The Ram Truck brand has been a successful standalone division of the Chrysler Group LLC since 2009, which is impressive given the economic turmoil its parent company went through in 2008, when Chrysler nearly went under.
But the real success of the Ram Truck brand isn’t simply that it’s still in business. Instead, Ram’s biggest success is that it’s building great trucks that compete head-to-head with the best from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. And sometimes best them.
And nowhere is that more evident than at the top of the full-size truck market, where the competition is fierce and the potential profits significant. This week’s test vehicle is a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4 x 4. OK, that’s a name long enough to wear you out just saying it. If that’s too much for you, think just two words: Cowboy Cadillac.
This top-of-the-line Ram truck is a truck designed to work like a stud all day, yet at the same time coddle its occupants with a full and complete array of creature comforts that make the interior feel decidedly more like a luxury car than a hard-working truck. And while it’s impossible for any one vehicle to be everything to everybody, the big Ram in many respects really is the best of both worlds.
Let’s start with the basics: Our tester came in the crew cab configuration, meaning it has four doors. And the back seat has plenty of room, even for adults. It also comes with four-wheel drive, so it can go pretty much anywhere.
Under the hood is a stout Hemi V-8, displacing 5.7 liters and making 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. One of the most impressive parts of this truck — and there are many — is how well this engine is suited to the big Ram. Throttle response is noticeably better than you’ll find in most trucks and the powerful Hemi almost felt quick, not an easy feat in a vehicle that weighs nearly three tons.
Our tester had the optional eight-speed automatic transmission, another technological high point. It shifts every bit has smoothly as the old Torqueflight transmission in granddad’s Chrysler New Yorker and then some.
And you have to love the optional ($1,295) RamBox Cargo Management System, which offers “lockable, lighted, drainable” storage. In other words, you can stick a whole mess of tools in it for work, but if you’re going camping, you can fill it with (adult) beverages and ice and they’ll stay cold. This is a fantastic and very practical feature.
Another beneficial option is the Active-Level 4-Corner Air Suspension System, which raises or lowers the suspension depending on what type of road you’re on and the speed.
On the inside, there are so many features it’s hard to even know where to start, but here goes:
• Heated front and rear seats in premium leather, plus heated steering wheel.
• 506-watt Alpine surround sound system with nine speakers, subwoofer and Sirius XM satellite radio and HD radio.
• GPS navigation system with 9.4-inch display screen, SD, USB and auxiliary ports, plus 115-volt power outlet.
• Power 10-way driver’s seat with memory that also controls radio, mirrors and pedals.
• Six-way power passenger’s seat.
• Dual-zone air conditioning.
• LED interior lighting, along with accent lighting on both doors.
You also get the faux-cowboy interior treatment, which includes embroidery on the seats, saddlebag-type rear seat pouches and all manner of fancy interior trim. It’s not to everybody’s taste, certainly, but I though it looked plenty attractive in context.
In all honestly, I can’t think of a single luxury feature I’d want in the interior of a four-door sedan that wasn’t standard or optional in this Mack Daddy Ram, which carried a whopping sticker price of $55,630. And the level of workmanship and attention to detail was impressive, too.
More than you need?
By my count, the Ram is available in Tradesman, Express, SLT, HFE, R/T, Lone Star, Big Horn, Outdoorsman, Sport, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited trims. You can get two- or four-wheel-drive models, regular cab, quad cab or crew cab, as well as three different box lengths. Base prices start at $23,600 and go all the way up to $48,080. In other words, there’s something for just about everybody.
While the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4 x 4 might be over the top, there’s no questioning the fundamental goodness of the Ram 1500 package. It’s solid, it’s high quality and it performs well, three reasons why the Ram brand has taken off so strongly and is resonating well with buyers.
VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door pickup truck, all-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 5.7-liter V-8, 395 horsepower, 410 pound-feet of torque.
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic.
WHEELBASE: 149.5 inches.
OVERALL LENGTH: 237.9 inches.
CURB WEIGHT: 5,780 pounds.
EPA MILEAGE RATING: NA.