The Ram does not claim to be best-in-class in every category. The main advantage with the Longhorn Mega Cab we tested, which costs $49,120, lies in the powerful Cummins Turbo Diesel engine. Now, other HD trucks offer both turbo and diesel, but the Longhorn uses a new technology that removes harmful emissions before spewing the exhaust. The Ram has not only met existing EPA guidelines for diesel emissions, it meets the regulations until 2013. Other HD trucks require that you add a “diesel exhaust fluid” treatment about every 3,000 miles.
The Longhorn also has powerful brakes that actually benefit from the engine compression. Essentially, the truck engine helps slow you down, which can be a major aid when you are pulling a massive camper or maybe a modular house. In our tests, braking was smooth and gentle, never touchy like some HD trucks. You can feel the engine slowing down when you brake.
This truck is also available in a manual transmission, which is one of its most unique features. Ford, Chevy, and GMC do not offer a manual, although most trucks use an electronic selector for down-shifting. (The automatic we tested had plus and minus buttons on the gear select.) The manual is for people who need to control shifting based on the RPMs of the engine, which is most useful on hilly terrain. By the way, this is one of the only trucks we have tested that has a hill assist that holds you in place when you are driving up a hill and need to stop, and also has a heated steering wheel.
Inside the cab, you’ll find a roomy interior that feels more like a Suburban than a crew-cab truck. The rear seats can actually recline about 9-inches, and there’s an extra storage area behind the seats. (You do have to move the seat forward to stick gear back there.)
For tech features, the Longhorn has some interesting add-ons. One is that there’s a pop-down TV screen for rear passengers. Ram told us that the provider for the TV signal, Sirius, is not going to be providing that service anymore, but it worked fine in our test truck for several cartoon stations. Like many Chrysler minivans, the Longhorn offers the UConnect system for connecting your phone. In our tests, music would sometimes play on fast forward for no reason over Bluetooth. Connected by USB, an iPhone 4 would sometimes drop the connection for no reason (most automakers blame Apple).
While the ride is not smooth, we found that the vehicle responded smoothly to large bumps and divots in the road, gliding over like the truck was not even going to blink. Cornering also felt smooth. In a thick mud pile on a farm road, the Longhorn pushed through with exceptional ease and never even considered slipping. On a rough gravel road freshly “paved” with dirt, we had no slippage at all, even though the Ford F150 actually did have a bit of tail swagger on the same road at times.
The 6.7-liter engine has 800-ft-lbs of torque and a towing capacity up to almost 23,000 pounds. That’s over 8 tons, or more than enough for most drivers. The Ram 2500 is also available with the Power Wagon option that adds rear-wheel differential locks (they spin at the same time) and a winch.
SoCal Says: They say everything is “bigger” in Texas, and the 2011 Dodge Ram Longhorn Mega Cab is no exception. It sounds as though the truck is beefy, luxurious and full of power. We would like to see it with a 12″ lift on 40″ tires. Who knows? Maybe we will see one at SEMA in November?