2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 4×4 Yearlong Test: How It Spent Winter

Yes, it’s summer, but we only recently found this winter report tucked between the seat cushions of Guffman, our long-term 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 4×4. So, we figured we might as well share how the truck spent the colder months in Michigan, where the truck is based with our Detroit staff.

When we ordered Guffman, we didn’t check the box for the Ram 2500 HD‘s $145 Cold Weather Group’s grille cover and block heater. That’s because the truck would live in Detroit, not Yellow Knife, and our oil never turns to Jell-O. But because diesels throw off less waste heat than gas engines (that’s part of their efficiency secret), and because the owner’s manual recommends covering the grille at temperatures below freezing—and also because we happened to sample a Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Duramax that came standard with such a cover—we rang up Mopar and ordered a $120 grille cover.

By comparison with that Silverado’s cover, this one seemed easier to install, using hooks on elastic loops to hold the top and bottom, and rigid felt-covered tabs that squeeze between the central grille and the trim or headlamps to secure the sides. Another point of differentiation: Ram’s cover includes four flaps that you’re supposed to leave open (by folding them under) until the temperature drops below 0 degrees F.

When temperatures were in the teens, we typically waited 45-60 seconds for the glow plug to warm up sufficiently on an outdoor cold start, and then felt noticeable heat from the vent registers by the time the Ram had traveled the 1.2 miles to our nearest freeway entrance. Without the cover, a bit of freeway driving was typically necessary to get the heat flowing.

No sooner was its radiator covered than did Detroit editor Alisa Priddle spirit away Guffman to her family homestead near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where winter temps routinely dip to single digits. She appreciated the swift warmup of the climate-control system, adding “The heated steering wheel and seats are also so good at their job, we’ve had to turn them off shortly after they make everything toasty.” She also praised the power-folding mirrors that ease entry to her garage and the running boards that are vital for assisting shorter-legged occupants. But she noted that her long-torsoed husband’s head brushes the sunroof trim even with the seat powered fully down. Tall folks should delete that $1,095 option.

One advantage the aforementioned Silverado had over this Ram (and the Ford F-250 Power Stroke) is a full-time 4WD function that lets you engage all four wheels without binding on dry pavement. The Ram’s 4H mode causes noticeable binding in turns whenever the snow and ice thins, and with our truck’s Firestone Transforce HT tires, which call for inflation pressures of 70/80 psi front/rear, don’t grip very well in snow and ice (Tire Rack customers rank them 5.2 out of 10 for winter/snow performance), all drivers reported needing to engage 4WD even to climb snowy driveway aprons. If Guffman made northern Ontario his permanent home, a set of Blizzaks would be a good idea, and for Detroit when these tires wear out, we’d replace them with a set of Michelin Agilis CrossClimate tires, Tire Rack’s highest-rated replacement respondents for winter/snow performance, at 8.9.

In other news, the Ram’s owner’s manual calls for the first oil change/tire rotation/inspection service at 15,000 miles, which coincided with a visit to Memphis, where the service was performed quickly for $144.77. Our only complaint: The various inspections failed to notice that our fuel filter had only a few miles left, as the onboard computer called for its replacement during our drive back to Michigan. Our local dealer charged an hour’s labor to replace this $85 filter, for a total charge of $252.26. Aghast at that charge and having swapped plenty of fuel filters on gas-burning vehicles, we looked online for the procedure and swapped it. Trust us—that’s not an hour you want to spend.

And now that the snow has well and truly melted, the flowers have bloomed, and we’re in the thick of summer weather, Guffman has returned to working for a living. There are trees that need to be chipped for mulch and lots of scrap to haul to the dump, after all.

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