First drive: 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie in the UAE
We wanted a vehicle to take a trip from Dubai down to Abu Dhabi for some event, so we hit up Chrysler. They offered a 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie, a truck we last drove back in 2012, but figured we’ll give it another look. Nothing much has changed, has it? Well, some things have changed.
Visually, we wouldn’t have guessed it, but after comparing the new Laramie with the old one, it seems the front bumper has been ever-so-slightly reshaped. Our tester also had some non-standard add-ons such as the cool-but-non-functional bonnet vents, side-steps, bed-divider, foldable bed cover and extra chrome bits. And it’s still massively massive.
Inside, the most obvious change is the lack of a gear-shifter, replaced by a fancy dial-selector next to the class-leading UConnect multimedia touchscreen that’s also new, both done as part of an update in 2013. Soft-touch areas on the dash-top and upper front doors continue, but now there’s soft-touch on the upper rear doors as well, matching with the sofa-like leather seats. For an “old” model, the Ram is miles ahead of the all-new Chevy Silverado in terms of premium cabin ambience, even with its hard-plastic bits. And it remains the only truck to offer the “RamBox” lockable storage boxes on either side of the bed.
Still powered by a 5.7-litre “Hemi” V8 that churns out 395 hp at 5600 rpm and 552 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm, it pulls well and sounds great. Another new feature is the 8-speed automatic. Helped by a cylinder-deactivation system, fuel consumption hovers at around 16.5 litres/100 km — relatively high, but not bad at all for such a big truck, especially when Land Cruisers and Silverados are worse.
On the road, it handles rather good for its size, showing only the slightest hint of lumpiness on sharp quick turns, but otherwise moving with well-controlled body motions. Yet another new feature on the latest Laramie is height-adjustable suspension, so it actually lowers for easier entry/exit as well as at highway speeds for better aerodynamics.
It’s fairly quiet at speeds up to 100 kph, but as you approach 140 kph and beyond, it can get somewhat loud, no doubt due to that brick-like front-end and those huge mirrors. The ride also suffers a bit at those speeds, but it’s pretty smooth at city speeds around town.
It’s not as hard to manouevre as you think, once you get used to its size. It’s initially intimidating, but we were slipping through gaps within a day, with lane-changes aided by blind-spot mirrors and a rear camera for reverse parking. The steering is mildly weighted, as is the brake pedal, but both can be worked well enough with some intuition.
While we didn’t take it off-road, clearly it is very capable with its big engine, big tyres and big ground clearance. There’s low-range gearing and the suspension can be raised even further, adding to the already-generous approach angle, unlike the fixed-height Silverado Z71’s relatively ground-scraping front bumper. Just take care of that length, and it’ll manage just fine on the dunes.
The Ram 1500 has been around visually unchanged for little more than half a decade now, but it’s quietly been upgraded over the years while keeping intact all that was good with it in the first place. There’s already a “new” Ram Laramie announced for this year, but it seems to be mostly a visual upgrade with a new grille and a bigger logo on the tailgate. It’s easily the best truck available right now, at least until the advanced new 2015 Ford F-150 drops in.
For prices and specs, visit the Ram buyer guide.