factory. This includes the fifth-wheel pucks, gooseneck bolt plates, gooseneck center castings, 4/7-pin connector (bumper), and another seven-pin connector in the bed.
Upgrades across the chassis, along with the increased torque output, allow the 2021 Ram 3500 with the High Output Cummins to have a max fifth-wheel/gooseneck towing capacity of 37,100 lbs. Conventional towing increases to 23,000 lbs.
One Final Point of Clarification
Like the torque figure, these high towing numbers are only part of the story for the 2021 Ram HD. We definitely want to give Ram proper credit, but keep in mind these high towing figures are an exercise in marketing. When you see a high towing number like this, it’s reserved only for select models (usually regular cabs in a 4×2 configuration). Generally speaking, the more you add to the truck (like going up to a crew cab or having a 4×4), the more your towing capacity will decrease.
Trucks that look like the ones in the gallery below are the ones that are capable of hitting the “headline” towing numbers. Whenever you see high towing numbers, like the ones in this article, regardless of the automaker, remember the phrase “when properly equipped” will always apply.
Ram isn’t the only one that does this. GM and Ford do it too. Just do your research before you buy and have a good idea of what your trailer will weigh when full. And no matter what these automakers say, never push your truck to those limits. Towing in a straight line is one thing, but braking and steering, especially in the mountains, are another.
That digression aside, a digital rearview mirror will help when maneuvering the 2021 Ram HD. The digital rearview mirror displays video in real-time from a rear-facing camera (it can revert to a traditional mirror if a driver wants). The digital rearview mirror is available on all 2021 Ram HD trucks and provides an expanded view around the back end.
Expect the 2021 Ram HD at dealerships later in December.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He serves on the board of directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, is a past president of Detroit Working Writers, and a loyal Detroit Lions fan.