The Dodge Laramie 3500 Crew Cab took up massive space in my driveway when it showed up, and that isn’t a complaint. I circled it wide, nodding approvingly at the trademark muscled fenders and hood. Why doesn’t everybody have something as cool as the ram’s head at the center of the gun-sight grille? My daughter, on her third month into her learner’s permit, snatched the keys.
“No way, young lady.”
“Yes way, Dad.”
The argument was resolved only after three panting laps around it to retrieve the keys.
“You ride shotgun,” I said. She relented, but posed for a driver-side cell phone shot she’d send to her buddies later.
We were privileged to use the truck during the filming of our Swimsuit Issue (November/December 2010) as a towing workhorse and for off-location transportation. You wouldn’t have thought the Laramie was a chick magnet, but it was. Everywhere we went with my 30-foot, 8,000-pound boat in tow, we got stares, nods of approval and envy. I don’t know how it is where you live, but around here, usually only Ferrari Testarossas and Lamborghinis cause so much vehicle envy.
Without the tow, we found the Laramie edition of this truck smooth and fun to drive. No, it wasn’t just the premium Alpine sound system that gave crisp, clear sound or the DVD player in the back seat that made it fun. It was the remarkably soft ride for a heavy truck that let us coast over the brick streets of my town without spilling coffee on the supple leather seats. Legroom in the back was generous even with the driver’s seat fully back, the way I like it. Seat ergonomics for the driver and companion were sweet for long drives. The navigation system, nested in the media center, sported the backup camera I used to look clairvoyant when hitching up.
On the highway with boat in tow, we had plenty of get-up-and-go to get out in traffic. The power is applied smoothly and with a long stroke on the gas pedal — something we had to get used to. Once we did, it allowed for smoother starts and no jerking of the towed load.
Though the Dodge Laramie with its 6.7-liter Cummins diesel (350 horsepower) sported more horsepower than a Chevy HD 3500 we tested with a Duramax (335 horsepower) did, the Chevy offered acceleration closer to that of a jack rabbit. On the highway, the Chevy Duramax system seemed to give us more passing power as well. Not to say we found the Dodge underpowered — far from it. It particularly shone in the brakes department, tracking straight and confidently in one instance when a vehicle pulled out in front of us, requiring firm action to avoid a collision.
Not sure I’ll ever be satisfied with a half-ton again!