World-Class Luxury, World-Class Function.
When it comes to steaks, the United States Department of Agriculture offers three grades of quality. At the "more affordable" end of the spectrum, there's USDA Select, USDA Choice in the middle of the road, and finally USDA Prime—the tender, well-marbled, cuts that adorn the plates of expense account steakhouses.
If they were to grade trucks, 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn is the latter, "USDA Prime" of pickups—and it's not just good by truck standards, it's good by all vehicle standards.
Our test vehicle, a Diamond Black Crystal Pearl 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn, arrived with $16,635 worth of options for a grand total of $71,025. To compare, a middle-trim Audi Q8 Premium Plus starts at $72,200. Both carry the same amount of passengers, both can send power to all four wheels, both can be equipped with four-corner air suspension systems, and both offer IMAX-sized touch screens with fancy camera views.
The difference? The Audi reaches 60 mph approximately a half-second quicker than the Ram, but the Ram can tow 3500 lbs more. The Audi gets 21 MPG on the highway and the Ram gets 22. The Audi is more athletic in corners, but the Ram offers a subtle V8 burble. The Audi says "business" and the Ram says "work."
When it comes to the level of luxury, it's an old-fashion western standoff. In other words, it just comes down to preference and whether or not your hobbies include riding ATVs, horses, hunting, woodworking, DIY home improvement, etc.
So, what is it that makes it so good? The Ram has a truck-ton of character. Somehow, engineers and designers at Ram have been able to tastefully blend the comfort of a supple leather couch, integrate one of the most advanced infotainment systems to date, offer the capability of a full-size truck, give it a Mercedes-like ride, add a little V8 goodness, and tie it all together with a "western chic" vibe that stands to impress the most cosmopolitan of city slickers. To complement, Ram engineers have done a lot in the way of reducing cabin noise by making chassis improvements and by way of active noise canceling technology. There are microphones throughout the cab analyzing the road-going frequencies and, subsequently, using the speakers to reduce them—think of it like sitting inside a noise-canceling headphone.
The result is a truck that might just be the most comfortable way to get from A to B. As for driving the Ram, the air suspension masterfully absorbs any road surface imperfections and keeps body roll to a minimum. The steering, while not exactly sports-car-like, communicates extremely well for this type of vehicle and brake pedal modulation is effortless. When in doubt, open the taps on the Ram's 395-horsepower 5.7L Hemi V8 and relish in the smoothness of it all. Then, once you're up to speed, engage the adaptive cruise control and let the miles pass.
If I have any complaints about the truck, it's that selecting individual gears on the Ram's 8-speed automatic transmission requires a stretch of the thumb and that some of the other controls definitely come from the FCA international parts bins. Lastly, I'd prefer that HVAC panel, feet, defrost, controls exist as physical buttons and not part of the touchscreen UI. Of course, these are small prices to pay for a vehicle that offers a staggering amount of comfort and capability for the price.
Perhaps people just don't expect it, or maybe it's the roominess of the cab combined with how all of this rigs luxury features work together, but those who were lucky enough to snag a ride in the Ram couldn't stop praising it—myself included. It's official, American-style luxury can compete with Europe's best, and we're happy about that.