2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Introduction
Personal luxury super-sized in the 1990s with the surge in SUV sales, and it didn’t take long for pickup planners to realize that full-size models could easily follow suite. Enter the 2014 RAM 1500 Laramie, the culmination of more than a decade of refinement at Chrysler aimed at producing one of the most comfortable, and capable, trucks on the market.
It wasn’t easy for Ram to muscle its way into the premium truck conversation, long dominated by the Ford F-150 and its myriad of cushy trim levels as well as the GMC Sierra Denali. Redesigned last year, however, the Ram 1500 Laramie has finally ‘arrived’ on the scene by way of a concerted effort from Chrysler to walk its own development path and introduce features and comforts not so readily available from its rivals.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Models and Prices
The 2014 Ram 1500 is available in the typically bewildering number of combinations that are de rigueur in the pickup biz, featuring no less than six specific trims, three bed lengths, and a trio of cabin sizes. I’m going to focus exclusively on the Laramie edition that I tested, so as to not swamp you with an overwhelming level of detail regarding the full Ram lineup’s feature set.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie (MSRP $38,775) removes the regular cab from the picture and is available only when ordering quad or crew cab versions of the pickup, each of which seat up to six and feature an extra set of rear doors. The list of features that come with the Laramie model is quite comprehensive, and includes power windows and door locks, leather upholstery, a dual exhaust system, LED running lights and turn signals, 20-inch rims, the Uconnect 8.4 vehicle interface, heaters for the front seats as well as a heated steering wheel, power adjustments for both front positions, a standard front bench, available in-truck WiFi, power adjustable pedals, power-folding outside mirrors, heated with integrated turn signals, dual automatic climate control, LED cabin lights, and chrome bumpers.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie that I drove for a week came with optional four-wheel drive, an adjustable air suspension system, Convenience package (remote start, keyless ignition, automatic high beams, rain-sensitive windshield wipers), navigation, eight-cylinder engine, front bucket seats, and a towing package. Altogether, the MSRP for my test vehicle came to $45,900.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Design
- The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie doesn’t debut any new design cues for the current model year.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie features one of the most distinctive profiles in the truck world. With a protruding proboscis and buff sheet metal sitting over each of its for wheels, the Ram 1500 is a massive vehicle, one whose 20-inch rims seem perfectly-sized rather than over-the-top. The Laramie trim brings with it a two-tone paint scheme that saw the black body panels on my tester offset by lighter rockers and chrome bumpers front and rear – the latter of which pulses with the condensation from its integrated dual exhaust outlets in suitably aggressive fashion. More distinctive than its Ford and GM rivals, and not trying quite as hard as the recently-restyled Toyota Tundra, the Ram 1500 Laramie is a suitably serious, yet still fashion-conscious truck.
Passengers inside the 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie can be forgiven for mistaking its amenities for those more commonly found hiding behind a more prestigious badge like Cadillac or Mercedes-Benz. The Ram’s interior is its strong suit, decked out in leather, presented in tasteful, yet still robust plastics, and highlighted by an extensive range of well-executed features and controls. It’s very classy, and not just for a pickup – the Laramie trim would look almost as good gracing the interior of an equally-pricy premium sedan.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie does not introduce any new comfort or cargo features for the current model year.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie’s crew cab is suitably cavernous given its external packaging, and it’s hard to tell whether those riding in the front or the rear have the most room to stretch out. I found the adjustability of the front seats to be excellent, and the availability of both a heating and cooling feature for the leather buckets was welcome given the ying-yang nature of Montreal’s April weather. I think we’re one step away from seeing a massage feature in a pickup, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Ram introduced it first.
Cargo capacity is a major issue for most pickup owners, and the Ram 1500 Laramie offers two versatile solutions for hauling all of your junk. Most obvious is the five-foot, seven-inch cargo bed (with the option of up-sizing to six-feet, four-inches at ordering time), which came with a bed liner to protect the truck’s steel from corrosion. I made use of the Ram to refinish my driveway, a feat that required stacking 1,200 lbs of gravel in individual bags just behind the vehicle’s rear wheels. I greatly appreciated the truck’s adjustable air suspension and its ability to slam the Ram closer to the ground to assist with accessing the bed. There’s even a button to access ‘Entry/Exit’ height on the Laramie’s remote (a full two-inch drop from standard posture), although I don’t understand why it doesn’t default to this mode automatically upon turning off the ignition as with the similar system found in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Ram 1500 Laramie’s ace in the hole is its fold-up rear bench, which snugs flat against the back wall of the cabin to free up a surprising amount of room. In fact, I was able to stuff an entire patio set, including four full-size, non-folding chairs back there, along with my groceries for the week. The Ram also offers waterproof storage bins under the floor and a set of additional storage compartments with flip-top lids in the back of the truck. Optional with the Ram is the ‘RamBox,’ which transforms the hollow space in between the truck’s sheet metal and its cargo bed into lockable storage units.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Features and Controls
- The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie does not introduce any new features for the current model year.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie adopts a kitchen sink approach when it comes to features, and almost anything an owner could want can be easily accessed, customized, or activated from the driver’s seat. First and foremost is the Uconnect 8.4 system, which consists of an 8.4-inch LCD touchscreen as well as a voice command interface that acts as your prime point of control over the truck’s communications, entertainment, climate, and various vehicle settings. Uconnect is easily the class of the industry in terms of ease of use, graphics, and speed, and it’s becoming available on a greater range of Chrysler products.
I appreciate that Ram realized some features should still have their own dedicated hard buttons and dials, and so it is with the Laramie trim’s redundant controls for the heated and cooled seats, air conditioning and fan, and stereo. I also liked the configurable LCD screen that serves as the main part of the pickup’s gauge cluster, a unit which allowed me to call up various data readouts while integrating nicely with the still-analog gauges at the edges of the display. One thing that frustrated me about the Ram 1500 Laramie was its power rear window – or what I assumed was a power rear window, for while the cutout was there for the glass to part, I couldn’t find the button, or on-screen menu selection that would let me do it. Balancing that out, I liked the dial on the dash that is used in place of a console-mounted gear selector, as it opens up substantial storage room at the center of the truck and doesn’t clutter up the steering column with yet another stalk.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Safety and Ratings
- The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie does not introduce any new safety equipment for the current model year.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie comes standard with seat-mounted side airbags up front, side curtain airbags that deploy along the entire length of the truck’s cabin, dual forward airbags, electronic stability control and traction control, trailer sway assist, and hill start assist. The Uconnect 8.4 system also provides a telematics feature that can be used in an emergency to contact rescue services. There’s no active safety gear to be had with the Ram 1500 (CHECK).
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Crash Test Ratings: The Ram 1500 Laramie benefits from a four out of five star crash test rating from the NHTSA, and it scores ‘Good’ in every IIHS crash test category except for roof strength, where it was rated ‘Marginal.’
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie drops last year’s 4.7-liter V-8 from the options list.
- A new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 becomes available.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie starts out with the entry-level 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. The test vehicle I was given, however, featured a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 under the hood. Good for 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, this unit is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission and features an EPA rating of 15-mpg in city driving and 22-mpg on the highway. The four-wheel drive model I piloted got considerably worse than either of those numbers in primarily stop-and-go driving.
The 4.7-liter V-8 that was available in 2013 might have been struck from the ordering sheet, but in its place is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 that produces 240 horses and 420 lb-ft of twist. Having driven this model Ram before (called the EcoDiesel), I can vouch for both its frugality (XX-mpg city and XX-mpg highway) as well as its gutsy character in most situations. There are also two available low-range transfer cases available with the Ram 1500, with my tester featuring one with an auto-4WD mode. I kept the truck in 2WD for the duration of our time together, except when packing the gravel down in my driveway so as to avoid wheel spin.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Driving Impressions
Driving the 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie reminds you why the truck brand has been able to eat up so much market share in recent years. The truck’s chassis rides on a set of coil springs at all four corners as standard equipment – the only vehicle in the industry to do so – giving it much more control over rough roads, especially when the cargo bed is empty. The optional adjustable air suspension that was outfitted to my tester was even more of a revelation, absolutely devouring broken pavement and speed bumps without excessively jostling interior occupants.
Being able to add another two inches of ride height to the Ram 1500 via the Off-Road 2 setting on the air system is a fun novelty that does serve a practical purpose when veering off of the beaten path, although I mostly just used it to intimidate everyone around me. The truck drops slightly (just over half and inch) at highway speeds in order to improve aerodynamics, but there’s no concomitant decrease in ride comfort as a result. It might not handle like a sedan, as there will be some ‘woah’ moments if you try to corner the heavy pickup too quickly, but overall the Ram is leading the pack in terms of suspension technology and exposing the weaknesses of aging platforms like that of the Toyota Tundra.
The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that comes free of charge with the Laramie is quite robust, dusting the 5.3-liter mill offered by the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra in a straight line while feeling as competent as Ford’s popular 5.0-liter V-8 in the F-150. The eight-speed automatic transmission is unobtrusive in how it chooses to manage the big motor’s power, and even when loaded up with a substantial amount of gravel I had no issues steering, accelerating, or braking the pickup. Torque is plentiful, and there’s a satisfying growl from the tailpipes when you lean on it hard.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Final Thoughts
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie is converting legions of pickup fans who had previously dismissed the Pentastar brand as just following the crowd. With features such as an available turbodiesel engine (the only one currently offered in a light truck), adjustable air suspension, coil springs, and the Uconnect system, together with the magnificent comfort of the truck’s crew cab, it’s become obvious that Ram has leapfrogged several of its key rivals in pushing the limits of what’s possible in pickup design. It also doesn’t hurt that its strong V-6 and even stronger V-8 provide powerful and (in the case of the V-6) relatively frugal drivetrain options. Yes, you pay a significant premium to slip behind the wheel of the upscale Laramie trim, but this versatile truck asks for no compromises in return for your heftier monthly payment.
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Review: Pros and Cons
- Choice between powerful gas V-8 or equally gutsy, and more efficient, turbodiesel V-6.
- Eight-speed automatic transmission smooth and quick to change gears when needed.
- Mammoth, plush passenger compartment.
- Uconnect 8.4 is the most advanced, easiest-to-use vehicle interface from any brand.
- Air suspension is a versatile and comfortable option.
- There’s very little you can’t get done with the Ram 1500 Laramie.
- You have to pay to play at the Laramie’s level.
- V-8 consumes fuel at an accelerated rate.
- Big trucks can be difficult to wrangle in a city environment.
Chrysler Canada supplied the vehicle for this review