Dodge Laramie Exudes Power
Peters, Eric, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
When Wyatt Earp stepped into a saloon, people got out of his way. That's how you feel driving the 1996 Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie SLT 4x4 extended-cab pickup (base price: $24,963). This truck has attitude - and like the gunslinging Wyatt Earp - the hardware to back it up.
You don't just get in the SLT 3500 - you ask for permission to come aboard. Once underway, you'll be able to cause slump-shouldered bureaucrats to cringe in fear as you bear down on them from behind. All the guys on the job site will be envious, and teen-age boys will gape with awe as you lumber by.
Yet the big bad Laramie, with its dual rear wheels, pontoon fender extensions and massive, "eye-opening" (Chrysler's words) V-10 gasoline engine, is both nearly impossible to manuever anywhere besides the open road and profligate beyond reason in its consumption of gasoline.
It may be neat to tell your buddies you've got 8 liters' worth of V-10 under the hood, but fuel and long-term maintenance costs are apt to put a damper on your enthusiasm in short order.
Given the upscale SLT's intended use as a commercial-type hauler, the optional 5.9-liter Cummins turbo-diesel engine seems a better choice than the massive V-10. Torque is comparable (450 foot-pounds vs. 430 foot-pounds), but with the diesel, it comes at much lower engine speeds - ideal for towing or ripping stumps from the ground.
Non-SLT 3500s, by the way, come standard with a 5.9-liter gas V-8 - which is a nice compromise between the antediluvian V-10 and the utilitarian six-cylinder Cummins diesel.
Though a five-speed manual transmission is standard with all four engines, there's so much torque available from each engine that the optional automatic four-speed unit is probably the best choice for driveability and durability (because there's less driveline shock to be absorbed when using an automatic. …