2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Crew Cab Limited 4x4
Luxury and capability combine in one amazing package.
Lower pump prices are spurring on sales of the Ram 1500, providing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with its strongest sales in a decade (and yes that would include Chrysler Group sales prior to Fiat’s inclusion). This said, I doubt my top-line Ram 1500 Crew Cab Limited 4×4 model’s mid-cycle refresh had much to do with its moderate upswing in popularity, although its redesigned grille is a noticeable change for a model that rarely sees any major restyling. Ram just calls it the “billet port grille” — how boring is that? The first thing that came to mind, though, when I saw the new Limited with its metal grille was an anvil.
This new anvil-shaped grille is a clear signal that the Limited is unique when compared to the rest of the 1500 line, whereas the many other chromed adornments front to back, the stock 20-inch rims, and massive 20-inch chromed “RAM” tailgate logo don’t hide its upscale presence either. The Premium kit also includes headlights that now incorporate LEDs across their bottom section, fog lamps set into each corner of the chromed front bumper, turn signals integrated within the chromed mirror housings, and much more.
The Crew Cab Limited 4×4 starts at $55,900 (the base 4×4 with the Hemi V8 starts at $52,320), and it offers a lot more than just a new grille and a bunch of bright and shiny trinkets as compensation for all the money spent. The luxury cabin is filled with incredibly soft full-leather upholstery, genuine Black Argento hardwood trim and a bevy of premium synthetic soft touch surfaces.
The Limited’s interior is downright sumptuous, most of the dash top incorporating a padded French-stitched leather that flows over onto the instrument panel where it butts up against a more pickup truck-apropos hard plastic front facing. The shiny harder plastic surrounds the outer edge of the dash top and down each outer portion next to the satin-silver trimmed side vents too, with the vents on the driver’s side incorporating the headlight switch. The soft contrast-stitched leather treatment covers the door uppers, inserts, armrests, door pulls and even the overhead grab handles front and back, while the quality of leather is much better than anything offered in any other pickup truck, let alone many luxury sedans. It looks and feels full grain, the kind of quality found only in higher end furniture stores.
The center stack gets a stylish satin-silver treatment around its outer edges plus a small piece of the aforementioned Black Argento hardwood trim surrounding the “RAM” embossed change tray; the same wood also surrounds the lower portion of the center stack next to the rotating gear selector and is used for the solid wood sliding tambour door of the lower console storage bin, the door trim, and atop the steering wheel.
Even the carpets are noticeably above average, made from premium Berber that adds a level of opulence not normally experienced in this class. Even the all-weather floor mats are made from luxury rugs complete with a cool gray and black pinstriped design, not to mention they’re topped off with thick metal Limited badges. The theme is black, by the way, complete with all-black roof pillars and headliner up above.
The primary gauges are as appealing as anything in the premium class thanks to gray-backed dials with satin-silver surrounds, unique blocked numerals that look inspired by high-end wristwatch faces, and a large high-resolution color multi-information system. Likewise, the infotainment touchscreen display on the center stack is FCA’s usual fully featured system incorporating audio and climate functionality as well as excellent TomTom navigation, a rearview camera with active guidelines, phone connectivity, and more. All the usual aux, USB and 12-volt charger ports are part of the package too, along with a handy 115-volt three-prong household style outlet on the center stack for plugging in laptops or other personal devices.
Along with the dark gray hardwood trim, the steering wheel gets stitched leather around its lower two thirds. The driver’s seat is fabulously comfortable with good lower back support that can be made better via standard powered lumbar adjustment. The side bolstering is excellent for the class, and perforated inserts offer better breathability year round along with heat for the winter, forced ventilation for the summer, and a two-position memory system. And while you might never sit in back, it’s nice to know that rear passengers will be well accommodated with loads of space in every direction and suitably comfortable heated outboard seats.
Some Limited features not yet mentioned include proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, auto high beams, and rain-sensing wipers—equipment normally found on premium branded luxury cars. But really, I’m only scratching the surface of all that’s included in this ultra-luxe truck, with the really good stuff hidden behind the scenes where eyes can’t see.
Fortunately for the Limited, it rides just like a truck, which is hardly an insult if you’ve driven a Ram 1500 lately—it’s by far the nicest riding pickup truck in the half-ton class. Along with that wonderful ride is class-leading handling, with the Ram 1500’s usual five-link independent rear suspension with coil springs replaced with an Active-Level Four-Corner Air Suspension for the Limited. Some purists initially scoffed at the Ram 1500’s unorthodox rear suspension designs, but both coil and air setups have proven their capability for load hauling and towing heavy trailers, with the Limited delivering a max payload of 1,330 lbs and a tow rating of 7,610 lbs. Ram included an optional soft tri-foldable tonneau cover atop the box as well, which kept the bed nice and dry for when it was needed.
If you want to make your Limited work harder, just stick with the base 5.7-liter Hemi V8, although my tester’s $3,120 pricier 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is exactly the way I’d order it, as it’s wonderfully strong, impressively smooth, brilliantly powerful, and superbly quiet. While its tow rating might be a couple hundred pounds less, it’s plenty energetic off the line and more than capable for passing thanks to 240 horsepower and even more torque than the big V8—420 lb-ft compared to 410. The rotating dial-actuated eight-speed automatic transmission delivers greater efficiency than any other full-size pickup truck available when combined with the EcoDiesel, with claimed EPA numbers of 19 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway and 22 combined.
It’s bizarre really. If I were to have started this review out by talking about its turbo-diesel powerplant, eight-speed automatic, auto-leveling air suspension, leather-lined cabin, real hardwood trim, and myriad features you would’ve likely thought I had tested a top-line BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but instead, of course, we’re talking about a pickup truck with real workhorse credentials. You can talk all you want about your Denali, High Country, F-150 Limited or a top-line import, but give me the Ram 1500 Limited every time.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press