A At first glance, the silver 2008 Ram 5500 chassis-cab outfitted with a Reading dump body parked a tad rakishly outside Danbury (CT) Dodge looked like nothing more than a nicely beefed-up pickup.

But looks can be deceiving. This truck (part of the Dodge commercial lineup that also includes the Class 3 Ram 3500 and the Class 4 Ram 4500 it was introduced alongside last year) is a lot brawnier than any pickup I've had the pleasure of driving. And it should be said that spending a weekend with this biggest Ram demonstrated it lacked neither the interior appointments nor the road manners of its lighter-duty siblings.

Dodge says its Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis-cab models “join Class 4 and 5 capability, power and versatility to its long-lasting and durable line of full-size pickups.” But what the Ram 5500 made me think of was how different 1960s-'70s muscle cars were from the sedans they were based on.

For one thing, consider that beating under this Ram's hood was a Cummins 6.7L turbodiesel pushing out 305 hp. and 610 lb.-ft. of torque (standard on all 4500/5500 models) mated to an Aisin automatic transmission with no less than 6 speeds (a 6-speed manual is also offered). And helping keep all that power under full control of this operator was the standard exhaust brake and beefy brake system-a four-wheel ABS hydraulic system with 15.34-in. discs and twin piston 66-mm calipers front and rear.

The upshot was this truck — despite the hefty albeit unloaded dump body it carried — rolled up miles of rolling back roads with aplomb. I passed folks going up hills and I let the retarder do most of the braking for me on the down slopes. And a light snowfall gave me the excuse to try out the two-speed transfer case (standard; an electronic version is optional) although the Aisin automatic offered so many speeds I probably would have been just fine without four-wheeling it.