It’s Ram’s new entry-level 4X4 ute, aimed directly at top-spec ute buyers. ‘1500’ means this Ram Truck is shorter, smaller and lighter than the big brother heavy-duty models you might be familiar with. Along with a lower asking price, it also has a different motor under the bonnet. Like the 2500, the 2018 Ram 1500 is mostly built in the USA especially for the Australian market, before getting some final manufacture here. These guys are proud to be a fully approved factory importer, with full homologation to Australia ADRs and full volume import approval.

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What’s under the bonnet?

The 1500 uses Chrysler’s Hemi 5.7L V8, which makes 291kW @ 5,600rpm and 556Nm @ 3,950rpm. Relatively speaking, it’s very similar to Nissan’s VK56 in the Y62 Patrol and Chev’s LS2. If you want a diesel, you’ve got two options: spend a fair whack more money for a 2500 or 3500 with the Cummins ISB 6.7L motor, or wait for the diesel 1500 late this year. Be still, your beating heart, it’s not the big Cummins six-banger. Instead, the VM Motori 3L V6 diesel, used under the bonnet of Jeep’s Grand Cherokee (making 184kW and 570Nm). The Ram 1500 uses an eight-speed Torqueflite automatic gearbox, has a part-time 4WD system and a low-range transfer case.

There are a few big surprises with this Australia-bound RAM 1500. Firstly, it’s significantly lighter than you’d expect. It’s a huge 1,100kg saving in weight over the ‘Heavy Duty’ models, coming in at a somewhat spritely 2.4 tonnes. The GVM is a bit on the spritely side as well for a full-size truck, coming in at 3,330kg. More than one tonne of payload is lots, but we would have liked to see the full 3.5-tonne GVM for some extra flexibility.

How much fuel does it use?

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when the friendly folk at Ram told us it had a combined cycle of 9.9L per hundred kilometres. Such little fuel usage for a big petrol V8 truck is mighty impressive, helped no doubt by the cylinder deactivation technology and variable valve timing that the Hemi V8 uses.

I have to say I’m a little sceptical about how accessible 9.9L per hundred will really be, especially after spending some time in Y62 Patrol with a very similar engine under the bonnet. The Patrol is a few hundred kilograms heavier, but it was using an absolute bull’s roar from anything resembling 10L per hundred. Stay tuned, because we’ll be putting this figure to the test.