This month I was invited by Ram to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to test drive their 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty trucks. Upon accepting the invitation, my farmer and I headed to Sin City to see if Ram could make believers out of us.
While I have driven our pickups over the last 21 years, my farmer, by far, has the most experience between the two of us. He, like many reading this column, has been driving since his toes could touch the pedals. So, I thought it would be good for both of us to participate.
RAM NOT DODGE
Before I go any further, it’s important to note, a Ram truck is no longer called a Dodge. They are Rams, something my farmer and I had to practice reciting before we left. “We’re test-driving Ram pickups,” not Dodge pickups.
Our day began with presentations by Ram spokespersons who discussed the features of the pickups we would test drive. We heard from the chief interior and exterior designers along with the chief engineer of the heavy duty trucks.
At the entrance to the showroom, a restored 1985 Ram D350 with 12-valve Cummins was on display, reminding us how far the Ram has come and from where it began. Even pickups have a history.
On display inside the showroom, was a 3500 pickup hooked to a livestock trailer; the Ram’s sporty pickup, the Power Wagon, parked with its front driver’s wheel up on a large rock; a 2500 which was used to demonstrate how easy it is to hook up to a trailer using the 360-degree camera and air bag suspension; and a 3500 chassis.
Looking over the chassis my farmer, who farms in the dust and drought of the Texas South Plains, wanted to know if dust accumulation in the vent filter and/or def filter was an issue. Ram Heavy Duty Chief Engineer Rod Romain assured him it was not — an issue my farmer has dealt with on other brands of pickups.
Upon leaving the showroom, my farmer and I were given a 2500 to test drive. We were told to follow the directions in the pamphlet rather than the pickup GPS to take us on an extended route to our break-time location.
Heading to our lunch destination, my farmer drove and I navigated. While I thought we were in Vegas to test trucks, after I missed a few turns because I was too busy talking, taking pictures and posting “Facebook lives” of him driving, it felt much more like a test of our marriage.
RED ROCK CANYON
Headed north down US Hwy 95 we drove past Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The drive was smooth as we transitioned from Las Vegas Boulevard to the highway. As a passenger, there was plenty of room at my feet, as I like to keep everything in the floorboard. And my farmer was pleased with the comfort and space on the driver’s side.
As we watched the landscape change from mega screens on the Vegas Strip to beautiful mountains shaded in browns and reds, we were both impressed with the feel of the pickup. I appreciated the cell phone charging dock which allows you to simply slip in your cell phone vertically as it begins charging. No cords getting tangled. No cords to forget.
The available storage space in the console along with the glove compartments caught my attention. Because farmers have become so tech-savvy, room for an iPad or a small laptop is important. I was also impressed with the interior, the visible stitching on the door panels and the top of the console.
When we finally arrived at our lunch destination, we found ourselves 45 miles southeast of Vegas down in the Eldorado Canyon at the Techatticup Mine — the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada, according to Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours. Along with the mines several old wooden barns and too many antiques to name, stood out against the backdrop of the Nevada mountains.
That’s when the fun began. I test drove Ram’s sporty truck, the 2019 Power Wagon. My Texas Tech roots caused me to choose the red pickup with the black grill. Not only did I get to drive it on the highway, but I got to off-road as well — a first for me. With my farmer in the passenger seat, we were led through a rocky area where I was instructed to change from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, low.
As we crawled to the top of one of the trails, I could no longer see the path I was following, only the sky in front of me. At the top, I was instructed to put the Power Wagon in hill descent mode. Then I was told to take my foot off the gas and brake as we went down the steep hill. “Trust the technology,” the instructor said. I didn’t the first time, tapping the brakes and then the gas, as my farmer reminded me, I didn’t need to press either. The second time I drove, I took the leap of faith, and sure enough, the technology worked!
MY FARMER'S PICK
When our afternoon ended, I chose the 3500 to drive back to our Las Vegas Strip hotel. My farmer said it was funny to see me driving such a big pickup in Las Vegas, Nevada. Like the 2500, it was a smooth drive. Even when I was in town, I didn’t feel like I was driving a large vehicle. It was comfortable and easy to maneuver in five o’clock traffic.
Of the three pickups we test-drove, my farmer said he thought the best truck for farming is the Power Wagon. Number one, because of its horsepower. He also liked the eight-speed automatic transmission and the four-wheel drive locking system, which locks all four wheels so they pull at the same time. The interior 12-inch touch screen in the middle of the console, along with the side-mount tool boxes, also caught his attention.
Overall, we liked the Rams. What do you think, a Power Wagon for a work truck?