2018 RAM 1500 Laramie
2018 RAM 1500 Laramie

FROM the roar of a 5.7-litre V8 HEMI power plant to the $79,950 drive away price for the base Express model, RAM Trucks has arrived into the Australian 4×4 ute market, with its new look 1500 model, available in two variants.

Launched today and set to hit the road from July, and featuring either a 6-foot 4-inch tray in the case of the Express, or 5-foot 7-inch tray in the case of luxury Laramie variant, the American pickup will offer buyers a new choice in the large ute space.

Up against the likes of the Toyota Hilux SR5, Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Holden Colorado Z-71, the RAM Trucks Australia 1500 offers something the others don’t – the potential of a 4.5-tonne towing capacity.

That engine is no gas guzzler either, capable of combined numbers of 9.9-litres/100km. Those figures are achieved thanks to a number of features on the 1500, including a coil-on-plug distributor-less ignition system and VVT.

It’s now a smarter engine too, designed to save fuel with a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) used to shut off two cylinders on each bank under light load to improve fuel economy. At peak, it’s capable of 291kW of power and 556Nm of torque.

The engine bay also features active grille shutters, which only allow the right amount of cool air to enter engine bay. This means more consistent engine temperatures, faster warm up from cold starts and less aerodynamic drag.

The two new models offer different levels of features, as one would expect, but also offer different cab and tray sizes (as highlighted earlier). In the case of the cabs, the Express is a quad cab (a king cab if you like), while the Laramie is a full crew cab (or dual cab).

The 1500 Express, with its colour matched grille, bumpers and trim is clearly the sporty pickup option, offering cloth interior and a leather lined dash, while the Laramie is all about the chrome and luxury appointments.

It comes with heated and cool ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and rear seats, and features deep pile carpeting and an equipment list that puts some luxury cars to shame.

Crash tested to meet ADR-69 regulations, both model variants are loaded with safety, including trailer brake control, auto activated trailer sway control, and brake ready alert and rain support braking.

Gear changes are delivered by an 8-speed automatic TorqueFlight gearbox, with the RAM 1500 boasting a GVM of 3.33-tonne, with a vehicle weight of 2.42-tonne. Both variants will be sold with a 3.5-tonne towing capacity as standard.

A larger tow ball and some other minor changes, including an alternative axle ratio allow that to be boosted to the 4.5-tonne towing capacity that will make the RAM 1500 a class leader, significantly ahead of its rivals.

RAM Trucks Australia Operations Manager Lenn Kench said they welcomed the impending arrival of big truck competitors like the Chevrolet Silverado. “The Silverado will help the market,” he said.

The Laramie model will be on sale from August, at $99,950 plus on-roads. A V6 diesel model and a ‘Black’ version of the Express are both expected to become available from October.

RAM Trucks Australia General Manager Alex Stewart said the company was hoping to achieve 2,100 vehicle sales of the RAM 1500 in the first full year in market, with a future plan to take a 10 per cent market share for utes above $57,000.

Owned by Ateco Group, RAM Trucks Australia represents the first time an importer has had official factory backing for the RAM brand, with the company licenced to re-manufacture RAM vehicles to right hand drive via its American Special Vehicles arm.

Recognised automotive engineering experts, The Walkinshaw Group, are handling the physical vehicle engineering process, having already worked with Ateco Group on the much larger RAM 2500 and 3500 models.

RAM became a standalone brand within the Fiat Chrysler family in 2009. It’s the fastest growing commercial brand in North America, and to date, has sold more than 770,000 vehicles.

2018 RAM 1500 Express
2018 RAM 1500 Express

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