Few images represent "ruggedness" better than those of the "American cowboy." Day in, day out they accept the challenges of the rough outdoors. What umbrella? What indoor plumbing? Dedicated to putting steaks on our plates.
Truth is many-a-cowboy have traded in their bridles and stirrups for ATV saddles. In their rides off the range, has their resilience to nature's harsher elements surrendered to climate-controlled seats? A steering wheel that can fry bacon at a campside? Or a U-Connect infotainment interface, replete with intuitive 8.4" touch screen, navigating to the nearest "hoedown" and the downloading the latest lasso schematic?
Little wonder that Chrysler-Fiat allowed us city slickers here at "Drive...He Said" to scale the crew-cab 2013 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn 4x4.
Soft Barbed Wire:
There is enough acreage of chrome plastered all over the visage of this pickup truck for a close morning shave. Sloping fenders with drawn-back headlamps, which first broke the old boxy pick-up mold, are joined by a power-dome on the hood. The tailgate is spared no flair with its upwards curvature. Laramie Longhorns get the two-tone color theme.
Hoist up onto some of the spiffiest running boards this side of the Bighorn River. The pebble-grained "Filigree Leather" crew cab interior emits "eau of saddle." Steer longhorn embossed seat backs and saddle-bag pouches survived the Pony Express. On-lookers are clued in to this Grand Tetons of Rams by the "Laramie Longhorn" fender and tailgate badges. "Faux-rugged" has been ante'd-up with barbed-wire styled moldings on the floor mats.
Squint at the be-wreathed gilded driver's gauges with size 8 Font numerals. And read the 7"-inch multi-function center TFT display.
Driving a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, Ram Laramie Longhorn owners don't need to pretend to like exotic coffee blends just to get cattle futures updates. Heck there's room enough for a 10" tablet in the storage tray under that Lake Yellowstone of a center armrest. In a move to optimize center console storage the transmission shifter is now a rotary metallic knob (ala Jaguar) mounted on the dash. We couldn't verify Chrysler's claim that rotary e-shifting makes it easier to back a trailer by dialing between "R" and "P". Only that the Ram will lurch to a halt if "P" is dialed during a crawl.
Room for that Hack Saw:
Last we saw sheets of plywood and wall studs still come in 8'-foot lengths. Yet the standard box on this "purty pickup" measures 5'-feet 7"-inches. Less than $1 Grand more adds another 9" stretching the Ram's length to an un-parkable 20 feet.
Yet our Laramie Longhorn tester had integrated power locking side "Ram" storage boxes the better to hold the hand and power tools you'll need to cut the lumber. Do you tailgate? Dual Ram Boxes drain, the better to dump melted ice. The bed's spray-in crinkle-finish has a sparkle that suggests an imperviousness approaching fossilized carbon.
Rear seat legroom in the Ram crew-cab might be immense at 40.3"-inches. But the bench is lean on padding, and the center section has a big "U" cut out of it. Good for raising a flag pole. Front thrones are more springy than firm. Factor in 63.2"-inches of hip space and cozy up with your favorite Texas Belle. Power pedals should accommodate Paul Bunyon's boots.
Despite rising 2013 gasoline prices we cannot say with a straight face that the appeal of the Hemi V8 has subsided. All 5.7-Liters of pushrods acting on overhead-valves, with variable timing, feed eight cylinders, combust oil and air to the tune of 395-horsepower. Cylinder deactivation of four pistons under low load might just save an oil well or two. A Torqueflite (ZF licensed) eight-speed autobox easily copes with all 407-lb-ft of twist. Whether sending it all to posi-traction rear-wheels or both front and rear axles through a two-speed Borg-Warner 44-44 electronically locking transfer case.
The Ram powertrain is pretty civilized around town. Given the spurs all 5700 pounds are catapulted with all the authority of a 747 on the roll towards rotation. That gilded speedometer needle pegged 60 mph in 7+ seconds. It's good for at least one "Yippee Ki Yay!" We figured a slight tug of the reigns would help the kettle lid-sized four-wheel disc brakes with twin piston front calipers would improve on a rather soft pedal. Instead it was "Whoa Nellie."
It'll take a good sized road-rut or ranch ditch to make the Ram quiver. The independent four-wheel suspension has optional air-bladders to vary the Ram's height from 6.7" to 10.8"-inches, the easier to board a cowgal or four, hook a 8,250 pound trailer, or clear a crag. It also makes for a gravy train road isolating ride on 275/60 Goodyear shod 20"-inch wheels.
Half-inch ride-height lowering "Aero Mode" in the Ram tries to resist roll with some success in moderate cloverleafs. Any last second, HDD navigation dictated freeway exits will respond with: "Hold on pardner, I'm still over 6.5-feet tall." A light electric-assist steering effort ensures that one hand can remain free for Ten-Gallon hat waving.
What a Ewing Could Appreciate:
While on the subject of "Gallons" only a member of the fictional TV "Ewing ranching oil clan" wouldn't mind the fuel bill that comes with the luxurious largess of the 2013 Ram Laramie Longhorn 4x4. For every gallon of regular unleaded in the necessarily large 32 gallon reservoir swallowed every 14 miles of combined driving, despite active grille shutters, at least the shares of petroleum stock are gaining value. With a sticker price of $56,000 each member of that clan should have one.
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