BIG DADDY

Driven: Dodge’s mas­sive Ram Laramie pick-up truck

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

DE­TAIL­ING

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

DE­CID­ING

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.

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