It’s fair to say that when it comes to NZ roads, there’s not much that can top the RAM in terms of size and overall numbers. It boasts Best‐in‐class towing and Best‐in‐class power which makes their tag line ‘Eats Utes for breakfast’ rather fitting. Anyway, the 1500 Express (let’s call this the ‘budget RAM’) has now been given a Crew Cab upgrade and the result is higher specification, more space and a more sportier appearance – basically, more RAM to play with – oh yeah!
Our review model came in Granite Crystal, which when combined with a colour-coded grille with blackened out mesh, black RAM badge, black 20-inch feet with an excessive amount of Hankook rubber surround, matte black running boards and a tailgate with a billboard size RAM nameplate. Overall, the RAM1500 Express Crew cab truck’s footprint is virtually the same size as two king-size beds and arguably more fun, featuring the larger cabin as found on the Laramie, (so more head, shoulder and legroom for your passengers than any other five‐seat ute on the market right now) and a flatbed that is 5’7” long.
The interior is utilitarian with plenty of hard plastics and harder wearing materials but it’s comfortable too. Unfortunately for us here in NZ the bench seat confederation up front has been ‘fun-policed’ out but the console that replaces it (basically the back of the flooded down centre seat) is unsurprisingly large and had a couple of USB points.
The right-hand-drive conversion that’s been done in Australia is seamless, you’d never know it left the States on the wrong side and comes with an 8.4” Uconnect Touchscreen system featuring Apple CarPlay and Google Android, a beasty stereo, dual-zone air conditioning and storage bins and drawers all over the place.
The gear knob is a dial on the dashboard, which does take a little getting used to (as does the foot-lever handbrake, but I personally couldn’t get used to the gear shift buttons on the steering wheel. Another RAM quirk I guess.
The big truck’s 5.7litre V8 Hemi is a thing of beauty, it looks rather small when you lift up the power bonnet, but it certainly offers mammoth torque – 556Nm in fact and it can tow up to 4.5-tonnes of whatever other toys you may own.
My model came with RAM’s optional RamBoxes, although in fairness, they should be the first box you tick with this truck. RAM call them Cargo Management Systems but basically they are lockable storage areas that run down both sides of the bed and are great for loose items such as a quick grocery shop or tools.
On the subject of grocery’s, as part of my week’s review, I tool the RAM to the store, width-wise it fits in between the carpark lines but lengthwise, well let’s just say there’s a bit of an overlap.
This brings me on to what the RAM was like to live with. First and foremost, it’s fun. Big, bold, powerful and handsome are a few adjectives that spring to mind. You look down on most things that make up our traffic system and across at a variety of trucks. Initially, its size is daunting but it doesn’t take long to grow accustomed to its sheer dominance, also other vehicles tend to move out of the way, it does demand respect though from you and others. Of course, on the whole, it’s too big for downtown driving/parking/manoeuvring but on the plus side, there’s space enough for everyone and everything when free of the city confines. The ride is as comfortable as a sofa and it handles the corners without much body roll, it seems to love the unsealed stuff too.
The family enjoyed it, a lot. Heaps of room and a large sense of security, which is a plus in any book, and with sales last year that boasted almost 300% growth it seems that Kiwi’s like it too.
Deals can apparently be had from RAM’s 13-strong NZ dealer network and the RAM 1500 Express Crew V8 Hemi is priced from $104,990 plus ORC. Every RAM is backed by a three year/100,000km warranty with Roadside Assistance and requires a service every 12 months or 12,000km.