HEAVY-DUTY RAM PLUS
THE DOS AND DON’TS OF TOWING
Humour me for a second. Let’s imagine you live on a large lifestyle block not far from town. You’ve done OK for yourself, have a bit of spare cash, and you want your family to get out and enjoy themselves, so you’ll happily indulge them. You used to have a race car, but you sold it when the kids came. Now the kids are getting bigger. The girls are into dressage, with a couple of horses out in the paddock and a float to carry them around. The boy, he likes camping and hunting out in the wops. You? Well, it would be nice to get back into that race car. And you’ve got a business to run; you need a tow wagon — but something nice, and something that can go bush when it needs to. You do big open-road distances. You like being high up. Range Rover won’t do it, you need a tray. Ranger won’t do it, you need to tow 5000kg loads for work. Until now, you would have been in the gun for a few cars here. But whoa, Black Betty, Ram-a-lam.
Touch of class
I am a true city dweller with an aversion to muddy vehicles and any kind of the manual labour of the sort that a ute driver seems inclined towards. But, last year, as the Ford Ranger continued to dominate the bestseller lists for both commercial and passenger vehicles, I thought I’d better have a crack at getting behind the wheel of one to see what made a whole lot of Kiwis fall in love. I didn’t take long to figure it out. There was very little the Ranger couldn’t do. I went for the Wildtrak, which adds a touch of class by way of leather, a reversing camera and a few other very unnecessary but pretty enhancements, and, of course, I attached the mandatory 20-inch wheels. The Ranger proved its mettle, taking to suburban tasks as easily as it did open roads, and even once a grassy paddock with a hill.
And that is the beauty of the modern ute. It’s still a bit rough around the edges, and capable of taking on a gentle incline if the settings are just right, but it’s more than happy around town performing slightly less strenuous tasks and looking good while doing so without shouting ‘I paid so much for so little’, as some over-engineered SUVS tend to do.
Preaching to the converted
So, while we’re just catching onto the whole ute-as-a-status-symbol business, old mates in the US of A have been at it for a fair old while. And if, like in the States, you assume big is best in this arms race that is currently led in New Zealand by Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, VW, Mazda, and Holden, you — and those manufacturers — could be in for a rude awakening with the recent arrival of the Dodge Ram in its first factory-certified right-hand-drive configuration.
While the Ram has been present on New Zealand roads for a number of years, the introduction of the right-hand-drive