2012 Ram 3500 Road Test

Max Tow

2012 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Dually Crew Cab 4×4 One Classy Brute

by Bruce W. Smith

Bark-brown leather seats, laser-etched filigrees, stitched-on leather badges, leather seat-back pouches with tooled metal buckles – and heavy saddle-like stitching along every interior seam from dashtop to floormats exudes hand-worked southwestern craftsmanship you least expect to find in a pickup.

But there it is to greet you the instant the doors open on the Laramie Longhorn-edition of a 2012 Ram 3500 Crew Cab.

Sitting behind the wheel of the Longhorn makes you feel like the owner of some monster Texas spread who has oil royalties gushing from every pocket.

For the affluent contractor who is Ram Truck loyal, this 3500 Crew Cab dually 4×4 soothes the soul and energizes the ego – all in a good way.

After all, you drive a pickup like this because there’re big trailers to tow and heavy loads to haul.

“The Ram Truck brand’s greatest strengths are our commitment to listen to customers and to understand what motivates them,” says Fred Diaz, President and CEO, Ram Truck Brand-Chrysler Group. “We’ve successfully added Ram truck models designed for outdoorsmen, tradesmen, first-time buyers and ranchers.”

Diaz says the Laramie Longhorn is designed to meet the “high expectations of affluent pickup buyers looking to combine capability with elegance.” And that it does.


I spent a week behind the wheel making short commutes to the office, driving around town, and making a 600-mile road trip of which 150 were with 15,000 pounds of equipment in tow.

Not once did the big, saddle-brown pearl Ram dually feel underpowered or the least bit uncomfortable.

The 6.7L Cummins has a lot to do with that as it’s delivering 350 ponies behind 650 lb-ft of derrick-moving torque.

That kind of low-end power with the 4.10 axles, which are part of the “Max Tow” option package ($595), and the smooth six-speed automatic make for one sweet trailer-towing brute.

This was made clear when I stopped by Beard Equipment Company in Mobile, Alabama, for a Towmaster T-16DT tilt-bed dropdeck to slip on the dealer-installed gooseneck. The Ram’s performance was barely affected by the additional 5,000 pounds.


But the turbo Cummins was put to the task when we drove across town to Crown Equipment Company where we rolled on a new Case CX50B mini-excavator on the gooseneck. The mini-ex brought the combined trailered weight to 15,500 – 2,100 shy of the Max Tow’ package’s limit of 17,600 pounds.

Contrasting leather welts and accents that appear hand-tooled add a level of ranch-style elegance to the interior – front and rear. The Ram Laramie Longhorn edition also features unique pouches on the front seatbacks distinguished by silver steer-logoed, tooled-metal buckles with magnetic clasps.

The Ram dually lets you know a heavy trailer is attached, yet there’s enough grunt in the I-6 to get you into the flow of interstate traffic with little stress.

Handling, ride quality and braking are also very manageable with a combined package that’s pushing close to 24,000 pounds. (This truck rides remarkably smooth unloaded, too.) It’s also limo-quiet inside, which speaks volumes about Ram engineering.

There’s not a creature comfort or amenity lacking in this trim. High-end Alpine sound system, navi unit with backup camera (a must for duallies!), power sunroof ($850), rear seat DVD system ($1,200), and a long, long list of other standard creature comforts.

My test truck, which stickers at $61,740, even sports heated and ventilated seats for those of you who live in the Sweat and Snow Belts. The folks at Ram thought of everything for the well-to-do owner.


Fuel economy, though, isn’t nearly as impressive as the rest of the truck.

Special bezels carry the southwestern ranch theme into the dash with the look of hand-wrought jewelry. There’s even a tooled-metal Laramie Longhorn edition badge set inside the left-hand ring.

I babied the Ram 3500 Cummins during the long drive down to the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coasts and while towing the Case mini-ex.

The best fuel number I saw on the open road, unladen, was 14.6mpg at a constant 70mph. In comparison, the Ford Super Duty and Chevrolet Silverado 4×4 diesel’s we’ve tested recently are getting mpg numbers in the high-teens at the same speed.

That mileage plummeted to 9.8mpg with the Case in tow at 65mph. Mind you, these fuel numbers were on relatively flat interstate in ideal driving conditions – no wind, rain or humid weather to knock down numbers.

Laramie Longhorn-edition dually is a very good towing platform for construction equipment. Case is a marketing partner with Ram Brand Trucks – and you can get your Ram 3500 painted in Case colors if you order three or more trucks.

But I doubt fuel economy will be of much concern to the person who steps up to the Laramie Longhorn. What is that old car saying? “If you have to ask how much it costs then you can’t afford it.”

There’s no doubt this model 2012 Ram Crew Cab 4×4 dually is a statement maker: I’m a very successful businessman – live with it.


Make/Model: ’12 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn CC 4×4 DRW

Base MSRP: $57,195

As-Tested MSRP: $61,740

Engine: 350hp 6.7L Cummins I-6

Torque: 650 lb-ft@1,500rpm

Fuel Economy (observed):

14.6mpg@70mph (empty)

9.8mpg@65mph (towing 15,500 lbs)

Special Options: Max Tow ($595); Monochrome Paint Pkg ($655); Power Sunroof ($850); Rear Seat Video ($1,200); LT235/80R17E off-road tires ($200)