When I saw a few weeks ago that I'd been booked into a 2021 RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab, I was pleased for three reasons:
I loved---no really, LOVED the last RAM I tested---a 2019 RAM 1500 Longhorn Crew Cab.
I've recently reviewed 2021 models of the Ford F-150 Supercrew and the Chevrolet Silverado Crew and this would allow for fresh, recent comparisons within a few months of each other---something that's not always possible with scheduling.
I saw that it was the Laramie---RAM's second-from-the-bottom trim level in terms of passenger trucks with crew as opposed to quad cabs. That meant a lower price point---important as loaded top-of-the-line half-ton pickups are now routinely flirting with if not wantonly violating $70,000.
So imagine my surprise when I saw the window sticker. This truck, with a base price of $47,530, about what I expected, had a bottom line of $64,565. For reference, that's only $2,190 less than the loaded top-of-the-line Longhorn from two years ago.
What happened? $15,340 in extra-cost options. Even allowing for a couple of yearly price increases, what we had here was a truck that made a very strong argument for jacking up the monthly payment by a few bucks and going for the Longhorn.
The standard engine in the Laramie is an advanced technology eTorque 3.6-liter V6 making 305 horsepower. Our tester went for one of the two 5.7-liter HEMI V8s available. Both of those put out 395 horsepower, but one is an eTorque which, despite an identical pounds-per-foot torque rating, allows for an extra 1,140 pounds in towing capacity.
Ours was the non eTorque, and cost an additional $1,795 (the eTorque HEMI is $1,995). The transmission was the standard eight-speed and the EPA fuel economy average is 15 miles per gallon city/ 21 highway. Ours also had the extra-cost 33-gallon fuel tank, putting highway cruising range comfortably over 600 miles. That added $445 to the sticker.
The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but there are so many options on this particular 2021 RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 that the only space for standard equipment is for functional safety features, which include a back-up camera, full-speed forward collision warning, pushbutton start, remote start and a trailer hitch.
So, subtracting the money for the upgraded engine and fuel tank we've already talked about, what did $13,100 buy us in terms of optional equipment? I'll let the window sticker at the end of the review fill in the details on the packages, but it goes like this:
Patriot Blue Pearl-Coat paint, $100. Leather-trimmed bucket seats, full-length upgraded floor console and wireless charging pad, $895. Technology Group, $1,095. Trailer-Tow Group, $995. Advanced Safety Group, $1,695. Bed Utility Group, $945. Off-Road Group, $840. Laramie Level 2 Equipment Group, $3,995. Tri-fold tonneau cover, $550. Multi-function tailgate, $995. RAMBox Cargo Management System including exterior 115V AC outlet, $995.
Add $1,695 destination charge and the as-tested price of the 2021 RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 is $64,565.
There are a couple of pieces of good news here. One is that it really is only a few bucks a month to step up to a Limited Longhorn or Limited and get most of the luxury items that are extra-cost on this truck as standard.
The other is that having a clear mission in mind for this truck and exercising some self-control with the options list makes a big difference in its price.
Could you live with your truck taking an extra second and a half to 60 in exchange for the EPA fuel economy average bumping up to 20 miles per gallon city/25 highway? Sticking with the standard 305 horsepower eTorque 3.6 liter V6 saves $1,795. The fuel economy buys you back some range, so skipping the 33-gallon fuel tank makes sense, and knocks $445 off the sticker (the cheapest gas near me at the moment is $3.59 a gallon, so a $118.47 fill-up doesn't sound like that much fun, either).
And as nice as the pieces of the Laramie Level 2 Equipment Group are (again, see the window sticker below), if that's the kind of truck you want, you're really better off going for the Limited Longhorn or the Limited. So take off another $3,995. And I could be wrong, but I just see the Tri-fold tonneau cover as something that'll be in the way when I really don't want it and I'm not at home to put it in the garage. Especially with the RAMBox lockable storage on the bed sides to hold valuables, I think I'd pass---saving another $550. That still leaves in place a very nice paint color, enhanced off-road and trailer towing capability, advanced safety features and an upgraded leather interior with a full-size console for $57,780---only $830 more than the Silverado we tested recently. True, the Silverado's price was juiced by the optional diesel engine at $2,300---but the RAM is really a nicer, more modern truck overall.
Bottom line: The RAM 1500 remains one of our favorite trucks and a loaded one is a lovely thing. But the smart money play is to start at the top if that's what you want, rather than building one with a mid-line truck as its base. And if your goal isn't the fanciest truck on the block, but a solid, upscale pickup for a price below $60K, the 2021 RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 fills the bill as long as you use restraint on the options page.