I was talking about trucks with my barber, and he made an interesting observation. If you head out to farm country, he said, you’ll see pickup trucks used as they were meant to be: beds scratched from hauling, fenders with a ding or two and mud on the tires.
Conversely, he said, in the city you see polished trucks being driven by men in suits or women in dresses. There are no marks in the bed, the tires are shiny and the interior is likely to be as nice as that of a car.
Fortunately, today’s trucks, even though they are as sophisticated and plush as a luxury car, can fit into either world.
Driving the Ram 1500 Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn 4X4 edition was the reason for this discussion. That truck really shows how far pickups have come. Granted, the Laramie Longhorn edition is not your everyday truck, but the level of luxury and convenience was eye-opening.
The four-wheel-drive truck from Chrysler’s press fleet was equipped with a power sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, satellite radio, rearview camera, an Alpine stereo and a 30-gigabyte hard disc that can hold more than 4,000 songs.
Chrysler’s press materials say the Longhorn “is designed for the owner who needs a truck for work or play, but won’t settle for anything but the finest quality and refinement.” Chrysler says it is the most luxurious truck they’ve ever produced. Truckers never had it so good.
The wealthy Texan look is pervasive throughout the interior. Again, Chrysler’s press materials describe the style as having “design cues from traditionally handcrafted, time-tested wares, such as the antique pocket watch, a horseman’s saddlebags, a collector’s-grade shotgun or fine furniture.”
The test vehicle had a short, 5-foot, 7-inch box that made it easier to maneuver in the city. The clever, Ram cargo box option allows lockable storage in the sides of the rear fenders. The bed had adjustable tie-down racks.
Unloaded trucks are not the most comfortable things, but this Ram’s ride was surprisingly smooth, thanks in large measure to its air suspension. Air suspension lowers the vehicle at highway speeds for better fuel efficiency, raises the vehicle for greater off-road clearance and in Park mode, the truck sits two inches lower for easier entry or loading. Shutters in the grille close at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics.
The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 produces 395 horsepower, and it is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that is shifted with a rotary dial on the instrument panel instead of a gearshift lever. The engine shuts off cylinders under light load to save fuel.
The back-up camera can be used to line up the trailer hitch.
The test truck’s four-wheel-drive system can be engaged on the fly with a knob on the instrument panel.
The base price of the test truck was $47,730. Options included front skid plates, keyless entry, eight-speed automatic transmission, power sunroof, air suspension, trailer brake controller, Ram box cargo system, limited-slip differential, active grille shutters and a class IV trailer hitch. The sticker price was $55,890.
Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.