2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn: A Great Family Road-Tripper?

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Cars.com photos by Matt Barnes

By Matt Barnes

While we've already spent a significant amount of time with 2019 Ram 1500, we recently took a Laramie Longhorn on a family trip of about 700 miles with a car seat in the back, loaded with people (including a 6-foot, 2-inch-tall passenger). We also towed and drove some dirt roads with the non-e-Torque 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and four-corner air suspension.

Related: 2019 Ram 1500 Lands Cars.com's Best Pickup Truck of 2019 Award

Family-Sized Interior

The amount of space inside the Ram's crew-cab cabin is incredible. Rear legroom is the largest of any vehicle in this class. Installing a rear-facing convertible car seat in the Ram 1500 was incredibly simple, as there was room to stand in front of the seat while installing it. Once in, it was still possible for passengers to get past the car seat to reach the middle seat.

Not only is the cabin very spacious, it's also nicely designed, with no wasted space to be found. Interior storage is immense and organized well. The throwback Ram Charger naming of the wireless phone-charging system is ingenious, and it has the best mounting location for charging a phone while driving, whether that's wirelessly or with a cord.

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The Longhorn's leather is soft and supple, with "Longhorn" branded into seatbacks as well as some of the wood trim spread throughout the cabin. The Laramie Longhorn will bring the cowboy out of anybody; just stepping into the truck made us want to put on a song from The Highwaymen and saddle up our horses. Combined with front and rear heated and cooled seats, all occupants were comfortable for the entire trip. While the rear seats do recline slightly, we found the upright position to be the most comfortable. For those who enjoy a moonroof, the Ram 1500 has an optional panoramic moonroof that can provide an even more open feel to the spacious cabin.

On the Road

It's always a treat to drive in the Ram 1500 with air suspension. The ride is smooth, but there is little body lean in the corners — two things that don't often go together in a pickup truck. For the highway section of our trip, we left the suspension in an aero mode that lowers the truck about a half-inch and improves fuel efficiency.

Our total trip was just under 700 miles, and we averaged 18.2 mpg. Most of the freeway speeds were posted at 80 mph, so we were impressed that the truck still averaged as high as it did. With the optional 33-gallon fuel tank, one could travel roughly 600 miles on a single tank of gas. For us, stops were made more often for bathroom breaks and stretching rather than to fill up.

The electronic safety aids were useful without being intrusive. The blind spot monitoring system worked flawlessly, as did the adaptive cruise control and land departure warning. Sometimes the park assist feature wouldn't spot an open space on the first pass, however. I preferred to park the truck myself, as it was normally quicker and easier than waiting for the truck to figure everything out.

Towing

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We towed a 6,700-pound trailer over a short distance. Hooking up was a breeze with the high-definition backup camera and zoom feature. The camera systems in all the new half-ton trucks are great and a huge step beyond older models, but this one might be the best we've used. Setting up the weight distribution hitch was a bit more work and required setting the air suspension in jack mode, as per the manual. Using weight distribution and auto-leveling air suspension together requires more tuning than with a normal suspension setup.

Related: 2019 Ram 1500 With Air Suspension: What You Need to Know Before Towing

Power from the 395-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V8 was good, but it doesn't feel as strong as the Ford F-150's 375-hp, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 or 420-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 in the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 or GMC Sierra 1500. The Ram remained stable and controlled during our testing, but our trailer had a very low center of gravity. A bonus to help with towing a trailer in traffic is the trailer blind spot monitoring system. The Ram automatically detected the trailer length after making a few turns, and the system worked great for us. It was seamless and easy to use.

Rough-Road Driving

A truck this luxurious likely won't be spending much time off pavement, but there are many who will be camping, fishing, hunting or other outdoor activities that may require driving on rough roads. Our trip included a day of target shooting in the Arizona desert, which took us down washboard dirt roads and up a few hills.

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For graded dirt roads, we left the suspension in the normal setting for a smoother ride. As we turned off the main dirt road onto the side paths, we tried both Offroad 1 and Offroad 2 settings. The ride becomes noticeably stiffer the higher the suspension is set. Having power retracting running boards and the extra height settings of the air suspension kept us from having to worry about hitting a running board on rocks.

Our test model wasn't equipped with the optional locking rear differential, but we never needed it. We only encountered dry rock and slightly damp dirt for our off-road testing, which meant traction was probably the best it could have been in that environment. Those who will be doing serious off-pavement traveling should opt for the locker, however, as it provides for that extra level of traction when needed.

Family Values

Our test truck at $66,700 isn't the best value proposition as far as capability goes. Choose a Ram 1500 Tradesmen crew cab with four-wheel drive and the Hemi V-8 for slightly more than $40,000 and have the same capabilities without all the fluff. But on the flip side, when looking for luxury pickup trucks, the Ram offers the best interior and best ride road-trippers will appreciate at a lower price than top-of-the-line models from Ford.

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