Large and in charge | My tester was equipped with the optional 6.4L HEMI gasoline engine.
The folks at Ram have been working hard to continually innovate their trucks, and they’ve been on fire recently by building full-sized pickup trucks that actually make sense for the modern pickup buyer. Buyers today are doing a lot more with their pickup trucks than they were even 10 years ago, and in my opinion, the Ram has led the way to capitalize on the trend. The Ram 1500s I’ve driven recently have benefitted from extremely luxurious interiors, excellent ride quality and impressive fuel economy (especially in the new EcoDiesel), all the while maintaining their functionality and performance.
The larger 2500-series pickups represent a different segment of the market, and buyers of these trucks have a need that smaller trucks simply cannot fill. These are the trucks that are out there facing some of the toughest work that a pickup can tackle. A truck of this size and expense isn’t for everyone, but when you need it, it’s certainly nice to have. Back this past summer I tested a Chevrolet Silverado 2500. While its abilities would have been wasted on with me, on the few occasions that I was able to test its capabilities I was thoroughly impressed. So knowing fully-well what I was in for, I graciously accepted Ram’s invitation to test their top-of-the-line big dog 2015 Ram 2500 Long Horn Laramie.
My Long Horn test truck is simply spectacular to look at; even with the smaller 6’4” bed the truck is massive by all dimensions. My particular truck is a Mega Cab version, as opposed to the Crew Cab, which adds an extra 6” to the length of the cab behind the rear doors. This contributes to the sheer size of the beast. Beyond its size though, the Long Horn is incredibly well-finished and styled in such a way that pulls together all the little special touches included in the package to really make the truck look and feel unique. The Western Brown paint, gorgeous 20” rims and huge chrome Long Horn badges compliment the two-toned saddle tan and black leather interior so well that I cannot see having this truck in any other color.
Speaking of the interior; simply put, it’s beautiful. The expansive space is fully finished in soft leather and branded with Long Horn motifs and designs – that sounds really cheesy but it’s so well executed that the truck has a very genuine cowboy feel to it that I love. No detail has been overlooked, as noted by the Long Horn’s branded floor mats and authentic looking leather straps with buckles on the storage pouches behind the front seats. It’s such an impressive looking truck that it almost feels a shame to get it dirty. But I remind myself that this is a truck built to handle some serious work and climb up into the cab, utilizing the sturdy and nicely styled full length step bars, ready to tackle the next job.
Behind the wheel, the Ram 2500 handles quite smoothly and predictably, especially for its size. While driving along, it’s easy to forget that you’ve got almost 15’ of truck behind you. My tester was equipped with the optional 6.4L HEMI gasoline engine putting out a healthy 410 horsepower and boasting the most torque available in this class from a gasoline engine at 429 lb-ft. At only $2,150 to step-up from the standard 5.7L to this all-new 6.4L, it’s a compelling upgrade; especially when you consider that to move all the way up to the 6.7L Cummins diesel you’ll need to come up with another $9,300 over and above the cost of the 6.4.
I don’t have a lot of seat time in the diesel, but I can tell you that from a “seat of the pants” feel, the 6.4L HEMI does feel more responsive and provides more than enough punch to get the beastly Ram moving at a good clip without feeling strained in the least bit. While I suspect the diesel does begin to prove its value when the truck is loaded or towing near its limit, the biggest difference I noticed was in the fuel economy, which not surprisingly suffered in my gasoline tester. The best I could do with a gentle foot in mixed driving was a costly 17.1L/100kms. Although I don’t have my own real-world numbers for a Cummins diesel, I can tell you that I did average a dramatically improved 13.8L/100kms in the Chevy Duramax in similar conditions, so I would expect similar numbers from the diesel Ram.
Happily, I did get a chance to put the Ram 2500 to use by hauling a variety of different bulky loads throughout the week. To nobody’s surprise, the truck handled whatever I could throw at it with ease. The use of this particular configuration did become clear to me though; the Long Horn with the shorter bed and optional Ram Box storage system is likely best used as a long distance travel or towing truck, as the Ram Boxes do cut into the usable bed space. Now, if I was towing a fifth wheel or something similar, this would be a non-issue and the luxurious Long Horn Laramie interior would be very appreciated on long hauls. As a true work truck, I’d probably opt-out of the Ram Boxes in favor of the extra bed space. Plus, with the massive Mega Cab configuration, my tester has loads of space in the rear seat area for dry secure storage.
I did make one drive through the morning rush to central Toronto. While this type of commute is something I have easily enjoyed in the Ram 1500, it is certainly not something I’d regularly want to undertake in anything like this Ram 2500. To be fair though, in this situation the truck is completely out of its element. I did however get to make a couple of observations about the 2500. Firstly, with the beefed up suspension and solid front axle required for the Ram 2500 to maintain its true heavy-duty weight ratings (capable of handling a payload of up to 3,140lbs), the highway ride does suffer compared to the smaller Ram 1500. Secondly, parking in the city was a bit of a chore given the 2500’s relatively wide turning circle and the fact that for reasons unknown to me, the folks at Ram decided to equip the 2500 with a tiny reverse camera screen within the rear view mirror as opposed to utilizing the large 8.4” touch screen in the dash.
Equipped with the full load of high tech gadgets and luxuries that you’d expect in a Laramie, such as cooled front seats and touch screen navigation, my Ram 2500 test truck is truly a spectacular creation. With an as tested price of $78,700, it offers all the luxury and interior space of a top of the line SUV, plus the utility of a pickup truck and the capabilities of a heavy-duty work truck. If I were in the market for a heavy-duty truck, the Long Horn would be right near the top of my list for its unique character and eye-catching style. However, I’d be carefully doing the math to see if that hefty $9,300 premium for the diesel would be worthwhile, or whether I could do with this big HEMI.