12 August 2021

Does a massive American pick-up truck work in Canberra?

| James Coleman
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The Ram 1500 Laramie

The Ram 1500 Laramie can be yours for $114,950 plus on-road costs. Photos: James Coleman.

I’m driving a massive American pick-up through the campus of the Australian National University. Students are pointing, professors are parting the curtains in their office windows for a better look, and security guards are on their walkie-talkies chatting about it. Probably.

To my mind, all of them are just waiting for the inevitable moment I get wedged in one of the many tight corners so they can come up and give me a hearty handshake through the window to congratulate me on my choice of vehicle.

The Dodge Ram is more than 5.8 metres and 2,600 kilograms of pure … well, there’s no other word for it, truck. This is the updated DT Series which sits alongside the existing DS Series in the range, but with a new and gleaming face, upgraded interior, and more technology.

The same V8 HEMI heart still beats underneath, though, encased in the same chassis and attached to the same four-wheel-drive system.

The Ram was the first of its American ilk to be sold locally when it arrived in July 2018. The steering wheel was on the wrong side, but Walkinshaw Automotive, the company behind Holden Special Vehicles (HSV), was a bit light-on for work due to the closure of Holden and had agreed to convert the behemoths, crash test one, and then slap them with a three-year/100,000 km factory warranty for good measure.

It’s proven to be an incredibly lucrative business. One is converted to right-hand drive every 12 hours to feed the booming demand.


It is quite refined: suede and tasteful stitching on the seats, an intuitive touchscreen and infotainment system, and classy switchgear.

Sales Manager at Lennock Ram in Phillip, Stacey Nelson, says two main groups of buyers are walking through their doors: “construction workers and grey nomads”.

More often than not, they’re using them for towing boats or caravans. This Laramie model comes with ‘trailer sway control’ and is capable of dragging 4.5 tonnes along behind it, while Stacey points out an even more humongous 2500 model can cope with seven tonnes.

“They’re hoping to get to eight,” she says.

The tray at the back can easily swallow a standard pallet while also including a ‘Rambox’ on either side for extra storage. Maximum payload is only rated at 701 kg, however, or several hundred less than you’d be able to get into the back of a Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger.

But a time will come when Gary and Barbara are not towing their house behind them and are in the city for milk. Hence my little trip through the mini-city of ANU.

This Laramie model scores the optional driver’s assistance package, and boy, am I glad. It means there are cameras everywhere. That said, the turning circle is very impressive, and even for those times when it isn’t quite small enough, there’s always the comforting thought that there isn’t much on earth this thing can’t clamber over. Was that a speed hump or Mount Kosciusko?

It’s quite refined too. You’d expect the caravanning-friendly wing mirrors to create vortexes like those from a jumbo jet, but no. Noise, vibration and harshness are all minimal. There’s suede and tasteful stitching on the seats, an intuitive touchscreen and infotainment system, and classy switchgear.

However, you do get the feeling that the steel ladder frame underpinning it isn’t far removed from a medieval dray cart. And the suspension is plenty composed and plush enough but does still bang slightly over cracks in the tarmac.

A cruise ship like this is obviously better suited to the wide-open sea, so the ANU falls quiet as I head out to the Cotter. For something so heavy, performance is effortless and the steering accurate. The Americans have been building these things for so long now, they’re really quite good at it. Put the picture of the wallowing Cadillac out of your head.

I head back to the city where – only last week – Extinction Rebellion protestors had gathered to warn/annoy commuters about the earth’s dire straits. But again, I’m unfazed.

Because the thing about the new Ram 1500 is that it’s equipped with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, engine stop-start, and cylinder deactivation which turns the HEMI engine into a four-cylinder when cruising. Also, for better economy, it can go down to two-wheel drive.

It might be a beast, but its heart is in the right place.

Don’t enter any underground car parks with height limits below 2 metres. Photo: James Coleman.

2021 Dodge (DT Series) RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab

  • $114,950 plus on-road costs.
  • 5.7-litre V8 petrol mild-hybrid, 291 kW/556 Nm.
  • 8-speed automatic, 2WD high, 4WD auto/high/low.
  • 12.2 l/100 km fuel usage (combined), 98-litre fuel tank.
  • 5-star safety rating.

This car was provided for testing by Lennock Ram in Phillip. Region Media has no commercial arrangement with Lennock.

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Bound to upset more than a few, for different reasons –

“Ford has been forced to double its production output for its new electric F-150”

“Buyers can get their F-150 Lightning with the Pro Power Onboard system, which can power tools and electrical appliances on the worksite (or campsite), while the ute also has the ability to power a home for up to three days in an emergency situation.”


Capital Retro2:44 pm 22 Aug 21

That linked report appears to be about 20 years old.

Capital Retro8:56 am 22 Aug 21

” 0-100 in 3 seconds is way more fun”………………

Why is this common feature of EVs so important? All that is achieved is wearing out of tyres and reducing the charge in the battery. I can’t think of anywhere in Canberra this can be done in normal traffic conditions either, so what’s the point?

privatepublic11:53 am 18 Aug 21

Talk about being cut off. I borrowed a mates Isuzu boggie ( twin axle) 13 tonne tare when moving house a few years back. When loaded it was close to 22 tonnes estimated. A large Ram or Chev long wheelbase with dual wheels was pushing and cutting everyone along my journey. He cut in front of my nose and being so heavy there was little I could do. Hardly noticed the impact while his big (small from my angle) was pushed flat down the road. No damage other than the left fig light in the bullbar, his car chassis was twisted.

If I had the need and the $ would probably go with the Ford. Both nice pieces of machinery no doubt, but the RAM with all that chrome maybe just a bit too nice – with the risk of being dubbed, if not rebadged, the Liberace.

What’s the ‘mild hybrid’ in the specs? … Don’t tell me, I bet it has new-fangled GPS as well, when just looking at the sun (sorry), stars, or a termite mound would have been more than adequate for any self respecting hog tying mule skinning dude.

You won’t be able to show it off, er, put it to work for a while yet, so how about this instead for those looking for a timely project –

“A 15-year-old from Sri Lanka has spent his Covid lockdown building a solar-powered tuk-tuk.”


Capital Retro10:12 am 16 Aug 21

Greta will be impressed.

I note he is only 15 yet he is driving – without a license?

And he wasn’t using any PPE when he was using power tools. Not a good role model.

Malcolm Campbell – a RAM to tow your Bluebird?

Joanne Mitchell – have to say the RAMs I’ve encountered around Canberra have been well behaved (suppose they’d be a real standout otherwise) ; for serial tailgaters I’d nominate Jeep Wranglers

rationalobserver9:31 pm 15 Aug 21

In a move that might result in the ultimate mental meltdown for the PC brigade, I’m told that many of these V8 american vehicles are identifying as EV’s so as to avoid paying fuel excise, and so they can drive on footpaths with impunity.

701Kg payload for something so big. Is it a truck or a penis extender for the not so well endowed?

Jenny Graves4:59 pm 15 Aug 21

Every time I see one of these outsize monsters (not necessarily this brand) parked next to me in a carpark, my heart sinks. There’s just no way you can see whether anything is coming when you reverse from your space. I’ve even had one either side of me, which is even worse. You take your life in your hands and hope that anyone coming will realise that you can’t see.

Drivers of these oversized vehicles are, in my mind, some of the most selfish people in the cities. Fine for rural areas but they have no place in an urban environment.

I have driven my ram 1500 around Canberra lots of times and no one batted an eye lid.

At that price it’d want to be good for a pallet of toilet paper and pulling chicks.

As for the wallowing Cadillac , older family members used to tell of being utterly transfixed in equal measures of wonder and terror as they sailed around southern NSW with a grandiose businessman relative in his beast, invariably well above the speed limit and with country radio blaring.

Finagen_erection1:19 pm 15 Aug 21

Australia … dumping ground for American vehicles which cannot be legal sold in Europe.

Poor emissions and massive size. Sounds like Australia in many ways.

Capital Retro5:03 pm 15 Aug 21

They eat EVs for breakfast.

If you want a truck buy a Kenworth, not an overgrown ute.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart3:32 pm 15 Aug 21

One day when I can afford it, a Prime Mover will be my daily drive. Eccentric and expensive perhaps, but lots of fun!

One of these “lives” in my street.

We had often wondered how they parked it at shopping centres, until we saw them do it.

They use loading zones even though they have no right to, but rely on nobody questioning such a large vehicle in a loading zone.

Of course I can only guess at the thoughts of those people legitimately allowed to use loading zones who find them all taken by people parking their over sized egos.

Capital Retro12:11 pm 15 Aug 21

Driving one of these through ANU grounds is tantamount to taking a chainsaw to a Green’s convention. I wonder how many heads popped.

To use a loading zone one has to display a loading zone permit. Just a matter of time before they get ticketed if they do not display one

Capital Retro12:13 pm 15 Aug 21

If they are registered as goods carrying vehicles they can park in loading zones.

… or it gets “keyed” down both sides by someone, like my mate, who also drives a ‘truck’ and is sick and tired of being unable to legally access loading zones, because selfish, entitled a***holes use them illegally (NOTE: I would never condone committing this act of vandalism, nevertheless it could happen).

Absolutely, CapitalRetro, but I doubt you would register a Nissan Micra as a goods carrying vehicle, but possibly the owner did.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart3:30 pm 15 Aug 21

Goods carrying vehicles (defined in the rules as utes, vans, light trucks etc, from memory and I think even station wagons although I’m not 100% sure of station wagons) are allowed to use loading zones for 30 minutes at a time in the ACT for the purpose of loading and unloading. The definition of loading and unloading is a bit vague and thus not well-enforced. Such vehicles pay slightly higher registration for the privilege and do not need to purchase or display a permit.

So the RAM trucks are allowed to use loading zones, but whether the owner is complying with the rules by using a loading zone space for shopping is debatable.

Other vehicles can use loading zones if they purchase and display a loading zone permit.

If a person earnt enough money to pay for one of these ( of lease it for the business) good for them

“”or it gets “keyed” down both sides “”
In my time reading Riot I don’t think I have read such a nasty comment.

Capital Retro5:06 pm 15 Aug 21

A Nissan Micra (you own one?) can’t be registered as a goods carrying vehicle but the owner could possibly buy permission to use a loading zone – a lot of couriers do this.

Actually CapitalRetro that isn’t quite true. Loading zones are for loading and u loading not for parking. By the letter of the rules even if you are allowed to use one you are mean to unload your goods and if staying come back and move your vehicle.

Of course very difficult for a parking inspector to prove but my point is loading zones are not for parking.

The better choice is the RAM 2500 with the Cummins diesel. Anyway, that is more expensive. For a comparison of towing 3500kg between the RAM, Ford F150 and Chev Silverado in Australia, see this recent video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1aHHYFplug
From what I’ve researched the left to right hand drive conversions end up being better than if the vehicles were made in right hand drive to start with

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