Dodge, Road Test Reviews

2006 Dodge Ram 2500 4X4 Laramie [Diesel] – Road Test

When Chrysler handed me the keys to the Dodge Ram 2500 I looked at it and thought – “Man – that’s a big truck.” Then I opened the driver’s door and saw the step-up, I felt like I was in “Land Of The Giants”. There was no step or running boards to help me, so I had to take a running jump. Once inside, the view over the hood wasn’t as intimidating as I had expected. It was very easy to get comfortable in the leather multi-way power seat. The tilt steering adjustment was easy to use, but it doesn’t telescope. However, there are power-adjustable pedals, so that helps in finding a comfortable driving position. Getting out of the truck requires a little practice and planning, but a parachute would be needed for those shorter than 5-foot tall.

I measured 29” from the ground to the floor of the passenger compartment – think about that – almost 2½ feet off the ground, to sit in the seat you’ve got to stretch an additional 10”!! The total length of the truck was just short of 21 feet.

Initial Impression
Climbing inside, I was impressed by the quality and luxurious feel of everything. The leather seats are comfortable and offer power adjustments to the driver and the front passenger. After a while though they lost their comfort, in fact, after about an hour they were a little annoying – I’d hate to spend hours sitting in them. Adjusting the power lumbar was easy enough, but it wasn’t the lumbar region that it adjusted – it was up by my shoulder blades – again – “Land of the Giants!”

Firing up the diesel engine was straightforward enough – in fact I didn’t notice it was a diesel until I looked at the gas gauge and saw the words “Diesel Fuel.” Driving it in traffic was completely uneventful other than being almost at eye-level with the transport truck drivers. It didn’t feel large in any way while driving through the city. As is the case in every city in Ontario, whenever there are three lanes of traffic, a turtle race breaks out and no one seems to want to take the lead, so you get stuck behind them for miles at a time. Coming up behind a herd of turtles, I just knew this was going to be painful. Fortunately, the odd one looks in the rearview mirror and scampers out of the way. Coming up on the next one, I’m wondering why everyone is going so slow?! I look down at the speedometer – I’m doing almost double the speed limit in the city!! This truck gives you absolutely no concept of your true traveling speed. On the highway it’s just the same – everything moves in slow motion when you’re in this truck. The bonus is, you terrorize everyone with your massive presence, so they move aside when you come up behind them.

The usual clatter of a diesel engine has certainly changed in recent years. Inside the cab, you can’t tell it’s any different from a regular engine. The sound is very well muted, even if you open the door or window; it’s not that noticeable. My wife didn’t know it was a diesel until we’d been driving for 10 minutes and asked what gear the truck was in because it sounded like I’d put it into a low gear. The truck doesn’t have the sluggish feel that you’d expect of a diesel, and the transmission shifts are very smooth and almost seamless.

The nicely laid out dash looks a lot like that of the Dodge Charger, and also offers a very similar audio/SatNav system. The dash surface is made with the textured flat-colored material that stops reflections on the front window which is becoming prevalent in many vehicles lately. The centre console/seat/arm rest is huge and offers a great deal of space. However, if someone were to sit in the centre position there is no place for them to put their feet because there’s a storage area on the floor that houses the cup holders and other cubby holes. It would be very uncomfortable to straddle the area which would interfere with the driver’s leg, or the alternative would be to have both legs competing for room in the passenger’s space. The best option seems to be to put your feet on the cup holder area and peer through your knees at the road ahead.

In back, passenger space is quite the opposite. There’s plenty of room for three, and the rear seats recline at quite an angle, offering exceptional comfort. When the rear seats are in the regular position, there is more than enough room to stretch out even the longest of legs – you can very easily cross your legs – as depicted in the TV commercial. As for getting inside to enjoy the spacious cabin, fortunately there are well-placed, and much needed grab handles that can be used to assist in entry and exit. Noteworthy are the rear doors that open almost 90 degrees, offering an amazing amount of flexibility for cargo storage. This is a real treat, since usually the amount of usable space inside a vehicle is adequate, but getting your goods through the doors can often be a challenge. There is plenty of storage space under the rear seat, and when folded forward – the seats split 60/40 – the seat backs offer a very large area to carry cargo without the fear of damaging the seats. There are even good-sized compartments behind the rear seats for storage. With various hooks for coats and grocery bags throughout the rear passenger area, along with the storage bins and door pockets, this is a very user-friendly interior that would be easy to live with on a day-to-day basis – assuming you could reach inside.

The features – There’s a power moon roof, a power operated rear window, heated seats, his & her heating/air conditioning, a DVD audio video system with remote control for the rear passengers, luxurious carpet and floor mats, power adjustable pedals and cup holders in the rear folding arm rest.

The pick-up bed had a plastic liner to protect it, but I was surprised there were only two tie-down hooks available. The tailgate is quite light and I found it effortless to open and close, which isn’t always the case for pick-up trucks. The truck also comes with a tow bar and is wired for towing that 1500-foot yacht you’ve had your eye on. There are also front tow-hooks in case you get the urge to pull down a barn or two.

The audio system with incorporated SatNav is by Infinity; an AM/FM 6-disc in-dash unit that offers crystal clear sound with plenty of bass. The supplementary controls for volume and track/radio station pre-sets are on the back of the steering wheel – not on the face as is common with most vehicles. Having become familiar with these types of controls in Mitsubishi vehicles, I found them very comfortable and easy to use once you became accustomed to them.

Despite my initial reservations – the sheer size of it mainly – I kind-of liked the Dodge Ram 2500 MegaCab Super Heavy Duty. Anyone needing something bigger would have to be considering an 18-wheeler. When turning corners you have to allow for the length of the truck – much like a big rig, but it was very easy to get used to, and as proof – I didn’t clip any corners. It didn’t feel intimidating or unmanageable at any time and I was very surprised at the ease of driving and parking it. At one point parking became interesting though, and the length of this huge vehicle quickly became apparent. In the end, I had to park diagonally across two parking spots just to get it to fit inside the designated slots! I got the usual looks from people.. But hey! If I didn’t do that they wouldn’t have been able to get past me!!

The steering is perfectly weighted, but completely uncommunicative – It was like driving a stagecoach from the 1800’s. The suspension is very solid and firm, but on the highway, any bridge expansion joints or road imperfection sent the truck into the wobblies that continued long after. The entire truck just vibrated from front to the rear like an earthquake. The center armrest started jumping up and down like a kid on a bed, and then the squeaks and rattles began – it sounded like a family of crickets had moved into the back seat. I had to check the logo on the steering wheel – I thought I was driving a Chevy!! On the city streets, it was even worse. Every pothole and imperfection was transferred through the steering and seats, making it feel bouncy and out of control. At one point I thought I was going to be seasick – seriously.

Braking was very good. I had to make a couple of panic stops on the highway, and not once did I feel out of control or have the thought that it just was not going to stop in time.

The 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 MegaCab Super Heavy Duty 4×4 comes in only 2 configuration: SLT and Laramie. But if you want the longer 8’ bed, then you’ll be entering into dually territory. Standard engine is a HEMI 5.7L V-8, 16-valve, 345 hp @ 5400 rpm or an optional 5.9L I6, 24 valve diesel with 325 hp @ 2900 rpm. Transmission choices are: 6-speed manual, or a 5-speed automatic.

The Laramie edition comes with standard items such as: 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and Tow/Haul mode, rear HVAC Ducts, air conditioning with dual zone temperature control, power adjustable foot pedals, 3 front power outlets, drive-by-wire throttle control, 4-wheel ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution), HomeLink universal garage door opener, keyless entry, anti-theft alarm, leather seats, leather-trimmed 40/20/40 bench seat with 6-way power driver & front passenger seats and lumbar support, heated front seats, rear 60/40 split folding and reclining bench seat, AM/FM Radio With Infinity 7-Speaker System and 6-Disc CD/MP3 player, Sirius satellite radio (1-Year Service Included), dual power/heated mirrors and variable intermittent wipers. Additional standard features are: LT265/70R17 tires on chrome aluminum wheels, automatically-dimming rearview mirror, trailer tow prep group, cruise control, rear power sliding window, tilt steering, fog lamps and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Additional options on the test vehicle included: a 5.9-Liter HO Cummins Turbo Diesel engine adding $5,555 [$6,950 Cdn] to the base price, as does the DVD-based GPS navigation system with a 6-CD/MP3 Changer at $1595 [$3,930 Cdn] and the rear seat entertainment video system at $1200 [$1,190 Cdn]

On the safety-front, in addition to the airbags, ABS etc., there are also side curtain airbags, front pre-tensioners seatbelts, side door beams, anti-theft alarm and Sentry Key engine immobilizer.

Warranty is 3-years/ 36,000 miles [60,000 kms]. Models with Cummins Inter-cooled Diesel engines are warranted for 60 months/100,000 miles [160,000 kms].
Maximum towing capacity for this particular truck is 12,450 lbs!

The Conclusion
Dodge obviously made the interior noise levels a priority in the newest line of Ram trucks. It was very quiet throughout the cabin no matter what speeds we travelled at and I loved the dual-zone climate control along with the commanding view of the road. Although I was never trying to, the intimidation factor is a real plus – everyone moves out of the way – you can see the fear in their eyes. The power-adjustable pedals were very helpful and the stereo system was very good. The 4×4 is easy to use – just turn a dial – 2 WD, 4Lock, or 4×4 Lo are your choices. I can see the need for this truck for certain people, but I wouldn’t imagine this truck would ever get the workout it was designed for – like most 4×4’s. For families that vacation with a fifth-wheel trailer this is the perfect truck though, with all the available space and the rear entertainment system, the miles would fly by.

Pricing for the 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 MegaCab Super Heavy Duty 4X4 Laramie :
As tested: $50,930 [$60,255 Cdn]
Base price of the Ram 2500 MegaCab 4X4 (SLT) model line starts at: $28,220 [$43,760 Cdn], with the Laramie 4X4 starting at $34,820 [$48,185 Cdn]

Fuel Consumption: [Diesel]
Fuel ratings are not published for anything above a half-ton truck. I didn’t have the vehicle long enough to establish an actual fuel consumption.

It’s a diesel – a Cummins – so it’ll outlast your grandchildren.
Great stereo system
Huge rear seat that’s limo sized

You need one of those steps you see at the airport to get in and out
You enter a different zip code when turning around
The world’s biggest pick up with the world’s smallest glove box

Would I Spend My Money On It?: 
Yes, if I were pulling down barns. Otherwise – pass.

Immediate Competition:
Ford F-250 SuperCrew, Chevy/GMC 2500 Crew Cab

By The Numbers:
8 – Quality
3 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
10 – Special Features (Heated Seats/ Sunroof etc)

2 – Ease of Entry/Exit
9 – Front Roominess
10 – Rear Roominess
8 – Driving Position/Controls

8 – Drool Factor
8 – Fit & Finish

10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
4 – Ride & Handling

Ownership Value
8 – Bang for the $$
7 – Fuel Economy*

Total 116 / 150

Copyright © 2006 by Iain Shankland
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Also Published at: PaddockTalk