The Ram 3500 heavy-duty lineup is a superb choice when it comes to hauling a large truck camper on a one-ton pickup truck. In 2023, the Ram 3500 HD offers an upgraded 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, camera system enhancements with new Trailer Tow app and multiple view modes, a new sport performance hood on Laramie and Limited trims, and a new digital rearview mirror. Superb choices in engines are offered as well. But before you buy, it’s extremely important to know what the truck is rated for when it comes to payload. Why is the payload rating so important when buying a truck camper? Because the payload rating tells you how much weight you can safely carry without overloading your truck. The weight rating includes passengers, your camper, and cargo—basically everything not permanently attached to your truck.
Unfortunately, finding Ram’s maximum payload and GVWR ratings online can be a chore and very time consuming. Sure, you can quickly find the maximum payload rating for a Ram 3500 dually regular cab, 2WD, with a 6.4L HEMI V8, but very few consumers go that route. Most go with the short-bed, crew cab, 4WD, with a 6.7L turbo diesel. Fortunately, Truck Camper Adventure has done the research for you. Now you can find all of these ratings in one, easy-to-read location. In order to streamline the payload information presented in our chart, only Ram’s Tradesman trim is presented with one gasoline engine choice though various options including drivetrain (2WD and 4WD) and bed-size are presented as well.
2023 Ram 3500HD Heavy Duty
The 2023 Ram 3500 holds up very well when compared to the competition. Two very capable engines are being offered by FCA for the Ram 3500 in 2023. The standard offering is a gasoline-powered 6.4L HEMI V-8, which cranks out 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. The V8 is mated with an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission with your choice of either a 3:73 or a 4:10 rear axle. The superb 6.7L Cummins diesel I6 is offered as an option, of course. Consumers can choose between either the standard Cummins, which generates 370 horsepower and 850 pound-feet of torque, or an HO version, which makes 400 horsepower and an jaw dropping 1,075 pound-feet of torque. Both diesels are backed by an aging yet still effective 6-speed automatic with either a 3:73 or a 4:10 rear axle. At 1,060 pounds, the Cummins outweighs the HEMI by a substantial 490 pounds, so the Cummins should be avoided if you’re looking to maximize payload.
Overall, Ram’s payload ratings compare very well to Ford and GM. A payload of 4,255 pounds with a GVWR of 11,000 pounds can be achieved by going with a 4WD Ram 3500 crew cab model with a 6.4-foot bed, while a 2WD crew cab with an 8-foot bed can achieve a 11,100 GVWR and 4,507-pound payload, perfect for a large truck camper with or without a single slide-out.
- Base price: Tradesman $46,780
- Powertrain: 6.4L V8 and 8-speed automatic transmission
- Max SRW Payload: 4,644 pounds
- Max DRW Payload: 7,680 pounds
A Warning About Payload
When ordering a truck, options can either make or break a truck’s payload rating. First, the diesel option should be “weighed” carefully. Yes, having a diesel engine is great for climbing mountains and raising your testosterone, but it’s also heavier, nearly twice as much as a gasoline V8 (the 6.7L Cummins turbo diesel at 1,060 pounds outweighs the 6.4L V8 HEMI by 490 pounds). This means less payload for you (not to mention more emission hassles for you). The same applies to cab size. A crew cab or mega cab outweighs a standard cab by around 500 pounds. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that opting for a heavier 4WD drivetrain—350 to 400 pounds extra over 2WD is typical—doesn’t significantly hurt the GVWRs of today’s one-ton truck. This is because Ram usually offers the 4WD option with a corresponding increase in GVWR and by extension payload.
The lone exception to the “more options is bad for payload” mantra is the dual rear wheel (DRW) truck. When it comes to payload, the dually is king and it isn’t even close, but it isn’t a panacea when it comes to hauling a heavy truck camper. You have to be smart and educated before buying your truck. This means taking a few extra minutes to look at the Tire and Loading Payload Decal located on the door jamb of the truck. Failure to do so can result in an overloading disaster.