Test Drive: 2011 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4  trucks car test drives reviews auto articles dodge
2011 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

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Ram Truck at Dodge.ca

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2011 Ram

I’ve never stood at the helm of an ocean liner, my hand on the controls, watching as the enormous ship responds to my commands. But way up in the cabin of my 2011 Ram test truck, I think I have some inkling of how it feels.

This truck is big. This truck is very nice, but it is very, very big. And while that may appeal to many buyers, it’s unnecessarily large, as are all of its oversized competitors these days. My 1995 Dodge 1500, purchased at a time when it was pretty much the biggest of the big, looks more like a Dakota when parked alongside. It will be interesting to see who will be the first truck maker to finally pull back the reins. And now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s see what this Ram has to offer. (That’s the proper name of it now, by the way; Ram has become its own brand, although I still think of this truck as a Dodge.)

Test Drive: 2011 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4  trucks car test drives reviews auto articles dodge
Test Drive: 2011 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4  trucks car test drives reviews auto articles dodge
2011 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

There aren’t a lot of changes from the 2010 model, but one that applied to my Laramie 4×4 was a new, active on-demand transfer case, which is also standard on the Big Horn and Outdoorsman trim levels. A dial on the dash allows you to set it into two-wheel, four-wheel auto, four-wheel lock and four-wheel low, so you can drive the truck in four-wheel on dry road surfaces. Also new and added to my truck were an optional Garmin navigation system and a spray-in bed liner.

Like its competitors, the Ram 1500 offers numerous configuration choices. I had the largest cabin, the Crew Cab. I also had the largest engine offered in the half-ton, the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 with five-speed automatic. The Hemi – named for its hemispherical-shaped combustion chambers – is pretty much a bulletproof unit, and having driven many of them and owned a couple, I’ve long considered it one of the better engines on the market. Producing 390 horsepower and 407 lb-ft of torque, it was certainly a great fit to my truck, offering impressive acceleration and grunt despite the Ram’s size and weight. Other available engines, depending on the truck model, are a 3.7-litre V6 and 4.7-litre V8.

The Hemi engine features Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System, or MDS, which shuts off half the cylinders under light load. It’s seamless and does a great job with fuel economy. Against the published figures of 15.8 L/100 km (18 mpg) in the city and 10.8 (26) on the highway, I averaged 12.2 (23) in combined driving. Of course, that was while I was hauling air for the week, and working any truck will naturally take its toll at the pump.

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