Over recent years, despite being 'rather substantial' when it comes to New Zealand's narrow roads, RAM trucks have actually become quite a regular sight on our highways and byways.
They're easy to spot due to their size and chrome grilles, and that they are probably towing something of equal girth, however there's a new model in town that may have slipped by unnoticed.
The 2022 RAM Limited boasts 'stealth' looks and a massive leap in cabin refinement - and RAM NZ let us try it out.
Thanks to it detouring to Australia to be professionally converted to right hand drive (with the manufacturers blessing), in terms of RAM model years, we play a bit of catch up here in little ol' NZ, which means that the 2022 model is the 2020/2021. However, don't think that it's lagging in up-to-the-minute features in any way, shape or form. Believe me, for those that have crawled over the impressive previous model, you will be delighted with what's now on offer.
The 'walkaround' takes a little longer than before as this new RAM 1500's exterior dimensions have increased to 5.97L (+27mm) x 2.47W (+447mm) - but it's easier for those basketball players out there, as it's now 1.97m tall (-44mm). Personally, I appreciate the extra width, but I'll get to that soon.
The overall body style remains truck-like but now, thanks to some clever smoothing and wind redirection, it slips through the air with a drag coefficient of 0.357 - so equal to a mountain bike rider (but this is way more fun). Gone is the chrome bling on the nose, replaced with a blackened out 'stealth' grille (with active grille shutters) and black air vents down on the lower valance. It's profile now comes with electric auto deploy side steps that flick out when you open the door, like rolling out the red carpet - although they're black, not red.
The rear features a 5'7" bed - flatbed that is - which is about the same size as a double bed, and Ramboxes each side for those smaller items. They're drainable too, so can be filled with ice for beverages. And the tailgate can now be opened using the keyfob.
On the subject of its keyfob, it's very multi-purpose: you can start the engine, open the tailgate and even lower the suspension, making it easier to load.
Under the bonnet lies a 5.7L V8 Hemi (291kW/556 Nm) which may seem like a bit of a middle finger to the environment and a shocker at the pumps. Thanks to its eTorque system, however - which offers longer 'four cylinder only' stretches and a 48v mild-hybrid system that stops and starts the engine (+12kW of boost) whenever required - RAM are claiming this new 1500 will do around 13L/100km. This is pretty great for a truck that has class-leading tow rating of 4.5-tonnes - that's more pulling power than Brad Pitt! For the record, I only managed around 15L.
There's lots to talk about outside, but what's more evolved is the interior. A musky leather scent greets you upon entry and the surprises grow from there. The new RAM's dash, despite being a tad busy, has been completely modernised and upgraded, with a whopping 12-inch portrait-style infotainment screen taking pride of place in the middle. It's surrounded by buttons and dials, but it doesn't take long to know how to navigate around the functions - and there's a 'home menu' button should you venture too far off the beaten track.
The Uconnect platform is faster than before and responds well to both Apple and Android, Navigation is good and the Harman Kardon stereo is in an 'ear-bleeding' 900w, with 19 speakers littered around the cabin.
The cabin itself has grown with an additional 80mm of room to play with and for those in the rear, 1147mm of legroom. Thanks to active noise cancelling, acoustic glass and upgraded materials, it's been made quieter too, so with the stereo off it's only 67.1db - not enough to raise a librarian's eyebrows.
The new RAM 1500 may be big but it's very polite on the road. The stronger chassis, smart shocks, progressive-rate rear springs and four corner air suspension combine to make this truck ride freely regardless of the terrain below or what you have loaded in the bed. It's self-levelling too, so if you're sitting up higher for rugged off-road surfaces, the RAM will automatically hunker down lower when you head down the highway at 100km/h.
Okay, so as a family ute the new RAM is probably a bit overkill. It will go anywhere you wish to take it and grab the attention of all while it's at it, but it does find mall parking a snug fit and took up most of my driveway. However, on the flipside, it does have the ability to assist in your parking chores and will fit in everything from a pram and three kids to their bikes, football gear and, well, their entire bedroom.
It's safe too: aside from being hard to miss and having a birds-eye view of the road ahead (and therefore an elevated sense of safety), it comes with crumple zones, side-impact door beams, multiple sensors, multiple airbags, lane sense to keep you between the lines, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic detection, blind spot and trailer detection and cruise control AND adaptive cruise control - yes, both.
In all honesty, I liked the big and powerful previous model of the RAM 1500, but this new one takes things to a whole new level. It sits better on the road, is spacious to a fault and oozes opulence from its panoramic sunroof to its electric side steps. Sure, it may have a thirst for fuel and be too big for New Zealand parking spaces, but like me, I'm sure you'll find a way to justify it being on your driveway.
Why you should: If you have big toys to tow, like being on the same level as trucks and enjoy an ultra swish cabin.
Why you shouldn't: Parking requires forethought and even with its clever eTorque engine and mild hybridness, it's still going to be a costly petrol pump experience.
What else to consider: In terms of size and 'yank-tank' ness, just the Silverado. But if you're after a ute the options are endless.