For many years Ford has had the edge when it came to a luxury pickup, the famous King Ranch edition of the F150. Like most folks, I thought it would be hard to beat, that is, until Ram debuted the LONGHORN version of the Laramie 1500. Not only is this truck more luxurious than anything out there, but it has also been totally updated for 2013.
The Western influence for the Longhorn no doubt came from Fred Diaz, a San Antonio native and 23-year veteran with Chrysler. The president of Ram Trucks of the Americas, Fred is very enthusiastic about the truck market. He says that they set out to beat Ford and Chevy in every category such as MPG, load, ride, etc., and they accomplished their goals. Proof of this was evident when they won the coveted Truck of the Year award presented by the Texas Auto Writers Association, of which I am an active member. This is a most coveted award, since Texas is the biggest truck market in the country. This award is determined after 40 to 50 automotive journalists spend a couple of days at the Knibbe Ranch, just north of San Antonio, driving every truck on the market over hills, through the water and down the asphalt roads before making their decision.
Ours was only the first of many awards the Longhorn received. The interior of this luxurious pickup, which seats five adults very comfortably, can best be described as “cowboy handsome and rugged.” It’s all new for 2013 with fancy embossed leather, heavy stitching, heated and ventilated seats, even heated seats in the rear and a heated steering wheel. If you are vertically challenged, it has adjustable pedals. For climate control and premium sound system control there is an 8.4-inch touch screen in the center of the dash. The 2013 Longhorn also features Chrysler’s new UCONNECT system with a built-in cellular connection that enables in-vehicle WiFi for you and your passengers. The pockets on the back side of the front seats look like actual saddlebags, and they have a large Western belt buckle to close them. The Longhorn logo is emblazoned on a recycled aluminum emblem that looks like a rodeo belt buckle and is attached to the floor mats.
When the Longhorn was introduced, Diaz presented one of these emblems made into a buckle to all the journalists present, including yours truly. Another new feature is the locking system that not only locks all the doors at one remote click but also the tailgate and the storage boxes in the sides of the bed. Speaking of bed storage boxes, this is another innovative option on Ram trucks that is very popular. They can hold everything from tools to guns, fishing rods and even a case of liquid beverages and groceries. Powering all this luxury and technology around town is the legendary Chrysler 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that produces 395 horsepower and 407 pound feet of torque, and when coupled to the new eight-speed automatic transmission, it gets better gas mileage than competitors.
The combo can also propel this luxurious beast from 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds. To the uninformed eye, there are several improvements to the 2013 Ram Laramie Longhorn that enhance all this performance and mileage. Joe Dehner, design chief for Ram trucks, and his team have made enough subtle improvements to all sections of the truck to achieve a 0.36 coefficient of drag, and that’s the best in its class.
While talking about moving down the road, I have to mention one of the best new features on the Ram. Air suspension at all four corners, an industry first, not only provides a smooth, quiet ride but enables the driver to raise or lower the truck for various reasons, such as loading the bed, rising for more ground clearance, lowering the truck’s profile to reduce drag and improve fuel economy at highway speeds or aiding passengers to get in or out. From any angle, this is a great-looking truck.
Take it for a ride, and you’ll think you’re in a luxury sedan. Prices start in the $40s and get into the $50s, and that’s in line with or even a little better than the competitors for comparable models. It’s really a Texas and Southwest thing. Folks up North can’t relate to the love of trucks in the South. I spent a week in New York some time ago and never saw a pickup in Manhattan. Go figure!