Blue-collar luxury
THE GOOD
  • Western aesthetic done right
  • Smooth, quiet, very pleasant to drive
  • Optional 12-inch screen
THE BAD
  • Pricey, options add up
  • Towing features aren’t as advanced as competition
  • So pretty you might not want to get it dirty
2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Review

If you need a half-ton but want something that’s a cut above the ordinary – and have the budget to match those ambitions – the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn could well be the truck for you. Is this the aspirational vehicle for aspirational Alberta buyer? Quite possibly. It takes oodles of features and capabilities and coats the whole truck in thick layers of high-end country aesthetic – perfect for the successful western businessperson who has the money for a fancy German SUV but doesn’t want to be run out of town by the neighbours.

Styling: 9/10

This score is based on what I perceive to be the styling ideal for this truck’s target market. The whole western thing has never really been my jam, but there are plenty of people out there who adore it, and those are the people who will get in this truck every morning and find immense joy in the well-considered details. Leather upholstery and the extensive use of real wood inserts are accented with working buckles on the seat-back pockets and delicate filigree stamping on the gauge surrounds. This truck screams country in the best way possible.

Safety: 8.5/10

Certain Ram 1500 crew cab models recently became the first full-size pick-up to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The catch is the rating applies only to trucks with adaptive LED projector headlamps – standard on the Laramie Longhorn trim – and the forward collision warning system, which is optional and only available within the $2,300 advanced safety group. Even without the safety systems, the structure of the truck protects occupants very well in crash tests, which is the key takeaway.

Practicality: 9/10

There’s not a lot out there that’s more practical than a pickup, and this truck lives up to that promise. The optional RamBox bedsides, provided you can budget for the $1,295 price tag, adds several layers to that practicality by providing easy-to-access storage bins over the wheel wells. This does impact overall cargo space in the bed, but it also makes the space that’s left nice and square. We kept large bottles of drinking water in the RamBox bins during a 10-day road trip to the Mingan Archipelago in Quebec, which kept them easy to reach but out of the way in case a bottle opened up or leaked. There’s also a drain if you want to throw some ice inside, and a 110-volt power point if you prefer it for other uses. But the bed divider gate that comes with the RamBox system is even better: It easily snaps into place along ridges in the bed sides and keeps your cargo from sliding around while you’re driving. This is especially handy if you’re towing something that doesn’t let the tailgate open all the way, as objects stay within reach so there’s no need to awkwardly climb into the bed to retrieve items that have shifted.

User Friendliness: 8.5/10

If you can get over the fact that the shifter is on a rotary dial – and really, at this point, the time has passed to argue about it – then you’ll find that the benefit is a cockpit area that’s airy, spacious, and well-considered in layout. This is aided by a couple of options, though: The airy part is helped by the dual-pane power sunroof, and there’s a lot of user-friendliness that comes from the optional 12-inch infotainment screen, which is bundled with the Level 1 Equipment Group at a cost of $3,395. (That’s a big number. There’s other premium stuff packed in at that price, though, including a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, wireless charging pad, power running boards, and rear ventilated seats. This last feature, according to my back-seat reviewer, makes this the fanciest truck of all time.)

Is the 12-inch screen worth it? If you’ve got the money to spend, it’s very nice to have. The ability to run Android Auto or Apple CarPlay on the top half of the screen and separately change radio stations or HVAC settings on the bottom half is great if such a layout is important to you. Some people don’t like that the screen is so large that there’s nowhere to rest your hand, and that the HVAC controls in the automaker’s products are digitized rather than tactile, but the standard 8.4-inch screen is no different on these points.

Features: 7.5/10

This test truck is optioned to the hilt, as has already been covered. But the Laramie Longhorn has standard features you’d expect at this price point, including heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic high beams. The 22-inch wheels you see here are also an option; the standard wheels are 20-inch aluminum.

As far as towing goes, there are other trucks on the market today with flashier features, like the Ford F-150’s trailer back-up assist or the Chevrolet Silverado’s new invisible trailer camera. But for simple towing such as with a small trailer like the one I used, the Ram 1500’s extendable blind spot monitoring and the hitch guideline on the back-up camera are all I felt I needed. If you want more, you’ll have to shop elsewhere.

Comfort: 9/10

Again, having money to spend helps a lot here: This truck has the four-corner air suspension equipped at a cost of $1,895. I’ve never driven this truck without this feature, so I can’t say what it would be like on steel springs, but it sure does drive smoothly in this setup. I also wasn’t left the least bit perturbed about spending hours at the wheel thanks to the very roomy and cushy seats.

I complained when I reviewed the Ram 1500 Limited last summer that it didn’t live up to the ultra-quiet hype, so I should point out that I found the interior significantly quieter this time around.

Driving Feel: 8/10

The air suspension also contributes to a level and well-handling drive feel, both with trailer and without. Ease and capability is the name of the game here.

Power: 8.5/10

Putting the pedal down is very satisfying in one of these. The Hemi’s 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, along with the eight-speed automatic transmission, handled this tiny 1,600 lb trailer as though it wasn’t even there. This tester’s engine has cylinder deactivation as well as the eTorque mild hybrid system, which adds a short-term electric torque assist of 130 lb-ft. I can’t say I noticed it in action, nor did it help much with fuel consumption, but I also did zero unladen city driving where it would have been more effective.

Fuel Economy: 7.5/10

I hoped that the eTorque mild hybrid system might help with fuel efficiency a little more than the 18.9 L/100 km I averaged, but it didn’t play out that way. I suppose that’ll happen when you spend 10 days straight towing through hilly terrain. When things flattened out around the middle of our trip, the average dropped to almost 17 L/100 km, which is significantly better.

If you tow often then this won’t be news to you, but yes, the optional 124 L fuel tank is worth every penny of the $445 it costs to equip for the hassle it saves in stopping constantly to gas up.

Value: 7/10

This truck is very capable and gorgeous to the right set of eyes. But with a $90,000 price tag, it also comes with a healthy helping of sticker shock. Can you get a cheaper truck that’s nearly as capable? Of course, but that’s not the point. (And that’s also why the Ram 1500 Classic remains in production.) This one isn’t intended for the bargain-seekers.

The Verdict

For people who can afford something special, but for whom “special” means custom belt buckles over designer handbags, the enjoyment to be found here will be worth the price tag.

Blue-collar luxury 12/12/2019 6:30:00 AM

Specifications

Engine Displacement 5.7L
Engine Cylinders V8
Peak Horsepower 395 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Peak Torque 410 lb-ft @ 3,950 rpm
Fuel Economy 14.3/11.1/12.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 1,526 L (short box, not incl. RamBox capacity)