2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Review - Truck, Perfected?

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4

5.7-liter pushrod hybrid V8 (395 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 410 lb-ft @ 3,950 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
17 city / 22 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
14.3 city / 11.1 highway / 12.9 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
19.8 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $55,390 US / $69,040 CAD
As Tested: $66,755 / $77,900 CAD
Prices include $1,695 destination charge in the United States and $2,595 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 ram 1500 laramie longhorn review truck perfected

I’ve long scoffed at the class of trucks often referred to “Cowboy Cadillacs,” those seemingly built for the well-heeled Texan deep within every suburban dad who wants to prove he’s the king of the bagged mulch pick-up lane at Home Depot. Loaded down either from the factory or a catalog with big wheels, low-profile tires, buckets of chrome, boastful badging, and plush leather, these rigs seemingly took everything that was good about a proper full-size truck and amplified the douche factor.

Then I drove one — this 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn. With badges illogically glorifying both Wyoming and Texas, I fully expected to be underwhelmed.

Nope. Not one bit. The newest Ram half-ton has had every possible superlative heaped on it, with good reason. This Ram is easily the best full-size truck you can buy right now.

And damn if it isn’t the best-looking truck one can buy, either. While Ram’s Detroit competitors have pivoted to blocky, massive, blocky grilles, I’d wager that this Ram looks almost understated. Part of me misses the traditional gunsight grille that defined Mopar’s truck from the early Nineties onward, but this simply looks right.

Yeah, I could do without the extra badges. But on the outside at least, the Laramie Longhorn edition is restrained to a tailgate badge and a pair of small tags on the doors. On the inside, however, this Ram wears Texas with pride.

The rough-hewn wood (or plastic wood substitute?) lining the console and dash is a nice touch for those enthralled with the HGTV-fueled shiplap craze. The central armrest wears a bronze-look Longhorn badge sized like a rodeo cowboy’s belt buckle, with matching leather patches on each seatback. Thin, bright trim lines the console, gauges, and dash, with intricate Western-themed patterns etched throughout.

Note the saddlebag-inspired map pockets, with metal buckles. It’s over the top, and some buyers will eat it up.

That 12-inch vertical touchscreen wakes you up from the Old West-inspired trance, bringing you firmly into modern times. Based on the already-excellent Uconnect, the touchscreen is simple and intuitive to use, while giving a great view of every possible control. The screen can be split between two functions, giving full view of both navigation and audio without toggling between either — or it can dedicate the entire glass to one. Having such a big map comes in handy when exploring and/or getting lost.

My tester was equipped with the Harmon Kardon 19-speaker audio system, which was simply spectacular. Hauling my daughter’s chatty friend to a Girl Scout event, I was able to easily drown her out without affecting the clarity of sound. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included with this big screen, too, which is welcome when satellite radio gets repetitive.

The seats are astoundingly comfortable, both front and rear. The rear seats in this crew cab warrant special mention — they allow a bit of tilt to the seatback, unlike many full sizers where the seat is bolt upright against the back of the cab. Still, legroom was abundant, as I can easily sit “behind myself” without coming close to touching my knees to the front seats.

My only quibble with the interior of the Ram 1500, other than the over-the-top luxury that is well beyond what I’d personally choose? The steering wheel trim. Call me silly, but I don’t love that the texture of the “wood” on the top of the wheel doesn’t match that of the “wood” at the six o’clock position. It’s an odd inconsistency that doesn’t match the overall quality found throughout the rest of this truck.

[Get new and used Ram 1500 pricing here!]

I only regret that I didn’t have any real hauling to do in the short time I had the Ram 1500. A couple of pails of kitty litter were it. It’s too cold to pick up mulch yet. I’d have no concerns about hauling just about anything, as this 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is equipped with Chrysler’s eTorque system, which Matthew Guy explained in detail last fall. Basically, a small battery pack combines with an electric motor and 48-volt electrical system to add torque in short bursts – up to 130 lb-ft. Beyond that, the system gives the big V8 a stop/start feature, and otherwise gives a bit of fuel savings to what would normally be a thirsty engine. A 19 mpg combined EPA rating is nothing to sneeze at on a crew-cab four-wheel drive truck, and I was able to slightly best that figure at 19.8 mpg.

And there’s no question I could drive this truck all day. Short of a few full-size luxury sedans, I don’t know that I’ve driven any other vehicle that rides as well as this truck. Body motions over undulating highway expansion joints are silent and well controlled. Other than the occasional concern trying to park in tight inner-city public garages due to the sheer size, there is absolutely no stress in driving.

I’m a convert to the full-size truck realm after spending time in this Ram. Before, I’d never really considered a big truck for my daily driving needs. I’ve found myself seriously pondering the brand’s build-and-price site – and I caught my wife doing the same.

I’m not buying this trim. I’m not Texas (or Wyoming) enough to pull this off. I want the crew cab, 4×4, eTorque Hemi, and I think I’d like the Rambox lockable bed compartments. I can live with the shorter 5’7” bed, and perhaps the smaller 8.4” Uconnect touchscreen.

I’m building a Big Horn with the limited-slip rear differential, the trailer tow group, the sport appearance package, and parking assist, among a few other things. That gives me a capable truck that will do everything I’d ever need at under $48k. While that’s still a bunch of money, it’s more palatable for my budget than the pimp truck I tested.

And, no, I’m not kidding. The Ram 1500 is absolutely in the running for the next new vehicle in our household.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn, screenshot via ramtrucks.com]

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8 of 129 comments
  • Crtfour Crtfour on Mar 05, 2019

    Does anyone know if the monochrome exterior is available on the Laramie or Limited? I don't love chrome but do like the better interior appointments.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Mar 05, 2019

    The only thing I don't like on these is the emblem on the hood. When you get up close it looks like something tacked on out of a JC Whitney catalog. It looks clunky. They should have done something more flush instead of inset in the hood maybe. I also miss the crosshair grill, but they also don't have the flat, rolled edge fenders of the Power Wagon either. Ah, progress.

    • See 5 previous
    • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Mar 05, 2019

      "The only thing I don’t like on these is the emblem on the hood. When you get up close it looks like something tacked on out of a JC Whitney catalog. It looks clunky" I guess I'm not the only one that thinks that emblem on the hood looks terrible. Still a good looking truck & well proportioned truck. Wonder if you could remove it with a hot air gun minutes after bringing it home from the dealership.

  • Redapple2 One time; doing time; for a long time.
  • Robert Good! Those things are hideous.
  • ScarecrowRepair Road trips by myself -- cherry tomatoes or seedless grapes. Gotcher nutrition, gotcher water, bite-sized, no sticky fingers. Light lunch, maybe; normal dinner.
  • TDIGuy A lot of comments here referring to avoiding radio in general and not AM, but I suppose a shrink part of a shrinking market doesn't have much hope.That said, I'm also part of the talk radio fan club. I could listen to it online, but it's just an internet rebroadcast of the AM station (and I'd rather not burn through my data). So if the station went, so would the internet channel.Ya, then there's the Blue Jays games... "National Blue Jays network"... Ya, three stations. I do listen on satellite, but again, they just rebroadcast the AM radio broadcast.
  • Kosmo Would have bought the passenger version to replace my wife's beloved, but aging, Honda Element if it were available in AWD. Swing and a miss there by Ford, IMO.