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Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7 Hemi Crew Cab 4x4: Rough and smooth
Mar 13,2017 - Last updated at Mar 13,2017
Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
By Ghaith Madadha
Formerly known under the Dodge badge and launched in its fourth generation as the core model of a newly established, specialised and standalone eponymous truck brand, the Ram 1500 is a key player in the pickup truck market, which accounts for 13 per cent of Middle East vehicle sales. Perhaps the brand’s most important market outside of North America, where it is popular as a work truck and private vehicle, the Ram 1500 is popular in the Middle East as a lifestyle vehicle and rugged, utilitarian and spacious SUV alternatives.
Expanded from three to nine versions from affordable entry-level Express to luxurious Longhorn and Limited guises, the recently launched 2017 Ram 1500 model range sets out to meet a wide variety of customer requirements, and is offered rear and four wheel drive and single Regular or double Crew cab variations. Competing in the same American dominated full size pickup segment as the Chevrolet Silverado and impressive new aluminium bodied Ford F-150, the Ram 1500 standing out among competitors for its distinctively nostalgic design, high capabilities, generous equipment and dimensions and a distinctly smooth ride its segment.
Well proportion in terms of width and height, the Ram 1500’s distinctly aggressive and charismatic design is dominated by its vast upright grille, brawny double bulge bonnet and lower, moody squinting and seemingly forward jutting headlights. Finished in chrome with honeycomb mesh and with large crosshair design and 50cm alloy wheels as driven in luxurious Laramie trim, the 1500’s grille and raised bonnet bring to mind a classic American truck aesthetic. Meanwhile, the lower front wings and lights both serve to reduce the perception of bulk above the wheel-arches, and improve driving visibility.
Powered by the Chrysler group’s familiar and also charismatic naturally-aspirated 5.7-litre V8 Hemi engine, the Ram 1500 is brisk and brawny, hauling its estimated near 2.5-tonne mass with a confident lunge off the line and through the 0-100km dash in around 7-seconds. A compact but old school 16-valve pushrod OHV design, the Ram’s engine features robust cast iron block and aluminium head construction with more modern variable valve timing. Tuned for 18BHP and 10lb/ft torque more than in service in Dodge Challenger and Charger models, the Ram’s rumbling Hemi develops 390BHP at 5600rpm and 410lb/ft at 3950rpm.
With maximum torque developed earlier and its higher power output peaking later, the Ram 1500’s Hemi iteration is a more well rounded one. Abundant throughout the rev range from idle and through a rich mid-range the Ram’s 5.7-litre engine is more progressive and rewarding, as it continues to pile on the power to 5600rpm, rather than 5200rpm. Nevertheless a relatively low revving engine with 5800rpm rev limit, the 1500 benefits immeasurably from its 8-speed ZF gearbox — introduced for 2014 — with closer and more ratios allowing for smoother and more consistent delivery.
Rugged yet smmoth
With its 8-speed gearbox providing better low-end responses, mid-range flexibility, top-end refinement and fuel efficiency than previous incarnations, the current 1500 also benefits from automatic grille shutters, which reduce drag and further improve efficiency. Refined for a vast and tough body on frame truck that is at its core a capable workhorse, the Ram 1500 uses sophisticated double wishbone suspension in front like most competitors, but is unique for combining a traditional and rugged live rear axle with coil spring and five-link suspension, in place of less nuanced and more industrial leaf springs.
A smooth and refined ride in its segment, the Ram 1500’s coil spring rear suspension makes it more settled and buttoned down than expected over imperfections, bumps and cracks, with more progressive vertical body movements. Refined and geared for lots of lock, its steering may lack nuanced road feel, but is more accurate and intuitive than many similar vehicles, which stability at speed reassuring. A tall and heavy vehicle with expected body lean through corners, the 1500 is, however, well controlled for its class, with balanced weighting and intuitive power distribution across all four wheels when driven in 4WD Auto mode.
Robust and refined
With, nuanced ride, body control, chassis refinement, more accurate steering and its terrific in-class driving visibility owing to its low front wings, the Ram 1500 seemingly shrinks around the driver for a vehicle so large. Both on road and off-road, this allows one to place it better and with more confidence. Driven through desert conditions, the 1500’s ample power and torque, combined with both high and low fulltime four wheel drive settings, allowed to confidently and easily tackle sandy conditions and steep dunes, with a locking centre differential and limited slip rear differential sending power where it’s needed for traction and to maintain progress.
A capable and rugged off-road vehicle and work truck, the 1500 accommodates a cargo volume of 1424-litres, 689kg payload and can tow up to 4608kg, as driven. Practical and comfortable, it features an optional cargo bed cover and lockable boxes in along the sides of the cargo bed. Meanwhile, it is well appointed and has a premium feel inside, with quality plastics, leather upholstery, trim textures and a feeling of well assembled robustness and quality. Spacious in every direction for passengers, its front seats are supportive, comfortable and well adjustable, while layouts are intuitively user friendly bar for the small gearshift buttons positioned at the front of the steering wheel.
Engine: 5.7-litre, cast-iron block/aluminium head, in-line V8-cylinders
Bore x Stroke: 99.5 x 90.9mm
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Valve-train: 16-valve, OHV, variable timing
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive, low ratio transfer
Driveline: Locking centre & limited slip rear differentials
Gear ratios: 1st 4.71 2nd 3.14 3rd 2.10 4th 1.67 5th 1.29 6th 1.0 7th 0.84 8th 0.67
Reverse/final drive/low-range ratios: 3.3/3.92/2.64
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 390 (395)  @5600rpm
Specific power: 69BHP/litre
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 410 (556) @3950rpm
Specific torque: 98.3Nm/litre
0-97km/h: 7-seconds (estimate)*
Rev limit: 5800rpm
Minimum fuel requirement: 91RON
Track, F/R: 1732/1714mm
Ground clearance: 219mm
Approach/break-over/departure angles: 17.8°/24.7°/20.5°
Headroom, F/R: 1041/1013mm
Legroom, F/R: 1041/1023mm
Shoulder room, F/R: 1676/1668mm
Hip room, F/R: 1605/1605mm
Cargo bed height, length, width: 508, 1712, 1295-1686mm
Load floor height: 885mm
Cargo volume: 1424-litres
Fuel capacity: 98-litres
Kerb weight: 2440kg (est.)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 3129kg
Towing maximum: 4608kg
Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
Steering ratio: 19.1
Turning circle: 12.1-metres
Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones, coil springs/five-link, live axle, coil springs
Brakes, F/R: Disc, 336 x 28mm/drum, 352 x 22mm
Brake callipers, F/R: Twin/single
*According to trucktrend.com
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