Smart design and working luxury in Ram 1500 Laramie

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QUICKREAD

2014 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4
• Full-Size Pickup, 4WD
• 5.7L HEMI V8 MDS VVT Engine
• 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission
• 4-Corner Air Suspension
• Remote Start
• Leather Seating with Vented Front Seats
• 5 Year/100k Powertrain Limited Warranty & Roadside Assistance. 3 Year/36k Basic Limited. 
• mpg 17 (15/21 city/hwy)
MSRP: Around $51k, pictured
As always, check with dealer for details



For being in a vehicle class that’s so concerned with hauling and carrying things, the 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie sure thinks-outside-the-box.  Or at least the designers did.  It’s surprising and engaging to see how smart they designed this pickup, even though some of the changes may (thankfully, not literally) throw you for a loop, at least at first.

The evidence of the first loop is on the key-fob.  A button showing the truck and an arrow pointing down.  At first glance, it’s a way to make the Ram easier to climb into.  See, if it’s not already lowered, triggering this button activates the four-corner air suspension and lowers the truck.  That isn’t all it’s for, however.

Controlled on the center console, the system basically transforms your truck from a fuel-maximizing highway machine to a lifted off-road dirt eater.  It’s at least worth a surprised chuckle when you demonstrate it, but the difference (especially off road) is remarkable, lifting that chrome bumper up so that you’re not afraid to get some dirt under your new luxury truck.

Then, on the highway, the system automatically adjusts the height of the truck to maximize aerodynamics, giving you the best possible economy. Smart, and great for an outdoorsman or a working/living truck.

For me, the biggest design change was the absence of a gear-shift.  With an electronic automatic transmission, the designers basically admitted that the gearshift wasn’t needed, at least not in the traditional sense.  Saving room and complexity, the handle or knob is replaced by a dial on the center console.  This is the kind of change I respect, since it admits that vehicles can adapt to technology, and lets drivers adapt as well.

Less visible was the eight-speed transmission. If you need manual control of the gears, rather than additional slots on the dial, the Ram places the control on the steering wheel, in a place usually reserved for audio or climate controls.  Mike Nixon, sales manager at Grand Junction Chrysler Jeep & Dodge, pointed out the eight speed, “It really gives the truck a performance edge.”

Bringing in my truck expert, my Dad, Jim, he liked the gadgets, but he found some thoughtful design elements that I missed.

“On the trailer connections, I really like the fact that it includes both connections, rather than forcing you to use an adapter,” he said.  “That’s just really handy.”

His other favorite feature was a three-prong 120-Volt outlet located on the dash, allowing you to use a standard electrical plug.

What he would also have liked would have been the Ram box accessories that they have on display at Grand Junction Chrysler Jeep & Dodge.  These are boxes that use the relative dead-space on the sides of the truck bed to give extra storage for tools, guns or more, that lock along with the rest of the doors on the truck. While not on the truck, they’re a smart item that should be checked out.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the comfortable and luxurious interior, especially the vented (cooled) front seats that were a pleasant find on a 100-degree day.  The leather and dash accessories, as well as heated steering wheel (less lucky on the 100-degree day, but good at other times), as well as the respectable audio system made the Ram a comfortable place to ride and drive.

See the loop-throwing design features of the Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie for yourself at Grand Junction Chrysler Jeep & Dodge, 2578 Highway 6&50.

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