The Southwest is massive, and the biggest market for pickups, so it seemed appropriate for Ram Truck to send us the second-largest Laramie Longhorn in existence. This truck is a crew cab (huge interior volume) Heavy-Duty 3500 dually (the widest) with the longest bed (8 feet), and it's the four-wheel-drive model (tallest). The only way you could get a bigger truck is to opt for the Mega Cab. But it's not the truck's immense size that makes this Ram unique; it is its high-class cowboy design. The Laramie Longhorn is the new topline trim level for Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks, and it promises to give Ford's King Ranch a run for its money.

As far as the powertrain is concerned, this truck is identical to the rest of the Heavy Duty line, with the 350-horse, 650-pound-foot Cummins (the Max Tow package wasn't available at the time of our test), in this case controlled by the six-speed automatic. Even in a truck of this size and mass, the inline-six offered plenty of pickup, and power delivery was smooth. And it was easier to park than it should've been for its size. The trusty Cummins provided a low rumble and was nearly odorless. At the track, the HD3500 reached 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, and ran the quarter mile in 16.9 seconds at 80.4 mph. It stopped from 60 mph in 157 feet. And our truck, as equipped, can tow as much as 12,900 pounds on a conventional hitch (more than 19,000 with a fifth wheel), has a GVWR of 12,300 pounds, and a payload capacity of 4180 pounds.

Since this special edition is about adding Southwest style to an already capable truck, the interior is where the Laramie Longhorn truly shines. The design and materials quality make this cabin feel closer to a luxury sedan's interior than that of a work truck. Both rows of seats are wrapped in beautiful dark brown leather with beige piping. The dash, center console, and doors also use the dark brown and beige color scheme. The steering wheel and the brown dash with burled walnut accents have contrasting beige stitching. Even the gauges get the Longhorn treatment. A metal Laramie Longhorn logo in the pale gray gauge face is backlit at night, and the metal gauge surrounds and a brushed metal strip along the front of the glovebox wear an embossed filigree design.

The seats feature Laramie Longhorn patches accented with cowboy boot-like stitching. Not only are the seats good-looking, with leather that appears aged, but they're comfortable and supportive, making long drives fatigue-free. The storage spaces on the front seatbacks are designed as two saddlebags with ersatz buckles over a magnetic closure.

One of the coolest interior cues is the floormats. They incorporate brown and beige carpet that looks bolted in, with rubber surrounds decorated with metal Laramie Longhorn badges in front and an embossed barbed wire pattern. Barbed wire!

There are plenty of Laramie Longhorn cues on the truck's exterior as well, including huge, etched badges with a longhorn on the front doors, and a different version on the tailgate. The sidesteps are surprisingly low-key: They aren't chrome, as one would expect. Rather, they match the White Gold secondary paint color. But don't fret -- there's plenty of brightwork on the body. In addition to the chrome badges, the door handles and the surrounds on the side mirrors are chrome; and the wheels are polished aluminum stamped with the Laramie logo.

Is the Laramie Longhorn better than the King Ranch? It depends on whom you ask. In an informal editorial staff poll, some felt this was the best-looking interior available in any truck on the market today. Others gave the King Ranch the edge, because they didn't like the cowboy boot-like stitchwork on the Longhorn's seats, saying it looks too much like the tribal tattoos popular in the recent past. It would be interesting if Laramie Longhorn buyers could choose from a variety of designs, much like picking out a pair of nice dress boots.

That complaint aside, for those who like their trucks big, bold, and Texas-style, there are now two choices. Neither the King Ranch nor the Laramie Longhorn is cheap -- our Ram started at $57,015 and the closest King Ranch PowerStroke starts at $59,735. Both offer a lot of capability and luxury for the money, but the Laramie Longhorn has the best interior of the Ram Truck line to date, and the quality in its cabin may win over some King Ranch fans.


2011 Ram HD 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4
POWERTRAIN
Drivetrain layout Front engine, 4WD
Engine type Turbodiesel I-6, iron block/head
Bore x stroke 4.21 x 4.88 in
Displacement 408 ci/6.7L
Compression ratio 17.3:1
Valve gear OHV, 4 valves/cyl
SAE horsepower 350 hp @ 3000 rpm
SAE torque 650 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
Transmission type 68RFE 6-speed automatic
1st 3.23:1
2nd 1.84:1
3rd 1.41:1
4th 1.00:1
5th 0.82:1
6th 0.63:1
Reverse 4.44:1
Axle ratio 3.73:1
Final drive ratio 2.33:1
Transfer-case model NV273
Low-range ratio 2.72:1
Crawl ratio (1st x axle gears x low range) 32.8:1
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES
Wheelbase 168.9 in
Length x width x height 259.4 x 79.1 x 78.3 in
Track, f/r 69.5/75.8 in
Turning circle 49.2 ft
Approach/departure angle 23.8/26.3 deg
Ground clearance 7.6 in
Curb weight 8020 lb
Weight distribution, f/r 59/41%
Payload capacity 4280 lb
GVWR 12,300 lb
GCWR 21,000 lb
Towing capacity 12,900 lb
Seating capacity 5
Headroom, f/r 41.0/39.9 in
Legroom, f/r 41.0/42.9 in
Shoulder room, f/r 66.0/65.7 in
Bed LxWxH 98.3 x 66.4 x 20.1 in
Width bet wheelhousings 48.8 in
Bed volume 74.7 cu ft
Load lift height 35.9 in
CHASSIS
Construction Ladder frame
Suspension, f/r Live axle, coil springs, anti-roll bar/live axle, leaf springs
Steering type Recirculating ball
Ratio 13.4:1
Turns, lock to lock 3.0
Brakes, f/r 14.2-in vented disc/14.1-in vented disc, ABS
Wheels 6.0x17-in cast aluminum
Tires 235/80R17 120/117R General Ameritrac TR M+S
PERFORMANCE
Acceleration
0-30 2.7 sec
0-40 4.4
0-50 6.5
0-60 9.3
0-70 12.5
0-80 16.8
0-90 23.0
Quarter mile 16.9 sec @ 80.4 mph
Braking, 60-0 157 ft
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 1500 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
Base price $57,015
Price as tested $60,035
Airbags Front, f/r curtain
Fuel capacity 35.0 gal
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy Not rated
CO2 emissions N/A
Recommended fuelULSD
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