How do you justify a pick-up truck that costs $66,000? You simply need to experience it. This pick-up rides like no other full-size pickup and is equipped with more premium features and capabilities than others in its class. There seems to be no detail or surface that Ram found unworthy for fine detailing or wrapping in some luxurious material. After spending a week with this truck, consider this former design engineer thoroughly impressed.
Price and Features
As typical in the full-size truck segment, the base truck attractive price quickly sky rockets into something like this fully equipped premium trim, called Laramie Longhorn. A unique grille, full LED headlights and taillights, and power running boards that are quick but not quite fast enough for a continuous body motion, are among the key features. The towing crowd will appreciate the heated oversized exterior mirrors which can be manually rotated for an even better outward viewing angle. Around to the back of the truck, the aluminum tailgate is supported by struts that allow for an easier lower and lift motion. Dual exhaust pipes with cutouts in the chrome bumper and a tonneau cover over the bed complete this truck’s upscale look. The Ram offers a segment unique bedside cargo box for $1,000 and, though it was not included in this demo model, is another example of thinking outside the traditional truck mindset.
The interior is a feast for the eyes with a central portrait-oriented 12-inch display, a huge panoramic sunroof, and stitched leather covering nearly every surface. Premium features like a crisp 7-inch gauge cluster display, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, adjustable pedals, a heated wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation, a wireless charging pad, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM are also included. Various power outlets (USB, 115V AC outlet, 12V plug) are located conveniently for each passenger so there should be no concerns of power-anxiety or fights over plugs. The premium audio system talks a big game with 19 speakers placed throughout the cabin – including in the headliner – but it was a bit of a disappointment with too few sound adjustments. It sounded better at louder than normal volumes though it also competes with road noise from the back half of the cabin. The rear seat passengers also enjoy special features like a large fold down center armrest, flip-up cushions, and a slide/ recline feature that can aim one’s gaze up to the glass roof. Nearly everything you could ask for is included and to be honest, this truck would most likely serve as my car camping tent too.
The Ram’s focus on safety begins with the frame which features taller side rails for better crash protection, splayed front beams to better direct energy, and frame mounted deflection plates to prevent intrusion during narrow-offset crashes. Electronic controls help maintain vehicle stability whether towing or driving along a snow covered road. Inside, the cabin features front, side, curtain, and seat airbags while the optional active safety package includes automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, and parking sensors with automatic braking. The driving aid systems were accurate in use and when the situation requires, they can be turned off quickly and easily.
Style and Size
The all-new Ram 1500 softens the Kenworth truck styling of the mid-90’s one step further uses subtle styling cues to maintain the original purposeful look. The body sides are sculpted and blend naturally with one another though there is no particular distinctive feature. The same goes for the tail lights and the tailgate which look modern yet conservative.
Its tall grille leans forward and features horizontal bars that blend outward into the headlights and downward into the full width chrome bumper that also emompasses LED fog lights. The chrome window surround, chrome mirror housings, chrome trimmed door handles, and polished 20-inch wheels brighten up the exterior without dominating the design. The exterior as a whole looks entirely integrated and downright handsome compared against some of its competitors. Inside, the same is true. The details of the soft leather surfaces, filigree designs, bronzed trim, and the Longhorn mark that is burned into the wood trim are examples of details done exceptionally well.
The size (as well as the price) is going to be a make-or-break deal for many. It’s bigger than before and, despite the added safety equipment and monitors, maneuvering in tight spaces requires planning ahead. Not helping are the larger tow mirrors that lack power folding capability.
Power and Efficiency
Despite lowering fuel prices, fuel efficiency is still a bragging point within the pick-up segment and so is overall power. As technology advances, consumers are demanding (and getting) powertrains with fewer compromises. The 5.7-liter V8 generates a peak 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque while the gears of the eight-speed automatic are closely spaced for very good low speed acceleration. At higher speeds the truck requires a downshift from eighth gear only on steeper mountain climbs. The engine is smooth even when its cylinder deactivation system drops the count to four and it makes some muscular noises when it’s working hard. Only at idle does the engine have an unrefined clack though it’s silent from inside the cabin.
Stay out of the throttle and it’s entirely possible to achieve the EPA estimates of 15 miles per gallon city, 21 mpg highway, and 17 combined. During my time of mixed driving and judicious use of the throttle, I achieved slightly over 17 mpg which I thought was impressive.
Ride and Handling
In my book, the most standout feature of the Ram is the unique rear suspension linkage and its air springs. The idea maintained by its competitors is to maintain the traditional leaf spring setup which is also used to partially locate the rear axle. This improves with the stability of the rear wheels, especially over repeated bumps, and retires the compromise that a pick-up truck had to come with a stiff kick in the back over sharp bumps. The air suspension can also adjust the body height for improved aerodynamics at high speed while the less pressure in the air bags also contributes to a softer ride. When stopped, it can be lowered further for improved egress and loading cargo into the bed – by the way – both the suspension and the tailgate can be lowered by the remote). There are two off-road modes that offer up to 2 inches of body lift for improved off-road clearances.
The Ram impresses in nearly every category and it continues to impress on every occasion.