2018 RAM 1500 Ute Review

RAM 1500 Express and Laramie Road Test Review

RAM 1500 Express front

The RAM 1500, first previewed in June 2018, has now launched in Australia. RAM 1500 comes in two model variants, the  RAM 1500 Express and RAM 1500 Laramie.

RAM 1500 sits midway between the current crop of Utes in Australia like the Holden Colorado, Toyota Hilux, Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D Max, and Nissan Navara, and the larger Ute style Pick Up trucks like the Ford F250/350, RAM 2500/3500 etc.

The only direct price competitor for the RAM 1500 Express would be the Toyota LC70 Dual Cab Ute or a number of aftermarket conversions F150 that come from Performax or Harrison F Trucks.

The distinct advantage, and it’s a huge one, is that the RAM 1500 is factory backed. But more on that later.

Pricing is from $79,990 for the RAM 1500 Express and from $99.990 for the RAM 1500 Laramie.

Exterior

The RAM 1500 looks like and is a big American Ute or Pick Up. There are two body styles with two grills and obviously two tray lengths.

RAM 1500 Express is a quad cab. This means that the trade-off is less room in the back seats but a 6’4” tray.

The Express has colour co-ordinated grill surrounds, black cab length tubular side steps, front fog lamps and 20” chrome clad aluminium wheels.

The top spec (in Australia) Laramie is a crew cab style with a 5’7”tray.

It also features a big bold chrome grill, front fog lamps, 20″ chrome clad wheels, wheel to wheel side steps and chrome bumpers and badges.

Both have folding external mirrors, heated and power on the Laramie, both have the optional RAM Box tub available.

RAM 1500 Laramie front seats

Interior

The two variants have different interior fixtures and space.

The Express has cloth seats with manual adjustment, a rear bench seat, a height adjustable steering wheel with phone controls only.

In front of the driver there is a twin dial dash, white on black, with a 3.5″ display cluster between.

Between the two front occupants is a very large centre console but that is offset by a small glove box. The centre console folds upright to form a third front seat.

There are cup holders everywhere.

The rear bench seat is reasonably comfortable and the room is similar to a standard dual cab Ute.

Overall head room is excellent and it will fit 5 in comfort, six at a pinch.

The Laramie is a much more comfortable and luxurious space. See the features list below to look at what it has over the Express.

The electronic leather seats are very comfortable, with additional lumbar support.

The steering wheel is heated and has audio controls as well. The dash has a 7″ multi cluster between the larger dials and multi dials around.

The rear seats in the crew cab have enough room for taller passengers to sit in comfort.

This is where the American Utes have it all over the standard size Utes, the interior space is leagues in front.

 RAM Australia features

Features

Let’s have a look at the Laramie features. It has:

  • Leather seats
  • Power adjustable front seats
  • Heated leather steering wheel
  • Larger dash and centre screen at (8.4″ opposed to 3.5″)
  • Apple Car Play/Android Auto
  • UCONNECT 4C with navigation
  • 10 speaker stereo with steering wheel audio controls
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated rear seats
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Electro-chromatic Rear View Mirror
  • Sunroof
  • Dual zone climate control A/C
  • Rear air vents
  • Under rear seat storage
  • Fold flat rear seats
  • Electric sliding rear window with defroster
  • Rear 12V outlets

RAM 1500 Laramie 4WD badge

Engine and Drive

The RAM 1500 has the 5.7 litre HEMI V8 producing 291kW/556Nm. This can drive all four wheels through an innovative rotary e-shift dial that controls the TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission.

Keeping the engine at optimum operating temperature is a clever RAM grill shutter system that opens front louvres as necessary to cool the engine.

The fuel use is slightly less than you might expect but not only varies with a heavy right foot, but with the choice of optional diff ratios on the Laramie.

The 3.21 diff (that has a 3500kg tow rating) has an ADR figure of 9.9L/100K and the 3.92 diff (that has a tow rating of 4500kg) uses 12.2L/100km.

Note that the RAM 1500 runs disc brakes front and back, which is unusual for Utes in Australia.

On the launch we only had the Laramie version available.

On road the throaty V8 Hemi was a delight to drive. The electronic steering (recalibrated for Australia) is fairly direct and responsive.

There is a reasonable degree of road feedback through the steering.

The ride is more akin to a luxury SUV rather than a Ute. It simply doesn’t have the choppiness of a typical unladen Ute and was smooth and quiet.

The RAM 1500 is not a 4WD as such, more a heavy duty tow vehicle or an outback touring vehicle. It does have a push button dual range system, different in each variant.

The shortcomings of road going tyres, no hill descent control and no rear diff lock was evident on the launch test drive where we attempted to drive up and down some slippery slopes (yes we had rain) and became a passenger at times when the tyres filled with mud and the rear LSD simply gave up.

RAM 1500 RAMBOXES

Safety

The RAM 1500 hasn’t been tested for ANCAP as they haven’t selected it yet. However that doesn’t mean it isn’t full of the usual safety gear. This includes:

  • Airbags; Driver, Front Passenger, Front Seat Side & Curtain
  • Fog Light (both), Automatic Headlamps and Bi-function Projector Headlamps on Laramie
  • Front Stability Control
  • ABS Brakes, Ready Alert Braking
  • Traction Control
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution
  • Trailer Sway Control,
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Collapsible Steering Column
  • Front Seat Belt Height Adjustment
  • Child Seat Anchorage Points
  • Parksense Park Assist System – Rear on the Express and  Front & Rear ParkviewTM on the Laramie
  • Rear Back-Up Camera Laramie only
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring

Good Bits:

  • V8 Hemi Engine
  • Ride and quietness
  • Towing capacity

Not so good Bits:

  • Pricey
  • Ridiculous foot brake as park brake
  • Lacking a few features for the price

RAM 1500 Laramie rear

Summary

The key advantage Ram 1500 is that the RAM 1500 is a factory built and backed vehicle for Australia.

The conversion from LHD to RHD is done here on a production line in Victoria, using Australian components.

However right from the start of the production line in the States the 1500 is designated as an Australian vehicle.

This combined with the Australia wide dealer network (Ateco tells us there will be 40 dealers around Australia by year end) and the fact that potential buyers can go to the RAM catalogue and order parts and accessories, means that the RAM has a level of backing that can’t be currently matched.

Facts And Figures: 2018 RAM 1500

  • Engine: 5.7 litre petrol V8 producing 291Kw/556Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto
  • Safety: TBA
  • Warranty: 3 years 100k Roadside Assist
  • Origin: Remanufactured in Australia
  • Price: from $79,950 – $147,950



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