2014 Ram 3500 Test Drive



J.C. Newman launched the Brick House cigar in 1937 to honor  his family and heritage. Whereas once this cigar was rolled in Cuba using Cuban  tobacco, it is now proudly rolled in Nicaragua featuring an exclusive Havana Subido  wrapper and Nicaraguan filler which gives it its robust and complex flavor.  What has this got to do with a review of the 2014  RAM 3500 Laramie, you  ask? Well, the Brick House is a brand devoted to staying power, solidity, and  flexibility.  It is favored by  down-to-earth cigar buffs who demand consistency, punch, and value for their  dollar, all characteristics synonymous with the  RAM brand and,  by-and-large,  with  RAM owners.

I climbed into the cab of a brand new 2014  RAM 3500  Laramie Crew Cab on a mucky rain-speckled afternoon, put it into 4-wheel drive  low and churned my way through a veritable mud-bog so I could get onto the  pavement and start my trip home from the dealership.  Mud chips were flying in every direction, but  the 20" "black" aluminum wheels surely and steadily picked a path through the  muck and firmly deposited the truck on terra firma.  From that point on I felt very confident that  this vehicle would do anything I required of it - and truly, I wasn't ever  disappointed in its performance!

Like the Brick House cigar, the RAM 3500 is robust (850lb-ft  of torque!) and down-to-earth while at the same time technologically  sophisticated and complex.  The 6.7L  Cummins Turbo Diesel (6-speed automatic) engine hums along effortlessly and  engaging the electric instrument panel - mounted transfer case to put the  vehicle into 2H, 4H, or 4LO is a snap.   An electric Part-Time-Shift-on-the-Fly option is also available on the  3500 allowing you to make the appropriate selection in real time.  Segment-Exclusive RAM Active Air Technology  also works in the background so that the diesel engine can always provide optimal  performance.

Air is pulled in either via  the fender or the front grille and this operation switches from one to the other  automatically as the ambient conditions dictate.  Another innovative design feature is Front  Axle Disconnect (standard on 4x4 models) that automatically disengages the  front drive axle when the 4x4 system is turned off.  This, of course, results in better gas  mileage.

On a Saturday that was off and on sunny and then threatening  rain, 3 of us were able to make our way to a golf tournament comfortably with 3  sets of golf clubs and other golfing paraphernalia safely stowed in the cabin  with us as we drove. (There's so much  room in the Crew Cab that even with the front seats as far back as they can go,  the rear passengers can still stretch out and never feel cramped.)  A versatile two-tiered storage compartment  that can house one of today's thin laptops or notebooks and lots of other cargo  besides punctuates the space between the front seats.  This is where the CD player resides and where  media outlets can be located.  Plenty of other  cargo storage options abound too (on the door panels, glove box (x2), and in  the rear of the cabin).  At the base of  the two rear seats is an amazingly deep cargo bin that can double as coolers  for your favorite beverages or 'nibbles' and could easily be the talk of the  next tailgate party you go to.

 

Having significant expertise in the world of cigars, a  friend of mine is sometimes asked the question, "What is the best cigar?"  Chris is fond of replying that the best cigar  is the one you enjoy smoking the most.   This truism is equally applicable to the world of vehicles and I certainly  found this to be true when driving my two buddies to the golf tournament.  One of them absolutely loved the ride in the  3500 and kept saying that he could see himself driving one of these bad boys on  a regular basis.  He could see the  advantages of pulling his long 5th wheel RV with this powerful truck  and certainly I could see also that his 6'4" frame was very comfortable in the  airy freedom of the Crew Cab.

My other  friend, used to sleeker, lower-profile sports cars, found the ride rather bumpy  and didn't like the great height to be negotiated getting into and out of the  vehicle.  At one point he commented that  you needed to be as flexible as Spiderman to crawl in and out of the cab.  He wasn't so sure that he liked riding so  high.  Personally, I do like riding high  and this is about as high as it gets in a conventional vehicle.  However, I did find the suspension a bit  rough as per my buddy's assessment, although I know that's only the case when  the vehicle is empty and not hauling any kind of payload.  The all-new Active-Level rear air suspension  automatically detects a load on the rear suspension and increases air pressure,  leveling the truck and improving stability.   The greater the payload, the more comfortable the ride - rather funky  I'd say!

I could go on talking about the many creature comforts of  the 2014  RAM 3500 Laramie, its sophisticated, but clean instrumentation (including  UConnect technology) and its rocking Alpine stereo system (w Navigation); but,  when it really comes down to it, this vehicle is all about ruggedness and  pulling prowess.  These attributes it has  in spades.  Contemporary styling aside,  the 2014  RAM 3500 is built like a *? Brick House (pardon the pun) and I'd  want to have it in my corner when the going gets tough.  Both this vehicle and the aforementioned  cigar are true to their respective heritages.   The Brick House is a great addition to the J.C. Newman cigar family and  the RAM 3500 is a feather in the  family cap.