Ram Laramie Longhorn becomes the most luxurious Ram around

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This year’s Texas State Fair was all about the deluxe trucks. Ford introduced its super-plush Limited trim for the Super Duty trucks. Ram did the same with its new Laramie Longhorn Southfork trim level. It’s the new top-level luxury option for Ram, and it’s available on heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 Rams as well as the light-duty 1500.

The Southfork builds upon the flashy Longhorn trim level, which we aren’t particularly fond of, mainly due to the tacky leather filigree pattern stickers, the plastic, barbed wire accents, and strange rose gold finish. Those elements are all still present on the Southfork. It does retain good points, like leather everywhere. Ram touts the leather’s presence on the fronts, backs, and sides of the seats, as well as on the door panels.

Southfork-exclusive features include a new pale ivory leather called Light Frost Beige, which is accented by a dark brown leather. The roof and pillars are also now covered in suede, which certainly upgrades the feel of the interior. There’s real walnut and ash wood trim on the steering wheel and elsewhere in the cabin.

Since the Southfork is the top of the line Ram trim, it carries a high price. The 1500 model starts at $52,615, and the 2500 starts at $57,015. The trim is only available on crew cab and Mega Cab trucks, but can be had with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and with short or long beds.

[Source: Autoblog]

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Ram Laramie Longhorn’s interior is a crass cacophony of cowboy cues

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When we think of quality luxurious interiors, some of the first brands that come to mind are Audi and Volvo. They have elegant, simple interiors constructed from high-quality materials that are beautiful to see and to touch, and that’s what makes them feel special and genuinely premium. The 2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn in our short-term fleet didn’t get that message. What the Laramie Longhorn does is yell at you. It yells at you at that it’s LUXURIOUS, and it’s WESTERN.

Open the door, and you’re confronted with loads of saddle tan leather with contrasting black leather on the doors, armrest, and seat piping. This is reasonably modest, but if you pick a different color scheme than our Ram, that leather will have tooled filigree patterns, raising the volume of the interior’s message. Right on the center console and on the seat backs there are huge brown embossed logos stitched into them proclaiming the trim level of the truck. It’s all meant to evoke high-quality leather goods like saddles. But it’s the same thin leather you’ve found in almost every other automobile on the market.

2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn instrument panel

The cushy cowboy theme continues on the dash. The satin-finish wood trim would normally be a nice touch, but it’s overshadowed by the glitzy and chintzy rose-gold colored fake metal accents all over the dashboard, and even the instrument cluster. Perhaps it’s meant to be more warm and down-to-earth than the cold aluminum-look panels usually in cars, but it’s an odd color, and it looks more fake than faux-aluminum.

It gets even worse when you discover that Ram stuck leather tooling design stickers all over that rose-gold plastic trim. And then you see them on the chrome plastic rings surrounding the gauges. Not only that, but those rings have some sort of stud shape molded into them. Is this Western enough yet?

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No! Of course not! Hop in the back seat, and you’ll discover that the map pockets aren’t just simple slots. They have a full flap with metal belt buckles like saddlebags (though the flap actually closes with magnets). And naturally, those buckles have fancy filigree designs in them. Then take a look at the floor, and the rubber floor mats have barbed-wire fence designs molded into them. Get it? Because there are barbed-wire fences on ranches out West where cowboys work!

Yet, for all our complaining about cheap materials and a complete lack of subtlety, we’re sure this sort of thing appeals to many truck buyers. Heck, there’s nothing subtle about a truck this big, with a distinctive two-tone paint scheme, and badges literally as big as my hand. And if that’s what buyers of this particular Ram want, who are we to tell Ram to do anything different?

[Source: Autoblog]

2018 Ram 1500 gets more updates with the Sport and Big Horn Black editions

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The Ram pickup is one of the oldest vehicles in the segment, but it remains hugely popular with customers. The automaker has done a good job of introducing new updates to keep the truck fresh and competitive. For 2018, there are a number of new options and trims, including some special edition models. Earlier this week, we saw the range-topping Ram Limited Tungsten Edition. Today we can show you the 2018 Ram 1500/2500 Sport and Big Horn Black models.

The Sport model sits in the upper-middle of the Ram lineup. It’s a handsome truck, with dark emblems and body color bumpers and trim. The headlights get dark surrounds while the hood gets two scoops, similar to that on the Challenger. The big news for 2018 is the addition of the big, R-A-M grille. This ditches the iconic cross grille, replacing it with a wide, body-color piece with RAM in bold letters right in the center.

The new Big Horn Black edition slots just below the Sport trim. Consider this the “murdered-out” model, with black on black on black. It’s a sleek look, with black paint, black wheels, and black trim. It has the traditional cross grille but swipes the hood from the Sport model. Both trucks go on sale later this year.

[Source: Autoblog]

Jeep and Ram could be spun off from FCA, says Marchionne

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Jeep is surely the biggest single feather left in the cap of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles portfolio. Under Sergio Marchionne’s leadership, Jeep went from fewer than 500,000 annual sales in 2008 to 1.4 million in 2016, and is on track for 2 million by 2018. Add in the brand’s legacy, status as one of the most recognizable nameplates in the world, and rabid fan base, and Jeep has extraordinary monetary value to its parent company.

Investors and analysts have certainly noticed Jeep’s inherent value. According to The Detroit Free Press, Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas asked FCA chief Sergio Marchionne if he would ever consider spinning Jeep and Ram, FCA’s dedicated truck brand, into a separate corporate entity, and he responded with a simple “Yes.”

Jonas estimated Jeep’s worth in January of this year at $22 billion. Ram was valued at $11.2 billion.

Marchionne has a history of spinning off brands while keeping them part of FCA’s corporate umbrella. The most noteworthy example of this value maximization was with Ferrari, which now trades on the New York Stock Exchange and rakes in $3.4 billion in annual revenue and close to $435 million in net income, reports the Free Press. Marchionne still serves as chairman and CEO of Ferrari, and Fiat heir John Elkann owns 22 percent of the Italian marque’s shares.

Even if the offloading of Jeep and Ram into a separate entity would amount to little more than a profit-driven ownership change on paper, it would be huge news to the brands’ loyal fanbases. In any case, such a move would likely take years to actually happen and probably wouldn’t mean much at all to the products that Jeep and Ram produce. In other words, Jeep fans can keep the pitchforks in the shed … for now.

[Source: Autoblog]

Discerning Ram owners can now match their truck to their RV

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Are you frustrated that the two-tone paint on your new pickup truck doesn’t match the RV that it’s hauling? We have good news for you. Today, at the Dallas Auto Show, Ram unveiled a new color for the 2017 Laramie Longhorn: the imaginatively named RV Match Brown. In Ram’s words, the “Luxurious two-tone premium model displays distinctive design cues” and is “designed to match or complement RV trailer graphics.”

The new color replaces White Gold in the two-tone lineup and is only available on the Laramie Longhorn trim. In addition to running the bottom length of the truck, the RC Match Brown paint covers the side steps and the spokes on the 20-inch aluminum wheels. All 1500 Laramie Longhorns come with 20-inch wheels, while the 2500 and single-wheel 3500 models come with 18s as standard and offer optional 20s. The color wasn’t designed to replicate one specific color, just that general shade of brown that seems to be ubiquitous in the RV industry. The RV Match Brown is available with nine exterior colors.

The Laramie Longhorn is the second highest trim level of the Ram 1500, slotting just below the Ram Limited. Features include items like laser-etched leather with complimenting walnut burl inserts. It’s no Rolls Royce, but it’s hard to find a more decked-out truck on the market.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ram 1500 mule caught sporting Mega Cab configuration

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Our intrepid spy photographers have once again captured an unusual test mule out in the wild. This time we have a Ram 1500 that looks a little lengthy in the middle.

We’re pretty certain this is a 1500 and not a heavy duty model judging from the grille and hood. That said, FCA clearly went to great lengths to hide the cab. It’s still clear that the rear section is longer than your typical quad cab, leading us to believe that the Mega Cab option will return to the 1500 line.

Other interesting details are the covered tailgate and the Chrysler steering wheel in the interior. We’re not entirely sure why it’s covered up, as it doesn’t appear to have a different function, but there could be some styling tweaks for a new trim level. The one part we can see is the tailgate handle, which may reveal some updated camera abilities as the normal location shows a differently shaped camera lens. There are also two small spots that could be cameras, but it’s tough to say for sure. Will we see 360-degree imaging on the next Ram?

The steering wheel is an unusual inclusion as well. Our photographer suggests that it could be necessary for using the latest UConnect infotainment system. Other than the wheel though, the interior looks identical to the current model.

This updated cab option also leaves us wondering about the future of the Ram line. We have documentation that shows FCA plans to launch some type of refreshed Ram for the 2018 model year. So it’s possible we’re looking at an early test mule for that updated model, and the new cab option could be launched at the same time. In many ways, this Ram brings up more questions than answers.

[Source: autoblog]

Ram ramping up MI truck production, does deal with Texas Rangers

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Thanks to a host of upgrades at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michgan, Ram Trucks is boosting production of the already strong-selling Ram 1500 to build 28,585 more of them a year. That works out roughly to five more per hour, or an additional 100 per day. The major key to the improvements was redesigning 353 assembly workstations to allow employees complete their tasks more efficiently. According to Ram, the expansion was done to meet growing demand for the pickup.

These kinds of comprehensive changes can’t happen over night, obviously. From the end of 2013 through the summer shutdown in August, the Warren Truck plant received automation tweaks in the body shop and upgrades to the color booths in the paint shop.

However, the biggest shift was working with “UAW-represented team leaders and operators” to examine every workstation for efficiency improvements. In that analysis, the company identified and altered over 100 problems that could have caused an injury. What really helped to boost the production rate so significantly was moving about 300 parts, or grouping them into kits for better ergonomics, and eliminating walks to grab tools. Once everything was done, about 63 percent of workers at the factory got updated training.

Beyond just building more trucks, Ram is also partnering with the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, TX. During the State Fair of Texas, the automaker donated $100,000 to the organization to help “the preservation of the history of the renowned law-enforcement organization,” the company said in its release.