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2015 Ram 1500

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4

Base Price: $25,660
Price as Tested: $45,720

Choosing which of the Ram 1500’s attributes to use as a hook in a review isn’t an easy task. This truck has so much going for it, singling out one feature as the review’s lede is nearly impossible. The 1500 is pretty much everything a full-size truck buyer is looking for in a pickup. Impressive fuel economy, butched-up exterior styling, a civilized ride, credible towing numbers and a handsomely finished cabin are all good reasons for buying the Ram 1500.

As with all full-size pickups, there are so many engines, grades, cab configurations and other variables that writing any sort of comprehensive2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 summary requires a War and Peace-like page count. Because of that, this evaluation will basically focus on the specific model tested: the Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×2.

The base price listed here is for the basic Regular Cab work truck in Tradesman trim. Moving up the price-and-grade scale is a journey through the Quad and Crew Cabs and across the trim levels from Tradesman to, Express, SLT, Big Horn (Lone Star in Texas), Sport, Tradesman HFE, Express HFE, Outdoorsman, Laramie, Rebel and Limited. Whew! Ram lists yet a couple of more subgrades on the Web site’s price list. Two cargo-box sizes, two- or four-wheel drive and a flight of V6 and V8 engines add to the nearly overwhelming array of decisions to be made. And we haven’t even talked the grocery list of available options. If you want to escape the dealership before the rooster crows, making as many of these decisions as possible before heading to the showroom is a smart strategy.

Ram dropped off my test 1500 at Palm Beach International Airport for a week’s evaluation that included a 300-mile round trip to Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Although South Florida isn’t my favorite place to navigate around driving a full-size pickup, the 1500 behaves much more like a big sedan than a truck. Its ride is surprisingly pliant, and it’s more nimble than it looks. Still, it requires a lot of real estate to park.

Under the hood was the base V6 engine. I wasn’t optimistic that this 3.5-liter six would generate the go I want for merging-and-passing chores on Florida’s expressways and turnpike. But, it generates a respectable 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. The Laramie trim qualifies for the 395-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 ($1,150), as well as the 240-horsepower 3-liter V6 turbo diesel ($4,270). In most instances an eight-speed automatic transmission funnels power to the wheels. A six-speed automatic tranny does the shifting with the V8 for some trim levels. My test Ram was rear-wheel drive. Opting for 4WD would have added $3,505 to the bottom line.

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie LimitedI’m not wild about the rotary shift knob that replaces the traditional shift lever to change gears. I understand all of the arguments for the rotary’s space-saving attributes, but after spending a week with the 1500, I still found myself reaching for a center console-mounted shifter. I guess 45-plus years of muscle memory can’t be overcome in seven days. No idea how many more days or weeks I’d need to automatically reach for the knob rather than the shift lever.

My worries about a lack of acceleration were unfounded. A burst of energy answered each goose of the gas pedal. Friends I hauled around – the Crew Cab seats four adults comfortably and a fifth in a pinch – were genuinely surprised upon learning power came from a V6. Towing is respectable, too. When properly equipped, the V6-powered 1500 Crew Cab can tow nearly 7,500 pounds. In comparison, with the V8 that number jumps to 10,370 pounds.

Government-estimated fuel economy with the V6 is relatively good as well. With RWD it’s 17 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway and 20 in mixed driving. Going with AWD drops the mileage to 16 mpg city, 23 city and 19 in mixed driving.

Truly a thing of beauty, the cabin is handsomely styled and well assembled. Because my 1500 was the Laramie grade, it came with leather seating and wood accents. But, even lesser grades are impressive in the materials used, as well as fit and finish. Systems controls operate intuitively.

The center console is as big as a well with scads of storage space – a benefit of that rotary shift knob. There is plenty of legroom in the rear seat, as well as the front. The entire interior package is impressive.

My Ram 1500 Laramie came with an array of equipment such as full power accessories, a power sliding rear window, dual-zone automatic 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4climate control, power-adjustable pedals, heated/ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, power-folding heated outboard mirrors, 115V household power outlet, remote keyless entry, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system with 8.4-inch touchscreen and iPod interface.

Additionally, my test Ram had $4,740 in options and packages that included bucket seats, heated rear bench seat, automatic high-beam headlamps, keyless start, navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, front-rear parking sensors, spray-in bedliner and other goodies.

An impressive beast, the Ram 1500 turned out to be well suited to motoring to and through the Florida Keys. It’s high driving position provided an excellent view of the traffic, particularly on the two-lane stretches of U.S. 1 from Florida City to Key Largo. The only negative to having it on my Florida trip is that I won’t get it to use for some job-jar chores at home. But that was the only real negative.