Motoring

The EFTM Garage: RAM Trucks 1500 Express Crew Cab

I have been anticipating the arrival of the big RAM in the EFTM Garage for a while now. See, it’s no secret that I’ve got a real soft spot for Yankee metal. Yet, despite this love, I’ve nearly always been disappointed by them. But, like a Baltimore crack addict, I just keep coming back for more, no matter the pain. 

I am happy to report that with the RAM Trucks 1500 there is no need for rehab – this thing is awesome. 

Ram Trucks Australia are a factory-authorised importer and distributor of Ram Trucks for both Australia and New Zealand. With two models available, the RAM 1500 and RAM 2500, RAM Trucks Australia modify each beast to meet Australian design rules. To be fair, meeting these requirements takes a bit more than an afternoon session with the Sidchromes. 

Landing here with the steering wheel on the wrong side, the body is lifted from the chassis before a re-engineered steering system is fitted. The new dash, designed, developed, and produced in Australia, is popped in before the body and chassis are bolted back together. All of this comes with a three year/100,000 km factory warranty.

It goes without saying, this thing looks utterly stunning. Our red example had a street presence like nothing else. An added bonus is the envious glances from Raptor drivers; you can taste the regret.  

Importantly, the RAM isn’t just a one trick pony; this thing actually works really well, … most of the time. It’ll come as no surprise that the big RAM is diabolical in tight car parks or narrow city streets, but that’s not exactly its natural habitat. What this thing is made for is towing and, at this, it is extraordinary. 

For a start, the big RAM tows 4.5 tonnes. This figure isn’t just a headline grabber either. There are standard features fitted that make towing easy and safe, including trailer sway control, factory fitted trailer brake control and an engine monitoring system that allows you to monitor oil temperature, oil pressure, gearbox oil temperature and tyre pressures.

On country roads, the RAM rides far better than any dual cab has the right to. This is down to the long wheelbase and the coil spring rear end. A criticism of the RAM and a consequence of this soft riding coil rear is that it is a little light on payload (830kg max) compared to the Ford Ranger (1022kg) that EFTM recently tested.

I consider this to be a marginal deficiency and nitpicking at best, especially considering that the Ranger is still 1000kg down on towing capacity. When compared to the similarly priced Raptor the situation is even more bleak for the blue oval brigade – 518kg payload/2500kg towing. Throw in the handiness of the RamBox cargo organisation system and it really isn’t a fair comparison. 

A more justifiable criticism can be directed towards the RAM’s build quality. It is rough in patches with exposed castings and bolt heads. Further, the equipment list is a bit spartan, with no sunroof, leather trim, chromed wheels, heated seats or automatic high beam (all of which is available on the higher spec Laramie, but this cloud has a silver lining.

The simple build means simple repairs. Cast an eye over the RAM with a focus on longevity and everywhere you look there is evidence of areas that could be easily repaired, either out on the road or as part of a larger recommissioning. I love this. I hate thinking that my flashy new technological tour de force is a ticking time bomb of ‘un-fixability’. It’s wasteful and stupid.

An Audi S4, for example, needs the gearbox removed to replace the timing chain! This sure won’t be the case with the RAM. Open the bonnet and you’ll be greeted with almost standing room in the engine bay. Things like coil packs are just sitting there, out in the open, ready to be replaced in a jiffy. If the trade-off for this level of serviceability is a few shonky bits under the skin, then sign me up. 

The biggest issue with the RAM is its, er, bigness. The exact same thing that makes it so appealing for many of us will also often prove to be a deal breaker. For example, I just don’t think you’ll be able to wheel this thing around Westfield’s underground car park. I just can’t see it working. 

Despite all of these criticisms, I guess the easiest question to ask someone like me, who gets to try out a whole lot of cars in quick succession is, “Are you happy to move on to the next one?” Well, this one’s easy to answer. RAM Trucks ain’t getting this one back. It’s a keeper. 

Editor: I’m going to have to go get this car from his home like a Repo agent:)

The EFTM Garage: RAM Trucks 1500 Express Crew Cab
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