Even tough guys can use a touch of class.
By Bill Heald
FORD, CHEVY, AND DODGE HAVE BEEN AT ONE ANOTHER’S THROATS FOR DECADES in a brutal grudge match to prove who builds the toughest full-size pickups. Chrysler has dropped the Dodge nameplate to go solely with Ram to further enhance the ass-kickin’ image, and the company has created very rugged, advanced truck platforms for both the half-ton and heavy-duty pickups. To further make waves in the marketplace, the company decided to balance ruggedness with the best in Western country-club-style luxury living by introducing an ultraluxurious trim level called the Laramie Longhorn. This is designed to set new standards for upscale comfort, while complementing Ram’s unique engineering features, to create the ultimate class-act pickup.
While the Longhorn’s elaborate trimmings are available on the 1500, 2500, and 3500 Rams, the real gentleman’s high-class hauler is the 1500 Crew Cab 4×4, for it has a smooth ride and civilized presence that the heavier trucks just can’t match. The hard parts include Ram’s unique coil-spring multi-link rear suspension—a setup that handles a 1,470-pound payload with ease, yet delivers a ride that rivals some automobiles when it comes to comfort and smoothness. The standard engine is the much-admired 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, teamed with a five-speed automatic transmission. While you will undoubtedly get attacked by trolls if you attach this noble steed to some grotesque rental trailer, should you have something truly worth towing, you can haul up to 9,950 pounds behind this muscular machine. Of course, you must opt for the clever RamBox cargo system, which uses the usually empty rear fender sides as lockable, illuminated, drainable storage bins.
The exterior of the Longhorn is a study in nonexcessive opulence (like 20-inch chrome wheels and white gold paint treatments), but the real trip comes when you climb into the cab. Think of Dorothy entering the Land of Oz, except this time you don’t just get Technicolor visual delights; you also get the rich, deep aroma of a first-class Western saddle shop. “We took Ram Laramie Longhorn’s design cues from traditionally handcrafted, time-tested wares, such as the antique pocket watch, a fine pair of hand-tooled leather cowboy boots, a collector’s-grade shotgun, or a horseman’s saddle,” explains Chrysler’s Ryan Nagode. “The metal and leatherwork are second to none.” There’s a herd’s worth of classic cowhide accented by burled walnut, and the bark-brown seating option includes “laser-etched filigrees” with a handworked appearance. You might think twice about hauling compost in the bed of a pickup with filigrees, but rest assured this is still one very tough, albeit civilized, truck.
|Body style||Four-door pickup|
|Engine||5.7-liter HEMI V-8|
|Front tires||275/60 R20|
|Rear tires||275/60 R20|
|Curb weight||5,308 pounds|
|Top speed||108 mph (electronically limited)|
|Fuel capacity||26 gallons|
|EPA mpg||13 city/19 highway|
Longhorn Hides, Meet Mr. Hyde
If the erudite Ram Longhorn is Dr. Jekyll, then the Power Wagon is its ultimate dark-side alter ego. This is literally a lumberjack of a truck, built to conquer any and all obstacles in your path while hauling serious hardware and the crew you need to use it. Just climbing into the cab requires effort, but once you’re there, the rugged 4×4 drivetrain (with a traditional straight axle up front and electronic locks for both differentials) and vast ground clearance don’t just conquer what lies ahead; they will embarrass the terrain if it dares to impede your progress. Unlike the Longhorn’s leather smokingjacket interior, the Wagon is all business, with tough rubber mats and durable fabric, even in the glove box, with no filigrees to be found. The Ram 2500 Heavy-Duty is the starting point for this marvel that features a custom-built 12,000-pound Warn winch, full skid plates, Bilstein shocks, 32-inch off road tires, and an electronic disconnecting front sway bar to facilitate wheel articulation when climbing over lesser pickups. This is a hard truck that rides like one, but there’s one excellent nod to civilization: the optional 506-watt Alpine sound system.