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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) launched its newest Ram 1500 at the Detroit motor show this week, but would-be Aussie Ram buyers will have to wait a bit longer to find out if the best-seller will be factory-built in right-hand drive.
Speaking to journalists at the motor show, FCA head of Jeep and Ram brands Mike Manley confirmed that the company is evaluating right-hand-drive production, and that vehicles could arrive on Australian shores if the business case stacks up.
Current-generation Ram 2500 and 3500 pick-ups are converted to right-hand drive locally by independent company American Special Vehicles (ASV), but it is understood that FCA Australia is keen to import factory-built right-hook 1500s to compete in the booming light-commercial market.
Lighter, more aerodynamic, and with a host of new tech, the latest 1500 is set to rival the Ford F-150, the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado, the Toyota Tundra, and more.
The fifth-generation Ram 1500 has shed more than 100kg overall, thanks in part to a new steel chassis frame.
FCA says the 1500 is the most aerodynamic in its class with a claimed 0.357Cd drag coefficient. An active front splitter helped achieve this figure, which lowers itself at about 70km/h to provide more downforce.
While a diesel variant is on the horizon, the pick-up was launched at the Detroit show only in petrol-engine form, carrying over the 227kW/365Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and 294kW/556Nm 5.7-litre V8. Both powerplants are connected to an updated eight-speed automatic transmission.
While the engines remain largely unchanged, some variants get a mild-hybrid belt-driven 48-volt generator/motor that recovers energy under deceleration and feeds it back to start the engine and give a burst of extra torque of up to 122Nm to conserve fuel.
Class-first frequency response dampers are used to improve ride and handling, and segment-topping 378mm front discs are added to aid in braking.
The 1500's payload and towing capacity also put the pick-up amongst the best in the segment with claimed 1043kg and 5783kg figures respectively.
The front-end of the Ram 1500 has also undergone big changes with FCA axing the familiar crosshairs grille and replacing it with modern black fascia.
The off-road-focused 4x4 Rebel variant gets an under-bumper bash plate, wheelarch flares and matt black plastic body protectors.
A massive 12.0-inch touchscreen is the centerpiece of the interior, running off the latest U-connect multimedia system that includes 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capability and a 19-speaker harman/kardon audio system.