The commercial chassis cab arena has a new player, and small business tradesmen, fleet customers and traditional chassis cab users are saying, “It’s about time.”

Dodge brought the commercial-grade Mercedes-built Sprinter van from across the pond in 2003, but Dodge customers were still hungry for an upfit ready conventional commercial truck with Dodge heritage. Dodge Truck engineers answered. Dodge introduces the 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab this fall.

Dodge understood the bar had already been set high by the competition, and wooing lifelong customers from “the other two” would not be easy. So they engineered the 2007 Ram 3500 Chassis Cab with some industry exclusives and best-in-class features, and then made sure they logged more than 1.5 million customer-equivalent miles to test heavy-duty quality before bringing the Ram 3500 Chassis Cab to market.

Best-In-Class from Square One

Under the hood, the Ram 3500 Chassis Cab comes standard with a best-in-class 330-horsepower V-8 HEMI or the optional new 6.7-liter Cummins High Output Turbo Diesel with 305 horsepower and 610 lb.-ft. of torque. Both swig from a gargantuan 52-gallon fuel tank.

Other bests, according to Dodge, include 50-ksi steel frame strength, an oil change interval of 15,000 miles and a single-rear-wheel GVWR that shoulders 10,200 lbs. Maximum GVWR for dual-rear-wheel models is 12,500 lbs. Those familiar with the Ram Quad Cab won’t be surprised that its interior room—at 121.7 cubic feet—is the roomiest among its new commercial brethren.

The Quad Cab models offer seating for six and 60/40 folding rear seats. Seat cushions fold up to create a tall storage area from floor to ceiling. An optional floor section under the back seat folds open to form a flat-load floor, with additional storage in each of the foot wells.

Upfit Ready

In developing the new Ram 3500 Chassis Cab, Dodge says it gathered considerable input from upfitters, second-stage manufacturers and end-users. The result is an upfit-friendly truck. It’s the first Ram chassis with a one-piece C-channel frame, industry-standard 34-inch frame rail spacing and flat, “clean” frame rails, a segment exclusive.

All chassis components are built below the frame surface for easy adaptability to any upfit application. Single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel models are available in two cab-axle lengths (60 and 84 inches). Diesel engine vibration was improved by 50 percent with the development of new engine mounts.

The truck offers a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic (diesel only), both with Power Take Off (PTO) capability to run auxiliary equipment such as a generator, hydraulics for a dump body or other types of specialty commercial equipment. An electronic-shift transfer case and a factory-installed exhaust brake are also available.

Dealer and Upfitter Excitement

“Now we’ve got a true 1-ton chassis cab,” says John Woodward III of Westoaks Chrysler Dodge in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “It’s going to enable us to put some upfit kits on there and roll up our sleeves and compete in that market.”

Woodward expects to stock three popular upfit configurations, a cube, stakebed and contractor body, and have five to 10 chassis cabs on hand waiting for an order. “This is a ground-up, commercial-born chassis, not just an expansion of their pickup truck market,” says Dan Roland, general sales manager for NBC Truck Equipment, a vocational upfitter. Roland says the Dodge Chassis Cab’s industry-standard engineering will make installs easier and more cost-efficient.

“They’re on target for re-entry into the commercial market,” he says. “I’m sure they’ll carry that into Classes 4 and 5.” Available in three trim lines, ST, SLT and Laramie, the all-new 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab joins the Sprinter, Dodge Ram pickup, Dodge Ram Box-off models and Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan cargo vans in the Dodge commercial vehicle lineup.

Originally posted on Business Fleet