Ahhhh yes, today I had a chance to spend some time in a Ram Big Horn, a truck I’d been wanting to drive for some time. This truck is a special one though; it’s special because it belongs to my father. He’s been wanting a Hemi Ram for years, and after much trial and tribulation with the VA he’s finally realized that goal has been reached.
What’s It Like?
I’m a truck driver and in lieu of this I’m accustomed to driving big vehicles. The Ram has roughly the turning radius of a bobtail semi tractor (as in no trailer) and it almost feels as such. It drives just like a big truck should in this particular regard. That’s the first initial thing I feel needs addressed.
With that out of the way, his truck is a crew cab I believe, and it has a crazy amount of passenger space anywhere in the truck. It sits high off of the ground and gives off a brawny persona when you climb into it. If you have little kids you’ll need to assist them with getting in and out. My six year old daughter made the climb to Everest but it took her a minute to make the descent; his previous 2011 F150 was much lower.
To me this isn’t a drawback per se as ground clearance is important for a serious 4x4 truck. There’s some legit ground clearance here and I can’t express that enough.
Let’s talk about the actual experience sans the turning radius. This truck is equipped with the 5.7 liter Hemi engine and the thrust is sent through the masterpiece that is the eight speed Torqueflite transmission. I’ve reviewed the Durango RT with this same combo and it came out beyond favorably.
There’s no exception here besides the fact that the Big Horn isn’t as athletic in terms of road mannerisms. Handling is good for a pickup, but it isn’t nearly as sharp as the Durango RT. I think this goes without saying and it isn’t a knock against the truck. Steering is light as you’d expect and navigating parking lots is pretty simple because of this. Just remember, this is a pretty large vehicle and the front and rear feel like they turn as two separate entities.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with that, driving it is a breeze. Visibility is phenomenal thanks to the integral blind spot mirrors built into the outside ends of the mirrors. I felt right at home having just drove my Peterbilt all night and jumping straight into this tank. The cabin is open and rearward visibility is endless as well.
The Hemi engine doesn’t struggle to motivate the Big Horn like old models seemed to. Back when these had four speed autos they seemed to be underpowered and very sluggish. The eight speed was a godsend for FCA and it truly makes the engine feel like an entirely different animal. Driving around normally you’d be hard pressed to feel shifts as they occur. Mash the throttle and there’s instant torque available to catapult USS Nimitz forward quicker than you may realize.
I gave it the beans going around a corner and I was instantly smiling as traction control quickly intervened to stop the spinning rear tires (wish I’d thought to disable it) and acceleration was quite impressive as the Ram regained traction. It doesn’t matter if you’re smashing it from a dead stop or going 40; there’s plenty of power to execute passes and merges. The silky smooth transmission can effortlessly drop multiple gears and shift VERY quickly under wide open throttle. All the things I said about the Durango RT ring true here in the Ram.
Normal drivability is also excellent, since hooning isn’t the point here. The ride quality and interior noise are far surpassing of pickup truck expectations. Sitting at stoplights you immediately notice that outside noises and vibrations are practically nonexistent. When cruising in normal conditions the engine noise is minimal and road noise is absent. Tip into the throttle and the Hemi makes a little bit of music and you get the impression that it wants to sing but it’s been ball gagged. For many this is an upside, but I’d like to hear the noise.
Fortunately my father would too and he will be addressing that pretty quickly.
But Dodge Quality And Ownership Sucks
This is something I’ve heard spoken many times, and I can’t disagree totally. Without a doubt Dodge has had many quality issues over the years and some of those issues were absolutely ridiculous. Older Ram models had front suspensions that were as durable as wet toilet paper and dashboards that cracked like freeze dried crackers, I cannot even pretend that didn’t happen.
I assure you though that those things aren’t necessarily the case here. Most of you have heard me mention my best bud’s Challenger Scat and I’ve written about it a time or two. He’s edging 2 years and 20,000 miles of ownership with zero issues. Another good friend of mine owns a Charger Daytona that has been devoid of issues or QC fumbles.
This particular Ram has traveled just over 25,000 miles and he has had it for roughly a week. He just drove it from Tennessee to my location in Ohio and he even averaged 24 MPG while cruising at higher speeds. No issues with the truck as of yet.
Being a Big Horn it has some pretty legit options, and if you knew my Dad this would make you laugh. He’s never owned anything with a touch screen or heated anything until now. He is literally ignorant to any form of technology aside from maybe an iPhone.
Yet this truck has the large uConnect infotainment system, and I firmly believe that the uConnect system is one of the best in the business. This is further reinforced by the fact that even he has mastered it in just a few days. Dodge got this one very right.
Something I find cool and well thought out is the button situation. In the Durango RT the heated steering wheel and seats were accessed directly through the infotainment system; in the Big Horn you can do that OR you can simply hit the button. There’s a nice little redundancy built in here and clearly the Ram brand did a great job identifying the audience that will likely buy these.
Both the driver and passenger seat feature heating, but not cooling. This particular truck doesn’t have leather so I assume that is the reason seat cooling isn’t an option. The heated cloth seats are killer though and they heat quickly and effectively.
The heated steering wheel is a must and Dodge always gets this right. The leather steering wheels in new FCA models is one of my very favorites, and it’s familiar. The Challenger and Durango have a very similar design and the leather is consistently amazing in all of them. It’s soft, it’s smooth and it’s beautiful. The steering wheel is the centerpiece to an interior and it’s the one surface your hands always touch, hence why I’m dedicating an entire paragraph to mention how good it is. Oh, it heats in seconds. I’ll say it again... FCA kills it on their higher end steering wheels.
The rest of the interior is fairly decent. Sure there’s hard plastics and such throughout, but they appear nice and durable. The center console lid is embossed with the iconic RAM logo and adds a masculine touch. Speaking of that center console there are two levels of storage. The first tray has a good amount of storage and houses all of the media connectivity ports such as USB, SD and aux. The second level below it is large I could have fit my newborn child inside of it.
Not literally, but you could definitely fit an entire 24 pack of soda cans in there without breaking a sweat. Seriously the center console is massive. The storage doesn’t end there either because there’s two glove compartments in this thing. Yes, two glove compartments. An upper and a lower level and both are massive. It is a Big Horn after all and if it had just one glove box I suppose it would just be a Mini Horn and that just won’t do.
There’s storage under the rear seats, and the cab itself is big enough to likely transport a cult of seals in total comfort. The space alone makes me want one of these. Five adults my size could ride in this truck easily without invading some else’s personal space.
As you can see from the pictures above this Ram has a soft tonneau cover equipped and I can’t imagine not having one. If your freight is too tall you can simply unfasten the cover and you have the regular capacity as any truck bed, but in the instance you’re hauling something valuable you can keep it hidden away from unwanted eyes.
Other notable features you may want to know about?
Obviously it’s got a really nice high resolution back up camera, navigation and the normal stuff I don’t need to bother mentioning. On the flip side it does offer something kind of special you may not have known about, but I’m going to treat you anyway.
Ever been driving down the road and think to yourself “hmmm I wish I could use a Foreman grill to cook some burgers” on your way to the local skeet shooting club? Well now you can. Throughout the interior of the Big Horn there’s 3 prong household plugs (150w I believe) thanks to a factory power inverter. In all seriousness this is something more vehicles should have. My Veloster had a 115w plug in the center console and it’s handy for charging laptops or drills if you’re in a pinch.
Lastly I’ll mention towing features. Obviously this battleship has a factory hitch for towing, and if it didn’t I’d probably write an angry letter to FCA and they wouldn’t respond. I digress, but we all know you’re going to likely tow with a truck.
I bring all of this up because back in the good ole days you had to buy an aftermarket trailer brake controller if your trailer was bigger and didn’t have surge brakes. The Ram has an OEM trailer brake setup that remedies this entire headache and has a button labeled “towing” for those special occasions. In the center screen menus there’s an entire section labeled for towing, and obviously I didn’t have a trailer to hook up to explore these menus but I assume you can input your trailer size and the truck likely does the rest. This isn’t a new concept but it’s still neat to have it.
So we now know the Ram Big Horn has big storage, big power and big looks. It has fairly big options and a fairly big price tag to match all of these options. I’m not exactly sure what this exact truck costs new, but through some wheeling and dealing Dad got it for $32,500 out the door.
It drives nice, and it feels even nicer. It returns decent enough fuel economy and practicality is very high thanks to the 4x4 drivetrain and mansion levels of storage and space.
If you want a pickup truck that has utility like a truck, power like a truck, comfort like a large car and space like a double wide trailer... you’ve found your vehicle.
Plus it looks really sexy in red. Just saying.