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Kunselman said the squat amount was normal. Gilles made a conscious decision to remove static rake from the truck when it was designed, for aerodynamic and lateral stability reasons. Most unloaded half-tons sit with their tails high and noses low (like they’re suddenly braking), settling into a level posture when a heavy load has been placed in the bed. The Ram sits level at rest.

Like the unloaded Ram R/T, the Laramie Crew Cab had excellent ride quality, particularly in terms of lateral control over cracked and patched two-lane roads. We weren’t beaten up when the feed bags shifted their mass to the left or right on larger bumps.

Acceleration with the 5.7-liter HEMI was good, though we could clearly feel the extra mass from the two back doors, the half-ton of payload and the 3.92 rear axle slowing things down greatly, based on our experience in the R/T.

The Laramie interior was another step up from the Sport-trimmed insides of the R/T. It featured better textures, material pairings and dark wood graining. The leather seats offered both heating and cooling. When the outside temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, the truck will automatically activate the heated seats and heated steering wheel when it’s started. Seat ventilation can be set to cool your backside automatically if it’s 70 degrees or hotter.

It’s amazing how much Chrysler has closed the gap with Ford in terms of interior fit, finish and aesthetics. Note to Ford: The Laramie’s wood laminate around the center stack is better-looking than the faux timber in the top-of-the-line 2009 F-150 Platinum edition.

Dodge Ram Laramie Crew Cab 4x4, 5,800-Pound Trailer

The second HEMI V-8 Laramie Crew Cab we sampled was identical to the truck loaded with horse feed, only the bed was empty and it was hooked to a 5,800-pound Airstream trailer. The Ram is capable of towing 5,000 pounds from the factory, but this truck was configured with Dodge’s optional trailer tow group, which adds a class IV trailer hitch receiver. Four- and seven-pin trailer connectors are standard.

Maximum towing for the new Ram is 9,100 pounds, in a HEMI-powered regular cab short-box 4x2 running on 17-inch wheels and a 3.92 rear axle, and outfitted with a class IV receiver and tow package. The small print in the Ram’s specs states maximum towing capacity assumes the truck has a gross combined weight rating of 14,000 pounds, with a 150-pound driver. Options, equipment, cargo and passengers must be deducted.

Tire size and rear axle ratios make a big difference pulling a trailer. If you switch from 17-inch to 20-inch wheels, keeping the 3.92 final drive ratio, you’ll lose 1,100 pounds of towing capacity. If you keep the 20s but select a 3.55 rear axle instead of a 3.92, for better fuel economy, it drops another 1,000 pounds, for a max of only 7,000 pounds, in the regular cab.

Our Ram Laramie Crew used a 3.92 rear ring and pinion and blinged-out 20-inch wheels. Maximum towing was rated at 7,300-lbs. If the truck had been equipped with 17s and a 3.92 back axle, we’d have gained more than 1,000-lbs. of towing, to 8,400-lbs.

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