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Ram 1500 Laramie 2019 review

The Ram 1500 comes with a ridiculous amount of street presence.
Dan Pugh
Marketing manager

27 Dec 2018 • 8 min read

The three best-selling vehicles in the USA over the past two years were all pick-up trucks. The Ford F-Series was number one, followed by the Chevy Silverado and the Ram Pickup.

And Australia is not far behind the States, what with our love affair with Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger. It appears our taste for trucks is only getting - dare I say it -  bigger. 

Enter, then, the Ram 1500

For my weekend test, I drove the top-of-the-range Laramie. In keeping with the big theme it’s priced at a hefty $104,450, which includes $4500 for the optional 'RamBoxes'. It comes with a heap of other kit, too, including a powered sunroof (not a full panoramic sunroof), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, rear seat air vents, and remote engine start. 

It might eat smaller utes for breakfast, but how will it handle navigating the suburban streets and playing family taxi to three kids for the weekend? Let's find out. 

Saturday

The girls had dance classes all day, so my son and I had the day to hang out. On the agenda was a bike ride, kayaking and a beach swim before picking up the girls and heading back home for dinner. 

If being conspicuous is your thing, then the Ram 1500 might be just your cup of tea. It comes with a ridiculous amount of street presence. Dressed in 'Brilliant Black', the Laramie’s exterior is adorned with thick slabs of chrome everywhere you look - with much of it used to create the immense grille up front, no doubt designed to intimidate. It’s high, too, with the top edge of the bonnet sitting almost shoulder height (I’m 180cm tall). 

The chrome details extend from the grille to the huge wing mirrors, door handles and 20-inch wheels, and to the chrome bumpers and full-length side steps. It conveys a more metro-bling look than that of hard working rugged work horse.

  • The Laramie’s exterior is adorned with thick slabs of chrome everywhere you look. The Laramie’s exterior is adorned with thick slabs of chrome everywhere you look.
  • The 1500 Laramie scores 20-inch alloy wheels. The 1500 Laramie scores 20-inch alloy wheels.
  • The huge wing mirrors, door handles, bumpers and side steps also get the chrome treatment. The huge wing mirrors, door handles, bumpers and side steps also get the chrome treatment.

The kids thought this truck was the greatest thing ever, and before even venturing inside the cabin they had decided the 1500 should become the new full-time family taxi. With space and ride height at the top of their family taxi wish-list, the 1500 was their equivalent of Christmas on four wheels.  

Climbing in, we loaded up the 1712mm long tub (1.4 cubic metres of storage space) with our bikes and gear. The soft tri-fold tonneau cover looks good and was easy to unlock, folding back neatly with minimal effort. 

There’s a bulky cargo divider in the tub, which, in theory, is a smart way to segregate your gear, but it can take up much-needed space, particularly when you need make use of the entire tray. The Ram Boxes located either side of the tub above the rear wheels are a handy additional storage solution which we made good use of over the weekend.

  • The tray is able to hold up to 1.4 cubic metres of storage. The tray is able to hold up to 1.4 cubic metres of storage.
  • Above each rear wheel is a Ram Box, handy for additional storage. Above each rear wheel is a Ram Box, handy for additional storage.

Inside, we discovered a spacious cabin well suited to large humans. The backseat easily fits three large adults with inches of head and legroom to spare. What’s more, it’s actually incredibly comfortable back there, with leather heated seats accompanied by air vents and a flip-down centre armrest with cup holders to match the pair on the floor in front of the seats. 

Up front, there is an excellent amount of storage, with big door pockets including bottle holders, cup holders between the front seats, as well as an enormous centre-console bin. The heated and cooled power adjustable front seats provide decent levels of comfort and provide a commanding view out all sides of the vehicle.

  • Up front, there's an excellent amount of storage. Up front, there's an excellent amount of storage.
  • The backseat easily fits three large adults with inches of head and legroom to spare. The backseat easily fits three large adults with inches of head and legroom to spare.

The Laramie was easier to manoeuvre around the suburban back streets than expected, with a smooth ride on all road surfaces and good composure around bends for its size. The brakes had a progressive feel and provided plenty of confidence to pull the big ute up when needed. There was obviously no getting around the feeling of size, but it managed to account for itself surprisingly well.

After dropping off the girls at dance, my son and I spent the day in and out of the Laramie on various trips between the bike track, the lake and the beach, allowing me plenty of opportunities to park this monster. Overall, it was not as painful as I’d anticipated.

The 1500 Laramie comes with responsive electric power-assisted steering, with 3.5 turns lock to lock, which, along with the reversing camera and parking sensors (front and rear), helped slot the Laramie with little fuss into most street parking spots. Length wasn’t the issue so much as width (2017mm), which proved tricky in local council and shopping centre car parks, in some cases leaving us with barely enough room to get in or out.  

Sunday

A light schedule today for the Laramie, with a trip to the park in the morning followed by the beach in the afternoon. 

Under the enormous bonnet lives a 5.7-litre 'Hemi' V8 pumping out a serious 291kW of power (at 5600rpm) and 556Nm of torque (at 3950rpm). Matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, it directs power to all four wheels.

The Hemi engine features cylinder deactivation so it can run on six or four cylinders under light loads, as denoted by the eco-mode light on the dash which was displayed most of the weekend. The Ram’s eight-speed 'TorqueFlite' automatic gearbox was wonderfully smooth and made light work of keeping the big truck cruising along. 

The 5.7-litre 'Hemi' V8 makes 291kW/556Nm. The 5.7-litre 'Hemi' V8 makes 291kW/556Nm.

The engine’s impressive output figures and V8 rumble don't manage to translate into any sort of earth-shattering performance, though. From a standing start the acceleration is moderate, but it manages to gather speed at a decent pace for a big truck. A heavier right foot elicits an incredibly satisfying noise from the V8, but with the resulting fuel consumption it’s best done sparingly. 

If you’re looking for something to tow all your toys you’d be hard pressed to go past the 1500 Laramie. With its heavy duty tow kit as standard, it has a maximum towing capability of 3.5 tonnes.

The RAM 1500’s safety story is not exactly a strong one, though. At the time of writing, there was no ANCAP or Euro NCAP safety rating to go off. The safety kit in the 1500 includes six air bags (dual front, front-side and full-length curtain) and electronic stability control that includes trailer-sway control and electronic brake force distribution.

More notable was the absence of advanced safety features like AEB, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance or rear cross-traffic alert. Having experienced its ride height and size, I would think these safety features are sorely needed. 

For parents with young children, there are three top-tether points, but no ISOFIX baby seat attachments

Our weekend of cruising took in a mixture of suburban roads and some city driving. All up, we covered around 360km, with the trip computer displaying a fuel consumption reading of 14.7L/100km. Ram claims a combined fuel consumption of 9.9L/100km for the variant we were testing, which puts our weekend test figure almost 50 per cent higher.

The trip computer was reading an average fuel consumption of 14.7L/100km at the end of the weekend. The trip computer was reading an average fuel consumption of 14.7L/100km at the end of the weekend.


The Wrap

Call it a guilty pleasure, but a weekend cruising around in this massive American beast had me smiling from ear to ear. It's hard not to get sucked in by the Laramie's size, space and comfort.

If you're looking for something that looks formidable and offers the capacity to tow a horse float, then this fits the bill nicely. Of course, you will have to look past the price tag, lack of key safety kit and the limited amount parking options...

Is this car this or that? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Likes

Massive cabin space
That big V8
Commanding road presence

Dislikes

It's pricey
Lack of safety kit
Navigating parking lots

Scores

Dan:

3.7

The Kids:

$99,950 - $104,450

Based on new car retail price

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