Ram has the likes of the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok squarely in its sights with its new 1500 pick-up truck.
The American machine joins its bigger siblings, the 2500 and 3500, which are already imported and converted to right-hand drive by Ateco Automotive. While smaller than the 2500/3500 duo, the 1500 is still a larger offering than the traditional dual-cab utes offered in Australia, measuring 5.8m in length and 2m wide.
Ram will offer two models of the 1500, the Express, priced from $79,950 drive-away initially, and the higher grade Laramie, starting at $99,950 plus on-road costs.
The Express features a smaller ‘Quad Cab’ body and boasts a tray that measures 1950mm long and can carry a 912kg payload. The Laramie gets a larger ‘Crew Cab’ cabin and a smaller 1737mm tray and its payload is rated at 885kg.
But the 1500’s big selling point is towing. Ram claims both models can tow 4500kg, significantly more than any of the rivals the brand is targeting.
The company also says there is 1.2m of width between the rear wheel arches, enough to fit a full-size Australian pallet.
Both the Express and the Laramie will initially be powered by a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 petrol engine that produces 291kW of power and 556Nm of torque. It’s paired exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite the V8 and the sheer size of vehicle, Ram claims a combined 9.9-litres per 100km, thanks in part to the engine’s cylinder deactivation technology.
“The RAM 1500 is built and equipped to meet the changing demands of the Australian ute buyer who are demanding more towing capacity, more space inside and out, and better performance,” says Alex Stewart, general manager of Ram Australia.
Standard equipment for the Express includes 20-inch alloy wheels, spray-in tray liner, heavy duty tow bar, trailer sway control, 5.0-inch UConnect infotainment screen, six-speaker sound system, cloth trim, manual airconditioning, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
Stepping up to the Laramie adds front parking sensors, leather upholstery, 8.4-inch UConnect display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 10-speaker sound system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and climate control aircon.
Both versions are available with the unique Rambox, two lockable and illuminated storage boxes that can be integrated into the tray, that cost $4500 extra on both the Express and Laramie. Ram Australia claims the take-up rate is significantly higher locally than in the US market with 35 per cent of 2500/3500 buyers opting for the Rambox.
The Laramie is due to go on sale in July ahead of the Express in August. Later in the year Ram will add the Express Black Pack, which, as the name implies adds blacked out bumpers, grilles and wheels as well as a sports bonnet and sports exhaust to give the truck a sportier look.
A 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel is also expected to join the range before the end of 2018 and while Stewart didn’t reveal pricing he said it would carry a premium over the V8.
Stewart also played down the chances of the overtly sporty Ram 1500 Rebel joining the local range in the near future, despite importing one in 2017 to test public reaction.
2018 Ram 1500 price and specifications
On sale: July (Laramie), August (Express)
Price: From $79,950 drive-away (Express), $99,950 plus on-road costs (Laramie)
Engine: 5.7-litre V8 petrol
Power: 291kW at 5600rpm
Torque: 556Nm at 3950rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Fuel use: 9.9L/100km