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RAM 1500 2021 review: Warlock

The RAM Warlock is monstrously large and tow a house.
EXPERT RATING
6.9
The Dodge RAM has a fourth version, the terribly angry Warlock. With a big Hemi V8 and a towing capacity to suit even the most enthusiastic tradie or caravan-dragger, it's a big American truck with a proper warranty and none of the private import worries.

You're the boss. You've worked hard, built up your business, got a few people working for you. You've just rolled in to work after an overseas trip (work with me here, this whole intro makes a lot of wild assumptions). You've just dropped big bucks on a brand new ute and you're feeling pretty proud of yourself.

And then you realise the apprentices are all in Ranger Wildtraks and HiLux SR5s. Your car barely stands apart. How on earth are people going to pick who's the boss?

Now, I'm assuming you're a giant jerk in this scenario, so let me climb down and assure you I am only spit-balling here.

A bunch of people ask me who are the people buying huge American trucks and I really don't know. I'm guessing some people have a genuine use for them and some folks just want a big truck.

RAM now has a fourth variant of its 1500 for sale, the aggressively-named Warlock. Knowing I have strong opinions about such cars, I was awarded the big red unit for the week to, I imagine, see if I will work out what they're all about.

Ram 1500 2021: Warlock (black/Grey/HYD Blue)
Safety rating
Engine Type5.7L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$107,450

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The $104,550 (before on-road costs) Warlock is based on the RAM 1500 Crew Cab, which means a bigger cab in exchange for a shorter tub out back. Included for this hefty outlay are 20-inch wheels, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, tub liner, reversing camera, remote central locking, cruise control, electric front seats, sat nav, partial leather trim (but a plastic steering wheel!), heated door mirrors, halogen headlights (I mean... ), electric front seats and a full-size spare slung under the tray.

It's worth pointing out you can get a petrol base model RAM 1500 for just under $80,000, before on-road costs.

The big multimedia screen nicely frames the giant vented bonnet. (image: Peter Anderson) The big multimedia screen nicely frames the giant vented bonnet. (image: Peter Anderson)

An 8.0-inch screen swims in the acreage that is the dashboard, and is powered by FCA's 'UConnect', which is the little software engine that isn't very good.

Look, it does the job, but feels very old and crusty, and at least you can tell your friends they inflict the same system on Maserati and Fiat 500 owners. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is along for the ride via the USB port at the base of the dash.

The Warlock comes with halogen headlights. (image: Peter Anderson) The Warlock comes with halogen headlights. (image: Peter Anderson)

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

If you're not a big fan of chrome, the traditional RAM shiny schnoz is only found on the trop-spec 1500 Laramie these days. The Warlock's black pack is a welcome addition, I reckon, softening both the headlight shape and the grille’s imposing vibe, even beyond the body colour treatment of the base Express trim level.

Also added are matte-black rock sliders with grippy steps (most welcome they are, too) and less than subtle WARLOCK decals. Because of its size even the massive, black 20-inch rims struggle to fill the gaping arches.

The hideous blinged-up chrome grille of the standard RAM is replaced with a tough-looking unpainted plastic version. (image: Peter Anderson) The hideous blinged-up chrome grille of the standard RAM is replaced with a tough-looking unpainted plastic version. (image: Peter Anderson)

To put how high this car is into context, it was parked behind a brand spanking new Kia Sorento GT-Line one afternoon. As I returned from a walk with the animal we own (that apparently passes for a dog), I noticed that the prow of the vented bonnet was almost as high as the trailing edge of the Korean car's rear wing.

That car is not small or particularly low. You eyeball bus drivers in the RAM. I could stand in the tub (with its folding tonneau cover open, naturally) and clear the gutters on my house. Maybe a massive car like this is more useful than I first thought.

The cabin is quite plasticky, with a predictably butch design. It's a long way across, with a massive tub under the armrest. There's not much else to say about it, apart from the fact it's very big and not very interesting. But boy, is it easy to clean.

I could stand in the tub (with its folding tonneau cover open, naturally) and clear the gutters on my house. (image: Peter Anderson) I could stand in the tub (with its folding tonneau cover open, naturally) and clear the gutters on my house. (image: Peter Anderson)

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

You want cupholders? You get them. Four in the obvious places, with four more spread across the two rear doors and even cup placement spots on the fold down rear tailgate.

The rear seats are a genuine three across proposition with legroom to burn. Under the rear seats is a handy storage box, too.

The rear seats are a genuine three across proposition with legroom to burn. (image: Peter Anderson) The rear seats are a genuine three across proposition with legroom to burn. (image: Peter Anderson)

The huge tub is supplemented by the 'RAMbox' "cargo management system." Like the Battlestar Galactica, these open up like wings to receive cargo which RAM Australia suggests might be ice and a few frosty ones of your favourite soft beverage. Or even the largest Starbucks cup (see what I did there? Yes, I have been rewatching the 21st Century reboot of BSG, why do you ask?).

Together they add 210 litres, which rivals the space of a small hatchback. That's on top of the 1712mm (5'7") bed length with straight sides that are 1295mm apart for easy load carrying.

A clever movable partition that, unusually, doesn't require several university degrees to operate, is included with the Warlock.

  • The huge tub is supplemented by the 'RAMbox' "cargo management system." (image: Peter Anderson) The huge tub is supplemented by the 'RAMbox' "cargo management system." (image: Peter Anderson)
  • Together they add 210 litres, which rivals the space of a small hatchback. (image: Peter Anderson) Together they add 210 litres, which rivals the space of a small hatchback. (image: Peter Anderson)
  • That's on top of the 1712mm (5'7") bed length with straight sides that are 1295mm apart for easy load carrying. (image: Peter Anderson) That's on top of the 1712mm (5'7") bed length with straight sides that are 1295mm apart for easy load carrying. (image: Peter Anderson)

The total length of the RAM Warlock is a massive 5.85m, which I think is the longest thing I've ever driven. So, yes, it's a nightmare to park with its 2097mm width, too. Total tray volume is 1400 litres and the turning circle is 12.1 metres.

Towing capacity is rated at up to 4500kg (not a typo). The kerb weight of 2630kg, along with an 820kg payload and maxed-out towing yields a gross combination mass of 7237kg. The GVM is a not inconsiderable 3450kg.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Under the bonnet, which is more of a roof structure suitable for a large concert venue, beats the classic Hemi V8. All 5.7-litres of it. In this version it spins up 291kW and 556Nm of torque. Power goes to all four wheels, of course.

It does have low-range and a centre-locking diff and is no doubt quite impressive off-road, as long as there are six-lane off-road highways, I guess.

An eight-speed automatic transmission gets the power to the wheels and, curiously, has a Jaguar-style rotary selector.

Under the bonnet, which is more of a roof structure suitable for a large concert venue, beats the classic Hemi V8. All 5.7-litres of it. (image: Peter Anderson) Under the bonnet, which is more of a roof structure suitable for a large concert venue, beats the classic Hemi V8. All 5.7-litres of it. (image: Peter Anderson)

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Returning to the Battlestar Galactica concept, this thing knows how to burn fuel. The official combined cycle figure is a relatively modest 12.2L/100km but my testing resulted in a surprising 19.7L/100km on the trip computer.

In fairness, my test route totalled around 400km and comprised a 90km return trip along Sydney's M4 motorway, with the rest made up of numerous short, traffic-heavy trips spread across the Sydney and Blue Mountains ends of the trip.

Will you ever see 12.2L/100km in a Hemi V8-powered RAM? Unless you're on a steady run down the Hume, probably not. This highlights the fundamental flaw in the standard lab test used to calculate all official combined figures, and my rule of thumb is to expect a 30 per cent increase over the official figure versus real world combined use, so 19.7 isn’t a massive deviation.

With a 98-litre tank you'll still (almost) cover 500km at that rate. One imagines hooking up a 4.5-tonne load, or taking advantage of the 820kg payload, could be cause for celebration in Saudi Arabia.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

Not a lot to say on the safety front. You get six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, rear parking sensors, trailer sway control and, uh, that's it.

No AEB, blind spot monitoring or anything much to help you manage the risk of driving such a large thing.

It comes with a full-size alloy spare. (image: Peter Anderson) It comes with a full-size alloy spare. (image: Peter Anderson)

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

As with the safety gear, the ownership proposition is on the old-school side, but that's to be expected in a machine its importers probably didn't expect to sell at the rate of hundreds per month.

You get a three-year/100,000km warranty and roadside assist for the duration.

And that's it. However, given this car is a factory-sanctioned (locally) right-hand drive converted machine, unlike some of its privately-imported and converted rivals, it actually has a warranty. So you can't complain too much.

You can't get away from the size, heft, thirst and cost of a RAM Warlock. (image: Peter Anderson) You can't get away from the size, heft, thirst and cost of a RAM Warlock. (image: Peter Anderson)

What's it like to drive?   7/10

One thing I have noticed about RAM and F-Series drivers is that they are generally quite courteous. Yes, there's the usual rogue moron element, but you get that in Mitsubishi Mirage owners, too. It didn't take long for me to work out why.

The sheer size of this thing means you need everyone's co-operation. One false move and you'll be extracting hatchbacks from the rock sliders and SUVs from its gaping maw.

Driving like a lunatic is self-defeating and any accident would get you charged with unauthorised use of a weapon of mass destruction. I was worried its 2600kg kerb weight and full tank of 98 litres would crack my driveway.

Because of its size even the massive, black 20-inch rims struggle to fill the gaping arches. (image: Peter Anderson) Because of its size even the massive, black 20-inch rims struggle to fill the gaping arches. (image: Peter Anderson)

The wing mirrors are so big that, with only a little fettling, a pair of MX-5 doors would serve perfectly well as caps on the back. Which also means you've got amazing vision all around, with plenty of glass.

Being so high up you can have casual conversations with Hino drivers and bus drivers but that commanding position also affords a virtually unmatched view down the road.

Steering is predictably slow and the plastic steering wheel is a bit nasty in the hands. The big wide seats are surprisingly supportive, though, and the big multimedia screen nicely frames the giant vented bonnet.

The cabin is quite plasticky, with a predictably butch design. (image: Peter Anderson) The cabin is quite plasticky, with a predictably butch design. (image: Peter Anderson)

It's tricky to park without front cameras or parking sensors, so all of these things really need sorting.

In true American style, there's little road feel and the brake pedal feels over-assisted, so there have been no ill-effects during the steering wheel relocation.

The throttle is pretty handy, though, with good response at low revs as you might expect from a naturally aspirated Hemi V8. It does get the rig moving cleanly and smoothly, and if you could hear it over the induction roar, that would be grand.

The big wide seats are surprisingly supportive. (image: Peter Anderson) The big wide seats are surprisingly supportive. (image: Peter Anderson)

The eight-speed transmission is well tuned to the weight and power delivery, which is a nice treat, too. And on the motorway, it's super-quiet apart from the mirrors rustling away in the airflow.

And at all times, the ride is very composed on those big baggy tyres, the obvious trade-off being a pretty lazy approach to cornering and roundabouts.

Verdict

You can't get away from the size, heft, thirst and cost of a RAM Warlock, but a week in its clutches convinced me that if you want one, they're not a fabulously bad idea, climate vandalism excepted. I wouldn't buy one in a million years but was surprised by the wide cross-section of fans it garnered. Our next-door neighbour, my wife's cabal of Instagram designers, small business owners, and perhaps most surprisingly, a minister at my church.

I don't understand the appeal beyond its utility but can't argue with the idea that it's an icon and a super-useful tool for the super-tradie. The Warlock may have a hefty price-tag, but it's cheaper than its rivals, has a proper warranty to go with it and a surprising number of dealers who will look after you.

The Warlock is probably more a lifestyle machine than a load-lugging workhorse, but I'm almost ashamed to say that it almost won me over.

Pricing guides

$94,950
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$79,950
Highest Price
$109,950

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Express (4X4) 5.7L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $79,950 2021 Ram 1500 2021 Express (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Express (4X4) Black Pack 5.7L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $84,950 2021 Ram 1500 2021 Express (4X4) Black Pack Pricing and Specs
Express (4X4) BLK PAK W/Rboxes 5.7L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $89,450 2021 Ram 1500 2021 Express (4X4) BLK PAK W/Rboxes Pricing and Specs
Express (4X4) With Rambox 5.7L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $84,450 2021 Ram 1500 2021 Express (4X4) With Rambox Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.9
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality9
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption6
Safety6
Ownership6
Driving7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$107,450

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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