Thumbs Up: First class interior, reasonable ride quality for a heavy-duty truck
Thumbs Down: Loaded up with more chrome and farkles than I like
Buy This Truck If: If you’re a Mopar guy and need a heavy duty truck, this is it
Heavy duty pickups are a lot like assault rifles: most people can go their entire lives without needing one, but when you do require one, nothing else will do. Maybe it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal on a vintage race car and enclosed trailer, or maybe your brother in law just bought a serious fishing boat, or maybe a generous neighbor left you a 40 foot fifth-wheel travel trailer in his will. You won’t be towing any of those things very far with a half ton pickup, so you’ll soon be in the market for a heavy duty three-quarter ton truck. You’ll want to check the box for the diesel motor option, since towing serious loads requires torque, and lots of it. Fuel economy with a diesel is quite a bit better as well, which is one more justification for spending the additional money upfront.
On the other hand, heavy duty pickups are usually ungainly, lumbering beasts, with the steering response of an aircraft carrier (and a similar braking distance). You can’t easily park them, since they usually take up two spaces, and outward visibility isn’t good. Driving one to a mall parking lot during the Christmas season is an adventure in paranoia, best avoided if at all possible. Even the interiors of heavy duty trucks have traditionally been utilitarian, designed more for the job site than for driving comfort or enjoyment.
Throw your pre-conceived notions out the window if you get behind the wheel of a 2010 Ram 2500 Laramie Crew Cab. It’s still big (large enough to see from space with the naked eye), but it never feels uncomfortably so. The interior is more high-end SUV than utilitarian pickup truck, and my tester came equipped with both parking sensors and a rear view camera to reduce driver paranoia. Even back seat passengers won’t complain, since the 2010 Ram Crew Cab gives them more leg room than the 2009 Quad Cab did. The ride quality isn’t as bad as you might think either, although my tester came equipped with oversized (35”) mud-terrain tires that definitely increased noise and hampered steering. The 2” lift on the truck didn’t help in that department, either.
My biggest surprise was how comfortable the interior of the Ram was. My tester was built for last year’s SEMA show, so it came with a host of trim options and chrome that I would have passed over. The seats, for example, were done in gray leather with bright blue suede panels thanks to covers stitched by Katzkin. They were comfortable (very comfortable, in fact), but a bit over-the-top for my tastes. I could have done with less chrome and wood in the interior as well, but that didn’t make it any less functional. The Ram 2500 Laramie is designed for long hours behind the wheel, and the seats are certainly up to the task. There’s plenty of interior storage and even a 110v outlet, so feel free to travel with a laptop or anything else you may need on the road.
Rear seat passengers won’t be complaining either, since the Ram 2500 gives them plenty of leg room and head room for two full-size adults. The rear seats will accommodate a third person in the middle, but this seat is best left for children or adults with short legs thanks to the center tunnel and a reduced seat length. My tester came with a rear seat DVD system, so the kids won’t complain when you set off for Yellowstone towing that 40 foot trailer.
Behind the wheel, the Ram gives you a commanding view of the road. Most controls are designed for gloved hands, with the odd exception being the nav and infotainment system. It’s touch screen based, but it also has some of the smallest control buttons I’ve seen to date. It’s easy enough to figure out, but those with oversized hands will be fat-fingering settings on a regular basis. On the other hand, the steering wheel is also heated, so you don’t need gloves to drive the Ram, even in the middle of a Montana winter.
Instruments are comprehensive, with a tachometer and voltmeter on the left, and a speedometer and oil pressure gauge on the right. In between is the fuel gauge and the temperature gauge, both above the superb driver’s information display. The information display is electroluminescent, and gives you a readout on virtually any system you’d care to monitor. It’s easy to scroll through displays on the steering-wheel-mounted controls, and I wish more automakers would used enhanced information displays like the one in the Ram.
Fire up the 6.7 liter, inline six turbo diesel (manufactured by Cummins), and there’s no mistaking that this is a truck designed to haul stuff and tow things. To be exact, it’s designed to haul nearly 3,200 pounds of cargo and tow trailers up to 13,450 pounds, and the engine’s 350 horsepower and 650 ft lb of torque are more than up to the task. That doesn’t mean the truck is quick, since you’re asking the motor to move better than three tons of steel before you add passengers and cargo. I didn’t have an opportunity to tow with it, but I get the feeling that acceleration with a five ton trailer would still be sufficient for most people. The EPA doesn’t rate the fuel economy of heavy duty trucks, but I saw a reasonable 12.6 miles per gallon in city driving.
On the road, the Ram was hampered by the oversize mud terrain tires and a 2” lift. The tires gave great traction off-road, but the cost was substantial noise on pavement. If you routinely use your truck at the beach or in the swamp, but still want the ability to drive cross-country in relative comfort, you may want to consider two sets of wheels and tires if your budget allows. Steering was adequate, but I’d stop short of calling it good. There was too much play in the wheel on-center, and steering effort was a bit too light for my tastes. I’m pretty sure that more pavement oriented tires would have improved steering response and feel, so I wouldn’t count that as a strike against the Ram. Braking was decent give the truck’s mass and deeply lugged tires, and the Cummins diesel engine also includes an exhaust brake for trailer towing.
Base price on a 2010 Ram 2500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4 is $43,400, including a destination charge of $950. Factory installed options on my tester were the $225 Deep Water Blue Pearl paint, the $405 six speed automatic transmission, the $325 Limited Slip Differential, the $7,616 Cummins Turbo Diesel Engine, the $800 Navigation System & Media Center, the $200 265/70R-17 tires and the $200 ParkView Back Up Camera, for a total sticker price of $53,170. That doesn’t tell the whole story, since my truck also came with a full compliment of aftermarket Mopar accessories, including Katzkin leather seat covers, chrome step rails, a color matched hard tonneau cover, cab lights and more chrome than Bike Week in Daytona. I have no idea what all the aftermarket bling totaled up to, but my guess is another $7,000 or so. That puts the price of the truck as equipped over $60,000, which is serious money to spend on a decked-out truck.
When it comes to trucks, there are Ford guys, there are Chevy guys and there are Mopar guys. If you’re a Mopar fan, this is the only heavy duty truck you’d seriously consider, so pricing it against the competition doesn’t make any sense. If you’re still open minded about which brand to buy, the Ram’s interior alone makes it worth looking at, and the ride comfort and more comfortable crew-cab layout are icing on the cake.