2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4X4 Review
by Randy Stern
“Why, yes, I cover trucks, too!”
I believe I said that to a group of truck enthusiasts back in January somewhere on the edge of the Twin Cities. You probably read about my encounter with them on this site. These truck enthusiasts confirmed something that I have tried to explain to editors, publishers, OEM communication specialists and readers for the past several years – trucks are a part of the vehicular landscape whether we want them there or not.
While I work with various other vehicles – as do my other colleagues on Why This Ride? – I also work with trucks. There is a reason for this. I live in a market where truck sales are strong and ownership of these workhorses is deep. Minnesotans, Wisconsinites, Iowans, North and South Dakotans simply love their trucks. They work at construction sites, farms and help workers commute to industrial sites. They are also great for play, towing boats to the lake, snowmobiles to the cabin, loading up supplies for the big home project at the local home improvement center or a furniture store.
Even back as a kid in Reseda, I was as fascinated with pickup trucks as much as cars. There was nothing in my upbringing that indicated I would be a truck guy. I just love them!
Having stated my qualifications for covering trucks, we can now go forward with my review of what I consider one of the best pickups in the business – the Ram 1500.
Why would I anoint Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ full-sized pickup offering such a lofty title? This review will go over all of the specifics, but one thing is clear: If you are still questioning why Ram was spun off from Dodge as FCA’s truck/commercial vehicle brand in North America, then you are not seeing the results of why this was done. To concentrate on building a better truck, advancing pickup technology and upping the quality and execution bar, you need to have a specific team behind it to deliver on the brand’s products.
The Ram 1500 is the brand’s main attraction. This Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4X4 tester is its brightest star – honest cowboy luxury that would make a city slicker ditch the smooth jazz for some Marshall Tucker Band and Tanya Tucker albums on the smartphone.
Let me shine up its belt buckle badge and show you what this Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn is all about.
For starters, the Ram 1500 is considered one the best looking full-sized pickup truck in this market. The Ram’s design language can be traced back to the 1990s when Chrysler introduced a Dodge Ram pickup that embodied a heavy-duty tractor-trailer style with a big grille and lower fenders capped with the headlamp unit. The latest Ram is an outgrowth of that design – still announcing its arrival at work with the big crosshair grille up front.
You can get the Ram 1500 in various configurations: A Regular Cab with either a 6-foot-4-inch bed or an 8-foot bed, a Quad Cab with a 6-foot-4-inch bed or a Crew Cab with a choice of a 5-foot-7-inch or 6-foot-4-inch bed. This Laramie Longhorn is the Crew Cab model with a balanced stance, despite the shorter 5-foot-7-inch bed.
Rams are known for having the best interior in the pickup truck market. The Laramie Longhorn adds a light bronze accent to any satinized trim with Western theme motifs in various places – and belt buckle badges in bright chrome where appropriate. The best part of the instrument cluster is the huge TFT screen providing every bit of information on the vehicle – from under hood readings to trip and fuel consumption information. The 8.4-inch UConnect touch screen in the center stack houses AM/FM/Sirius satellite radio, climate control, navigation and other smartphone-driven apps. There are also two buttons on the rearview mirror linking back to a team at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in support of your Ram. The quality of materials is high and durable. Switches are also of high quality and very familiar for Ram drivers and owners.
The Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab seats five inside. A wide console splits the front saddle leather seats with mass quantities of storage. Seats are done in lovely saddle leather that feels softer than it looks. They offer a lot of room with some good bolstering, but most of all – they are extremely comfortable. Rear seat room is exceptional for adults of all sizes with a comfortable bench in the same materials. The Laramie Longhorn offers a special touch for those sitting in the back – saddle bag map pockets attached to the front seatbacks with a buckle enclosure.
Standard on the Laramie Longhorn is the HEMI 5.7liter V8 and TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic combination. No matter the cabin trim level, cab or bed configuration, the HEMI is the best engine to get. With 395 horsepower and 410-pound-feet of torque on tap, it is strong enough to do anything you ask it to. Not to mention, the HEMI/8-speed driveline is one smooth operator with unobtrusive shifts and excellent delivery of performance. This Laramie Longhorn came with a fantastic four-wheel drive system that is great for all climates and conditions. The Auto 4WD mode is great in sensing traction loss and providing quick grip to keep the Ram running smoothly on snow and ice. There are buttons to lock the transfer case for full four-wheel drive, as well as a 4WD Lo range for difficult traction situations.
The Ram has one of the softest and most compliant suspensions in the full-sized truck world. There is plenty of feedback from the road, especially with the four-wheel drive system with an empty bed. The new air suspension kept everything in balance and in control. It also includes ride height adjustment that is set automatically depending on use. On the highway, the suspension is lowered to “Aero” for limited airflow underneath the truck. A button on the key fob will lower the suspension down further when you park it.
The rear suspension also compensates for higher payloads, with this Laramie Longhorn maxing out at 1,080 pounds. The more you fill towards the limit, the better the ride will be. You can pull 9,750 pounds of trailer and load behind you with this Laramie Longhorn.
Brakes are strong, and react very well with the pedal in both normal and panic situations. With four discs all around, sure stops are what you expect, but non-truck drivers may have to learn to work with stopping distance to ensure that the system works for them. Even with a larger steering wheel, you will be surprised how quick the reaction is from there when turning. This helps tremendously when towing a trailer. If you are positioning a trailer, you can correct your approaches easily and exactly. On-center feel has a bit of play, but is very good overall.
The only thing that would challenge your budget is the fuel economy with the HEMI. Overall fuel consumption came to an average of 16.0MPG – which is the best average I ever got from a V8-powered gasoline pickup truck. You can get the 3.0liter turbocharged EcoDiesel on the Laramie Longhorn for more torque and better fuel economy.
Another shock would be the price you pay for a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn. Keep in mind that the Ram 1500 line starts off at $25,410 for a Tradesman regular cab with a short box and two-wheel drive. Selecting the Laramie Longhorn in the Crew Cab/short box configuration as equipped with four wheel drive, select options and the air suspension system will jump the price up to $54,820.
Why This Ride?
– Let me repeat one of the first points of this review: This is best pickup truck in the business. It is well executed, well designed and well built. You can hear all of the talk about part quality issues, but one drive in the Ram 1500 will convince you that it is the right truck for the money.
– The Laramie Longhorn may be over the top for many pickup buyers. However, there is a level of luxury that is being copied by other truck brands. It is what you expect from a Western themed pickup – without apology or compromise. There are other trims available for the Ram 1500 – such as the regular Laramie, the opulent Laramie Limited, and five other trims designed for specific lifestyle requirements and budgets.
– What makes the Ram 1500 stand out above even bigger selling pickups is the air suspension, automatic load leveling, a great automatic transmission and offering the only half-ton full-sized pickup equipped with a diesel fueled engine. These are key elements in what makes the Ram more desirable to own. These features are among many reasons why the Ram brand has been given more leeway to develop great products for their particular segments. In the end, you are truly buying more than a pickup truck.
– One last thing: NEVER call these Dodges! That was so 2009…