Few markets are quite as strange as that of the heavy duty pickup truck. Occupied in equal proportion out here in BC by those that would drive their truck with grease-laden hands from job site to job site where it'd be beaten upon by heavy loads and wayward tools, and those that would adorn it with all manner of contrivances to keep rock chips, door dings, and minor scratches away while cruising from strip mall to RV outlet to boat superstore, it is a market divided. For one camp, the truck is merely a tool to be used, while for others it's a status symbol that is at its best when utilized to tow other status symbols. But there's an elusive third group of heavy duty truck owners out here in BC (consisting mostly of transplanted Albertans) that's rarely seen but makes a hell of a big splash when they do surface: the Cowboy Cadillac owners. And for that George Strait-listenin', Wrangler jean-wearin', Angus steak-eatin', PBR-drinkin', PBR-watchin' crowd there isn't quite anything as exciting as this: the 2012 Dodge Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Edition.
Representing the top echelon of the Ram truck line, the Laramie Longhorn Edition is the long-rumoured arch-nemesis of Ford's King Ranch lineup, and has been engineered, styled, and designed from the ground up to appeal to a younger generation of Cowboy Cadillac appreciators. Immediately distinguishable (from space) by possibly the largest badges ever stuck on a truck's flanks, the Longhorn is available in a selection of five colours ranging from basic black to a Longhorn-exclusive "Sagebrush," all offset by a Longhorn-specific "White Gold" accent colour on the lower half of its body, as well as on the fender flares, running boards, and bumpers. Already the best looking of the heavy duty truck offerings, the Longhorn treatment works quite well on the burly Ram Heavy Duty bodywork, and the combination of the handsome, but low-key, Sagebrush paint and two-tone treatment actually makes the aggressively styled truck into quite an understated machine... from the outside.
Because from the inside, there isn't even so much as a hint of understatement. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Although Ram's press materials describe the interior as possessing of "an unmatched level of sophistication and style," the level of styling and manner in which its been carried out is, if you're not 26 years old, don't work in Northern Alberta, wear either Ed Hardy t-shirts or a Stetson hat, and don't live and die by the Calgary Stampede schedule, a tad bit vulgar. Perhaps better described as a meeting of tribal tattoos and western filigrees, the Longhorn's interior is absolute covered in adornment; from little black curlicues on the lower faces of the gauges (those one actually light up an night, too), to laser-etched patterns on the seat bolsters, to a giant leather patch stitched onto the centre console cover, it's highly unlikely that anyone will forget what they're riding in. And it's not limited to the front seats either; any rear seat passengers can be easily distracted by the gigantic belt clasps that pretend to hold the front seatbacks' cargo pockets closed (they're actually just disguising the magnetic clasp that actually holds the pockets closed), that is, if their eyes weren't already searingly drawn by the laser etching and patterning that's also found on their seat bolsters.
Thankfully, if you ignore all the filigrees, piping, and faux-buckles found within, the Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn is still a Ram at heart. Well equipped, powerful, and quite comfortable, it's a real pleasure to drive, and still the only heavy duty pickup that doesn't require Urea injection to pass emissions, meaning owners don't need to continuously fill up their Urea tank to avoid "limp home" mode. And with everything from a heated steering wheel to a factory-installed engine brake, it's as heavy on the amenities as it is overbuilt mechanically. Then again, when you can order it with a massive crew cab and an 8'2" box (combining for a monstrous 169" wheelbase), it's a truck that lends itself far better to hauling and towing than it does to urban commuting and parking. The only downside is that when equipped in this particular manner, the ridiculously long resultant vehicle is longer than many urban environs are designed around, and it's entirely possible to meet with a corner, parking lot, or alleyway that's simply impassable. Then again, that sort of environment is precisely not what this truck is for. Out on the highway is where it excels, where owners can use the combination of the push-button activated engine brake and the push-button automatic transmission to extend their brakes' lifespan, and where the massive Cummins six cylinder can chug away just off idle, pulling God knows what up whatever ungodly grade you might desire.
Of course, at highway speeds is where you're also most liable to forget about the laser-engraved seats, filigrees, faux belt buckles, giant badges, and all the other contrivances that make up the Laramie Longhorn Edition. At least, that's what most people would do. But this truck isn't destined to find a normal market. On the contrary, the folks that walk into their dealership and order themselves a Laramie Longhorn are precisely the same folks that will appreciate the giant badges on the fenders and filigreed seats. Why? Because they probably have embroidery on their shirt shoulders to match those seats, and are wearing a belt buckle comparable in scale with those badges. And for those folks, the Longhorn is absolutely perfect, and should be commended for being so. After all, it takes some balls to build a truck as unapologetic as this. Rest easy Alberta, for your truck truly has arrived.
|Test model||2012 Dodge RAM|
|Trim level||Laramie 4X4 Quad Cab|
|Price range||$30,345 - $50,745|
|Price as tested||$59,495|
|Warranty (basic)||3 years / 60,000 km|
|Warranty (powertrain)||5 years / 160,000 km|
|Options||Crew cab Long box 4x4 Cummins turbodiesel|
|Competitive models||Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Ford F-250, GMC Sierra 2500|
|Fuel consumption||The only thing I've seen that did worse was an F-450, and that was towing a Dodge Magnum!|
|Value for price||Longhorn represents good value, given the features it includes.|
|Styling||A great looking, burly, aggressively styled truck in a market filled with boxes.|
|Comfort||Long wheelbase helps smooth out the typical heavy truck ride, and good luxuries inside make it better still.|
|Performance||Diesel pulls like a freight train... and accelerates like one too. Perfect for heavy hauling and work.|
|Overall||A good truck... shame about the seats though.|