RAM 1500 LIMITED DT

RAM Trucks Australia’s all-new RAM 1500 DT models are now coming off the production line at the company’s Melbourne manufacturing facility and are on sale at RAM dealers across the country.

The DT version means there are now five models on sale here, the Express Quad, Crew Cab, Warlock II, and now DT versions of Laramie and Limited.

All RAM Trucks Australia vehicles are international-spec vehicles coded for the Australian market and the local build process. There are over 400 locally-sourced new parts involved in its transformation from left to right-hand drive.

The RAM 1500 is a full-size pickup truck and is significantly larger than other vehicles in this class.

We’ve borrowed a RAM 1500 DT one for a week’s road test and our findings and thoughts are here.

STYLING
This is a big, bold truck with a huge front that unashamedly no-nonsense American. It’s aimed for the big boys in the southern states of the US of A who want something that not only stands out from the crowd. But it also appeals to Aussie blokes.

It usually is blokes, though we did see our test RAM being eyed-off by the gentler sex as well when they saw it parked in a shopping centre near our place on the Gold Coast.

It’s almost six metres long, a little over two metres wide and the height is just under two metres. Which sadly meant we couldn’t own a RAM 1500 as its too high to fit under the door to the carpark in our apartment building.

Okay, you can drop the RAM on its suspension a little but it’s still a tight fit. In any case the six-metre-long RAM would stick out of our car/SUV parking space and cause hassles for other users.

INTERIOR
Getting in and out of this tall vehicle is far simpler than you would expect thanks to a very clever trick – when you open the doors side-steps flick out from under the vehicle. So instead of just one step up to the cabin there are sort-of two stairs.

There’s plenty of space in all five seats, with legroom in the rear that owners of other people movers can only dream about.

The second row has 60/40 stadium folding and reclining seats that can slope back by up to eight degrees. There’s stretch out space for two in the back and even the person in the rear-centre seat has good space and comfort.

The RAM 1500 has full-length dual-pane panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated leather seats.

In the load area 1.5 cubic metre tray can be specified with the excellent RamBox Cargo Management System for added usability. A powered tailgate allows ease of access.

INFOTAINMENT
The infotainment screen is as big and bold as the rest of the RAM, being a 12-inch vertical unit, it provides a huge number of functions and is easy to use because most of the movements you make on the screen with your fingers are instinctive,

A premium Harman/Kardon audio system, 900-Watt surround sound amplifier, there are 19 speakers including a 10-inch subwoofer. Active noise cancellation further improves the luxurious feeling within the cabin. The sound quality impressed us and the audio guys have obviously put a lot of effort getting the best from the layout in the big RAM.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Every petrol RAM 1500 is by a 5.7-litre Hemi pushrod V8 engine with power and torque outputs of 291kW (400hp) at 5600rpm, and 556Nm at 3950rpm.

In addition, the 1500 DT Laramie and Limited models now come with the new eTorque mild hybrid system to improve efficiency and drivability. This system combines a belt-drive motor generator unit with a 48-volt battery pack to enable start/stop function, short-term torque assist, and brake energy regeneration.

Cylinder deactivation when the engine is under very light load is a fuel reduction feature.

Transmission has eight forward speeds and there’s a Borg Warner torque-on-demand transfer case. You can choose to operate it in two-wheel drive through the rear wheels and four-wheel drive. There are also high and low ranges – this really is a genuine hard working off-road vehicle.

SAFETY
The Ram 1500 safety systems include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, ready alert braking and trailer-sway damping control, lane departure warning, park-sense parallel/perpendicular park, hill-start assist and LED intelligent headlamps.

DRIVING
This is a big truck and while not exactly filling the Aussie-width lanes on motorways it does demand that you pay attention to avoid creeping into other lanes.

Similarly, on very narrow country roads the RAM 1500 takes not only its side of the road but pinches a bit from the other side. You may have to put the left-side wheels just off the road if something is coming the other way.

Cornering isn’t exactly sport-truck but it’s safe and predictable. Overtaking is simple thanks to all the grunt offered by that big V8 with its clever electrical torque.

It has new generation Active-Level Four Corner air suspension that’s adjustable to offered the best combination of ride, handling, off-road capability, load-levelling and entry/exit convenience.

Official fuel consumption is a 12.2 litres per hundred kilometres, which might seem high, but don’t forget you’ve got close to three tonnes of vehicle to haul. On test we found it used nine to eleven litres per hundred km on motorways and flat-country cruising. That jumped to 15 to 17 litres per hundred around town. Not too bad for a big V8 truck and surely not many people would buy this for a daily suburban driving.

SUMMING UP
RAM pickup trucks are as much about status as transporting loads. They look great, go hard, but don’t mind a drink. If you’ve got a budget that’s in the region of $150,000 there’s probably nothing else on the market that beats this big American.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
1500 Express Ute 5.7 petrol Quad Cab: $79,950
1500 Express Ute 5.7 petrol Crew Cab: $89,950
1500 Warlock 5.7 petrol Crew Cab: $108,950
1500 Laramie 5.7 petrol Crew Cab: $119,900
1500 Limited 5.7 petrol Crew Cab: $142,950
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local RAM dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (RAM Laramie DT 5.7-litre V8 petrol / electric hybrid crew cab utility)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 5.654 litres
Configuration: V8
Maximum Power: 291 kW @ 5600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 556 Nm @ 3950 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 12.2 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 283 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5916 mm
Wheelbase: 3672 mm
Width: 2474 mm
Height: 1971 mm
Turning Circle: 14.1 metres
Kerb Mass: 2671 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 98 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / 100,000 kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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