American Pick-up Showdown: ASV RAM 2500

By: Matt Wood


The second vehicle in our American pick-up comparison is the ASV RAM 2500. Matt Wood gets it dirty

 

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The ASV RAM barged onto the Australian market in late 2015. The Mopar pick-up doesn’t seem to make as much of a bling statement as it’s Ford and GM competitors, however, the styling certainly isn’t lacking any visual impact.

In fact the origins of the Ram’s face go back to the recommendations of a French Medical Anthropologist that Chrysler employed to find out what evoked a tough, macho image. Apparently reptilian and snake-like works; go figure. 

While the Ram is still often referred to as a Dodge, Fiat Chrysler has dropped Dodge in favour of Ram as the badge for all its commercial offerings in the US.

The recently launched ASV RAM is the result of a joint venture between Ateco Automotive and Melbourne based Walkinshaw Automotive Group called American Special Vehicles.

ASV has launched the 2500 and 3500 models here in Australia. Our comparison test vehicle was the lighter duty 2500.

The conversion process was developed with the blessing of FCA head office in the States.

A right hook steering box from the factory supplier is used and new dash panels are manufactured locally. The trucks are essentially remanufactured on the Clayton assembly line.

The Ram uses 6 cylinders for motorvation in the form of a 6.7-litre SCR Cummins turbo-diesel. This donk makes 375hp and 1,084Nm of torque, which feeds into a 6-speed auto.

The 2500 will also tow 6,989kg, and carry 913kg.

Interior

Anyone familiar with the Jeep product will feel right at home inside the RAM. It feels the most like a factory vehicle out of the three.

Smattering of woodgrain paneling highlights a subdued but well-appointed interior. A touch screen provides access to the Uconnect infotainment system.  And as you’d expect the rear seats are roomy and accommodating

It’s probably a no-brainer but this truck has a reverse camera fitted as standard, a must for a vehicle this size. And it makes hooking up a heavy trailer a breeze!

The footwell conversion would have to be the best one that I’ve seen. The driver’s footrest has even been moved to the right hand side. It looks like a factory job. As a result legroom is the best of the bunch.

The jarring note however if the park brake pedal. All of these trucks have a foot operated park brake.

However, the Ram’s park brake pedal hinges on the right hand side of the footwell, above the accelerator pedal. So if you have your foot on the brake, you have to switch feet and use your right foot to engage it. Either that or put it in park first.

No doubt the reason its there is because that side of the footwell has enough structural integrity to handle the pedal. But a rummage around in the Jeep/Fiat Chrysler parts bin would surely find a push-button electric park brake available, which I reckon would be a much better solution.

 

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Drive time

The Ram is also a good thing to drive on the open road.  It feels nimble in a way that belies its size and bulk.

This truck uses a coil-sprung rear end, which you may think would make it a bit softer than leaf springs yet the rear end was surprisingly

The Cummins 6 has a great spread of usable torque.  It’s no V8 beast but I didn’t find myself wishing it had more grunt loaded or empty.

The 6 is a little grumblier than the V8s which does make it sound a little more commercial.

The stiff suspension didn’t help the Ram off-road. It made it up the hill climb but it struggled to get power to the ground as it was prone to lifting its legs into the air, even though it does come with tru-lock differentials as standard kit.

The 68RFE automatic though was a great unit and an intuitive shifter.

Though given the size and price of this truck I doubt many will be beating through the bush in them.

With the trailer on behind it, the Ram’s bum didn’t actually get much closer to the ground. It tended to stand up and haul rather than squat and pull.

Performance was more than adequate when climbing as the Cummins seems to have quite a low torque curve.

The exhaust brake and gear box tow mode worked well together, in fact the Cummins exhaust brake sounds a lot like a baby Jacobs engine brake. The reality is that with a load on, it sat on the road beautifully and felt planted.

The Ram drives and feels like it’s a factory truck.

Final details

Vehicles are supplied to ASV direct from the factory, which gives the company a big price advantage over other pick-up converters who have to source through a dealer.

The middleman has effectively been removed.

The ASV Ram 2500 has a list price of $139,500 and is being sold through a national dealer network, often a part of an existing Fiat Chrysler dealership.

The Ram also comes with a 3-year, 100,000km warranty and 24-hour roadside assist for that period.

 

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