The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie is tough, but remarkably luxurious too.
Guys who drive pickup trucks are more attractive. This was proven in a recent study, with the same boffins discovering that junk food is in fact very good for you. Armed with these, er, incontrovertible facts, I decided there’d be no better vehicle to spend the weekend in than the 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie. Boffins know best...
Even though the Ram was revised last year, it’s undergone more improvements this time around. The big news is the addition of a turbocharged diesel V6 – which we’re not getting. But there are plenty of other features to get excited about, such as a fabulous new interior, new eight-speed automatic and a new air suspension set-up.
Starting with the former, it’s so well appointed that it rivals some luxury saloons. Compared to the Silverado and F-150, I’d say the Ram’s cabin leads the way in terms of kit, comfort and practicality. Boasting an upgraded 8.4in colour touchscreen with Chrysler’s Uconnect Access infotainment system (it’s the best in class) it integrates everything from the radio to the AC and is very userfriendly. With an attractive design and quality materials used throughout (the woodgrain trim and leather upholstery are fab), not to mention intuitive controls and a commanding seating position, you’d have no qualms about spending some quality time in the posh cabin.
The highlight has to be the new Jaguar-inspired rotary shift knob – although it may not be to everyone’s liking, it really does free up more space on the centre console. The seats (10-way power driver seat, heated and cooled) are well padded and offer plenty of support, while those at the back have more room than they’ll know what to do with.
It’s exceptionally spacious, both at the front and back, and as for storage space, there are so many compartments and cubbyholes that you’ll definitely
misplace your wallet or phone – or both, as I did. Now, that’s a compliment; the cabin is so big that you’ll lose your valuables in it. It even has two gloveboxes and a secret compartment under the left flipup backseat – the right one hides a massive subwoofer, which is part of the upgraded sound system in this Laramie trim. Another fine piece of whizbangery is the remote start that turns the AC on and cools the cabin down. No more burnt bottoms every time you get in when it’s been sitting under the beating sun.
The cabin is a deal-clincher, but chances are you’ll already have been won over by the robust exterior; it’s as imposing as they come. People move aside for only a handful of cars here, notably white Rangeys and, yup, you guessed it – pick-ups. You don’t want the Ram’s grille, the size of a house, in your rear-view. It does the trick – people give way and you don’t even need to flash the headlights, which incidentally, have been reshaped with a twin-beam projector design.
The chrome bumpers and wheels (huge 20 inchers) are unmissable. This truck certainly wasn’t designed for introverts – they’ll want nothing to do with it – but extroverts can rejoice. Further updates include LED indicators and new fog and tail lights, while power is supplied by a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 with variable valve timing and a cylinder shut-off system. It produces a whopping 395bhp and 555Nm of torque and is mated to a new eightspeed automatic, which helps to bring fuel consumption down to a respectable 13.8 litres per 100km. What’s far more impressive is the way it drives. Thankfully, it isn’t carlike; this is a truck, and proud of the fact.
Like its rivals, it suffers a bit from tail hop, but that’s part of the charm and you only ever encounter that when you tackle speed bumps; otherwise the ride is smooth. Whether you’re ambling along in heavy Deira traffic or merging on to Shaikh Zayed Road, the Ram 1500 copes admirably. The V8 feels unfussed while the auto swaps cogs almost imperceptibly.
At this point, I should mention payloads, but when was the last time you saw a pick-up pick anything up over here? Plus, this feels so refined that loading the bed with cargo seems wrong. OK, maximum capacity stands at 4,740kg, and that’s best in class.
The new air suspension doesn’t just deliver a supple ride, it allows you to drop the ride height by as much as two inches via the off-road settings placed below the rotary gear knob. Similarly, this can be increased by four inches above the standard height to give you extra clearance when venturing off the beaten path and you’ll never get stuck, what with the availability of fourwheel drive. It’s not all good, however; the new electric power steering offers, as you’d expect on a rig this big, very little feedback, and it’s a chunky wheel too, which, while not easy to manoeuvre, does suit the overall character. Safety features include a host of airbags, stability control and hill-start assist, while the rear-view camera helps out with tricky parking.
It’s distinctive, rugged, extremely capable and lots of fun. I’m a big fan of this Ram.