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

James Coleman 12 August 2021 138
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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138 Responses to Does a massive American pick-up truck work in Canberra?
whatwik whatwik 5:56 pm 25 Aug 21

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.”

Michael Skupien Michael Skupien 3:16 pm 22 Aug 21

GVM requirements.

Also, if you're the size of Stuart Little by all means drive something small. If you're over 200cm tall there are very little options besides the American pick ups for comfort.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:44 pm 22 Aug 21

    That linked report appears to be about 20 years old.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:56 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?

Ben Henderson Ben Henderson 8:17 am 22 Aug 21

What exactly are people carrying in these??

    Andrew Remely Andrew Remely 8:59 am 22 Aug 21

    Ben Henderson thier defective egos ??

    Steve Crispin Steve Crispin 9:58 am 22 Aug 21

    Ben Henderson People claim they need them to carry boats, but I suspect this is an exaggeration. The standard 4wd ute is so huge these days that unless you're towing a millionaires yacht, there'd be little it couldnt do, with over 500Nm torque and weighing close to 2 tonnes and specifically designed for this sort of work.

    Ciaran Quinn Ciaran Quinn 10:34 am 22 Aug 21

    Ben Henderson artisanal cheese

privatepublic privatepublic 11:53 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.

Ben Garden Ben Garden 8:11 am 18 Aug 21

These are

Totally unexciting. Anyone seen the new EV hummer and soon to be released cybertruck? 0-100 in 3 seconds is way more fun, it to mention will cost 1/4 the price to charge

whatwik whatwik 9:56 am 17 Aug 21

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.

Benjamin Rose Benjamin Rose 6:45 am 17 Aug 21

Perfect for tailgating the person doing the speed limit in the left lane.

David George David George 11:58 pm 16 Aug 21

Yep. All day. Great cruiser if hwy driving with loads

Tania Thurlow Tania Thurlow 7:45 pm 16 Aug 21

Gary Doohan red rocket 🚀

Sharna Harvey Sharna Harvey 4:34 pm 16 Aug 21

I see a fair few in Brisbane daily.

Ray Mcgee Ray Mcgee 4:30 pm 16 Aug 21

I love them, all good to me!

But these are no where near the sizes of actual American pick ups, these are the smaller versions.

Robert Mair Robert Mair 1:21 pm 16 Aug 21

Noticed that lengthwise they take up 1 1/2 car park spaces! Pretty daunting size!

Chris Bartle Chris Bartle 1:16 pm 16 Aug 21

Good luck trying to park in Canberra with them.

Tony Tony Tony Tony 12:01 pm 16 Aug 21

How the hell can U Park it,,& who can afford 100 K??

    Emily Gill Emily Gill 1:51 pm 16 Aug 21

    Tony Tony I work for Lennock Motors and drive these Rams all the time, it’s so easy to park

    Rodney Richardson Rodney Richardson 4:15 pm 16 Aug 21

    They are a lot more than $100k

whatwik whatwik 10:24 am 16 Aug 21

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.

James Nichols James Nichols 10:14 am 16 Aug 21

"The tray at the back can easily swallow a standard pallet"

Wow! Much carrying capacity. Very manly.

Yvonne Wearn McCarthy Yvonne Wearn McCarthy 10:05 am 16 Aug 21

Don't have to be a BIG TRUCK to tailgate. Biggest issue on the road is tailgating and right lane drivers AND slow drivers who drive under the limits.

Ray Zak Ray Zak 9:36 am 16 Aug 21

I was cut off badly by one of these road monsters and he nearly took out the right side of my vehicle. Some drivers are aggressive because the truck is so large and many love to tailgate. Probably have a small appendage so the big truck makes up for this deficiency.LOL😂

    Rod Johns Rod Johns 9:44 am 16 Aug 21

    Ray Zak nah just making sure that those that drive with gloves and sunroofs get out of the way.

    Jari Hentila Jari Hentila 8:19 pm 17 Aug 21

    Ray Zak it’s not just the owners drivers of these overly large suv utes , it’s almost all drivers of large suv/utes who think they have right of way on roads, time for licence and attitude testing of these inconsiderate fellow constituents.

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