Driven: Dodge’s massive Ram Laramie pick-up truck
DODGE’S Ram Laramie 2500 dual cab pick-up is typically American.
Yet, surprisingly, behind the wheel on the open road it is as quiet as a mouse.
In fact, it is one of the quietest vehicles I have driven, more serene than an E-Class Mercedes-Benz I drove a few weeks ago.
There is little road, wind and engine noise. The big body absorbs all sounds and cossets the occupants.
The straight six turbodiesel truck is intimidating, behind the wheel and to other road users, except for other larger trucks.
The Ram is a full-size American pick-up, as wide as a Kenworth truck and more than 6m long.
The utes are sold by Ireland’s of Cairns via a new factory- backed distributor for Ram vehicles, backed by Ram Trucks USA.
The right-hand-drive conversions are done locally on vehicles that come straight off the production line with, among other preparations, Australian radios and navigation already fitted.
There is a lot of work under the skin. The ASV Rams are fitted with a moulded dashboard, not fibreglass.
The right-hand drive steering assembly is made by the same US company that builds the left-hand drive versions. Ireland’s currently have a special on the 2500, $139,950 drive away.
It’s packed full of gear, including power adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, dual climate airconditioning, a trip computer, satellite-navigation, power adjustable pedals and front windows, a sunroof, a rear power sliding window, tilt steering column, push button start-stop, Bluetooth, automatic headlights, a rear camera and sensors, alarm, cruise control ... the list is endless.
You don’t get into the Ram, you
climb up via the side steps. It’s high off the ground.
Fire up the big six and it is impressively quiet. ASV’s replacement insulation (the factory insulation is removed during the conversion process) suppresses much of the noise from the massive 6.7-litre Cummins turbo diesel.
On the highway at 100km/h road and wind noise is well suppressed.
The other surprise is the grunt. Despite weighing 3.5 tonnes, the Ram 2500 accelerates quicker than the top-spec Ford Ranger, the Wildtrak.
But with 1084Nm of torque it’s no surprise. It doesn’t need to be revved hard. Red-line is only about 3500rpm.
There is a commanding driving position, like being captain of a ship.
Parking is a challenge. Angle parking requires the front wheels being almost nudged to the kerb so the tail doesn’t stick out into the traffic lane.
I didn’t bother trying a parallel park. U-turns usually mean a three point turn.
Up the Kuranda Range in the wet was taken gingerly as the rear wheels could easily spin.
Its off road ability is amazing. I went for a run along the KoahBilwon railway access maintenance trail, with its slippery surfaces, steep inclines and declines and it was all done matter of factly.
I baulked at a steepdrop and through a deep sandy and muddy creek crossing and had to back track.
I didn’t tow anything but it can pull up to nearly 7000 tonnes with a gooseneck fitted.
The steering is vague and the brakes need to be forcefully applied. Other downsides are that the column gear shift lever is on the right side of the steering column, close to the door, and the foot operated park brake is also on the right and cumbersome.
Fuel economy is not a strong point either. I achieved 17.4L/100km over about 300km.
This conversion is incredibly professional and close to a factory finish. A factory warranty adds peace of mind.
It’s not cheap, about twice the US price before currency and steering conversions.
But a fully loaded Toyota LandCruiser Sahara, which can tow “only” 3500kg, is about $130k.
The Ram is ideal to tow a large horse float or a big boat.