RAMming home the Advantage

Ram Trucks Australia certainly is making hay while the sun shines by currently offering the vehicles that Australians want to buy, even during these difficult times. As at July 2020, sales of RAM trucks in Australia were up by 45.6% for the year to date compared with 2019 figures.

Yes they are big and brash, but beyond that I wanted to find out what the appeal was for the Australian consumer. According to a Ram Trucks Australia Spokesperson over 50% of RAM customers use their trucks for towing – be it trailers, jet skis, boats or horse floats. DWM asked what the breakdown of male/female buyers for RAM Trucks were and although it is difficult to determine according to the RAM spokesperson it’s “probably more female buyers than you’d expect.”

Towing and the flexibility of the cargo area certainly give RAM trucks an advantage. The RAM 1500 series trucks have a towing capacity of up to 4,500kg on the 70mm ball. In the Express Crew Cab Petrol variant I drove the payload for the tub was 830kg, but in the Express Quad Cab this increases to 850kg.

The tub length in the Express Crew Cab is 1700mm long and in Quad Cab this increases to 1930mm and it is wide enough to swallow a full-size pallet with ease plus it is lined with a spray-on heavy duty coating that is slip resistant. I really liked the divider in the tub as it meant I could section off a small area at the back of the tub for the groceries so they didn’t end up rolling all over the tub and were kept separate from whatever else you may have stored at the front of the tub so they don’t get squashed. The divider can also be used to extend the tub out to the back of the tailgate for carrying longer items like a motorbike. The divider is easy to install at the back of the truck and you get four strong tie down points to ensure your load is well secured.

The tonneau cover over the tub can be locked down from the inside and is easily unclipped and can be rolled back over itself by one person and completely removed or secured with clips and left in place at the front. Available on the Crew Cab models is the very handy RamBoxes running along the tub on each side that have 201 litres of storage for items like helmets, chainsaws, fishing rods or whatever else you need securely store. The Boxes are weatherproof and water resistant and have drain holes in the bottom so you can even fill them with ice and keep your drinks cool.

To haul all of your stuff you are going to need some serious pulling power at the front of such a big truck and in the RAM 1500 I drove this was a 5.7 litre hemi V8 that produces 291kW @ 5,600 rpm and 556Nm @ 3,950 rpm. The engine is fitted with fuel saving technology that reverts to ECO mode when you are on the motorway, but even with this technology you will be thankful that you have 121 litre fuel tank and that the RAM runs on 95RON petrol. The official combined fuel efficiency is 12.2L/100km and for my time with the RAM I used 17.3L/100km.

The V8 engine is paired with an automatic – TORQUEFLITE 8-Speed transmission and with various operating modes 2WD High; 4WD High, Locked; Neutral; and 4WD Low, Locked. I didn’t do any four-wheel driving on the weekend I had the RAM, but the high ride height, 15.2 degree approach angle and 23.7 degree departure angle would mean it could straddle some pretty serious terrain. If you go off-road you will appreciate that under the wheel arches is hard plastic that can easily be washed and that you have a full-size spare wheel in the case of a puncture.

So how big is the RAM you ask? Well when I was sitting up in the driver’s seat I felt like I was looking down on everyone else who was driving a normal sized SUV or ute. The body is over half a metre (509mm) off the ground, so you definitely need to use the running board to get yourself up into the truck. This is also something to think about if you are going to be regularly lifting your small child up and securing them into their car seat. The RAM’s overall height is just less than two metres, but with a length of 5,833mm it would be a brave person who tries to negotiate a shopping centre carpark in it. If it were me, I would only ever park on the street, a wide street because the official turning circle is 12.1 metres.

What’s it like to drive? Well just like any other large 4WD I have driven once I got used to the dimensions around me. The steering is not direct, but I would not expect it to be, as this is no supercar. The acceleration is decent thanks to the whopping V8 under the bonnet.

The cabin is fit for purpose and would not be described as luxury. You get cloth seats that have manual recline and forward/back adjustment for front passengers. The steering wheel is plastic covered and can only be adjusted up and down; you even have to put the key in and turn it to start the RAM. It also has a foot operated park brake that is a bit awkward to access as it is on the right hand side of the driver’s foot well. If you after a bit more luxury the RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab would be the way to go.

There are plenty of storage cubbies in the front of the cabin for all your bits and bobs. I liked that under the arm rest there was a removable coin holder for your loose change. This is also location of two USB ports and one AUX inlet and at the base of dash in the centre there are two 12V outlets.

The driver’s dash has analogue dials for water temp, oil temp, battery charge, fuel gauge, taco and speedo. In the centre is a digital screen that you can scroll through and display various info. The voice control button has a man’s face on it, like many other car marques, and the voice control worked okay for setting an address for me, but did not work for me to make a phone call.

The 8.4” infotainment touchscreen gives you access to sat nav, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Media options available in the RAM are AM/FM radio, AUX, USB and Bluetooth. My RAM had dual zone climate control and the vents for rear passengers were behind the centre console and under the front seats.

The bench style rear seat in the RAM has enough room for three adults or three child seats using the rear tether points. The tether points are a little hard to access and you will need to make sure the dealer pulls them out from behind the seat for you. There are also two ISOFIX child seat restraint points as well.

If not in use the rear seat can be folded up and out of the way for even more storage room. Under the removable carpet mat, which completely covers the rear floor, there are two concealed storage boxes in the floor, but they are not lockable.

The RAM 1500 Express Crew Cab comes with standard cruise control, standard rear view camera and rear parking sensors. Some features I would have liked to have seen on a vehicle this big would be blind spot monitoring and a 3600 reversing camera with all round sensors. RAM trucks do not have an ANCAP safety rating.

RAM trucks start life as left hand drive vehicles in the USA and are imported and remanufactured to right hand drive (RHD) for the Australian and New Zealand market by Ram Trucks Australia, who are the only factory-authorised full-volume supplier of right hand drive Ram Trucks in the world. Ram Trucks Australia employs local engineers, designers and automotive technicians, as well as local component companies to work with them to remanufacture the trucks to RHD at a purpose-built facility in Melbourne.

The RAM 2500 and RAM 1500 are remanufactured in Australia, by Australians to meet Australian market demands. The chassis and body are first separated before a re-engineered RHD specific steering system is fitted, then a new dashboard which was designed, developed and produced in Australia is installed along with a RHD-specific heating and ventilation system before the body and chassis are re-married to produce the final product.

All new RAM trucks come with a comprehensive three year/100,000 km warranty (whichever comes first) and three year’s road side assistance. The service interval is every 12,000km or one year, whichever comes first. Conveniently, the national dealer network extends into regional areas for those who are outside of the metropolitan area.

The RAM 1500 Express Crew Cab including RAMboxes starts at $94,450 plus on-roads and as tested with the 50mm tow bar kit my RAM was $95,700.37 plus on-roads. If you are after a heavy duty truck, with a load and towing capacity to match its looks, then a visit to your preferred RAM Truck dealer to check out the full range for yourself.

ProsCons
A large cabin with a variety of storage optionsLarge turning circle
Towing and load capacityNo ANCAP safety rating
You look down on SUVs and utesChild seat restraint points are hard to access

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.