Truck Upgrade – 2018 Ram 3500 Dually!

2018 Ram 3500 Laramie, Crew Cab, Long Bed, Dually

I started this as a Facebook post, but it started getting a little long. A couple of weeks ago, we upgraded from a 2012 to 2018 Ram. Both trucks were crew cabs, long beds, duallies, with 4.10 gears and 4×4. We upgraded because I’m a firm believer in keeping equipment within ratings– especially after last year’s camper frame buckling incident.

The new toy hauler that we bought back in February is significant heavier than our old bunk house… in weighing, the new rig comes in right at 21,000 lbs. Of that, 3,400 lbs. is pin weight. Compared to my (overloaded) old rig at 16,800 lbs and 3,000 lbs. of pin weight.



GVWR – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, the maximum amount a vehicle is designed to carry.

GCWR – Gross Combined Weight Rating, the combined maximum amount a vehicle and anything towed is designed to pull (and stop!).

Towing Capacity – the maximum amount an empty truck with a 150 lbs. driver is designed to pull. (Note, this is largely fictitious because who keeps an empty truck?!)

Payload – a term similar to GVWR that defines the maximum a truck can carry: driver, passengers, cargo in/on the truck & bed, and any add-ons to the truck (including your hitch), and tongue/pin weight from the camper.

DEF – Diesel Exhaust Fluid, Magic fluid that makes the truck’s emissions “better”.

MPG – Miles Per Gallon, how far you can go on a gallon of fuel.

The 2012 Ram was rated at 19,500 lbs of towing capacity and 4,200 lbs of cargo carrying capacity (GVWR of 12,300). In the old truck, I was over on GVWR and GCWR but under on axle and tire load capacity ratings. The new 2018 Ram is rated to 30,000 lbs of towing capacity and 5,300 lbs of cargo carrying capacity (GVWR 14,000). With the new truck, I’m fully under all ratings (which is where I like to be).

2018 Ram 3500 Pulling 21k Pounds 2017 Spartan 1245 Toy Hauler
Pulling my 21k lbs. Spartan 1245 toy hauler

In terms of pulling power, it’s night and day different. The new truck is just ripped and ready to go. Additionally, the old truck squatted quite a bit (I would semi-regularly get people who would flash their high beams at me at night). With that in mind, I optioned the new truck with the rear auto-level suspension (aka, factory air bags). Braking and stopping seem improved, though most of our driving has been fairly flat lands between PA, NJ, and MD. Ask me in a couple of weeks when we tackle the Smokey’s.


That unloaded ride, though… I had read about people claiming 1-ton trucks beating you up. With the 2012, it rode well; I mean it was a truck, but it was never uncomfortable. With the 2018, it’s pretty rough a lot of the time. Loaded (and especially with the Trailer Saver air-ride hitch), it’s much tamed and almost pleasant to ride in.


The old truck didn’t have DEF (last year without). I’ve gone about 1,900 miles now and it’s still showing very close to 100%. It’s yet to be determined if this is a hassle or non-issue. (Or even if I’ll use jugs or just get it at truck stops.)

Fuel Mileage

Fuel mileage is much improved unloaded. We are seeing 14-16 mpg in the 2018 where 12-13 was common in the old truck (and I remember very few times we got 14+). I only have 300 towing miles on the new truck but so far, it’s been about the same in the 8-8.5 mpg ballpark; but I’ve also done very little highway towing. Hopefully breaking the truck in and getting more towing miles will bring that up. Only time will tell.

New Toys

There are a few things that the new truck has that the old truck did. Either wasn’t offered or we couldn’t/didn’t get.

2018 Ram 3500 Front Seat Interior
Ventilated front seats are AWESOME!

My favorite are the ventilated front seats. They were offered in 2012 but only for people who opted for bucket seats. We have a bench seat as we want to be able to carry 6. I find the leather to be quite warm to sit in and this brings that temperature down and makes it quite comfortable.

The cargo/truck bed camera is new to us. I’ve only really used it for taking a quick glance at the truck bed while going down the road. I don’t use it hooking up as the screen resolution just isn’t clear enough and I can easily see everything looking back over my shoulder. But, Steve with Our Rear View swore I had to have it that I got it.

And lastly, on the old truck, I opted for a rear window defrost vs. a rear sliding window. This new one came with a power sliding window back there. We’ll see how much we use it.

I wish I had re-opted for power pedals. I didn’t think I used it all that often and it wasn’t worth getting again. Boy was I wrong! This new truck bothers our ankles when driving it.

So That’s It

So there you have it, almost 1,000 words on the new 2018 Ram 3500. Same colors, same look, same trim level… just 6 years newer. Overall, I love the truck’s pulling power. I just wish it had a better ride unloaded.



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