The head brass of RAM Trucks Australia have made wild claims about the soon-to-be released RAM 1500, the more reasonably sized pick-up truck from America. “This vehicle drives like a passenger car,” said National Product & Service Manager Len Kench, while GM Alex Stuart said, “The 1500 now puts us head to head with the big brands.” They are bold claims for a dual cab ute that costs $80,000 on road and is just 20cm shorter than the very truckish RAM 2500.
The RAM 1500, which was unveiled today to a pack of journalists just as interested in the free lunch as the cars on display, is a large hunk of pickup. Large display banners around the room claim the truck eats other utes for breakfast. It’s 213mm shorter, 49mm lower and 1157kg lighter than the RAM 2500, and for the moment, at least, it’s only available with the 5.7-litre Hemi V8. So basically, exactly like a passenger car…
In Australia RAM Trucks are remanufactured by American Special Vehicles (a partnership between Ateco and Walkinshaw Automotive) and are distinct for being the only official RAM vehicles in right hand drive – the trucks come down the American production line specifically coded for the Australian market before they are shipped here and remanufactured in Melbourne for our local roads. Unlike other converters, this isn’t a second stage build of a car bought from a dealer in the States, but is actually considered an honest-to-goodness vehicle for Australian roads with full factory support.
There will be two variants of the 1500 – an entry level Express and top-end Laramie. Both, impressively, are able to tow up to 4500kg, although in the Laramie in factory standard form, that figure is actually 3500kg. I’ll get to why, soon. The 5.7-litre Hemi V8 supposedly chews through 9.9- and 12.2-litres of fuel every 100km (according to the combined cycle figure), which is reasonably modest and partly thanks to its ability to shut down up to four cylinders if there’s only a small load on the engine. Pedal to the metal, the 1500’s Hemi will pump out 291kW and 556Nm of torque. Backing up its breakfast preference claims, that’s almost double the power of Holden Colorado, Ford Ranger and the V8 LandCruiser 79 Series, with over 50Nm of torque better than all three, too. A diesel option is coming later in the year.
The RAM 1500 Express is expected to go on sale in July with a price of $79,950 on road. It’s the more workmanlike of the two variants, with a smaller cab and less rear-seat leg room, plus a more basic specification list. Compared to the Laramie it misses out on things like leather, an electrochromatic rear vision mirror, parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, Apple Car Play or Android auto phone connectivity, sat nav, heated seats and steering wheel, and climate control. It still gets the heavy-duty tow bar, trailer sway control, a built-in, factory fitted electronic brake controller (which is excellent in the RAM 2500), the typical suite of safety aids and the larger of the two trays on offer.
The 1500 Express’ tray is six by four feet, can fit a pallet between the wheel arches and can be optioned up with the RAM boxes, an inbuilt storage compartment that meets the regulations for a gun safe. RAM’s Australian people only mentioned groceries and tools at the press event, though, so it should be suitable for them, too.
The Laramie will go on sale from $99,950 on road, which is $40,000 cheaper than the bottom of the line RAM 2500. It’s biggest appeal is the larger cabin space and more-upmarket trimmings, including a larger screen in the dash, better phone connectivity and more legroom for the rear-seat passengers. In the Express it is genuinely cramped in the back row, but the 1500’s cab is the same from A-pillar to C-pillar as the larger 2500. The only real difference is that the 2500 can seat six, while the RAM 1500 only five.
The Laramie comes standard with a 3500kg towing capacity thanks to a higher diff-ratio of 3.21:1. This configuration gives it improved fuel economy, slightly slower acceleration and lower revs at cruising speeds. For it to be able to tow 4500kg you’ll need to ask for it to be fitted with the 3.92:1 diff – a lower ratio that helps the truck pull larger loads (or jump off the line with a little more gusto, if that’s your thing). It’ll mean slightly higher fuel consumption, though it’s a no-cost option and likely a trick for new players on the second-hand market a few years down the track.
Whether this ute’ll eat others for breakfast, or even if it drives just like a passenger car is yet to be seen – we haven’t been given a chance to drive one yet (although we did enjoy a selection of fresh sushi, gourmet sausage rolls and little quiches for lunch. The quiche was the highlight). However, on specs alone it’s setting itself up as an impressive tow-vehicle at a far more reasonable price than the RAM 2500. If we get a chance to drive one and tow with one, we’ll let you know how it goes.
RAM 1500 Prices
RAM 1500 Express: $79,950 drive-away
RAM 1500 Express with RAM boxes: $84,450 drive-away
RAM 1500 Laramie: $99,950 drive-away
RAM 1500 Laramie with RAM boxes: $104,450 drive-away
RAM 1500 Specs
Engine: 5.7-litre Hemi V8 petrol
Transmission: Eight speed automatic
Fuel economy: 9.9l/100km to 12.2l/100km
Towing: 3500kg to 4500kg braked
Payload: 885kg to 912kg
GCM: TBC by RAM
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