The Ram 2500 was the first of the massive American pickups to get a factory-approved official ‘remanufacturing’ into right-hand drive for sale in this part of the world, something since expanded to the light (er) duty 1500 you see here, as well as inspiring General Motors to do the same with the Silverado 1500and get Ford looking into doing the F-150 (in Australia, at least).
While it is easy to argue that they are simply unnecessary and way too big for New Zealand, the fact that they are absolute tow monsters and can haul utterly massive loads make them the perfect vehicle for a small niche selection of buyers.
While the diesel versions make a lot of sense if you are regularly towing loads that require you to have a Class 2 license when you hook it on the back of your Ram, the petrol ones make less sense. But if you have a huge boat or a really fat horse that you only occasionally tow, then it becomes more about the cool factor as well …
DAMIEN O’CARROLL / FOOTAGE SUPPLIED
This is how Ram introduces the 1500 Night Edition – with burnouts!
But what do you do if you want your massive American pickup to be more than just a bog-standard load hauler?
* Ballistic Ram 1500 TRX arrives in New Zealand
* Hennessey debuts six-wheeled third-gen F-150 VelociRaptor
* GMSV launches Silverado 2500 HD, has already sold five
* Road test review: Ram 1500 Limited Night Edition
Luckily Ram New Zealand has you covered there as well with a healthy range of accessories available, some of which they recently decided to slather on a Laramie and let us loose in for a while.
That is the cost, in New Zealand dollars of the optional extras sprinkled across the standard 1500 Laramie. And that is before GST is added too.
The two biggest parts of that sum are the headline acts, with the chunky black sports bar and LED lighting costing $ 5000 + GST and the utterly hilarious Mopar exhaust adding $ 4200 + GST. While the sports bar is a matter of taste (personally, I think it looks great, but I am not sure that I’d drop $ 5K on it …), the exhaust is absolutely worth it.
One of the biggest criticisms you could level at the 1500 (other than its unwieldy size and hefty CO2 count, that is) is that it is a bit too quiet – sure the big V8 is nicely rumbly, but it doesn’t ever really sound great. This all changes with the optional exhaust, and the Ram roars and bellows proudly and, er, almost too loudly. It sounds great, but it is not exactly subtle and your neighbors will hate you if you are an early starter …
Other options include a $ 1000 rack kit for the tray and a $ 600 ‘surf carrier’, which is basically just a pair of roof bars, but because the roof of the Ram is taller than you are, they sit across the tray instead.
While $ 10K + GST is a fair amount to drop on optional extras, it really isn’t all that huge when tacked on top of the Laramie’s base price, which is that large number above.
You do get rather a lot for that money though, and that’s not a reference to the Ram’s sheer size – it comes absolutely jammed with kit, including a partial leather interior, a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, a huge 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 10-way electrically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, LED headlights and taillights and much more.
Ram has largely led the way with the leap in interior quality in big American pickups, and the Laramie is very much at the pointy end of that, being far closer to a proper luxury SUV than a bare-bones workhorse.
That is the capacity of the mighty V8 in cubic centimeters.
Pumping out a healthy 291kW of power and 556Nm of torque, the 90-degree pushrod V8 is old school, but oh so refined and smooth. Not to mention nicely rowdy when provoked, thanks to that optional exhaust.
While you would never describe it as ‘frugal’ (it weighs 2617kg and is powered by a petrol V8, after all), Ram claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 12.2L / 100km for the 1500 and that is extremely easy to achieve in day -to-day driving, thanks largely to an effective cylinder shutdown system and a mild hybrid system. Unless you start enjoying the noise that exhaust makes under full-throttle starts, that is …
That’s the amount in kilograms that the 1500 can tow. Which means that if you load it up to its maximum capacity, you will need a Class 2 license to legally drive in on New Zealand roads.
But if you keep it under the Class 1 limit (6000kg combined) and the Ram barely even breaks a sweat, and that is a big part of the appeal of these unnecessarily massive pickups – they make everything effortlessly easy.
Except parking, that is because …
That is the length of the 1500 Laramie in millimeters. At a fraction under 6 meters log, you certainly have to be aware of how you park the beast in a perpendicular or angle park, lest you block half the road behind it. Plus, it is also 2474mm wide, so you could conceivably achieve the same effect in a parallel park too, if you are a particularly careless parker.
Which raises that most common of cries when we test something like this – “Why do we need these things in New Zealand?” Well, the answer to that is – most of us don’t, but some do.
And for those who do actually need a full-size pickup truck, the Ram 1500 is a thoroughly compelling package – it makes towing utterly effortless, it is extremely well-equipped and luxuriously comfortable, and with that rowdy optional exhaust, it now sounds right too.