There are good reasons why we’re seeing more RAMs on the roads in regional Australia.
Story + Photo Mark Muller
Horses for courses, so they say. If the course you’re running is one that sees you travelling long distances across a variety of road surfaces and conditions, towing heavy loads, needing a large tray and carrying capacity, or wanting to carry up to five big passengers with a mountain of space, comfort and confidence, then you can’t go far wrong with the latest RAM 1500 Laramie crew cab.
The new Laramie sits just below the top-end 1500 Limited, and above the workhorse Express and its higher-specced sibling the Warlock. Both the Laramie and the Limited are fifth-generation crew cabs, while the Express and the Warlock retain their ‘Classic’ fourth-generation looks. The 1500 range starts at $89,950 before on-road costs for the Express, and tops out at $139,950 plus on-roads for the Limited. The Laramie will set you back $114,950 before on-roads. With the Laramie, you can add $1950 for powered side steps, and $950 for metallic paint. The excellent RamBox tray cargo option is another $5k or so.
Bottom line, the Laramie is not cheap. But it is well in the range of the LandCruiser 300 Series, and in many ways it’s a LandCruiser-beater (5.7L V8 Hemi, anyone?). That’s one of the reasons we’re seeing more and more RAMs on the roads in regional Australia. With more than 60 dealerships across Australia now, including such places as Mount Isa, Qld and Kalgoorlie and Geraldton, WA, the concern about service networks is receding. After almost six years in the market and more than 11,000 deliveries, so too is curiosity about reliability. RAM Trucks Australia imports vehicles direct from the US and then re-manufactures them to right-hand-drive in partnership with Walkinshaw in its world-class facility in Melbourne. According to RAM, it is “the only authorised full-volume manufacturer of right-hand-drive RAM trucks in the world”.
After a week in the Laramie, OUTBACK was seriously impressed by the vehicle’s build quality, comfort, refinement and ease-of-use. You’re never going to choose it for a city runabout, but then that isn’t what it’s for. Across hundreds of kilometres, taking in suburban roads, freeways, highways, backroads blacktop, country gravel and hilly, rocky paddocks, the RAM didn’t skip a beat.
The Laramie’s V8 Hemi throws off 291kW of power and 556Nm of torque. This helps give it a class-leading braked-towing capacity of 4500kg. As far as fuel economy goes, the Laramie used an average of 12.5L/100km, not far off the manufacturer’s claim of 12.2L/100km. A lot depends on use and conditions, of course, but the engine is smart enough to shut down four of its eight cylinders when full power is not needed, and little refinements like the grill shutters closing at speed to improve aerodynamics are thoughtful and will see the 98L tank give you a range of around 700km. That said, it’s a big bus, and people aren’t buying it for aerodynamics or sub-5L/100km fuel economy.
The ride and power delivery is smooth and confidence-inspiring across all surfaces, and the comfort and usability of the cabin is excellent. A 300mm touchscreen interface sits in the middle of the dash and is fairly straightforward to use. While there are not that many buttons, useful ones such as those to stop the park assist beeping when you’re driving in long grass are at the end of your fingertips, rather than buried under layers of digital menus. The sound system is great, as is the phone interface. According to several callers, OUTBACK could have been sitting in a quiet room rather than driving on a dirt track, such was the sound quality.
There are some quibbles – the size of the 1500 (approximately 5.9m long x 2m high x 2.5m wide, with a ground clearance of 22cm) means that ground vision is lost behind the A-frame pillars at times when turning into tight corners, and considerable movement is required in the driver’s seat to peer around them. Strangely for such a big truck, the central drink holders wouldn’t take a standard 295ml YETI mug. Then there’s the styling. The RAM is unashamedly American, and it looks it. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, but it is a choice – a statement even. If it’s one you’re comfortable with, and if you’re going to be using it in the right environment, then the RAM 1500 should seriously be on your shopping list when you’re looking for a new vehicle.
This story excerpt is from Issue #141
Outback Magazine: February/March 2022