RAM LARAMIE 2500

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

RAM broke away from the Dodge brand some years ago to be­come its own en­tity, while the trucks are still built by Chrysler in the USA. The Dodge RAM name­plate goes back for decades and is a sta­ple of the Amer­i­can truck mar­ket. Amer­i­can Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles (ASV) is a di­vi­sion of Ateco who, among other brands, also bring Warn winches to Aus­tralia. The left-to-right con­ver­sion and engi­neer­ing is car­ried out by the Walkin­shaw Group, which in­cludes Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles. ASV is cur­rently sell­ing only the high-spec­i­fi­ca­tion RAM Laramie crew-cab 4x4 model in Aus­tralia, in 2500 or heav­ier-duty 3500 guise.

We’ve got the 2500 here in line with the oth­ers’ of­fer­ings, and it’s the low­est priced truck in the trio at $139,500.

DRIV­E­LINE & CA­PAC­I­TIES

THE RAM might be the only non-v8 en­gine here but its in-line six-cylin­der donk gives noth­ing away in ca­pac­ity, com­ing in at a mas­sive 6.7 litres. It’s the mid-run­ner for out­put, push­ing out 1084Nm from the Cum­mins-branded en­gine. The trans­mis­sion is a six-speed auto, while 4x4 is part time with shift-on-the-fly and low range – just like the other two.

The RAM has Tru-lok diffs front and rear, which are an au­tolock­ing de­sign. ASV’S Aus­tralian mod­els are al­ready de-rated from the US specs to a max­i­mum 4500kg GVM, to ac­com­mo­date lo­cal li­cences. That means a 913kg pay­load and 3500kg tow­ing on a 50mm ball (4500kg on 70mm ball, or 6989kg on a Pin­tle).

CHAS­SIS & HAN­DLING

THE RAM 2500 bolts to a lad­der-frame chas­sis like the other two trucks – it has live axles front and rear like the Ford, but un­like the truck-like leaf springs un­der the first two, the RAM rides on coils at each cor­ner. We ex­pected that us­ing coils might make the RAM softer and more com­pli­ant in its ride, but the op­po­site proved the case.

The very stiff RAM sus­pen­sion pro­vided a some­times jit­tery ride, and han­dling was very flat.you can feel it has been sprung to carry a load, which was re­flected in its tow­ing per­for­mance.

In its left-to-right steer­ing con­ver­sion, ASV has taken the steer­ing box from the left and moved it to the right, but placed it on the out­side of the chas­sis rail just like an­other Chrysler prod­uct – the Jeep Wran­gler.

OFF-ROAD

THE stiff­ness of the RAM’S sus­pen­sion was felt on the off-road track, where it bucked like a bronco over the bumps and bounced off-line. It was never chal­lenged for grip, but it was bounc­ing over rocks rather than crawl­ing over them, which made the job a lot harder than it needed to be. The tyres on all the trucks were left at road pres­sures through­out the test; drop­ping them might have helped the RAM’S per­for­mance.

TOW­ING

THE RAM was the most sur­pris­ing per­former on the tow­ing hill climb. It was the only truck equipped with a multi-link coil-sprung rear end, how­ever it was the most solid rear end – its bum barely moved when the trailer was hitched to it. A tow­ing ca­pac­ity of a lit­tle less than seven tonnes is still noth­ing to be sneezed at!

The six-cylin­der Cum­mins lets out a truck-like growl un­der load and has an im­pres­sive spread of power and torque. The en­gine brake did an awe­some job of hold­ing back the loaded truck on

The RAM was never chal­lenged for grip, but it was bounc­ing over rocks rather than crawl­ing over them

the de­scent, and it had the tranny down-chang­ing early to make the most of the Cum­mins’ com­pres­sion brak­ing power. It sounded awe­some as well!

CABIN AND AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

ANY­ONE who has driven a Jeep Grand Chero­kee will feel at home in the RAM. The cen­tre stack, Ucon­nect sys­tem, steer­ing wheel and gauge clus­ter are all very sim­i­lar (if not the same parts), there’s just a lot more real es­tate around them in the RAM. In that re­gard it was pretty easy for us to get ac­quainted with.

Like the other trucks here, the RAM Laramie has all the lux­ury mod-cons: cli­mate con­trol; heated and cooled seats; sat-nav with lo­cal maps; heated steer­ing wheel; power pedal ad­just­ment; and primo au­dio. None of these trucks are lack­ing in the fea­tures depart­ment! Con­sid­er­ing they are all so highly specced, it was sur­pris­ing that the RAM is the only one with key­less en­try and start.

The RAM’S also the only one with the abil­ity to carry six pas­sen­gers, as the con­sole folds up to re­veal a cen­tre seat in the front. The con­sole bins in all of them could house a small fam­ily, though!

One an­noy­ing thing is that the park brake is a foot pedal on the right-side kick panel in the footwell – and when you stop the car you gen­er­ally have your right foot on the foot brake, so it re­quires a change of habit to get used to.

PRACTICALITIES

THE RAM has the most prac­ti­cal wheel and tyre pack­age with its LT265/70R18 Miche­lins. They mightn’t look as flash as the big chrome 20s, but they’re more re­sis­tant to da­m­age than the low­pro­file job­bies.

Again, there are two big tow-loops up front and a re­ceiver hitch at the back. The air in­take is through the front ’guard and re­quires a screw­driver to open the air box. There are two bat­ter­ies in the en­gine bay.

The huge tray has a spray-on pro­tec­tive lin­ing and four tie-down hooks. A nifty trick here is that up near the cargo area light, a cam­era dis­plays the cargo bed on the Ucon­nect screen and lets you know if the load is mov­ing around or your dog has jumped ship.

The RAM has a 117-litre diesel tank and, like all of these trucks, the en­gine runs SCR/DEF to cut emis­sions.

SUM­MARY

AMONG our trio of trucks the RAM looked the small­est, but that was just an il­lu­sion cre­ated by the dark colour and the styling of the front, which isn’t as brash as the Ford’s or GMC’S. It’s still a big truck, and with the bench front seat has the high­est seat­ing ca­pac­ity here.

It’s also more than $10K cheaper than the other two rigs, which can buy you a lot of ac­ces­sories. Some up­graded sus­pen­sion with softer springs might be the go if you’re not go­ing to haul heavy loads all the time.

The RAM holds the mid­dle ground in per­for­mance and in the way it towed, but the six-cylin­der Cum­mins en­gine proved rel­a­tively thirsty at 21.35L/100km.

ASV backs its RAMS with a three-year/100,00km war­ranty, with road­side as­sis­tance.

RAM gauges are big and easy to read.

Coils on the rear of the RAM don’t limit sus­pen­sion travel.

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