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?

2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn floor mat

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]

The 2018 Ram Limited Tungsten Edition is rough-neck luxury

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No one makes offshoots of offshoots quite like FCA. Ram and Jeep in particular seem to have limited edition versions of special edition trims. This week, Ram announced the new Limited Tungsten Edition, a special version of the top-level Limited trim. The packaged adds a number of niceties and is available on the Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 in a number of cab and bed configurations.

The high-end truck market is expanding as customers drop luxury SUVs for kitted-out trucks. The Ram Limited Tungsten Edition adds a number of new features inside and out that make the truck more premium than ever. On the exterior, the 1500 model gets a vented sport hood, body-color bumpers, mirrors, door handles, and running boards, and the massive chrome R-A-M grille. The black headlights are pulled from the Sport model, and the wheels from the Limited trim have a unique satin paint.

Ram boasts that the Limited Tungsten Edition has the first suede headliner in the pickup truck segment. Blue and indigo-colored accents are found on the instrument cluster, the steering, wheel, doors, and seats. The deep blue and tan interior is quite handsome and is well matched by the real wood trim. Special badging on the interior marks the model.

The luxury truck goes on sale later in 2017, with a base price of $55,120 for the 1500 Limited Tungsten Edition model (compared to $54,270 starting for a 1500 Limited). Prices go up as cabs and bed lengths get longer.

[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]

Current Ram 1500 sticking around into 2019

ram-1500.jpgRam is preparing a big redesign of its 1500 pickup truck for 2018, but for fans of the current truck, don’t feel like you need to rush out to grab one – it’s sticking around until 2019.

That’s according to Automotive News, whose sources spoke on condition of anonymity. The move allows Ram to take a two-prong approach to truck sales, offering the current model as a low-cost option for fleet users while pushing retail consumers toward the new pickup. The factories that build the 1500 today – Warren, MI, and Saltillo, Mexico – will assemble around 200,000 trucks in 2018 and 65,000 in 2019 before Ram phases out the older model. Meanwhile, FCA’s Sterling Heights, MI, plant will screw together 325,000 redesigned 1500s starting in 2018, with production to increase to over 400,000 units in 2019.

While Ram refused to comment when AN reached out, FCA CFO Richard Palmer hinted at the move during a conference call last week, saying “having more pickup capacity will allow us also to satisfy the fleet customers’ demand on pickup, which we struggle to do today because we favor retail in the U.S. and Canadian volume, which have higher margins.”

“As we realign our capacity, we’re going to be able to continue to work on improving our fleet mix,” Palmer said.

Beyond making a play for fleet buyers, continuing to build the current 1500 guarantees dealerships maintain a solid inventory as Ram ramps up production of the new truck. You can check out leaked images of the redesigned Ram here. According to Automotive News, the new truck won’t use aluminum, like the Ford F-150, relying on steel instead. FCA’s 3.6-liter V6 will provide thrust along with turbocharged options, although there’s no mention of the venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Don’t read too much into that, of course – we’ll eat our shoe if the 1500 ditches the popular eight-cylinder. It’s still too early to predict when the 2019 Ram 150 will debut, but it will likely happen in 2018 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit or perhaps at a non-auto show event.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ram boss thinks midsize truck could fit in the lineup

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The execs at Ram are changing their tune about the possibility of a midsize truck in the US. Nothing is certain yet, but the chances now look a little more favorable.

“I think there’s opportunity there in the US if you look at what’s happened in the mid-size segment here – significant growth last year,” Jeep and Ram boss Mike Manley told the Detroit News. “I think that space is big enough, certainly, to have two offerings there.”

The other product that Manley alludes to is the forthcoming Jeep Wrangler-based pickup that’s due in 2017. However, there might not be much customer overlap between the Jeep and those looking for a more traditional Ram-branded model.

Manley admitted the most likely candidate for a midsize Ram would be for the company to use an existing Fiat platform, according to the News. One possibility could be rebranding the Fiat Toro pickup, but it’s rather small at 20-inches shorter than a Chevrolet Colorado.

This greater openness to a midsize Ram is a complete change from the company’s position in the past, though. Last spring, the brand’s CEO for North America said he couldn’t find a strategy to make the model work. FCA boss Sergio Marchionne made the same point in 2014, when he admitted the company showed a Ram 1000 at design clinics, but the response was “lukewarm.”

Over the past couple years, the midsize truck market has a renaissance of fresh products. The Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are successes both critically and commercially. The latest Tacoma is on sale, and the new Honda Ridgeline is imminent. We know Nissan has a Frontier successor under development, and there are always rumors of Ford reviving the Ranger in the US. With so much development in the segment, it’s easy to see why Ram would want to be at the party.

[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]