Driven: 2016 RAM 2500 Laramie 4×4 Double Cab

Driven: 2016 RAM 2500 Laramie 4×4 Double Cab

The factory-backed right-hand drive RAMs journey to Australia and New Zealand has taken longer than the distributor would have liked but the wait has been worth it.

This American Beauty started life at the Saltillo Assembly Plant in Mexico before shipping to American Special Vehicles (ASV) in Melbourne where it undergoes a body-off-frame remanufacturing process to OEM standard into a right-hand drive vehicle for Australian and New Zealand buyers.

This process is not an aftermarket conversion, but a full factory backed process where Fiat Chrysler is allowing ASV access to technical drawings meant it could remanufacture the RAM’s firewall and other componentry to OEM standard during the build, and it has also been tested to maintain ensured crashworthiness.

In the motherland, the RAM 2500 is referred to as a 3/4 ton truck, while the RAM 3500 is a one-ton truck, and you guessed it, a RAM 1500 is a called a 1/2 ton truck, which refers to the payload capability of the trucks bed.

In metric, the RAM 2500 has a 917kg payload capacity while it’s sibling the RAM 3500 offer a 1713kg payload in its bed thanks to an even more heavy-duty Hotchkiss rear suspension package.

American Beauty

The American Beauty here resplendent in Red is a RAM 2500 4×4 Crew Cab in the Laramie trim, which offers such niceties as powered ventilated and heated leather seats for the driver and front passenger, heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate air conditioning, and a power sunroof.

There is a small middle bench seat in the front cabin with a lap belt, which is suitable for a small child if needed, but we preferred to keep it folded down and access the central storage unit within as well as the three cupholders!

The Laramie specification also includes a rear power sliding window, tilt steering column, power adjustable foot pedals, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, split folding rear seats with under-seat storage and a 240-Volt 100W invertor auxiliary power outlet.

If ever you find yourself stranded somewhere without accommodation, the back seat inside the Laramie 2500 folds down and out into a bed for the night.

There’s also a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, Bluetooth with voice command, steering wheel mounted audio controls, keyless entry and go, two rear cameras, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring system and Uconnect Navigation.

Externally the RAM 2500 Laramie offers a locking tailgate; power folding heated side mirrors with a memory function, wheel to wheel side steps, 18-inch polished alloy wheels, a heavy-duty spray in bed liner, and automatic rain sensitive wipers.

Other useful features include the front and rear parking sensors, and a twin camera setup that lets you see what’s in the bed of the truck, as well as what is behind the tailgate when reversing into tight spaces.

On the road

For such a big vehicle with a kerb weight of 3577kg and a GVM of 4490kg, it drives very nicely when unladen, thanks to the 1084 Newton metres of torque provided by the 276kW 6.7-litre inline six-cylinder Cummins turbodiesel unit, and the five-link coil sprung rear axle.

The RAM 2500 Laramie 4×4 has a maximum braked towing capacity of 3500kg using a 50mm tow ball, or a 4500kg maximum braked towing capacity using a 70mm tow ball, or a 6989kg maximum braked towing capacity using a pintle connection.

This ability means that the vehicle’s gross combined mass (GCM) of 3.5 tonnes on tow is 7990kg, and with 4.5 tonnes on tow, the GCM is 8990kg. If towing 6989kg with a pintle the GCM is 11,479kg.

So if you need to haul a trailer or horse float with the RAM 2500, you will also need a Class 2 heavy transport licence as the Gross Combined Mass exceeds 6.5 tonne.

The heavy-duty spray lined tray is 1939mm long, or six-foot-four in the old parlance, and it has a width between the wheel arches of 1295mm, so thanks to a depth of 511mm, it will easily swallow two standard Kiwi pallets, with plenty of tie down points to secure them.

Demands respect

At just over 6 metres in length, and 2 metres wide, the RAM 2500’s dimensions and hauling ability demand respect from the person behind the wheel; it’s a big truck with a powerful engine, and while it has car-like comfort, it’s not car-like to drive.

Unladen in wet conditions it will waggle it’s tail if you accelerate too briskly off the line, and no amount of ESC and traction control will save you from stupidity.

The six-cylinder Cummins engine pushes out that more than 1000Nm of torque at 1600 rpm, so pushing the accelerator gently rather than planting the boot hard to the firewall is the order of the day.

Because of its size, just like any other truck, most inner city parking buildings are off limits, but at least you can legally use loading zones, albeit briefly.

Price: $163,000 including GST.

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