Cars

Ram HD mixes work with comfort

The 2014 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4
The 2014 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Tom Strongman

When it comes to trucks, bigger is usually better: More power, more payload, more towing capacity. Trucks, by definition, are for work, even though many of them are rarely used for it.

The Ram 2500 HD can be powered by a 5.7-liter Hemi, a 6.4-liter Hemi or a 6.7-liter Cummins diesel. The all-new 6.4-liter Hemi has 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, figures that Chrysler says are best in class. This engine has variable valve timing, cooled exhaust gas recirculation and a dual-runner intake manifold that increases low-speed torque and high-speed power. Four cylinders are deactivated under light loads for fuel economy. Maximum towing capacity is 16,300 pounds and the maximum payload is 3,972 pounds.

The four-wheel-drive system can be engaged on the fly with a knob on the instrument panel.

Trucks are available in so many sizes and configurations that one could spend hours poring over pages of specifications. My choice was easy. It was a 2500 Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn 4X4 from Chrysler’s press fleet, and it was a prime example of how civilized trucks have become. With heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, trailer brake controller, nine-speaker audio and keyless ignition, Chrysler calls it the most luxurious truck they’ve ever built. The $58,715 sticker price of reflects that.

The Laramie Longhorn has lovely leather on the seats, console and door panels. Chrysler describes the look as something "handcrafted," with design cues from saddlebags or fine furniture. The rear seat folds down to create a flat load floor for additional hauling.

The 8.4-inch touchscreen in the center of the instrument panel has some of the best graphics I’ve seen. Operation is simple and straightforward.

An empty truck is likely to ride rough because the suspension is tuned to handle a heavy load. Chrysler has addressed this issue with a five-link rear axle with coil springs. Coil springs are less harsh than traditional leaf springs yet they are capable of carrying a heavy load. Chrysler has supplemented them with an optional rear air suspension that can automatically adjust to a trailer or payload. The suspension also has a load-leveling function that improves stability.

The test vehicle had a short, 5-foot, 7-inch box that sacrifices some hauling capability for better maneuverability in town. The bed had adjustable tie-down racks that were handy when I moved a couple of pieces of bedroom furniture, but the tailgate was so high that climbing into the bed required a bit of gymnastics. I stepped on the running board, then the tire and then into the bed. Some competitor pickups have cutouts in the corners of the rear bumper or a step that folds down from the tailgate, and either of those items would have been handy. My more agile, much younger son had an easier time getting in, but that’s no surprise.

The back-up camera can be used to line up the trailer hitch.

Price

The base price of the test truck was $52,440. Options included a 4.10 axle ratio, side steps, 20-inch wheels, limited-slip differential, 6.4-liter Hemi, rear window defroster, trailer-tow mirrors, keyless ignition, roof-mounted clearance lamps and off-road tires. The sticker price was $58,715.

Warranty

Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Tom Strongman’s e-mail is tom@tomstrongman.com

2014 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4

Engine: 6.4-liter, 410-horsepower Hemi V-8

Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 148.9 inches

Curb weight: 6,467 pounds

Base price: $52,440

As driven: $58,715

MPG rating: Not available for heavy-duty trucks

At A Glance

Point: The Laramie Longhorn 2500 is a big truck for serious work, yet the interior is as nice as many upscale sedans. The 6.4-liter Hemi engine is crisp and strong. Maximum towing is 16,300 pounds.

Counterpoint: Heavy duty trucks aren’t really comfortable in urban settings. The Ram sits tall and that made it a challenge to load things into the bed. Steps in the bumper would be useful.

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