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2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn 4X4 Test Drive Review

Even though it’s less than a year old, I already have what feels like a long history with the completely re-designed and re-engineered 2019 RAM 1500. I learned all about its lighter high-strength steel frame, new cab sizes, updated suspension, and revamped engine lineup during the media launch event in Scottsdale, Arizona last March. I also got the chance to drive the new Rebel model off-road.

In the summer, I spent a week behind the wheel of a 1500 Laramie 4X4 and used it to move into a new home with my girlfriend.

Then I got the opportunity to experience the smooth electric boost of RAM’s eTorque mild hybrid system. I drove a couple of 1500s off- and on-road during the Texas Auto Writers Association’s 2018 Texas Truck Rodeo, where RAM’s new half-ton pickup won a variety of prizes, including the biggest of the entire event: the title of Truck of Texas.

In late 2018, I scheduled myself to be in a 2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn with the eTorque Hemi V8 so I could experience it for a week in my hometown of Austin, Texas. I knew my girlfriend and I were going to spend the Christmas break with her family in Glendale, Arizona, so I reserved a Laramie Longhorn with the regular Hemi in it for our time there.

Thanks to a scheduling mix-up, I ended up getting a standard-Hemi Laramie Longhorn 4X4 with the 5’7” bed and optional RamBox cargo management system in both cities. The only major differences between them were the exterior color and a few options. The truck RAM loaned me in Austin was Diamond Black and featured an optional four-corner air suspension. Its final price was $68,385. The truck I got in Glendale had Ivory paint, steel springs, a tri-fold tonneau cover as an added extra, and an as-tested price of $67,335.

RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn

2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Exterior

Each 1500 made ingress and egress easy in its own way. Whenever I parked the truck with the air suspension, I just pressed down on a switch to lower it so that it would be easier to climb into the next time my girlfriend and I needed to go somewhere. The truck I drove in Glendale had a fixed ride height, but its power running boards (part of the Level 1 Equipment Group, which was also a part of my Austin press loaner) deployed whenever I opened one of the 1500’s doors. They revealed their true worth whenever my girlfriend and I went out to eat with her 93-year-old grandmother, who found that they made the trip into the cab short and pleasant.

In Austin, my girlfriend and I mainly drove back and forth between home and the grocery store. We did a lot of shopping while we were in Glendale. Sometimes I preferred to store our smaller purchases in one of the lockable RamBoxes because I knew they wouldn’t rattle around as much they would have if I had put them in the back seat. All I had to do to get them out was press a small button, lift up the lightweight lid, grab, and go. On the way from my girlfriend’s parents’ house to the Phoenix airport, I made use of the 1500’s folding tonneau cover. I just flipped a couple of levers under the rearmost panel, folded it back, slid our three suitcases into the bed on their sides, then put the panel back in place and secured it.

RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn

 

2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Interior

Whether I was in Texas or Arizona, I felt at home in the Laramie Longhorn’s southwest-themed cabin that, according to RAM, features “design cues from traditionally handcrafted, time-tested wares such as the antique pocket watch, hand-tooled leather cowboy boots or a horseman’s saddle.” Most of the touchpoints were covered in either leather or wood. The rim of the heated steering wheel was a combination of both. The dashboard was hand-wrapped in 100 percent full-grain leather. There was alligator-print leather on the instrument panel, center console, door panel inserts, and black/New Saddle seats, which offered three stages of heat and ventilation in both rows. Genuine barn-wood accents added a touch of ruggedness to the door panels, dashboard, and tandem doors on the center console. Even the gauges and front seatback pockets had a clear southwest motif to them.

RAM’s massive 12-inch center touchscreen (just one of the many goodies in the Level 1 Equipment Group) was just as visually impressive. It responded quickly to inputs and its split-screen function allowed me to keep an eye on two things, such as my navigation route and choice of satellite radio station, at the same time. Every chance I got, I drove my girlfriend and her family around Glendale. I was happy to do it, especially because it meant I could treat them to the Laramie Longhorn’s optional panoramic sunroof and 19-speaker, 900-watt Harman Kardon audio system (another part of the Level 1 package).

RAM calls the cabin of the new 1500 its “most spacious interior yet.” My girlfriend’s family put that claim to the ultimate test when her 6’5” father sat in the reclining rear seat behind her 6’4” uncle in the shotgun seat on the passenger’s side. Her uncle’s knees touched the boundary between the upper and lower gloveboxes. Aside from that, both of the big guys fit in the truck well.

RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn

2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Performance

When just my girlfriend and I were in the 1500, get-up-and-go was not an issue; the 5.7-liter Hemi’s 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque was more than enough. Even when my girlfriend, her parents and uncle, and I filled every seat, the 1500’s big V8 had no problem getting up to speed with a satisfying urgency. Shifts from the eight-speed automatic were as smooth as the Laramie Longhorn’s ride quality.

I didn’t need to use either truck for hauling heavy cargo or towing a trailer, but if I did, I would have been able to carry 1,840 pounds and pull up to 11,340 pounds.

Both 1500s I tested had EPA fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg in the city, 21 mpg on the highway, and 17 mpg combined.** I did a lot of suburban driving in both and only averaged roughly 14 mpg. Thank goodness each truck had an optional 33-gallon fuel tank.

RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn

2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Safety

Safety is always a major concern whenever my girlfriend is riding next to me. It was even more important when I had her and almost her entire immediate family in the truck with me. I was grateful for the Laramie Longhorn’s standard array of airbags, back-up camera, front and rear parking assist systems, and rain-sensing wipers. The Level 1 Equipment Group’s Blind-Spot with Cross-Path Detection system added another layer of protection.

I got the most peace of mind from the Advanced Safety Group. That included technologies such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go functionality, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and a camera system that provided a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the 1500, as well as a variety of other helpful front and rear camera feeds.

RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn

2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Overall

Over the past several months, I have learned a lot about the 2019 RAM 1500. It’s a thoroughly modern truck with loads of power, impressive infotainment tech, reassuring safety features, and genuinely usable passenger space for full-size (and larger) adults. If you want to learn more about it, I recommend the hands-on approach. Go to an an AutoNation RAM dealership. Prices for the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn start at $50,595.*

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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