3.01.2010

Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie Crew Cab Review


What you see is the new Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie Crew Cab in its natural environment. The 3500 is a one-ton pickup...the kind of thing best suited for hauling huge horse trailers (or Brahma bull trailers) around. The ideal rodeo vehicle.

In fact, I would have said that the market for this was pretty well limited to the horses for business and/or pleasure set until I drove it.

You see, as civilized as trucks have become over the years, there's a sliding scale and it has to do with towing/hauling capacity and heavy duty status.  It applies across Chevy, Ford, GMC and Dodge pickups. A 1500 is a half-ton pickup...light duty. These have become pretty comfy cruisers.

2500? That's a 3/4-ton. Now we're on the entry end of heavy duty...you climb up to get in and you'd better hang on, because the ride is usually noticeably rougher than the 1500.

And the 3500? Well, unless you're going commercial hauling, that's the big boy. One ton, riding high and....well, like a truck.

It's tough to tame a one-ton, but somehow, Dodge has done it. The 3500 Laramie Crew Cab I drove for a week was not only luxurious, but actually comfortable to drive. Parking? Not so much. I've had smaller apartments.



The key to the livability here seems to be the Laramie trim level. You can get a 3500 for as little as $35,630, but it's a 2-door, bare bones beast. At the base ST trim, a Crew Cab like ours begins at $39,200.

So pop an extra $10,745 (total base $49,945) into the calculator and the transformation is amazing. Suddenly, leather trimmed bucket seats are part of the package, along with heated second row seats, ventilated front seats, an AM/FM/Sirius/CD/mp3/DVD audio system (506 watt Alpine Premium Sound with 9 speakers and a subwoofer), 17 inch aluminum wheels and a bunch of brightwork to make it look...can you say this about a one-ton?....pretty.

The beautification continued on our tester with extra-cost paint...the Deep Water Blue Pearl Coat adds $225 to the sticker...and by the time the Dodge PR deparment finished with the six-speed automatic transmission, power sunroof, a further upgraded audio system (with a 30 gig hard drive and navigation) and Sirius Backseat TV, the price (with destination charge) was $56,820.

Now, that, cowboys and cowgirls, is steep...but it's a testament to just how good the all-new Ram 3500 is that at no point did I think it wasn't worth it.  And a big part of that is the engine. The 6.7 liter Cummins Turbo Diesel engine is a marvel...quiet, smooth and powerful. 350 horsepower, but as always with diesel, the story is in the torque...and it's very nearly impossible to beat 650 pounds per foot of torque at just 1,500 RPM.

The word is that the 2011 Ford Super Duty is an amazing truck. It needs to be. Until it arrives, the Dodge Ram 3500 is king of the mountain.

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