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2011 Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4

This is a lot of truck. Luckily, the Ram 3500 came equipped tow mirrors that were vertically convex such that the driver could see the edge of the dualie rear wheels. If those mirrors hadn't been there, I may have had to make a few apologies for flower beds and lawns along the streets of Ann Arbor.
For lunch, the web team took the Ram the A&W drive-in in Dexter, where the parking lot was filled with full-size pickup trucks of varying size. Most of the other drivers looked admiringly at the sage brush pearl Ram 3500, although the woman behind the wheel of a Silverado 2500 HD equipped with a Duramax diesel didn't even bat an eyelash. The Ram's large, flat interior surfaces (center armrest and upper dashboard) easily had more surface area than most apartment kitchen counters and worked very well as dining surfaces. Those surfaces are almost more luxuriously trimmed than most homes, with ash wood trim, premium leather swathed across most surfaces, and an intricate stitching design reminiscent of a tribal tattoo that was also repeated on the gauges.

The numbers say it all: this Ram 3500 is 22 feet long, weighs over three tons, produces 800 lb-ft of torque, and can tow up to 22,750 pounds. Never before have I driven such an enormous, overly capable vehicle. Of course, vehicles of this size are ill-suited for navigating an urban environment like Automobile Magazine's home of downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. Just getting out of the parking lot was stressful. An awkward four-point turn allowed me to line up the Ram to squeeze through the exit gate, and I gently crept forward while checking that I wouldn't scrape the extra-wide rear fenders on any of the yellow concrete bollards. As I waited to pull out into traffic, the Ram blocked the sidewalk and several pedestrians gave me disgusted looks.
Out on the road, the convex towing mirrors are essential for judging whether the truck is between the lane lines. Although the Ram is massive, it's not as difficult to drive as I expected -- so long as you pay attention to the wide dualie rear wheels and large turning circle. The ride bounces and jiggles over almost every road surface, and the horrible blind spots had me worried that I'd run over a cyclist or a Honda Fit at every turn. My overall impression is that the Ram 3500 is too much truck for anything but a construction site. Unless you regularly need to tow giant loads, it just doesn't make sense to buy such an overbuilt truck.

I put the Ram 3500 to use towing my team's 1987 Volkswagen back from a 24 Hours of LeMons race. The car blew a head gasket during my stint (who knew the electric fan wasn't working?), and I was grateful to have such a capable truck to get it back home. Temperatures shot above 90 degrees over the weekend, but the Ram's interior remained comfortable thanks to the great air-conditioning and the cooled leather seats. We were especially grateful for that latter feature after pushing our non-running car -- with all of our spare parts inside -- onto the trailer.
The oversize trailer and race car full of spares probably weighs about 7000 pounds, and that was just enough of a load for the Ram to ride level. When the truck isn't loaded, the rear bumper is several inches higher than the front and the suspension is too stiff. With a modest trailer in tow, those problems were solved. The truck rode much more smoothly with some weight on the rear suspension and the 7000 extra pounds didn't tax the powertrain at all. Although Ram now has the power to compete with Ford and GM trucks, I think the GM trucks feel faster with an equivalent trailer. No matter which truck feels faster, all the domestic diesel pickups are more than capable enough to tow anything you can imagine. And now that they've all got exhaust brakes and integrated trailer-brake controllers, you can even stop the 20,000-plus-pound loads these trucks are capable of towing.
It's really incredible how far the Ram 3500 has come in the past few years. The interior has been best-in-class since this generation of truck debuted, but the diesel engine was down on power until this year. Now that there's the requisite 800 lb-ft of torque, heavy-duty pickup shoppers are out of reasons to head to a Ford dealer. As always, the pickup wars are going strong.


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