In a word: Yes. Yes it should.
Yeah, I guess I’d better explain that statement. When I say that a full-size is for everyone, I’m not talking about the person who drives their Prius exactly 15kms each way on the work commute and maybe takes a trip out to Ikea on the weekend for a new shelving unit to complement their cramped apartment’s Feng Shui. I’m talking about wheelers – folks who drive 4WDs and use them in a heavy-duty nature.
Tradies, caravanners, boaties, horse-folk, comp-buggy owners, dirtbike riders, ATV enthusiasts, tourers, mall crawlers, weekend warriors – all of them could benefit from a full-size.
Here’s why: Australia is a massive country and Australians like to pack their vehicles to the gills and tow heavy trailers behind them over long distances. Full-size utes are made for that. Yet they’re still a relative rarity on Aussie tracks.
"RAM Trucks Australia are importing, RHD converting and selling their range of RAMs to the public, and while they’re not cheap, they are about the perfect base for a 4WD tourer or tow pig."
Maybe not for much longer though. RAM Trucks Australia are importing, RHD converting and selling their range of RAMs to the public, and while they’re not cheap, they are about the perfect base for a 4WD tourer or tow pig. Make no mistake about it though, they are trucks in every sense of the word. They’re big, heavy and will almost certainly use more fuel than your Suzuki Jimny. But geez they offer a lot of practicality, and for me, they’re just hard to go past.
Let’s take a closer look at one bloke’s RAM 2500, check out the mods and see why I reckon these things are only going to get more and more popular in the coming years.
First thing that happens when you climb up into the Ram is realise how big it is. Glance to your left and you may catch a glimpse of your passenger off in the distance. Look straight ahead and you’ll find yourself facing about an acre of bonnet. The rear-view mirrors make the body seem to stretch out about a kay behind you. “How the hell am I going to get through suburbia behind the wheel of this?” you think to yourself.
But you know what? Five minutes in the saddle and it’s no different to driving any other 4WD. In fact, the boxiness of the RAM actually makes it easier to mentally adapt to its shape when navigating tight turns. After an hour I was comfy enough to pull into a carpark and reverse park it without even thinking about it.
Sure, it’s a huge vehicle, but if you’re thinking that it’s ‘too big’ to be practical, I’d say you’re dead wrong. In fact, its size is one of the best things about it. You could have the whole family’s camping gear on board, a dirt bike or two, and the partner and kids on board and there’d still be enough room to get comfy.
Also, I have to say that the RHD conversion is not some cut-n-shut job done on the cheap. There is top quality workmanship everywhere, from the totally rebuilt dash to the taillights from an Argentinian version of the same model. You’d never know it started life as a left-hooker.
The 6.7L straight-six Cummins engine is every bit as torquey as you’d imagine. You simply don’t notice things like boats and caravans on the back. And say what you like about American-made vehicles, those guys sure do know how to make a comfy interior. Like the rest of the RAM the innards are an exercise in excess. A billion cupholders, leather all over the shop, cameras, U-connect infotainment, heated and cooled seats, six people seating, the best backseat arrangement I’ve ever seen (the rear seat folds up to reveal a flat cargo area that could fit a swag or a big dog in comfort), ice-boxes built into the sides of the tray and into the floor in the back, electric everything… There’s a lot to like.
We spent a full day driving and I got out at the end with almost no fatigue from a solid eight hours behind the wheel. Make no mistake though, this is still a solid-axle’d workhorse of a vehicle. Designed to carry huge loads during the week and have the family and mutt thrown in on the weekend to take the family and caravan or boat away for some adventure. Would I drive it into underground carparks or along inner-city streets that are too narrow to push anything bigger than a Smart Car down? No. Would I use it for what it’s designed for? Hell yeah.
After living with the RAM for a week I was mightily impressed, so I thought I’d better get a second opinion from someone who lives with one day in and day out.
Steve Etcell runs Automotive Etcellence in Sydney’s West, and knows a thing or three about executing top shelf builds that can do everything from ramping up on a 44 gallon drum to putting a two-tonne 4wd down the quarter-mile quicker than most ricers could ever dream of. In other words: the guy knows how to make the most of a fourby. So why did he choose the RAM for his work and personal vehicle?
It probably had something to do with the fact it can tow nearly seven tonnes of car trailer behind it or a carry a metric buttload of gear in the tray while still be able to take him and his young family out for a play at the beach or in the bush all while returning similar economy to a 70 Series Landcruiser (we averaged around 14L/100km over a variety of terrain and towing); and with a bunch more power. Nearly 300kW and 1084NM (at 1600rpm!) from stock anyone?
Funnily enough, for someone who spends his days spinning spanners, fabricating custom parts by the bucketload and generally just making vehicles bigger, better and badder than they were ever designed to be, Steve has left his RAM fairly stock by his standards. A minor suspension lift and a set of 35in tyres is all he’s deemed it needed. Yeah, sure mate. You know by the time you’re reading this it will have been pulled apart and rebuilt into a monster…
But seriously, Steve reckons that it’s good right out of the box and has no immediate plans to go bananas with it, which I reckon is one hell of an endorsement from this bloke.
SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
Unfortunately it’s not a yes or no answer. The price tag of roughly $120K is double that of a HiLux, and to be honest, the Luxy will do the job for most people; and just quietly, it’s the only reason there isn’t one sitting in my driveway right now.
But if you’re someone who tows heavy, needs to carry a bunch of gear, punch out big distances and want a legit workhorse that’s over-engineered and will get you there, do the job and get you home in comfort, then the price doesn’t matter. A full-size is the only option – and the RAM is only going to get more popular on Aussie tracks.
SPECS 2017 RAM 2500 Tare: 3577kg GVM: 4490kg GCM: 11479kg Towing Capacity: 6989kg Engine: 6.7L 6-cylinder turbo-diesel Torque: 1084Nm @ 1600rpm 4x4 System: Part time Fuel Consumption: 13.5L/100Km as tested Suspension: F/ Live axle coil spring R/ Live axle coil spring Brakes: F/ Disc R/ Disc Seats: 6 3/3 Wheel/tyre: 18in alloy 275/70R18 Style: Dual-Cab Ute DIMENSIONS External Dimensions: 6030 x 2009W x 1974H Wheelbase: 3797mm