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2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4 Crew Cab Is Good Enough to Lure Away Ford and Chevy Loyalists

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 11/26/2018 Andrew Wendler
a car parked in the desert: Our full instrumented test of the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4 pickup reveals that it has what it takes to steal buyers from Ford and Chevrolet.© Michael Simari Our full instrumented test of the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4 pickup reveals that it has what it takes to steal buyers from Ford and Chevrolet.

While pickup manufacturers continue to wage war over towing capacity, innovative storage solutions, and luxury interior appointments, for many pickup buyers the final purchase decision often comes down to brand loyalty. Getting truck owners to convert is a difficult task, but the 2019 Ram 1500 offers enough measurable improvements and genuine innovation not only to appeal to Ram loyalists but also to lure buyers away from other brands.

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All the Many Rams

a truck driving down a dirt road: 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4© Michael Simari 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4

Although the Ram 1500 is largely new, what has not changed is the dizzying array of trim levels, cab and bed configurations, and special packages and editions. Here, we test a Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 with the shorter, 67.4-inch bed. The Laramie sits roughly midpack in a lineup that includes Tradesman, Big Horn (or Lone Star, if you live in Texas), Rebel, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited. Offering a semi-luxurious take on the truck formula, the Laramie includes remote start, keyless entry, push-button start, power-folding mirrors, a heated steering wheel, adjustable pedals, and much more. These niceties might have drawn scorn from hard-working pickup owners 20 years ago, but today even roughnecks can appreciate a heated steering wheel, and the Laramie captures the current zeitgeist.

Although Ram's new electric-motor-assisted eTorque V-6 and V-8 engines are available throughout the lineup, our Laramie was powered by the venerable 5.7-liter V-8, rated at 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and with a 3.21:1 rear-axle ratio, it's a familiar powertrain. It provided enough grunt to punt our 5541-pound Laramie to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds with a trap speed of 97 mph. That's just a few tenths behind the 5.9- and 14.4-second times we recorded in a recently tested Ford F-150 with the 395-hp 5.0-liter V-8. We haven't yet strapped our test gear to a new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, but the last Silverado crew cab with a 5.3-liter V-8 we sampled trailed behind both with a comparatively pokey 7.2-second run to 60 mph and a 15.4-second quarter-mile time. That said, it's remarkable how far the bar has been moved for this segment; at the turn of the century, any non-specialty full-size pickup that could crack the 8.0-second barrier was considered a hillbilly hot rod.

Charming Chassis

a red car: 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4© Michael Simari 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4

While this truck's powertrain is familiar, the chassis is where the 2019 Ram really shines. The newly designed boxed frame utilizes plenty of high- and ultra-high-strength steel, optimized in all the right places for modest weight savings-up to 100 pounds, according to Ram-and utilizes a larger midsection with specialized front and rear sections optimized for Ram's class-exclusive coil-spring rear suspension. To arrest any errant vibrations, particularly those that might emanate from the V-8's cylinder-deactivation system, Ram affixes active-damper modules to the frame. Essentially small cans with solenoid-activated weights inside, they move out of phase from the undesired vibrations to effectively cancel them out. The end result is arguably the most refined low-speed ride and interior environment of any full-size pickup. This Ram serves up a polished experience from the moment Drive is selected via the dash-mounted shift dial. Step-off is smooth, and speed gathers with the kind of grace seen from some luxury sedans. Highway travel is equally serene, although downshifts can be a little slow at times.

This Ram feels remarkably nimble and light given its 144.6-inch wheelbase and 232.9-inch overall length (there's also a 76.3-in-box version of the Crew Cab, measuring in at 153.5 and 241.8 inches), and the steering offers linear response and decent weighting as more lock is dialed in. Road noise from the 20-inch Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza all-season tires is minimal, due in equal parts to their rather conservative tread pattern and the Ram's active noise cancellation-we measured just 66 decibels at 70 mph. But this is still a truck, and pushing the tires hard revealed 0.77 g of maximum grip accompanied by the expected dose of understeer. A firm brake pedal greets your foot, rather than the overboosted feel endemic to most full-size trucks. The Ram managed a 188-foot stop from 70 mph with no fade, which is just behind the F-150's 180 feet and the Chevrolet Silverado's 184 feet.

Inner Space

a person driving a car: 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4© Michael Simari 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4

The cabin layout and materials, while not up to luxury-car standards, is a breakthrough in the truck world, a departure from Ford's geometric shapes and more expressive than the treatment favored by the new Silverado. The console features a huge cargo bin, cupholders, rubber "fingers" to hold a phone or tablet in a viewable position, and a dual-level center armrest with cubbies. As one editor mentioned, "If you can't find a place to stash your stuff, you have too much stuff." FCA's Uconnect infotainment interface is excellent as usual, and the knobs and switches all have a premium feel. The overhead console is another nice touch, as is the mini console dedicated to the rear-seat passengers, which hosts a pair of cupholders, USB ports (two each, regular and USB-C), and an AC power outlet. One slight misstep is the faux woodgrain; while it looks fine on the doors, it's less convincing on the top of the rear console.

Although the Ram 1500 Laramie comes well equipped for its $48,885 base sticker, it suffers from the price creep endemic to the entire truck segment. Our test truck had numerous options including red pearl paint ($100), front leather buckets and a large console ($895), painted and polished 20-inch aluminum wheels ($1295), the Laramie Level 1 equipment group ($1695), and more. Still, the $56,295 as-tested total is certainly in league with its competitors.

Overall, the Ram 1500 succeeds in offering a unique alternative intimately in tune with the desires of the modern buyer. But as with beer and cigarettes, brand loyalty is hard to break, and truck buyers are a particularity devoted and opinionated breed. And that's unfortunate, because the new 2019 Ram offers a compelling argument for breaking rank and starting a new tradition.


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