Today, RAM trucks announced another new model. “… Our new truck takes our brand to a new level of Luxury and Elegance,” says Bob Hedgebloom of RAM.
Just what we need, something heavier and more expensive than ever as exemplified by its model name, The Laramie Limited; their “… most exclusive, well-appointed truck.”
Why? According to Bob, “Premium pickups make up 38% of our Ram 1500 sales, up from 20% in 2010.”
Ok, so big expensive trucks are popular. Of course, if you bother to look they’re replacing the old full-sized sedans that are no longer available.
Really, how many of these trucks will actually get used as trucks? With that level of luxury, their owners won’t want to put anything into the bed that could possibly scratch the paint. They’re not going to take these trucks off road and very, VERY few will ever tow anything with it.
“As you know, trucks are used as the family vehicle, as the hardworking hauler, a mobile office and for weekend getaways. Customers don’t mind spending a little more to make sure their truck covers all of their needs.” (Emphasis mine)
So, where does this leave us? The locale of the reveal is quite telling as the Chicago International Auto Show is in one of America’s largest and oldest cities with lots of tight streets and limited access to parking—especially for something that large. The likelihood of such a truck being used for ANY of those purposes in any city center is highly unlikely. Asking… no, expecting a truck this size to be used for all of these purposes by one family in such an environment is highly unlikely. This reveal would have been far better received had they chosen the Texas Auto Show instead.
Meanwhile, we’re looking at a truck likely to have an MSRP north of forty thousand dollars US ($40,000). How many people today can really afford such a price tag? Who buys them? According to Bob, “Business owners who are avid outdoorsmen. Architects who split their time between construction sites and urban offices. Perhaps even a family that owns their own winery.”
What? Hey! How about the rest of us who actually need a truck for practical purposes? How about a truck that can actually maneuver in tight city streets and still carry a sheet of plywood or wallboard for the DIY home repair? Something that gets 20 miles per gallon in town and 30 or more on the highway? Something useful instead of bloated and pretentious?
Now, don’t get me wrong; the new Laramie Limited is a gorgeous truck. The new grill design actually softens the old, fake, “big rig” look. It’s probably their best looking grill in years. But it’s limited to their most expensive model; a truck I would never choose to own because of everything that’s wrong with it.
What’s wrong with it? What ISN’T wrong with it?
As a full-sized truck it is grossly too large for the purpose. The crew cab version is very nearly twenty feet long, which barely fits in the typical parallel parking space (the one you take your parking test in at the MVA) even before the cars in front and behind crowd that space at both ends—often overlapping into the space. It weighs in at well over 5,000 pounds which makes even the biggest of the old Cadillac Sedan deVille look like a lightweight. It sits so high that you literally have to climb into it, difficult if you’re trying to take your parents or grandparents out for dinner and a strain for a younger parent to reach up and mount a baby carrier/booster seat. And finally you come up to what’s under the hood; at best an underpowered V6 which sacrifices acceleration for fuel mileage but more likely equipped with a big V8 that simply can’t offer decent mileage though has the power to properly move the truck. The only other choice will most likely be Ram’s EcoDiesel, which offers the power for towing moderate loads and gives decent economy, but also drinks diesel which typically runs about $1/gallon more expensive than regular unleaded gasoline. So you don’t really get any economical benefit by going diesel.
So now we have another Road Whale™ that the average person simply can’t afford. We have another truck so large that it becomes an imposition on the regular driver who actually needs an easy-to-drive, compact and truly useful truck; one that won’t fall off the curb on narrow, rural roads when meeting another vehicle or force that other vehicle to reverse in order to make room on crowded city streets. When are our vehicle manufacturers going to address the real need of today’s drivers?