Ram had its best 12 months of pickup truck sales ever last year, beating 2014 deliveries by 3% and helping boost its parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to the No.1 spot in Canada for the first time.
That being said, I doubt my top-line 2016 Ram 1500 Crew Cab Laramie Limited 4x4 tester’s mid-cycle refresh had much to do with this upswing in popularity, although its redesigned, anvil-shaped grille is a noticeable change for a model that rarely sees any major styling revisions.
Said grille clearly defines the Laramie Limited’s unique character within the Ram 1500 lineup, but let’s not forget the many other chromed adornments front to back, the 20” forged and polished alloy wheels, and the massive chromed “RAM” tailgate logo. Additional premium kit includes signature LED-enhanced headlights, fog lamps, chromed bumpers, and turn signals integrated into chromed side-mirror housings.
As sumptuous as truck cabins get
A great deal more than just a restyled grille and some shiny trinkets compensate for the near $30,000 price bump, mind you (the base Ram 1500 ST starts at $25,595, while the Crew Cab-equipped Laramie Limited 4x4 retails for $54,995). Whereas the Laramie Longhorn model carries a western theme, the Limited adds more urban appeal, exchanging classic Alberta country style for some GTA cool, its primary gauges more Tag Heuer than Joe Rodeo, its genuine Black Argento hardwood accents conjuring Crate and Barrel instead of Thomasville, its soft full-leather upholstery invoking Kenneth Cole rather than Tony Lama, and so on.
The interior is downright sumptuous. Most of the dash top is made from padded, French-stitched leather that flows downward onto the instrument panel where it butts up against pickup apropos hard plastic. The shiny, harder stuff combines with plenty of soft synthetic surfacing, satin-silver and chrome accents, high-quality switchgear, and impressive electronic interfaces to create one of the nicest cabins in the half-ton truck business.
The centre stack gets a stylish satin-silver treatment around its outer edges, plus a small piece of that greyish Black Argento hardwood surrounding the “RAM” embossed change tray. The same wood also highlights the lower portion of the centre stack next to the rotating gear selector. It’s used for the sliding door atop the console storage bin, too, as well as door trim, the steering wheel, etc.
The Ram 1500 Laramie Limited not only looks rich, but it also feels rich. The contrast-stitched leather treatment is extensive, covering the door uppers, inserts, armrests, door pulls, and even the overhead grab handles front and back. Leather quality is superb, better in fact than many luxury sedans. Even the carpets and all-weather floor mats are noticeably above average.
The primary gauges are equally appealing, with grey-backed dials, satin-silver surrounds, unique blocked numerals that look inspired by high-end wristwatch faces, and a high-resolution colour TFT multi-information system at centre. Likewise, the touchscreen on the centre stack is high-quality and fully featured, incorporating audio and HVAC functionality as well as excellent TomTom navigation, a rearview camera with active guidelines, phone connectivity, and more. All the usual auxiliary, USB, and 12V charger ports come standard, but Ram also adds a handy 110V household-style outlet for plugging in laptops or other personal devices.
The driver benefits from a heated steering wheel and fabulously comfortable seats with good lower back support that can be made better via standard power lumbar adjustment, plus side bolstering is excellent for the segment, and perforated inserts offer better breathability year round along with forced ventilation when things heat up in the summer. The 3-level seat heaters got toasty warm in their topmost setting, while I appreciated the 2-position memory system for finding my favourite seat setup every time I climbed inside. You might never sit in the back, but it’s nice to know that your passengers will be well accommodated with loads of space in every direction and suitably comfortable outboard seats that are made even more enjoyable by seat heaters of their own.
Some Laramie Limited features not yet mentioned include proximity-sensing access with push-button ignition, auto high beams, and rain-sensing wipers. But really, I’m only scratching the surface of all that’s included in this ultra-luxurious truck…
What matters the most for most truck lovers
Fortunately for the Laramie Limited, it rides just like a truck, which you’ll know is hardly an insult if you’ve driven a Ram 1500 lately. By far the nicest-riding pickup truck in the half-ton class, this top-line model takes things up a notch or three. It has one of the most comfortable suspensions anywhere, and I include the fully loaded Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade on that list. How I wish Dodge had made an SUV version of this truck back in the ‘90s when much talk was bantered about on the subject.
Along with that wonderful ride is class-leading handling. The Ram 1500’s usual 5-link independent rear suspension with coil springs is replaced here with an Active-Level Four-Corner Air Suspension, which is not only a full league above its leaf-sprung competitors, but another class above its coil-sprung Ram brethren. Some purists initially scoffed at the Ram 1500’s unorthodox rear suspension designs, but both coil and air setups have proven their capability for load hauling and towing heavy trailers. My Laramie Limited 4x4 tester boasted a max payload of 603 kg (1,330 lbs) and a tow rating of 3,452 kg (7,610 lbs).
If you want to make it work harder, just stick with the base 5.7L HEMI V8, but the $3,850 pricier 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 is exactly the way I’d order it. It proved to be as wonderfully strong, impressively smooth, and brilliantly powerful as it’s been each time I’ve tested it, plus superbly quiet as well ― a perfect companion to my tester’s high level of luxury. While its tow rating might be a couple hundred pounds less, this mill is plenty energetic off the line and more than capable for passing maneuvers thanks to 240 horsepower and even more torque than the big V8 at 420 lb-ft compared to 410. Also, the 8-speed automatic transmission results in greater efficiency than any other full-size pickup available when combined with the EcoDiesel: 12.1L/100km in the city and 8.8L/100km on the highway.
It’s bizarre, really. If I had started this review by talking about its turbo-diesel powerplant, 8-speed autobox, auto-leveling air suspension, leather-lined cabin, real hardwood trim, and myriad of features, you would’ve likely thought I had tested a top-line BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Instead, we’re talking about a pickup truck with real workhorse credentials. How times have changed, and why not? After all, wealthy ranchers, contractors, and other truck lovers deserve something as well conceived and executed as the 2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited.
So, if you’re after the ultimate luxury truck, look no further. It’s easily the most opulently outfitted factory pickup truck ever produced with the best ride and handling combination available. Don’t believe me? Try one for yourself.