2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4
A cut above most rival luxury trucks
You’d think by merely swapping Limited for Longhorn there wouldn’t be much difference in the way these two trucks look, but the former is focused much more on urbanites whereas as the latter is pure country. Think rich rancher instead of a simple ranch hand, mind you, the 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn 4×4 starting at a cool $48,785 plus freight and fees compared to $26,145 for the base 1500 Tradesman. The Limited? It’s priced even higher at $52,320.
In between workhorse Tradesman and the dolled up Laramie Longhorn are Express, Lone Star, Big Horn, Sport, Tradesman HFE, Outdoorsman, Laramie, and Rebel models. Like I said, there’s no shortage of unique trim levels to satisfy every level of income and style.
Personally I gravitate toward the Limited, at least from a style perspective. My fondness for western themed items has waned since my early teens, although there was a time the only place I didn’t wear my cowboy hat was in the shower. There was also a time I didn’t like avocados, spinach and sashimi. Our tastes change as we age and augment to our new surroundings, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the quality and refinement of finer things that don’t happen to fit my personal wardrobe.
The Longhorn starts off with loads of chrome on a traditional crosshair grille with unique chromed wave-mesh inserts, plus more chrome most everywhere else (the upcoming 2017 model gets the same unique “anvil” style grille as Limited trim), and a two-tone paint scheme, my loaner finished in no-cost Delmonico Red Pearl up top and White Gold Metallic around each wheel cutout and along its lower extremities including the front and rear bumpers. Ram even paints the 20-inch polished alloy wheel pockets in gold, a precursor of things to come once inside.
On the steering wheel spokes and center stack where satin silver trim might otherwise glitz up the look, that gold theme continues along with plenty of chrome, while Ram even details much of the cabin in genuine open-pore hardwood. The Laramie Longhorn’s Canyon Brown leather is adorned with traditional cowboy boot and saddle style stitching in light beige thread and laser-etched patterns (Cattle Tan with black stitching/etching is also available), whereas the top of the dash and door uppers get wrapped in less ornately stitched padded leather, but the backsides of each front seat get fancy once again with dressage saddle bag-like covers overtop map pockets featuring intricately embossed metal belt buckles that remind me of ones I wore many years ago, yet still popular where folks live closer to the land. The supple softness and thickness of the solid and perforated hides is about as nice is this class gets, and those seats are as comfortable and accommodating as they look.
The Laramie Longhorn also gets remote start, bright metal doorsill scuff plates, front- and rear-door accent lighting, premium door panels, some of the richest looking carpeted floor mats I’ve ever seen, an upgraded instrument cluster, a heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, dual-zone automatic HVAC, heated and ventilated front seats, heatable rear outboard seats, a 10-way powered driver’s seat and six-way front- passenger seat including two-way lumbar adjustment, memory settings for the driver’s seat, side mirrors, powered foot pedals, and radio presets, a great sounding audio system with 10 amplified speakers, a subwoofer and 506-watt amplifier, 8.4-inch Uconnect high-resolution color infotainment with premium navigation and a backup camera, front and rear parking sonar, pickup box lighting, a spray-in bedliner, tow hooks, and much more grandfathered up from lower trims.
My tester was also equipped with an optional powered sunroof, an auto-leveling four-corner air suspension, Class IV hitch receiver, trailer brake control, and a Convenience Group that added proximity access with pushbutton ignition, rain-sensing wipers, and auto high beams, plus a Protection Group that included transfer case and front suspension skid plates plus tow hooks, and the list goes on.
I should also mention you can get the Longhorn with monotone paint and conventional satin silver painted wheel pockets for a more contemporary look, plus you don’t have to go with all the western themed stitching/etching inside either.
The gorgeous primary gauges can’t be exchanged, however, but who would want to? Two large dials bookend a large color TFT multi-information display, while the big touchscreen on the center stack is not only filled with a backup camera and accurate Garmin navigation, but also controls for the audio system, including satellite radio and every conceivable media function such as Bluetooth audio, loads of Uconnect apps, phone connectivity, and more.
All of the Laramie Longhorn’s switchgear is excellent, personal favorites being the space-saving rotating dial gear selector and its pushbutton part-time four-wheel drive interface, while the large buttons for the audio and HVAC system feature chromed rims and grippy rubber surrounds. All buttons, knobs and toggles fit nice and tight and are well damped too, while a useful three-pronged household-style 115-volt socket is right on the dash next to twin upper and lower glove boxes. Other conveniences include a console bin with a holder for your smartphone, a massive two-level storage bin under the leather-clad armrest integrating an SD card slot, USB and auxiliary plugs, a 12-volt charger, plus a shallow rubberized tray up top and a rubberized bin below, with a CD changer vertically installed on the side.
The seats in back are spacious with ample legroom, while a large flip-down center armrest filled with cupholders separates rear passengers if three’s a crowd. Even better, the 60/40-split seat bottoms flip upward against the back wall, exposing a completely flat foldout load floor. Ram even fits tiny LED lamps to the bottom side of the seats so you can see what’s there at night.
My only complaint with this interior is its lack of a sunglasses holder in the overhead console, just LED lights, controls for the sunroof, and a universal garage door opener instead, but I suppose there’s ample space in the top glove box or one of the bins within the center console.
You can’t find a more comfortable, nicer riding, better driving pickup truck on today’s market than this Ram 1500 in near top-line trim, especially when upgraded with the air suspension. It’s the only truck in its class with rear coil springs, which benefit both ride comfort and handling in a big way. They don’t seem to negate the 1500’s payload or towing capacities either, with my EcoDiesel 4×4 Crew Cab tester capable of 1,330 lbs of what-have-you in the bed and 8,610 lbs of trailer weight. Other trims can tow up to 9,210 lbs, so it’s a good idea to study the various drivetrains and body styles to choose exactly what suits your needs, or alternatively step up to a heavy-duty Ram 2500 or 3500.
You can get the Laramie Longhorn with a 395 horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 or Chryco’s award-winning 305 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 in lower trims, but my loaner’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 has become a personal favorite as it not only puts in a day’s labor like big gasoline-powered V8s and more, it’s also quick off the line and plenty powerful for highway passing maneuvers. The Laramie Longhorn is a dream on the freeway, while it manages corners better than most half-ton pickups, the eight-speed automatic always finding the ideal gear to make the most of the engine’s 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. That it also achieves best-in-class fuel economy at an EPA claimed 19 mpg in the city, 26 on the highway and 22 combined as tested, or an even better 21 city, 29 highway and 24 combined in RWD HFE trim, is a bonus that’s been too hard for pickup truck buyers to pass up.
Ram pickup popularity has grown tremendously over the past decade, with calendar year 2006 only finding 364,177 U.S. buyers and 2016 looking like it’ll pass right on by the 451,116 sold last year. Ram pickup sales regularly beat GMC’s Sierra, although when sales of GM’s twins are combined it’s another story altogether; ditto for Ford and its F Series. Still, that level of growth can only come if you’re doing things right, and the Ram 1500 is well designed in almost every way.
The only thing it’s seriously lacking is an easy way to climb up into the cargo bed when the tailgate is open. When closed it’s easy to step on the lowered center portion of the bumper and lift legs over the tailgate, but when it’s down the only place to rest your foot is on top of the bumper, and that’s quite a stretch for a lot of people and not a very stable perch, especially if it’s wet. GM does a better job with standard corner steps carved into each side of the rear bumper, while Ford offers a sophisticated albeit expensive pullout step system hidden within the tailgate itself. I’d like to see Ram put more effort into engineering better bed access, or at least copy what works on other trucks.
Other than that the Ram 1500 is a superb way to haul yourself, your family and your gear around town or country. Choose this dressed up Laramie Longhorn if you live in the latter or hanker to western ways, or opt for any number of other trims if you’re an urban trucker. It’s all good. Different strokes for different folks as they say, but all should be satisfied with a truck that’s a cut above most rivals.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press Copyright: American Auto Press