IF you want a smart looking tough truck that offers comfort and work-ability then you might just have found it in the 2018 RAM Trucks 1500 Laramie, you just need to choose the colour and options.
RAM have knocked it out of the park with the beastly looking pickup truck from the United States. Oh, and before you call it a Dodge, it’s not. RAM Trucks has been standalone since 2009.
Converted to right hand drive as part of a full re-manufacturing process by factory-backed American Special Vehicles in Melbourne, this ute is configured in the US as an Australian-bound vehicle and loaded with local specifications.
This means things like compliant tail lights, a metric driver instrument cluster, local radio frequencies and local SatNav are all in place before it rolls off the American factory floor.
The 1500 is the little brother to the much larger RAM 2500 and 3500 and presents as a feature packed standard offering straight from the box; it’s got all the fruit you might say. You can add factory RAM storage boxes, if you’re keen.
We hit the road in and around the NSW country township of Bathurst to put the 1500 Laramie through its paces, and we’ve got to say, it’s an impressive pickup truck with a tonne of grunt, and a 291kW 5.7-litre HEMI V8.
Climbing up into the RAM is an exercise that requires more effort than most dual cabs, but it’s made easier by standard side steps. Once you’re there though, the view is commanding.
Inside, the first thing we notice is the rear seats are outstanding. Forget uncomfortable claustrophobic rear seating, and not being able to fit three tall people in the back. Those days are gone with the 1500.
There’s ample leg and head room, and expensive car quality seating. The second row even has heated seats, four cup holders, a fold down armrest and proper door pockets.
It’s why we think the big ute market is about to get its cage seriously rattled, particularly its poster boy rivals like the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, Holden Colorado Z71 and Toyota TRD Hilux SR5.
Up front, there’s clever smartphone storage for two devices (with charge cables connected), two-tier door pockets and a massive centre console bin.
The front seats are heated and vented, and all seating is leather. The latest version of U-Connect also allows two smartphones to be paired at once and the system can switch between them, based on priority settings.
The infotainment and dash displays are excellent. Forward visibility is great despite the high-riding bonnet line, and rearward vision is also very good. Front and rear parking sensors and a clear rear-view camera make low-speed manoeuvring easy.
The gear selector is located on the dash and may take some time to get used to, but once you do you’ll appreciate how much the lack of a shifter cleans up the centre console.
Another great feature is the remote lock and start option. Just by pressing the remote button twice, the hulking HEMI power plant will rumble to life from a distance; did someone say preheated seats, steering wheel and powered up air-con.
There’s no diesel available yet, but we’ll be getting a 3.0-litre V6 diesel later in the year. RAM claims 9.9-litres/100km for the HEMI, thanks to cylinder switching, that lets Eco mode choose between operating as a 4, 6 or 8-cylinder motor.
At launch, we saw the average hover as low as 13.5-litres/100km, even at 100km/h, with plenty of ‘spirited’ driving. We were expecting to be pushing 18.0-litres/100km, so came away super impressed by the fuel economy as well.
RAM have also included auto vents just behind the grill; providing a unique system which controls air flow and reduces drag while maintaining engine breath-ability and temperature control.
You can choose from two different ratio options in the Laramie spec 1500, one that facilitates 4,500kg towing, and one with punchier performance gearing that sacrifices some tow capacity, down to 3,500kg.
Given the RAM 1500 Laramie weighs in at 2,600kg, we’d take the gearing suited to towing, and give up any desire of winning traffic light drag races. It also has an 8-speed transmission which provides solid performance across all speed ranges.
The steering is as direct as anything else in the segment, and the handling as good as you can expect for a large truck that pushes out 556Nm of torque. It’s effortless through the mid-range and while it doesn’t feel like a rocket ship, it doesn’t need to.
If you need a heavy-duty tow vehicle, or want a beefy dual cab that’s flexible, comfortable and super solid, then the 2018 RAM Trucks 1500 Laramie is going to appeal to you.
The 2018 RAM Trucks 1500 Laramie hits the road at $99,950 plus on-roads, with the tradie oriented Express variant priced from $79,990 drive away. It has a 3-year/100,000km warranty and roadside assist for the same period.
It’s available in Bright White, Bright Silver, Max Steel, Granite Crystal, Brilliant Black, Blue Streak, True Blue, Delmonica Red and Flame Red. The Express is not available in Brilliant Black.
Our test vehicle was provided by RAM Trucks Australia as part of a drive day. To find out more about the 2018 RAM Trucks 1500 Laramie, contact your local RAM Trucks dealer.