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Ram 1500 2024 review: Big Horn

Daily driver score


Adventure score


Big trucks are nothing new in Australia. Ford used to assemble three versions of the F-series locally for about 20 years from the 1970s and imported the tenth-gen model from Brazil during the early 2000s.

But we have vehicle distributor Ateco Automotive and its ambitious left- to right-hand drive (RHD) conversion of Ram Trucks' Ram to thank for today’s booming interest in full-sized dual-cab pick-ups, as local production powers past the 30,000-unit milestone.

Little wonder then that Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota have since followed suit with their own outsourced conversions of the Silverado, F-150 and Tundra, respectively.

Yet Ram still rules the sales roost. We see if the recently-released DT 1500 Big Horn entry-level model cuts the (American) mustard as keenly as the brilliant Laramie version.

Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 4/10

If this was a review of the mid-range 1500 Laramie, the score would read 8/10 for value. But for all its great points, the Big Horn halves that, despite being essentially the same package and cheaper.

Confused? Keep reading, because you’ll need to know the broader brand backstory to fully understand what’s going on and why.

Originating in North America as an F-Series-fighting Dodge by Chrysler in 1981, Ram became a stand-alone marque in 2010. Local sales commenced in 2015, using US-sourced but Australian RHD conversion knowhow by American Special Vehicles (ASV, and part-owned by Walkinshaw Automotive Group at the time), first with the 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks, before their volume-selling 1500 sibling changed buying habits from mid-2018.

Luring Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Raptor buyers away with pricing that kicked off from just $79,950 drive-away, the base 1500 Express helped prise open the full-sized ute market with power and swagger – if not much swag.

Comes with a 8.4-inch touchscreen. Comes with a 8.4-inch touchscreen.

But this was with the 2008-vintage old-shape Ram DS series, which by 2020 was in its twilight years, so a few missing bits and pieces was okay. The far-more advanced DT successor promised better. But an equally-low price wasn't one of them.

By late 2023, the DS 1500 Express Quad Cab made way for the longer-bodied and more-highly specified DT 1500 Big Horn Crew Cab, and started from a lofty $119,950 (all prices quoted from here on are before on-road costs).

This represents a $34K jump (or $21K if matched body-for-body length) over the old ute.

Now, the good news is that there are night-and-day differences between old and new-gen Rams to help justify the price gap.

Despite similar proportions, the DT is a complete redesign inside, outside and (mostly) underneath, and is over 100kg lighter yet stronger, partly due to aluminium used for the bonnet and tailgate, amongst other areas.

18-inch alloy wheels. 18-inch alloy wheels.

As before, the Ram features coil-sprung rear suspension instead of truck-style leaf springs like most rivals, as well as – until 2025’s Series II facelift lands – Chrysler’s fantastic Hemi V8.

Looking at the spec sheet, there's also a lot to appreciate.

Buying Big Horn brings you 4WD, lovely cloth upholstery, heating for the front seats and steering wheel, push-button start, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, an advanced multimedia interface with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, remote central locking, five USB ports (three As and two Cs), heated/powered folding exterior mirrors, rear privacy glass, an electrically sliding back window, a rear bedliner, retractable bed step, tie-down points and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Sporting a retractable bed step. Sporting a retractable bed step.

Plus, there’s a choice of a 1700mm (five-feet/seven-inch or 5’7”) or 1930mm (6’4”) extended rear tub for only $1000 extra, as tested. Great for dirt bikes, apparently.

But here’s where things become unstuck for the Big Horn.

While you do get airbags (dual front, front-side and front/rear curtain items), trailer sway control, hill-start assist and stability/traction controls for your $120K, the cheapest 1500 is woefully under-equipped, losing equipment you’d expect in any truck costing half as much.

These include important safety omissions such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), blind-spot alert, lane-keep systems and LED headlights with auto high beams.

Furthermore, on the convenience front, items like adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, a driver’s seat lumbar support, front-seat height adjustment, climate control for the air-con, a head-up display, digital radio, satellite navigation, wireless smartphone charging, rain-sensing wipers and a 12-volt outlet in the tub are missing.

Buying Big Horn brings you, lovely cloth upholstery. Buying Big Horn brings you, lovely cloth upholstery.

These are disappointing spec gaps that seriously undermine the Big Horn’s value. Hence our 4/10 score in this department. The Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium (from $130,500) only costs about $10K extra, but is embarrassingly more-richly equipped, while the more-basic F-150 XLT at least starts from just $106,950 and still manages to include AEB and other driver-assist safety features.

 Seriously, lose the heated seats/steering wheel, glossy alloys, retractable mirrors and opening rear window. Safety shouldn't be compromised.

Which brings us to the 8/10-for-value Ram 1500 Laramie, from $137,950.

This is the grade to get for most of the Big Horn's missing safety and convenience gear, plus luxuries including leather, a sunroof, powered front seats, heated rear seats, electric side steps, a 35 per cent larger touchscreen, 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio, a 360-degree camera view, adjustable pedals and 20-inch alloys to help justify the extra $18K. And you’ll need the $140K-plus F-150 Lariat for comparable Ford spec.

Of course, people can easily, even happily, live without most of the lost items, as we did during our Big Horn adventure, but the absent safety tech can be the difference between having and avoiding an accident.

Thus, we hesitate in recommending the base 1500 unless you're completely okay with reduced kit, but resoundingly endorse the Laramie, because from here on in the Ram meets and often exceeds expectations.

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design? 9/10

Handsome and consistent in design, the DT is arguably the most elegant big American truck out there, brandishing a strong and purposeful stance, yet without the exaggerated aggression of the slightly-smaller and narrower DS it replaces.

Skilfully sculptured flanks provide a taut, muscular appearance that manages to sidestep the intimidating bulk of rival body-on-frame utes. This is a shockingly friendly-looking truck.

Just keep in mind that, at over six metres long and nearly 2.1m wide, the Ram does not quite fit into regular Aussie parking bays, with nearly a metre of overhang to contend with. Driving this in Melbourne's CBD meant few legitimate spots to leave it, so the 1500's best for the 'burbs or the bush.

  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design
  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design
  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design
  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Design

At the other end of the size spectrum, even the comparatively tiny 18-inch alloys don’t seem too ridiculous beneath the massive wheel arches, though the Laramie’s 20s do a much-better job of filling them up just right.

If you’re still on the fence about extending that 1500 lease by $18K for the latter, just take a look at those weedy halogen headlight bulbs, demonstrating the Big Horn’s confounding cost-cutting measures in dull incandescence.

Never mind. At least the good-looking vibes continue inside the big Ram’s incredibly spacious cabin.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside? 7/10

At first glance, the Big Horn really impresses inside.

Wide enough for three well-nourished adults to spread out over the rear bench. Wide enough for a belted driver to be unable to reach the door on the other side. Wide enough to revel in the luxury of space.

Along with vast girth, there are two other things that immediately stand out. The impeccable RHD conversion and the Italianate style and presentation of the dashboard and instrumentation. Especially compared to rival US trucks. Are previous overlords Fiat's fingerprints all over this interior? Maybe.

American carmakers are not known for their build quality, but the 1500’s fit and finish are beyond reproach. That’s an advantage of having the cabin pulled apart and put back together by specialists ASV.

Now, given the Ram’s considerable dimensions and height, getting in is no hardship (aided by well-placed grab handles) and finding the right driving position is pretty straightforward.

The dash layout is conventional but surprisingly well executed, with clear and logical placement of most of the major controls, from the handsome leather-clad multi-adjustable steering wheel and analogue-rich instrumentation with just the right amount of digital support displays, to the smart, space-saving location of the auto gear selector.

The latter allows for a third front occupant but we'll get to why that's not possible further down.

Other pluses include a multimedia system accessed via an 8.4-inch touchscreen that’s fast and intuitive, simple heating and ventilation controls, extendable sunvisors, pillar-sited (but not overhead) grab handles and a general quality feel to all the switchgear.

Lots of thought has gone into the Ram’s interior presentation.

  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality
  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality
  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality
  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Practicality

Other plus points include broad and inviting front seats fitted with neck-support head-restraint adjustability and grey flannel-style cloth that adds mid-century American class. Frankly it’s lovelier than most leathers.

But then you begin noticing what’s been left out.

Inexplicably, the Big Horn’s driver’s seat lacks height as well as a lumbar-support function, while the steering column is tilt- rather than full-height adjustable. Potential buyers at either end of the size spectrum need to try first before they buy. Laramie and up include both.

The same applies to the lack of keyless entry, necessitating fiddling with the remote key every time, as well as the AWOL digital radio, wireless smartphone charging and rain-sensing wipers. C’mon, this is a six-figure vehicle.

And while few LHD to RHD compromises exist (even the bonnet release is on the correct side for Australia), one of them is the Pentastar-shaped driver’s side mirror, which cuts out some crucial vision compared to its fully-formed and rhomboidal left-side counterpart.

Considering how colossally-sized the cabin is, storage is just okay, with the largest being a pair of shallow glove boxes ahead of the front passenger and small centre bin within the extra-bulky centre armrest unit.

Speaking of which, it’s fixed in, so does not raise like some other centre armrests to reveal a middle-front seating position. This is an Australian Design Rules stipulation, so renders what could be a spacious six-seater into a regular five-seater. Pity considering all that width.

Some aftermarket auto accessory outfits such as SCD Performance in Queensland can supply the necessary modifications including the absent seatbelt assemblies for an inexpensive six-seater conversion (as the Ram was originally built to be), but these are not valid in every state and territory so may be difficult to re-register. 

  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Tray 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Tray
  • 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Tray 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn I Tray

Over in the rear seat area, doors that seem to open 90 degrees reveal limousine levels of room. It’s airy and inviting if a little sparse. Plus, the huge windows roll all the way down out of sight.

The three-person wide bench feels adequate despite the fixed backrest angle while the thin cushion provides sufficient thigh support. But can the centre occupant ever win? Although few cabins are as vast, they're stuck with a tombstone-shaped protrusion that's a poor excuse for a headrest.

Note the cushion tips up to expose two deep under-floor storage lockers. The jack is below the driver’s seat so the backrest does not fold.

Speaking of storage, there are two levels of it in each back door, along with between the wide centre console vent outlets and inside the map pockets behind the front seats. A pair of cupholders reside in the centre armrest.

There are no overhead grab handles. though. Just the ones in the pillars next to each outboard occupant's face and no rear USB ports or reading lights. At least the opening back window is a boon for ventilation.

Further back, the tray is rated at 1.7 cubic metres, and comes with a bed step for easier and safer access, a sprayed bedliner, lighting, four fixed tie-down hooks, a damped tailgate with central locking and a towbar with wiring, but everything else, like a folding hard tonneau, costs extra, of course.

Still, with V8 power and a 4500kg towing capacity, the Big Horn does exactly what it says on the label.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission? 10/10

The Big Horn’s Hemi V8 is pretty much the same as found in any other Ram 1500, meaning a 5.7-litre 90-degree overhead-valve V8, making the same 291kW of power (at 5600rpm) and 556Nm of torque (at 3950rpm) as before.

Tipping the scales at 2572kg, our Big Horn 6’4” version boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 113.1kW/tonne. Even with very low mileage, we managed a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.5 seconds.

What is new is the 'eTorque' mild-hybrid system, which introduces a belt-driven generator and 48-volt battery for a slight boost in torque as well as brake-energy recuperation and stop/start functionality in the name of efficiency.

A 5.7-litre 90-degree overhead-valve V8 engine. A 5.7-litre 90-degree overhead-valve V8 engine.

Drive is sent to either the rear wheels in 2WD mode or all four wheels in 4WD mode via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. A full-time on-demand transfer case is fitted, offering '2WD High', '4WD Auto' and '4WD High' / '4WD Low' along with a locking rear differential.

Suspension is by A-arms and coil springs up front and a five-link coil-sprung arrangement out back, with a solid rear axle. Ground clearance is 217mm, while approach, ramp-over and departure angles are 20, 18.7 (5’7”model) / 16.9 (6’4” model) and 21.7 degrees, respectively.

Payload is 878kg in our 6’4” version and towing capacity is 4500kg using the correct 70mm tow ball.

 Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range? 6/10

As mentioned earlier, the 1500’s eTorque mild-hybrid system aims to improve efficiency. To that end, you’ll find a stop/start function and brake-energy recuperation, as well as cylinder-deactivation at speed, turning this into a four-pot Hemi under light cruising loads.

Ram says the combined cycle average fuel consumption figure is 12.2 litres per 100km, which equates to a carbon dioxide emission reading of 283 grams/km.

Running on standard unleaded petrol, the theoretical range average is over 800km, thanks to a sizeable 98-litre fuel tank. Note that E85 ethanol petrol is not recommended.

We managed 14.6L/100km pump-to-pump, which was just 0.6L/100km more than the 1500’s trip computer displayed. That's not bad considering the performance testing we carried out.

However, no towing was conducted during our time with the Big Horn. Doing so would have produced much higher consumption figures all-around.

Driving – What's it like to drive? 8/10

If the Big Horn’s pleasing exterior design and considerate interior presentation don’t get you, then surely what’s behind that grille will.

From the moment the quadrophonic Hemi V8 begins to burble away at idle, you’re transported back to a bygone era of steampunk industrialism. This engine is its own, living sentient being.

Defying the Big Horn’s sheer size and mass, the 1500 bolts off the line like a herd of startled elephants, and will barrel along at a surprisingly rapid pace if given its head. Beware that you’re likely travelling faster than you might realise.

It’s worth calling out how beautifully calibrated the responsive eight-speed auto seems, as you’re barely aware of how effortlessly the whole truck glides along.

Being a big American, we expected the steering to be a bit dozy and the handling a handful, but the opposite is true. While neither sharp nor tactile, the Ram feels prompt yet predictably composed, even when cornering at speed, providing just enough feedback to maintain confidence as well as decorum. There’s a reassuring tautness to the chassis. Handy when zipping through heavy traffic, tight turns or fast sweeping arcs.

Actually, despite a massive turning circle being quite a hindrance if attempting a quick inner-city U-turn, somehow the Ram is light and easy to manoeuvre.

Does a great job absorbing all manner of bumps, potholes and the like. Does a great job absorbing all manner of bumps, potholes and the like.

They may be a bit too small in their huge wheel arches, but the wheels seem about right for smothering out our roads, while the suspension does a great job absorbing all manner of bumps, potholes and the like.

And, at highway speeds, the coil-sprung Ram maintains that planted solidity, even when unladen, and pulls up quickly when you need to stop fast. It’s very clear the engineers calibrated the engine, suspension and brakes to work in unison.

A brief stint away from bitumen showed effective stability and traction-control intervention over gravel, as well as enough clearance and suspension articulation for easy going over mud and sand.

The blocky and bluff design does create a bit of wind roar out on the open highway, and the protruding mirrors don’t help, but that V8 roar more than compensates. The 1500 possesses a honed sophistication we did not anticipate. Which makes the specification omissions in the Big Horn even harder to swallow, given how talented and enjoyable the latest-gen Ram is to drive and travel in.  

Its absent safety kit plays on your mind no matter where you’re driving, since you could really use the extra help of a blind-spot monitor when changing lanes, the assurance of AEB in tedious stop/start traffic or the reassurance of adaptive cruise control during an otherwise relaxing long driving stint.

If this lack of driver-assist tech isn’t an issue, the Big Horn performs the role of civilised and capable full-sized truck brilliantly. But it won’t have your back quite like the Laramie would.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating? 3/10

No ANCAP crash-test rating exists for the DT Ram 1500.

In North America, a Crew Cab version tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the series a “Top Safety Pick” in 2022.

Unlike the Laramie, the 1500 Big Horn does not offer safety items like AEB of any sort, blind-spot alert, lane-keep systems and LED headlights with auto high beams.

It does come with six airbags (dual front, dual front side and front/rear curtain), as well as anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, hill-start assist, electronic stability control, traction control, a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, (non-adaptive) cruise control, trailer sway control, auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers and tyre-pressure monitors.

There is also a trio of ISOFIX latches and child-seat anchorage points located within the rear bench.

Note, too, that our example’s cruise control constantly ran at 4.0km/h above our chosen speed. Odd.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs? 4/10

Sadly, all Ram models trail their rivals, with a warranty of only three years or 100,000km, as well as three years of roadside assistance. The norm is now five years, unlimited kilometres.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 12,000km and Ram has provided us with indicative service pricing for the first three years, stressing actual numbers will vary from dealer to dealer in line with labour rates and sundry costs.

There is no capped-price servicing regime, but expect a bill of around $426 for the first service, $835 for the second and back to $426 for the third. Not outrageous for a truck of this scale.

The Ram DT 1500 Big Horn does exactly what it’s supposed to do, but comes at a cost.

Despite being comfortable, practical, powerful, enjoyable to drive and just so damn likeable overall, there are too many absent safety and convenience features, making it difficult to recommend this base grade.

But, do please consider the Laramie instead, because for under $20K extra, it roundly remedies the Big Horn’s most serious omissions, making it one of the most complete full-sized luxury utes available.

Laramie is where the value lies in Ram. More is more in this case.


Based on new car retail price


Daily driver score


Adventure score


adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide


Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.