Pickup trucks are immensely popular in North America, both for work and for recreational use, and prices can vary widely as one might expect. There are basic ‘work special’ versions of most trucks that have no frills at all and come with rubber floor mats, vinyl seats and no goodies like air conditioning or a sound system. And then there are products like the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn 4X4 I tried recently, which is entirely at the other end of the scale. This Ram belongs right up there among the ultimate trucks and it not only packs in all the ruggedness and capability expected of any fullsize truck, it adds a level of luxury normally found only among the most desirable of upscale sedans. It’s the kind of truck I imagine being driven by a successful rodeo cowboy or a bill-topping country music star.
Basically, this is a Ram 1500 with a crew cab, so it’s a large rig with prodigious amounts of room inside. This cab configuration is designed to easily accommodate five large people with work gear on, so it’s as roomy as anything on the road except something like an extended-wheelbase Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Despite its size I found it surprisingly economical – mainly because of its 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V-6. Ram is the only manufacturer currently offering a light-duty truck with a diesel engine. It delivers 240-horsepower and 420 lb-ft of low-end torque. On one long run I took, it was showing less than 10-litres/100 km on the computer, which is amazing economy for a truck this size. Thanks to the design of this engine and the extra torque all diesels bring to the table, there’s plenty of power available and it’s delivered with surprising refinement. My tester came with four-wheel drive and an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The big Ram was great fun to drive and given that any truck in this class can’t be parked just anywhere, it is fairly easy to drive and maneuver.
The clincher with this truck, though, is the equipment roster which comes with the Laramie Longhorn designation. To say that the vehicle is ‘loaded’ is a gross understatement and the list of features would take several columns to describe.I found it hard to think of anything that was missing from this lavishly tricked-out pickup. The cabin is a total delight, especially if you have a yen for western styling. The ‘Longhorn’ brand is evident everywhere and especially attractive were the embroidered steer horn logos decorating the leather seats. Even the map pockets behind the front seats had buckled straps, evoking cowboy garb or riding tack. Added to this there are badges liberally distributed around the cabin to cement the Longhorn theme. I guess there are people who’d recoil at trim like this, but I have to admit that I loved it.
Certainly this is a truck with considerable eye appeal and under the skin, it’s as capable as any comparable vehicle out there. Apart from the cosmetic features and convenience goodies, the truck packs in all current safety and stability technology. The spec sheet looks much like that of a luxury sedan - when did you last drive a pickup with a heated steering wheel, for example? It is expensive, but it’s hard to imagine something this well fitted out costing any less. All things considered, this luxurious RAM is very good value for its class.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door crew cab fullsize pickup truck
ENGINE: 3.0-litre V-6 diesel
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
TOWING CAPACITY: Over 8,000 lbs. when suitably equipped
FUEL ECONOMY: 10.6-litres/100 km combined rating
PRICE: Base Laramie Longhorn $62,495. As tested, $75,280. Basic Ram fullsize trucks start at $26,145