When we last traveled to the San Fernando Valley to meet up with Steve Heller of Howard Sommers Towing and Century Towing's Jeff Littman, we tested the 2008 Ram 5500 under real-world towing conditions ("Towing the Line," September 2008). Three years later, the 2011 edition landed at Business Fleet's doorstep, eager to prove its worth among its medium-duty competitors.

Check out our video walk around and test drive and more photos!

Heller and Littman were happy to oblige, and Littman was able to secure a pristine Maserati coupe from The Auto Gallery Service Center to add a layer of class to our gritty road test.

Heller checks under the hood. Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab trucks come equipped with the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine that produces 305 hp at 2,900 rpm and 610 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm.

Heller checks under the hood.
Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab trucks come equipped with the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine that produces 305 hp at 2,900 rpm and 610 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm.

The Cummins commercial-grade DEF system is placed out of the way of upfit zones.

The Cummins commercial-grade DEF system is placed out of the way of upfit zones.

Max Tow for 2012

Coming this fall, the 2012 Ram 4500/5500 Chassis Cab offers a GCWR upgrade as part of an optional "Max Tow" package, available on both regular and crew cab models and in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations. The Ram Max Tow package includes a new transfer case gear set as well as chain and sprocket upgrades, recalibrated transmission software and an enhanced collection of thermal management devices.

The 30,000-lb. GCWR gives the Ram Chassis Cab a 4,000-lb. increase in trailer-towing capabilities. That's good enough for  a maximum of 22,300 lbs. on a Ram 4500 or 5500 Chassis Cab equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission on Class 4 Chassis Cab trucks.[PAGEBREAK]

Max Tow is available on Ram Chassis Cab trucks equipped with the optional commercial-grade Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission and 4.88 rear-axle ratio. A 4.44 axle is standard on 4500 models and not available with the Max Tow package. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab models.

Littman gave the signal to pull the Maserati onto the 5500's 19-foot, alu-minum bed. With built-in tandem PTO capability, all Ram models feature a heavy-duty cooling system in order to meet additional heat loads that are often generated from PTO upfits and/or extreme hauling.

Littman gave the signal to pull the Maserati onto the 5500's 19-foot,
alu-minum bed. With built-in tandem PTO capability, all Ram models feature a heavy-duty cooling system in order to meet additional heat loads that are often generated from PTO upfits and/or extreme hauling.

After securing the load and getting behind the wheel, Littman praised the new truck's drive capabilities - especially in close quarters. "The turning radius is amazing; it's really tight," he said. "With the exhaust brake, it's just awesome. You touch the brakes and you come to a com-plete stop. And it's got plenty of power and it feels really stable with that car on it. The power and acceleration is amazing."

After securing the load and getting behind the wheel, Littman praised the new truck's drive capabilities - especially in close quarters. "The turning radius is amazing; it's really tight," he said. "With the exhaust brake, it's just awesome. You touch the brakes and you come to a com-plete stop. And it's got plenty of power and it feels really stable with that car on it. The power and acceleration is amazing."

The 2012 Ram Chassis Cab also features customer-selectable maximum speeds of 55, 60, 65, 70, or 75 mph. According to the manufacturer, Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab trucks have a best-in-class standard 87 mph top speed. A five-minute shutdown timer is also available.

The industry-standard 34-inch frame rail spacing and flat, clean rails on a one-piece C-channel rear-frame rail with a 50,000-psi steel strength allow for easy upfitting. Heller has his hand on an optional 22-gallon mid-ship fuel tank, which frees up more space behind the rear axle.

The industry-standard 34-inch frame rail spacing and flat, clean rails on a one-piece C-channel rear-frame rail with a 50,000-psi steel strength allow for easy upfitting. Heller has his hand on an optional 22-gallon mid-ship fuel tank, which frees up more space behind the rear axle.

Littman liked the new truck's built-in upfitter switches, easy-to-read gauges and variety of charge points.

Littman liked the new truck's built-in upfitter switches, easy-to-read gauges and variety of charge points.

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