Environment Transportation Giant Ram 3500 "Breaks the Sound Barrier" for Power and Intimidation By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated January 15, 2019 ©. 2019 Ram 3500 in driveway/ FiatChrysler Share Twitter Pinterest Email Transportation Automotive Active Aviation Public Transportation It has a front end higher than me, but anyone with a driver's license can just walk into the dealer and buy one. It's the grille that got me. I have been complaining about the design of light trucks for years, writing that we should Make SUVs and light trucks as safe as cars or get rid of them. I quoted Paul Marks of the New Scientist: Making SUVs less dangerous to pedestrians will require radical changes to their design. “One way to reduce head injuries from SUV impacts would be to replace the blunt front end with a sloping, more aerodynamic one, making them more car-like. But this won’t be popular with SUV buyers who like their rugged, off-road look,” [engineer Clay] Gabler says. But this photo in Trucks.com of a Ram 3500 had the most outlandish front end of any truck I have seen. It really did look like a barbecue grill on its side, and I seriously wonder how you get the blood and guts out of it when it slams into a pedestrian. My wife's microplane could be a great grille/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0 I really thought of my wife's microplane, ready to slice whatever hits it into little pieces. © Ram 3500 towing/ FiatChrysler Readers will say that this is a work vehicle, or that it is needed for heavy towing. After all, it can pull up to 35,000 pounds. Alan Adler of Trucks.com writes: It is the first HD pickup to grind out 1,000 pound-feet of torque, thanks to the high-output Cummins turbo-diesel 6.7-liter engine rated at 400 horsepower. “It’s the sound barrier, and we just broke it,” said Jim Morrison, head of the Ram brand in North America. © Leather seats and 2-liter cupholders/ FiatChrysler And it is not just a work truck, it is also a play truck. Ryan Nagode, head of Ram design, tells Adler: Since Ram became a stand-alone truck brand in 2009, the ways in which customers use heavy-duty pickups have changed. “There was a time when these trucks did their job on the weekend and sat in the driveway during the week,” Nagode said. “Now our customers are driving these every day.” That means customer expectations for luxury and technology rise constantly. © Uconnect infotainment system/ FiatChrysler Besides the front end so high that it would be impossible to see anybody in front of it, the truck has a 12-inch Uconnect info-tainment system. Andrew Krok of CNET describes it: The big boy can display either one page across the height of the screen, or it can run two applications simultaneously. Uconnect is one of our favorite systems across the industry, so this is definitely a good thing. A second, 7-inch screen in the gauge cluster is also available. As for sound, nothing will bother you if you crank up the 750 watt Harman/Kardon sound system. Andrew Krok explains: The interior rocks active noise cancellation and special acoustic glass designed to minimize unwanted noises -- Ram claims this updated HD model reduces interior noise by 10 decibels. The truck is so big that you won't feel it when you hit someone, and you won't have to hear them scream, either. © Towing a big boat/ FiatChrysler This is a big truck capable of carrying and towing big loads. But these have become so popular with people who use them as their regular transportation; RAM sold 536,980 Ram trucks last year, and 32 percent of sales were these monsters, which anyone over sixteen can buy and drive with a regular license. In a normal, sane world, people wouldn't drive around town in something this big. There would be rules, like there are in Europe, where the nose of the truck is designed for greater pedestrian safety. There would be energy efficiency standards that would make it impossible for Chrysler to sell half a million trucks every year. But instead, we are going to get more fuel consumption and pedestrian deaths as more Americans want the latest, the biggest, the highest pickup trucks you can buy.