No Compromises

By Derek Price

There was a time when picking between a light-duty and heavy-duty truck meant making big compromises in comfort.
Not any more.
A week behind the wheel of the Ram 2500 showed me exactly how comfortable a made-for-work pickup can be.
The huge, brawny Ram is built for a specific mission: towing heavy loads, carrying hefty cargo and getting to rural job sites that require some 4×4 capability.
The fact that it’s not rated for fuel economy — the federal government doesn’t require it for trucks like this — is moot. It’s designed to do a task, not save fuel.
A 6.7-liter Cummins turbo Diesel engine in my tester gulped heartily from the fuel tank, but its gluttony created 850 foot-pounds of torque. Driving it unladen all week felt like complete overkill, in a good way.
With the right equipment, a Ram 2500 can tow up to 20,000 pounds. The beefier Ram 3500 can tow a whopping 37,090 pounds, the best in its class, according to the manufacturer.

The Lone Star Silver Edition of the Ram 2500 gives off a luxury-truck vibe with chrome accents. It starts at $47,800 with four-wheel drive.

What impresses me the most about this truck isn’t just the sheer madness of what it can do, pulling loads that would destroy trucks not up to the task. It’s how insanely comfy it feels.
Maybe because my tester was equipped with an air suspension, a $1,705 optional upgrade, the Ram Heavy Duty seemed to glide over potholes and make highways feel like glass. Excellent sound insulation helped the feeling, too.
Driving the Ram 1500 and 2500 back to back, you can tell a difference. The 1500 has a squishier, silkier ride, and I’d prefer it over the 2500 if I wasn’t pulling heavy loads.
The gap between them is subtle, though. The 2500 doesn’t beat up your spine like work trucks used to do. It drives remarkably similar to a half-ton truck and is quiet enough that I might mistake it for a luxury car if I was blindfolded. It’s remarkable.

The Crew Cab layout in Ram’s Heavy Duty trucks lives up to its name with plenty of leg, hip and shoulder room.

For 2022, an all-new UConnect 5 system comes standard on Big Horn trims and above. Ram says it has three times as much memory as the previous system and performs four times faster, and it worked flawlessly in my tester.
My tester also came outfitted in a new-for-2022 trim, the Lone Star Silver Edition with lots of chrome trim on the outside and black accents inside.
It’s not a luxury truck, per se, with cloth seats and a starting price of $47,800 in the 4×4 version. It gives off a luxury vibe, though, with all the shiny bling outside and a very well-equipped cabin.
An extensive list of options — about $28,000 worth, enough to buy a nice new car on its own — made my test truck feel as swanky as you can get without springing for fancy leather.
For people who need a truck to do a job and don’t want to sacrifice comfort, it’s worth every penny.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Ram 2500 Lone Star Silver Crew Cab ($47,800). Options: Premium paint ($200), premium cloth seats ($295), customer preferred package 2HY ($2,520), towing technology group B ($2,355), premium lighting group ($795), gooseneck towing prep group ($545), Lone Star Silver Edition ($1,995), bed utility group ($845), Level B equipment group ($4,265), 220-amp alternator ($145), trim-fold tonneau cover ($695), anti-spin differential ($495), 6.7-liter Cummins turbo Diesel engine ($9,400), rear wheelhouse liners ($195), Alpine audio ($595), air suspension ($1,705), trailer surround-view camera system ($995).  Price as tested: $75,840
Wheelbase: 149 in.
Length: 238.8 in.
Width: 83.5 in.
Height: 80.2 in.
Engine: 6.7-liter Cummins six-cylinder turbo diesel (370 hp, 850 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy: Not rated

Style: 7
Performance: 9
Price: 6
Handling: 6
Ride: 8
Comfort: 9
Quality: 9
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
It’s a smooth, quiet, comfortable way to do heavy-duty work.

Posted in Ram

Electricity With a Soul

By Derek Price

The problem with electric cars is that they don’t have a soul.
At least, that’s what I thought before I drove this one, the battery-powered BMW i4 M50.
Yes, you read that correctly. This is an all-electric car that bears the “M” badge, and it does so justifiably, with a spirit all its own.
Not only is it unquestionably quick — even faster to 60 mph than the rear-wheel-drive M3 Competition — but it actually makes you feel things while driving fast, especially in turns.
It gets right what the Ford Mustang Mach-E gets wrong: the sensations of driving.
When I drove the electric Mustang SUV a few weeks ago, I thought it was absolutely brilliant in a lot of ways. The looks, the performance, the range and the quickness all seemed at least somewhat worthy of the Mustang name.
It only lacked the Mustang sensory experience.
This BMW, though, absolutely pegs the thrill-of-driving meter.
Part of that is because of the sights and sounds that BMW programmed into it, something that tickles my creative brain.

The 2022 BMW i4 electric car shares the same sleek, classic lines of the new gas-powered 4 Series. The M50 variant makes 536 horsepower from two electric motors.

Put it into Spaceship mode — BMW calls it Sport Boost, but Spaceship is more accurate — and the i4 M50’s screens all change color and come alive as science-fiction movie sounds fill the cabin.
Seriously. BMW hired film composer Hans Zimmer to help with the soundtrack.
The i4 emits calm, barely perceptible noises in Comfort mode and much more noticeable, powerful sounds in Sport. It doesn’t exactly mimic the beastly rumble of the M5’s gigantic gasoline V8, but it does mimic the M5’s energy level.
While the inventive sci-fi sounds are a big part of the experience, even more important is the tactile feedback to the driver. And the I4 nails that aspect.
It’s built on the same platform as the regular 4 Series, a design that was penned from the outset to handle both electric and gasoline powerplants. That means it has the same sparkling handling and eye-catching, big-grilled looks that made BMW sports sedans famous.
That also means it doesn’t scream “electric car” when people see it.

The i4’s cabin is just as sleek and sophisticated as a freshly designed BMW should be. Its digital screens are designed to be an integrated part of the driving experience, not just functional for accessing tech features.

Unlike the i3 and i8, which seemed to give designers free rein to create something fresh for an electric future, the i4 copies the tried-and-true layout of yesterday’s gasoline-powered sedans. There’s a bit of a trunk lid hanging off the back and a long, sleek hood in front that leaves room to plop a gasoline underneath in other variants.
Why would you want to, though, when two electric motors in the i4 M50 combine for 536 horsepower? It’s a beast of a powertrain.
A powerful battery is pancaked into just 4.3 inches of vertical space at the bottom of the car, and all that weight located right next to the pavement helps it feel anchored and predictable in corners.
The i4 M50 weighs 5,018 pounds, a ridiculously hefty number for a performance car, but it doesn’t feel portly from the driver’s seat. The electric car’s trump card, instant torque on demand, helps it seem sprightly every time you mash the accelerator, whether merging at freeway speeds or blasting away from stoplights.
Pricing for the i4 starts at $55,400, while the faster M50 version is priced from $65,900.
Depending on how luxurious you want it — including things like $3,600 matte paint on my tester — you can select all kinds of add-ons from BMW’s notoriously pricey option menu.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 BMW i4 M50 ($65,900). Options: Frozen Portimao Blue paint ($3,600), drivers assistance pro package ($1,700), parking assistance package ($700), premium package ($950), high performance package ($2,500), carbon trim ($300), adaptive LED with laser light ($1,000), wireless device charging ($200), personal eSIM 5G ($300), BMW curved display with HUD ($1,000), Harman Kardon surround sound ($875), M carbon exterior package ($2,800).  Price as tested (including $995 destination charge): $82,820
Wheelbase: 112.4 in.
Length: 188.5 in.
Width: 72.9 in.
Height: 57 in.
Motors: 255 hp front, 308 hp rear
Estimated range: 245 miles
EPA economy: 80 MPGe

Style: 9
Performance: 9
Price: 7
Handling: 10
Ride: 9
Comfort: 7
Quality: 9
Overall: 10

Why buy it?
It’s the first all-electric performance car to come from BMW’s legendary M division, and it lives up to the reputation.

Posted in BMW

King of Comfort

By Derek Price

Quilted leather on the seats and doors, a suede headliner and genuine wood trim are all things you’d expect to find in a Mercedes-Benz or Rolls-Royce.
But a pickup truck?
That’s what the Ram 1500 Limited is all about as it celebrates 10 years of setting a high standard — the highest standard, if you ask me — for quality materials inside a truck’s cabin.
If you think of trucks strictly as work vehicles, that may sound silly or even sacrilegious. For buyers who can afford a nice Mercedes but need or want the capability of a serious half-ton truck, though, this luxury pickup serves dual purposes.
On one side, it’s clearly built for work, despite the polished surfaces. The Limited 10th Anniversary Edition comes with adjustable tie-down hooks and a center-mounted step in the back of the bed, along with the power and towing capability that are inherent in a 5.6-liter V8 engine.

The Ram 1500 Limited is known for using some of the highest quality materials ever installed from the factory in a pickup. This year marks 10 years of the Limited Ram.

It also comes standard with a mild hybrid addition to the engine that boosts the power when needed. The eTorque technology helps gas mileage, too, with a not-too-bad rating of 23 mpg in highway driving, according to the federal government.
Highway driving is where the second half of the Ram 1500 Limited shines.
The current generation Ram doesn’t just drive well for a truck. It drives well for any vehicle, period, including those with high price tags aimed at well-heeled buyers. It’s silky smooth over the road, with a cabin that feels as isolated and serene as a high-end Lexus.
Cruising on the freeway, the Ram 1500 Limited calmly wafts everywhere it goes, achieving a placid state of automotive Zen. Never mind the fact that it can tow up to 12,750 pounds.

The Limited’s cabin features real leather, wood and suede. It’s enticing to touch, with supple, soft materials that set a high standard for pickup trucks.

Part of the Ram 1500’s serenity comes from a class-exclusive air suspension. Not only does it help deliver that squishy, responsive, oh-so-perfect ride, but it also can help with leveling heavy loads, raising the truck for off-road driving and lowering the truck for easier loading access.
It’s absolutely brilliant.
Of course, the Limited isn’t the only Ram for sale this year. There are a whopping eight different models on the menu from the basic Tradesman to the thrilling, Hellcat-powered TRX.
When you consider there are 15 different paint colors, two bed lengths, two cabin layouts and a smattering of special editions — before you even get to the extensive option list — it’s no wonder that nearly every Ram 1500 you see on the road is different.
It’s bespoke, another word more commonly used on a Rolls than a Ram.
Pricing starts at $60,175 for the Limited 10th Anniversary Edition with rear-wheel drive. Picking the 4×4 version brings the price closer to $65,000.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Ram 1500 Limited 4×4 ($64,995). Options: Limited 10th Anniversary Edition ($2,145).  Price as tested (including $1,795 destination charge): $68,935
Wheelbase: 153.5 in.
Length: 241.8 in.
Width: 82.1 in.
Height: 77.5 in.
Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI eTorque (395 hp, 410 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
EPA mileage: 17 city, 23 highway

Style: 9
Performance: 10
Price: 5
Handling: 7
Ride: 10
Comfort: 10
Quality: 9
Overall: 9

Why buy it?
It’s a wonderfully comfortable, quiet, supple-riding vehicle that also comes with monumental capability.

Posted in Ram