Automobiles are freedom on four wheels. Your first car was a ticket out of your parents’ house, a pass to epic parties, and a chariot for your date with that one person from math class that you couldn’t stop thinking about. Your subsequent vehicles have taken you on impromptu road trips with your friends, out-of-state vacations with your family, or to the grocery store late at night because you were craving ice cream and calories don’t count on a Saturday night.
There are certain vehicles in which you have to do certain things. It’s not because anyone is making you do them. It’s because it would be a waste of the vehicle if you didn’t do them. You don’t get behind the wheel of a Corvette and only use it to drive it from home to work. You point it toward twisty roads and get to them as soon as you can. You break the back end loose and swing the speedo needle like you’re trying to hit a homerun with it. If you have a BMW convertible, you don’t take it out only when it’s raining and you have to leave the top up. When the sun is shining, you back it out of your garage, lower the lid, and let the wind be your personal hair stylist.
We used that same philosophy when we got the keys to a 2017 RAM 2500 Laramie with the 4×4 Off-road Package. That suite of add-ons is new for RAM’s 2500 heavy duty trucks and comes with beefy front tow hooks, a skid plate to protect the transfer case, front and rear Bilstein performance-tuned shocks, and Hill Descent Control. Who were we to keep such a rig shiny and spotless by driving it on nothing but pavement for a week? We owed it to the RAM 2500 Laramie to get some dirt on it at an off-highway vehicle (OHV) park…and paid in full.
2017 RAM 2500 Laramie Exterior
In addition to the 4×4 Off-road Package, our 2500 test truck came trimmed with the optional Sport Appearance Group. What that didn’t darken, it color-matched to the 2500’s body. The grille pattern, mirror caps, badges, 20-inch wheels, and headlight and tail light inserts were black, while the bumpers, grille bars and surround, and door handles were Delmonico Red. We enjoy chrome, but we had no complaints about not seeing much of it on the 2500 Laramie.
Although the 4×4 Off-road Package was mainly a collection of pieces of trail-ready hardware, it did add a visual touch of its own: decals on both sides of the 6’4” bed that told the rest of the world where our pickup was meant to go.
2017 RAM 2500 Laramie Interior
The RAM 2500 is available in seven trim lines. At one end, there’s the work-oriented Tradesman. That’s followed by the value-focused SLT. Then there’s the only-available-in-Texas Lone Star. At the other end, there’s the leather- and wood-stuffed Limited. Below that, RAM offers what it calls “the most capable off-road truck in America,” the Power Wagon. Then there’s the rugged luxury of the Laramie Longhorn. The Laramie trim line sits right in the middle. It may not have been the fanciest version of the 2500, but with the options RAM added to our review vehicle, we didn’t want for much. We had leather seats (heated and ventilated up front), an 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, built-in WiFi, and keyless entry and start. Thanks to the Convenience Group, we had automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers. Engaging four-wheel drive was as easy as turning the dial for the transfer case and shifting on the fly.
Second-row legroom and headroom was plentiful. We folded the panels below the bench seat out to form a flat floor, which we promptly covered with a tripod and a couple of camera bags.
2017 RAM 2500 Laramie Performance
The RAM 2500 is available with three power plants: a 5.7-liter Hemi V8, a 6.7-liter Hemi, and a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel I6. Our particular 2500 had the larger gas V8 under its hood. Its 410 horsepower and 439 lbft of torque was more than enough to get the big RAM charging. A column-shift 6-speed automatic converted those numbers into forward motion.
We set out from Austin, Texas and made the scenic journey to the Hidden Falls Adventure Park in Marble Falls to get some dirt on the 2500. We also wanted to get some big chunks of stone under its Firestone Transforce AT Tires, so we pointed the crosshairs grille toward a long, rocky staircase formation. Last year, we took the 2016 RAM 2500 Power Wagon to the very top of it. We were determined to do the same with the 2017 2500 Laramie, even though it didn’t have the Power Wagon’s front winch or power disconnecting front stabilizer bar. Our Laramie also had 2.3 fewer inches of ground clearance than the Power Wagon (which has 14.3). We selected the line that would leave a minimal amount of “forest pinstripes” on the doors and bed sides, put the truck in 4WD LOW, and moved forward slowly so the tires and heavy duty link coil suspension could do their jobs. With some spotting from one of our friends and the careful placement of a few rocks to help us get the front rubber to one of the next levels of the natural steps, we got closer and closer to the top. Whenever we felt the tires losing grip, we let the truck come to a stop so they could contact more dirt, then eased on the throttle. Little adjustments like that made a big difference. We reached the peak of the stairs then climbed out to take the “hero shots” of the RAM 2500 it deserved.
2017 RAM 2500 Laramie Safety
The 4×4 Off-road Package kept our media special safe from embarrassing itself in the rough. Front, front seat-mounted, and side-curtain front and rear airbags; front and rear parking sensors; and a back-up camera kept us safe from other drivers.
2017 RAM 2500 Laramie Overall
Prices for the 2017 RAM Laramie start at $47,645*. Our press loaner with the 4×4 Off-road Package was loaded up to an as-tested price of $59,105. If you want one just like it, you can find it at an AutoNation RAM dealership. Once you buy it, feel free to take it anywhere you want to go. Be sure to take it off road, too. That’s one thing you have to do in it.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.