“How can the other guys even compete with this?” Associate online editor Stefan Ogbac asked me, rhetorically, after he borrowed our new 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Sport for the weekend. Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado fans reading this will no doubt have thoughts, but I got his meaning.
Ogbac was referring, specifically, to our truck’s ride quality, infotainment system, and powertrain, and only one of those is standard. Every Ram 1500 comes standard with coil springs all the way around, with the rear set replacing the less forgiving leaf springs found on other trucks. The result is a ride quality no other full-size truck can match while retaining competitive towing and payload capabilities. We could’ve upgraded our Laramie to the optional air suspension, but that’s a $1,795 option, and the standard truck rides so well, we didn’t see the need.
The other two things we had to pay for. The first is the second-largest touchscreen offered in a vehicle today, Ram’s 12-inch Uconnect 4C nav system, which costs a cool $1,395 and gives you the ability to use SiriusXM’s 360L service. It’s not the first thing you think of when someone says “truck,” but it’s an impressive piece of technology that helped the Ram win its Calipers and needs an exhaustive vetting. Those less inclined get an 8.4-inch screen standard at this trim level, while your basic work truck spec gets a 5-inch screen. Both the larger screens get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Just to have the option of fitting the big screen, we had to move up to the midrange Laramie trim, which also got us niceties like a 7.0-inch information screen in the instrument cluster, heated and cooled front seats, and a semi-premium audio system. We swapped out that last one for a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon premium stereo because we like our tunes; it came as part of the Level 2 equipment group. That group set us back $4,595 and also got us automatic headlights, high-beams, and wipers, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, heated and reclining 60/40 split rear seats, a rear underseat storage area, remote tailgate opener, and SiriusXM Traffic Plus, Travel Link, and Guardian services. It also included a CD player, which we don’t plan on testing because it’s 2019 and even the basic infotainment system can handle Bluetooth streaming audio.
The second paid upgrade Ogbac enjoyed is the optional 5.7-liter eTorque V-8, which adds a mild hybrid system to the big V-8. An electric motor replaces the alternator on the accessory drive and helps smooth things out with an extra 16 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque. It doesn’t make the truck any quicker, but it does smooth out gear changes, smooths out transitions between four- and eight-cylinder modes, facilitates the automatic engine stop/start system, and recovers energy to store in a 48-volt battery behind the rear seats. It’s a $2,545 upgrade over the standard 3.6-liter eTorque V-6 (which uses similar technology) and a $1,250 upgrade over the optional unassisted V-8. That’s a lot of scratch, but we plan to do some towing and hauling with this truck and, again, we wanted to test the class-exclusive technology that helped the 1500 win its place in our fleet. We went with four-wheel drive, as well, a $2,500 upcharge.
Those features are fitted to a full four-door Crew Cab body style with the longer 6-foot-7 bed, which we upgraded to RamBox spec to gain cargo holds built into the bed sides. That last bit cost us $995 and some space inside the bed, but the things were so useful on our old Ram 2500 Power Wagon, we knew it would be money well spent. We also sprang for the Bed Utility Group, a $945 option that got us a spray-in liner, LED lights, and four adjustable tie-downs on tracks in the bed.
The last big buy was the Sport package, which was nonessential but picked us up leather seats, a wireless phone charger, an upgraded center console, and power heated and folding door mirrors. We also dig the 20-inch wheels with painted inserts and the body color grille (to match our $200 Maximum Steel Metallic paint), but in retrospect, we might’ve opted for the Sport Hood Delete and saved $295. It’s a bit much, and its big center bulge makes it that much harder to see over the front end.
Finally, there’s the little stuff. $95 for a 3.92:1 rear axle ratio and $295 for a trailer brake controller so when we put this thing to work, it’s got every advantage. $195 for rear wheelwell liners to quiet down the road noise from back there, and $195 for a kick-down step under the rear bumper that makes climbing in and out of the bed much easier. Lastly, $135 for rubber floor mats that are hard to destroy and easy to clean when this thing goes out as a photo shoot support vehicle.
Put it all together, and a truck that already started out at $47,835 for the trim/cab/bed/4WD configuration we wanted rings in at $62,020 as-tested with about half the $14,635 difference spent on work and half on play. That’s a lot of dough for a mid-tier truck, and there are plenty more options we could’ve added on if we tried. Lest you think that’s unusual, take a moment to price out a competitor without the big screen, fancy engine, and pillowy suspension, and you’ll find it’s still competitively priced, because that’s what trucks cost today. Should they? We’ve got 12 months to sort it out.
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