When my son and I arrived at this year's GAAMA Family Car Challenge, we laughed as we spotted the one truck, the all-new 2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4, among the two dozen or so competitors. It's the first vehicle we tested that day, and my son said he was sure it would win.
Being the only truck that showed up at all for the event, it was on course by default to snag the Best Family Pickup Truck trophy (What's up, other truck manufacturers?), but it also won the overall prize: Best Family Car.
All day long, manufacturer reps asked my young son what his favorite ride was so far. He stuck to his guns: "I think the RAM truck is going to win."
We didn't stuff the ballot box, or in this case, the touchscreen voting app, but we did give the RAM 1500 pretty high marks. Always impressive is when a vehicle this big and powerful can rather nimbly negotiate urban roadways but then let rip down the highway on-ramp, taking whatever place you want in traffic. Equipped with the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, this truck has a 395-hp engine delivering 410 lb-ft of torque, and it is rated to tow 12,750 pounds or haul 2,300 pounds in the bed, so while being a quick and quiet city-friendly vehicle, apparently it is ready to do business down the country, too, when needed.
These one-day events don't afford much time to spend with each vehicle, but first impressions are that this is a very handy, capable and comfortable vehicle. Our copy was the Crew Cab, and the back seats flip and fold and get out of the way to offer loads of cargo space, plus the doors swing out to nearly 90 degrees. This is the vehicle you take to IKEA on a rainy day: if they can flat-pack it, you can get it in this truck.
The copy we drove was a 5-seater, but they do offer a more practical and valuable (IMO) 6-seater.
It was the price that concerned me at first. The Monroney sticker had this copy based at more than $64K and trimmed out just north of $75K. And then I realized that was a Canadian sticker price, and we all know how weak their Dollar is (gratuitous political jab). Here in the States, the RAM 1500 Laramie starts at a little more than $40K, with a just-as-powerful Tradesman edition starting around $32K.
My son called it right from the outset, and I'm happy with the outcome. The RAM 1500 is a good truck. Car. Whatever you need it to be.
Who were the other winners? Glad you asked.
Best Technology Car: 2018 Honda Odyssey
Best Green Family Car: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Best Three-Row Car: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica
Best Value Family Car: 2018 Mazda CX-5
Best Luxury Family Car: 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Wagon
This year, because we were pressed for time, we skipped the Luxury category, but we did test the Mazda CX-5, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, the Chrysler Pacifica Limited, The 2019 KIA Sorento SXL, the 2019 Toyota Avalon XLE, the 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum, the 2018 Lexus RX 350 and the 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT. We'll tell you more about those rides in subsequent reviews.
Danny Harrison is a veteran journalist who cut his teeth in the Atlanta-area newspaper business the year before the Olympics came to town. His career path has led him out of state and overseas, but he has returned to his southern Atlanta suburban roots where he now works as a government public relations specialist. He writes car reviews and other automotive features as a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.