Pow­er­ful Ram

The V8 ute has re­turned Down Un­der in the form of the new Ram 1500 pow­ered by a 5.7-litre Hemi eight cylin­der. Cobey Bar­tels writes

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

The 5.7L Ram 1500 ute

The days of the petrol V8 ute have come and gone in Aus­tralia, some­thing no petrol head saw com­ing.

Or have they?

There’s a new kid on the block with a win­ning com­bi­na­tion: a 5.7-litre Hemi V8, 1,930mm tray, 800kg pay­load, 4.5 tonne tow­ing ca­pac­ity, and a rau­cous ex­haust note.

It’s the new 2018 Ram 1500 and it’s a po­ten­tial game changer for the dual-cab-ob­sessed Aus­tralian mar­ket.

We drove the top-spec Ram 1500 Laramie both on and off-road at Bathurst in NSW, with an open mind and no real ex­pec­ta­tions, hav­ing not spent much time in a big Amer­i­can ute.

While the Laramie we tested starts at $99,950 plus on-road costs, the $79,990 price point of the base model RAM 1500 sits at the up­per end of the 4x4 dual-cab mar­ket, but you get a lot of ve­hi­cle for that money.

Com­pared to the pop­u­lar 4x4 dual-cab ute op­tions on of­fer in Aus­tralia, the first thing you no­tice is the size of the RAM.

It’s big­ger, but up close you re­alise it isn’t that much wider than your typ­i­cal dual-cab ute. At 5.8m long and 2m wide, it’s longer but not much wider than other pop­u­lar ute op­tions.

This ad­di­tional length pro­vides more over­all tray and in­te­rior space than we’re used to in Aus­tralia, a wel­come re­al­ity for ute buy­ers want­ing wagon-sized rear seat­ing with sin­gle-cab tray length.

In terms of styling, the 20-inch chrome wheels are a bit loud and not typ­i­cally some­thing Aus­tralians go for, but this is an Amer­i­can ute and the chrome de­tails are just part of that pack­age.

The grunty V8 hur­tled the 2,650kg ute for­ward with more en­thu­si­asm than you get from the cur­rent spate of small­ca­pac­ity turbo-diesel en­gines on of­fer in this seg­ment, with­out us hav­ing to lean on the en­gine or rev it to the moon.

With 291kw of power and 556nm of torque, the V8 was sig­nif­i­cantly less thirsty than ex­pected. RAM claims of­fi­cial fuel use of 9.9L/100kms thanks to cylin­der de-ac­ti­va­tion and vari­able valve tim­ing (VVT).

RAM mated the Hemi to an eight-speed auto with 4x4 as stan­dard and for the driv­ing we did, the gear­box made good use of the power on of­fer and held gears when pushed.

The big Hemi is happy to rev, but when un­loaded this ute doesn’t ask too much of the en­gine, and in gen­eral ur­ban driv­ing it would fre­quently switch to ‘eco’ mode, which in­volves shut­ting down cylin­ders to run as ei­ther a V6 or V4.

In fact, the cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion oc­curred so seam­lessly the

Com­pared to the pop­u­lar 4x4 dual-cab ute op­tions on of­fer in Aus­tralia, the first thing you no­tice is the size of the RAM.

only real give­away was a slight change in en­gine note, which in­stantly be­came that of a V8 when you dropped the boot.

The only thing we’d change about the en­gine is a slightly louder ex­haust sys­tem at wide-open throt­tle – but for day-to-day use this sys­tem is quiet while still re­mind­ing you there are eight cylin­ders up front.

A turbo-diesel V6 VM Mo­tori en­gine will be­come avail­able in the fu­ture, but pric­ing and spec­i­fi­ca­tions for the V6 have not yet been re­leased.

The multi-link coil spring rear was sur­pris­ingly com­pli­ant on the wind­ing roads we drove, con­sid­er­ing the weight of the ve­hi­cle, and when we hit a dirt road at 80km/h it was barely dis­tin­guish­able in com­par­i­son with the bouncier leaf sprung rear ends most dual-cab utes of­fer.

We briefly took the RAM off road on a light track, which it han­dled on road-bi­ased tyres, but we’d need more time and var­ied ter­rain to put this thing through its paces.

We also didn’t get a chance to put any weight in the back, but max­ing out the RAM 1500’s 800kg pay­load would re­ally put the rear coil setup through its paces and it’s some­thing we plan on do­ing when we test the ute fur­ther.

The mas­sive 4.5 tonne tow­ing ca­pac­ity is ap­pli­ca­ble for the 3.92 axle ra­tio, whereas a 3.21 ra­tio is of­fered with slightly bet­ter around-town econ­omy in mind, drop­ping the tow­ing ca­pac­ity to 3.5 tonnes.

We also plan on tow test­ing this ute to see how it goes pulling the 4.5 tonnes limit up back, but the torquey V8 and low axle ra­tio sug­gests it’d be a goer and for those with larger loads this is cer­tainly a big draw­card.

A real gripe with dual-cab utes is back seats that aren’t ex­actly spa­cious, or com­fort­able. The RAM was re­fresh­ingly spa­cious up back, and we had men over six feet in height seated com­fort­ably.

The in­te­rior is on par with mod­ern SUVs and while yes, we were in the top-of-the-line Laramie model, the qual­ity in­side the cab was top-notch.

The right-hand con­ver­sion, com­pleted lo­cally in Aus­tralia, is su­perb and from in­side the cab it’s vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to tell this was once setup for the wrong side of the road.

This ute is one that’s larger, more pow­er­ful and also slightly more ex­pen­sive than Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar dual-cab ute op­tions, but it’s also a one-of-a-kind of­fer­ing in this mar­ket.

Aus­tralians love two things: utes and V8 en­gines – the RAM 1500 ticks both of those boxes.

Off-road the RAM 1500 went where we needed it to, but was hin­dered by road tyres

4

1. The im­pres­sive 1,930mm tray makes this ute tradie-ready, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing rear seat space2. The 1500 Laramie we drove had an in­te­rior that felt more like some­thing you’d find in an SUV than a 4x4 ute3. The test mules stand­ing tall at Bathurst Air­port – the on-road pres­ence of these utes is im­pres­sive4. The all-im­por­tant HEMI badge, telling the world this beast is pow­ered by a 5.4L V8

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