2022 RAM 1500 Laramie road test review

Static shot of the RAM 1500 Laramie four-door ute

Bruce Newton

Posted January 25, 2022


Massive pick-up trucks are quickly becoming yet another American habit Australians are adopting with enthusiasm.

While these massive dual-cab utes are everyday fare on US roads, they are now selling in Australia in numbers that defy their equally-sizable price tags.

The new RAM 1500 Laramie is a behemoth. Measuring six metres long, weighing in at 2617kg, and powered by a thumping V8 engine, the mountain of machine costs well north of $100K.

In return, it provides sprawling space in the cabin, towing capacity that any Grey Nomad would desire and road-dominating ability only an 18-wheeler could outdo.

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The RAM 1500 can tow up to 4500kg.
Despite its size, the RAM 1500's payload is less than many regular four-door utes.
The RAM 1500 Laramie 's popularity shows that size does matter.

What does the RAM 1500 Laramie cost?

The RAM 1500 Laramie will set you back $119,900 plus on-road costs. If that sounds a lot, consider it’s more expensive sibling the Limited is $142,950.

In its home country the 1500’s pricing starts below US$50,000, so clearly there’s a fair old impost for local buyers.

On top of the exchange rate and shipping costs there’s the significant matter of pulling the RAM apart and switching the steering wheel to the right-hand side when it lands in Australia.

This is an engineering program performed in Melbourne by a company called Walkinshaw Automotive Group and it really does a great job. That process is fully approved by RAM, as is distribution to dealers by one of Australia’s most reputable independent auto companies, the Ateco Group.

By the way Walkinshaw also converts the RAM’s arch-rival, the Chevrolet Silverado, to right-hand drive for the local General Motors subsidiary, GMSV.

Anyway, I digress. For all that money, you get a vehicle with a 5.7-litre petrol engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, permanent four-wheel drive with low range, a five-seat cabin and a mega 4500kg braked towing capacity.

That’s 1000kg more than the best claims for the most popular dual cabs such as the Ford Ranger. But conversely, the RAM 1500 can’t carry as much payload. Its limited to about 830kg, where the Toyota HiLux and the like can haul a tonne or more.

Key equipment fitted to the RAM 1500 Laramie include a huge portrait-style 12-inch touch-screen that dominates the centre stack, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control with rear vents and rear seats that recline 10 degrees and have ventilation and heating outboard. Of course, there’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connection.

The RAM 1500 comes with only a three-year/100,00km warranty, which is a bit underwhelming for a work-and-play truck like this. Service intervals are 12 months/12,000km.

How safe is the RAM 1500 Laramie?

The default measure of safety in the Aussie auto market is an ANCAP rating. The RAM 1500 Laramie doesn’t get one and is unlikely to. Instead we can refer to reputable equivalent US testing which shows it is a very solid performer.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the RAM a 2021 top safety pick. It earned a Good rating in all crashworthiness tests. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the RAM four or the maximum five stars across its criteria.

So far so good, but it’s when you delve into the safety equipment list the RAM 1500 Laramie looks a bit average. While it comes standard with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), six airbags and a reversing camera, there’s a whole heap of other worthy stuff such as a 360 degree camera wrapped up in a $4950 driver assistance pack.

Worse, you can’t even order it at the moment because of the global semiconductor shortage that’s seriously impacted the auto industry.

 

The RAM 1500 is painstakingly converted to right-hand drive by Walkiinshaw Automotive in Melbourne.
The RAM 1500 Laramie is priced from $119,900 plus on-road costs.

What’s the RAM 1500 Laramie like inside?

If you step out of a HiLux, Ranger or any other smaller dual cab into the RAM Laramie 1500 the amount of space is going to blow you away.

This is a big truck for a big country and big people. Four passengers can sweep imperiously along, immune to the vagaries of the outside world. Only the fifth passenger in the centre-rear seat gets anything equating to an average deal.

Everything is over-sized in here, even the bucket-, sorry cup-holders. The enormous lidded-bin between the front seats is a work of flexible, customisable art.

The massive touchscreen can divide into multiple segments so you can – for instance – show both a map and what podcast you’re playing at the same time. It’s a touch of Tesla high-tech.

There’s also an upmarket vibe in the cabin. The seats and dashboard are covered in stitched leather, which helps make this beast look and feel like it’s worth all that money.   .

What’s under the bonnet?

The RAM Laramie 1500 is powered by a 291kW/565Nm 5.7-litre pushrod V8 engine that comes with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance, stop-start and cylinder deactivation.

It attaches to an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission for which you select gears by push button. There is no true manual mode just the ability to hold gears, which is valuable for towing.

BorgWarner’s latest torque-on-demand transfer case with lock-up clutch sits at the heart of the drivetrain. The Laramie can run in rear-wheel drive, set-and-forget 4x4 auto where it adds drive to the front wheels on demand, 4x4 high-range and 4x4 low-range.

Despite the mega-weight, the RAM is a vehicle with strong engine performance. It’s always eager to get going and never has a sense of hesitation. All that is accompanied by a cool V8 beat. 

 

There's no shortage of space inside the RAM 1500 .
The rear seats can recline up to 10 degrees and the outer pair are heated and ventilated.

Is the RAM 1500 Laramie efficient?

Depends how you define efficient. RAM claims the 1500 Laramie will average 12.2L/100km, which is pretty incredible for a vehicle of this size and weight.

Mid-teens are more the go and that’s before you add a load or hitch a trailer up to the back. And by the way, if you are towing, then check out the GCMs, GVMs and so on to make sure you’re legal.

How does the RAM 1500 Laramie drive?

Better than it should. For such a big, heavy beast (might have mentioned that before), the RAM Laramie 1500 really has a nice, cohesive feel to it.

It’s home is the open road and it’s equally comfortable on bitumen or gravel. This would be a great choice for that around Australia trip, cruising comfortably on-high, devouring kilometres and all the while looking after its passengers in style..

One reason it is so comfortable is it uses a more sophisticated coil rear suspension rather than leaf springs ladder-frame pick-ups are usually fitted with.

Because it so long and wide and has a 14m turning circle the RAM is not the best vehicle for suburbia and shopping centres. It will often swallow up two carpark spaces or have its tail poke too far into the traffic flow.

Off-road it’s not that great either. It’s too big for tight bush tracks and its ultra-long wheelbase makes grounding on even mild humps and ruts a real threat. 

Should I buy one?

It’s easy to suspect some people are buying these big US pick-ups based on their imperious style rather than a pressing need and if so they’re laying down substantial bucks for the wrong reason.

The RAM 1500 Laramie is a specialist tool that really works as a tow vehicle and for long hauls. For most of us the ubiquitous one-tonne utes like HiLux and Ranger will comfortably do the job cheaper and more economically.

But if your needs align with the RAM’s talents then go for it. It’s one import from the USA that’s worth considering.

 

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.


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