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Future models - Ram - 1500

Detroit show: New Ram 1500 surfaces

Ram it home: FCA’s head of Ram, Mike Manley, unveils the all-new Ram 1500 pick-up at the Detroit motor show.

Right-hook fifth-generation Ram 1500 still up in the air for Australia

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Ram logo16 Jan 2018

By RON HAMMERTON

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) launched its all-new fifth-generation Ram 1500 at the Detroit motor show this week, but would-be buyers in Australia will have to wait a bit longer before they find out if the Ford F-150 competitor will be produced in right-hand drive direct from the factory.

FCA Australia declined to comment on the status for plans to import Ram’s number-one seller under the factory umbrella, saying only that it is focussing on launching five new Jeeps and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio in Australia this year.

GoAuto understands that FCA Australia has a “live” business case before its head office in Detroit for a right-hand-drive version of the 1500 for this market where Ram’s bigger pick-ups, the 2500 and 3500, are converted locally by independent American Special Vehicles, a joint venture between Walkinshaw Automotive and Ateco Automotive.

If FCA knocks back the factory RHD venture, ASV will most likely grab the 1500 for local conversion, but probably not before 2019 when a diesel variant comes on stream.

Lighter, more aerodynamic and more technologically advanced than before, the latest Ram 1500 will take on the recently updated Ford F-150, upcoming Chevrolet Silverado and its GMC twin, the Sierra, Toyota Tundra and others.

FCA engineers and designers sliced more than 100kg from the overall weight of the pick-up, with half of that coming from a new steel chassis frame, despite a 101mm stretch in the wheelbase.

Launched only in petrol engine form, the Ram 1500 carries over the 227kW/365Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and 294kW/556Nm 5.7-litre Hemi V8, both hooked up to an updated eight-speed automatic transmission.

However, some variants this time get a mild-hybrid belt-driven 48-volt generator/motor that recovers energy under deceleration and feeds it back to start the engine from idle-stop and gives a burst of extra torque of up to 122Nm to help save fuel.

FCA claims the 1500 is now the most aerodynamic in its class, boasting a 0.357Cd drag coefficient. A contributor to this slippery shape is an active front splitter that lowers at about 70km/h to provide more downforce and then retracts as the vehicle slows.

FCA is claiming the largest front brake discs in the segment (378mm) and class-first frequency response dampers for improved ride and handling. Air suspension is optional.

In a shock for some rusted-on Ram fans, FCA has axed the familiar crosshairs grille, replacing it with a variety of more contempory black fascias, all including the Ram badge in letters.

The 4x4 Rebel version gets the off-road treatment, with an under-bumper bash plate and matte black plastic body protectors, including wheelarch flares.

Payload capacity is a claimed 1043kg, while towing capacity rises to 5783kg – one of the best in this league.

When it comes time in 2019, the V6 turbo-diesel engine is expected to develop the same 193kW and 600Nm as it does in the new Jeep Wrangler.

Inside, a huge 12-inch touch screen dominates the centre of the dash for the latest U-connect infotainment system that includes 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and a Harman Kardon audio system with up to 19 speakers.

Adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking are among the 100 security and safety features now offered.

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