Finding an honest, basic-equipped pickup truck on any dealer's lot would be a real challenge. Almost all pickups available to the consumer are well-optioned.
Finding an honest, basic-equipped pickup truck on any dealer's lot would be a real challenge. Almost all pickups available to the consumer are well-optioned. To date, one of the nicest pickups to spend time with me has been the 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew cab EcoDiesel 4X4. Loaded with goodies and an interior as nice as any expensive imported luxury sedan. What's not to like about this rig?
The Laramie Crew cab is perhaps a viable option if you have a couple of children and use a pickup for all kinds of family or work activities. The interior is comfy-cozy with plenty of stretch-out space and large windows. In front of the driver are large and therefore easy to read gauges including the seven-inch NAV screen. The Uconnect system works well, connecting my Android cellphone is a snap and the system responds very quickly to inputs.
There is room for improvement however; some icons could be in a larger font so they are easier to see. Listening to text messages through the truck is simple but the female voice reading the messages doesn't sound as human as in Ford's Sync system. Minor point I suppose. I also question using a rotating knob for gear selection. If you're wearing gloves the knob maybe a bit awkward that way. A person using the Ram 1500 for work will appreciate the additional power outlets and the design of the centre console for laptops. The optional leather bucket seats are first class and offer very good support and comfort. Rear seats fold down easily and can be heated like the front seats. The steering wheel is also heated.
The optional air suspension added to the ride comfort and also aided the pickup's cornering ability. Not that anyone is going to toss this rig into tight curves, but the 1500 can carve a curve in a stable, flat manner. Road and wind noise is minimal at 120 km/ph.
My test was equipped with the optional 3.0 litre diesel V6 produced in Italy. This engine is quiet, smooth running and very fuel-efficient. I was able to achieve 10.24L/100km (27.5 mpg) in a mix of highway driving and around town commuting. You might think with only 240 horsepower the engine is a wimpy performer. Nope, because it has 420 lb. ft. of torque to make up for that. Chrysler says that's enough pulling power to haul up to 9,200 pounds. The diesel was backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission and the combo works well to get the Ram moving.
Throttle response off the line is solid. The sound will remind you it is an oil burner but much more subdued without the usual diesel scream. Is the engine worth an additional $4,500? If you don't use the truck in your work and rack up the kilometres then what is the point of paying more for diesel fuel and the extra cost of the engine? Yet every buyer has a unique situation and I would say think this over carefully before putting your money down.
My tester was more than well equipped with options. The base price of a Ram 1500 Laramie 4X4 Crew cab is $53,195. As I mentioned the V6 diesel engine is a $4,500 option. Leather seating with the centre console and heating rear seats was another $1,400. The RamBox cargo management system where you can store items in either side of the pickup box was an additional $1,195 and well worth the money. All the other options piled on brought the sticker price $70,260 including shipping, but before taxes.
While driving the Ram EcoDiesel I saw many similar versions in my travels, which tells me how popular these pickups are.
Garry Melnyk is a St. Albert resident and lifelong car buff who has written about new cars and trucks for radio and print publications since the seventies.