The ride back was to be a laborious and deflating one. And had I not been in the new 2020 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn, I think I would have had less time to ponder over the dismal 10 days we had in the bush.
Regardless of your stance on it, there’s no denying that hunting is… difficult. It requires a lot of patience, stamina, and physical strength. And then there’s the suffering of lying in wait for the prey which honestly is what makes the activity so rewarding.
So you can imagine the disappointment at the end of a 10-day trip when you leave the thicket with nothing but a deflated ego and a 12-hour drive home. At least the drive back was in comfort.
The interior of this truck is easily one of the most luxurious in the segment. It may seem a bit kitschy if you’re not into the whole western theme, but the quality and attention to detail is undeniable.
The real wood accents are gorgeous with a grain I have not seen before, and the burned-in Laramie Longhorn stamp on the glove compartment and stamped metal inlay on the center armrest are a really nice touch. The leather is soft to the touch, and smells even better.
With eight-way power-adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats, it’s easy to find the perfect driving position, and impossible to be uncomfortable. It made what would otherwise be an excruciatingly long road trip, a breeze.
Heated and Ventilated Rear Seats… PARDON?
Yes, you read that right; the rear seats are not only heated, but ventilated as well. Ventilated seats are the greatest invention of all time—better than heated seats—and to have that in the rear seat now is truly next level.
I did not sit in the back seat myself, but my two rear-seat passengers had no complaints. With one being a Sasquatch of a man at 6’4”, I thought he’d have a tough time back there on the 12-hour trip, but he said leg and headroom were plentiful, and the seats were comfortable.
Oh, and did I mention they’re ventilated?!
Style is subjective, but the Ram was always an imposing machine to behold and I’m glad to report that nothing has changed. I personally prefer its design to the other trucks out there. Despite the liberal usage of chrome, it looks quite appealing—especially thanks to the plethora of stamped logos all around the truck.
The Tech-Savvy Giant
Chrysler’s Uconnect system is one of the better infotainment systems on the market, especially when it comes to trucks. And paired with this 12.0-inch screen it jumps the ranks even higher. When using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, it splits the screen so you can still the rest of the system. With all of the most important icons laid out at the bottom of the screen, it’s easy to access the controls you need.
Two USB connections in the front and two more in the rear make it ideal for a long road trip. No fighting ensues over who needs to charge their phone the most! It was especially handy to charge our GPS beacons every night, so we didn’t get lost in the bush.
The automatic power running boards are a fantastic feature. There were plenty of situations on the back trails around our hunt camp where permanent running boards would have scraped the ground constantly but with the running boards retracted, it was a non-issue. The speed at which they lower when you open the door is incredible as well. It’s faster than you can step down and get out. I will say though, that one was hanging a bit lower than it’s supposed to, and it makes me wonder about the longevity of them… and it’s just one more thing to break.
The remote tailgate release was fine, but it lacks the power-closing feature that trucks like the Silverado have. Opening it is the easy part… closing is where you want the power.
The auto-leveling air suspension is a cool feature, and it impresses your buddies at the hunt camp… but it’s incredibly expensive ($1,795), and I’m not sure it’s worth the money. It’s nice to be able to raise the truck a little when you’re off-roading, but this truck with its low-profile tires and swanky rims isn’t built for off-roading anyway. You can also set it to lower when you park the car so it’s easier to get in and out, and it auto levels on the highway to give you a better fuel economy… but that’s certainly not going to save you enough money to afford this feature.
We only had the 5’7” box, and I was worried at one point we would not be able to fit everything. I personally believe that you might as well skip the RamBox option and go for the extra room on the bed. But if you absolutely have to get one, go for the 6’4” box option as that makes more sense. In this instance, I was happy with the RamBox as it did help us keep our primary hunting equipment dry.
Since only three of us were traveling, we had to make the best use of the 60:40 split rear seats. The Ram also comes with little storage units under the mat for things you want to stow away from prying eyes.
The 5.7-liter V8 Hemi is an incredible engine. It’s smooth and quiet when you want, yet mean and powerful when you need it to be. With 395 horsepower, and 540 lb-ft of torque (which includes 130 lb-ft from the eTorque system), the power is very linear and it has a satisfying growl when you really hammer it.
Another great feature of that eTorque technology is the seamless transition when using the auto start/stop feature. With most systems, there is a noticeable delay between when you take your foot off the brake and when the engine starts up again before you can hit the gas, but this system makes it so seamless, you can’t even tell it’s functioning.
The real-world fuel economy on the highway without a trailer was a little less than advertised at 18 mpg by the end of the 750-mile trip, but we had the truck loaded top to bottom with gear and three people so it’s about what you’d expect. On the way back with the fully loaded trailer it dropped significantly to 9 mpg.
Hunting Moose, Not Gears
The 8-speed transmission is surprisingly smooth and didn’t hunt for gears as much as I was expecting, considering the ridiculous amount of gears it needs to go through. In fact, it’s barely noticeable at all when switching gears. It’s incredibly smooth, but quick. Even when hauling a trailer, it always put itself in the right gear without shuffling to maintain the right RPM.
With the exception of the fuel tank rapidly draining (along with my bank account), while cruising on the highway, you almost forget there’s a trailer filled with 10 days worth of supplies, survival equipment, three ATVs, two generators, and enough fuel to cause a noticeable tear in the ozone layer.
It’s smooth, quiet and lane sway is minimal… until you have to brake. Still, the truck does a great job handling all that weight, and the trailer braking (which is customizable) is fantastic.
There was however absolutely no difference when in tow/haul mode while towing our trailer. I spent about 20 minutes testing the truck with that feature on and off and I could not find any discernible difference. No change in gear shifting speeds, no difference in RPM, no change with the gear the truck chose to be in at any given RPM, and no change in fuel economy. It seemed to be stuck in sixth gear while cruising regardless of which mode I was in. This could have had something to do with the fact that we were close to max towing capacity but still disappointing that tow/haul mode didn’t seem to help with anything. Having said that, the truck had no problem finding the right gear and enough power to haul a trailer up and down the steep hills of northern Ontario.
It has a towing capacity of 12,750 lb, and a payload capacity of 2300 lb; more than enough for any recreational use, and still plenty for most job sights.
A Huge Safety Tech Haul
The truck comes with a full suite of safety features including Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, a 360-degree surround-view camera with great quality—especially so in low light—lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist.
All systems worked flawlessly except the lane-keep assist which, honestly, was quite infuriating. It doesn’t activate till you’re way over the line, it doesn’t steer you back in, and just yells at you and shakes the steering wheel, to wake you up and drive in a straight line. You cannot rely on it as you can with other systems.
I also have a bit of a gripe with the front view camera. The quality is great and very clear, but you can’t really see the front bumper so it’s hard to tell exactly how close you are to objects in front.
The adaptive cruise control is great though. Even while using a trailer, it did a surprisingly good job, and it’s almost a necessity on a 12-hour road trip.
Verdict: 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Review
Although the hunting trip was unsuccessful in its main purpose, it was not a total loss. The camaraderie, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the crisp clean air, the active sounds and sights of the forest when the animals don’t know you’re there, and the shockingly eerie silence when the forest is still: it all makes for a great experience even if you leave without meat. And of course, having a wonderfully comfortable truck for the trip doesn’t hurt.
I can only hope that next year, we can get back in this Laramie Longhorn, and if we are again unsuccessful, it will at least soothe the cruel bite of defeat.