2011 Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4

This LongHorn package is pretty tacky, with a giant belt-buckle-like badge on each fender. The seats' goofy Western pattern is also questionable, but the leather is quite nice.

I'm always astounded by how quick these one-ton diesel trucks are, no matter the manufacturer. This Cummins really kicks (thanks 800 lb-ft of torque), and the six-speed automatic seems very well matched to the engine. Like Phil, I towed a car with the 3500 and have nothing but good things to report, although my 3000-pound load wasn't quite enough to smooth out larger bumps.

Every time I drive a truck like this in downtown Ann Arbor, however, my car-control skills are definitely challenged, even though I've driven thousands of miles in dualie pickups (almost exclusively Dodges). This long-bed beast was particularly tricky to maneuver through the gate of the parking lot. Regardless, sixty-two grand actually seems pretty reasonable for a tip-top-of-the-line truck like this, which has rear-seat entertainment, ventilated front seats, four heated seats, and many, many other features. The target market for a truck like this is likely very small, but this Ram 3500 notches a direct hit on that tiny bull's-eye.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Others who used this monster for tasks more appropriate than shuttling two little girls around town can better speak to the impact of coil springs on a heavy duty tow vehicle, or the 800 lb-ft of torque, and the integrated trailer brake controller. I'll concentrate on what appeals to me about this truck the most -- the aesthetics.

Dodge, er, Ram is making the best looking trucks -- inside and out -- of The Big Three, in my opinion, and it's not even close. With this 3500 Laramie, Ram did a beautiful job of simply stretching what is already a handsome truck into a crew cab with a massive 8-foot bed that subtly bulges to encompass the dual rear wheels. There are the requisite badges tacked on about the exterior to announce the truck's prowess, but the stylists didn't mangle the lines with an over-the-top chromed out and blocky front-end treatment.

You get the full Laramie experience when you climb into the cabin, however. The interior treatment is so Westernized I half expected to find swinging saloon doors to enter the back seat. At first overwhelming, I grew to really admire the length to which Ram took this theme. Adding the tooled leather look to the seats was only the first step. Attention to detail and creativity abound, from the seat pockets with their flared and buckled saddle bag flaps to the barbed wire on the floor mats and the scrollwork in the instrument cluster. This truck is unapologetically ready to hit the ranch and one feels out of place on paved roads and even worse wearing sneakers and a polo shirt. Where's my Stetson?

Yes, it's saddled with the same horrible navigation and entertainment interface that curses the rest of Chrysler's lineup, but other than that, there is nothing to find fault with in this truck. GM would be wise to study up on how to design a truck cabin that combines this level of comfort and style with the rough and tumble durability required in a heavy-duty truck.

Matt Tierney, Art Director

After a weekend with the mighty Cadillac CTS-V, I was very concerned about suffering the devastating effects of torque withdrawal (main symptoms: failing to pass in sixth gear and listlessness at stoplights). Fortunately, I scored another dose of twist -- 800 ft-lb worth! -- with the Ram 3500. What's more, I didn't have to sacrifice much in the way of interior quality. Unlike other gussied up trucks I've driven, the Ram's cabin is nice enough to begin with that the extra trimmings don't come off as lipstick on a pig. This $57,415 truck really does seem worthy of a gentleman farmer -- or rancher.

I'd say gentleman urbanite too, but really, where would he park it? Certainly not in my driveway. Forget our office parking structure too. It may sound paradoxical, but the Ram's enormity is more troublesome for the fact that it doesn't feel all that enormous. Puttering around town, it doesn't feel all that different from the Ram 1500, which itself doesn't feel all that different from a well-mannered SUV. The steering is nicely weighted, and points you where you're going with far more precision than you'd expect judging by the relatively skinny front tires. But get into any confined space and you'll be pulling a full Austin Powers.

I could not help noticing, with both amusement and sadness, that the word "Dodge" still graces the center of the dash. It's as if even the lower-level designers who would be responsible for effecting such a change realize how silly the Ram brand is. Why Fiat/Chrysler thinks it's smart to isolate what are likely its best vehicles from a Dodge brand that's still starved for appealing product is utterly beyond me.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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