To intimidate, or to be intimidated? That was the question at the beginning of my week with the Ram 1500 Laramie.
I’ve always wanted to have a go in a ute, ever since I saw Bella Swan in Twilight (that’s that Vampire movie, for those who weren’t 13-year-old girls in the early 2000s) driving a run-down 1963 Chevy StepSide C-10.
Now, I’ve finally got the chance to live my pre-teen fantasy: by driving a big American pickup.
First thing's first – I know I’m not the typical driver demographic. As a five-foot-two blonde woman in my mid-20s, I’m aware that I stick out like, well, a five-foot-two blonde in my mid-20s. Especially while driving through Auckland city blasting The Wiggles at my toddler’s request.
But lately, I’ve noticed that a lot of young women are showing interest in owning a ute. Perhaps I’m not the only one influenced by Twilight?
So, what’s it really like driving a huge (and huge is an understatement) American ute in the city?
I was obviously struck by its massiveness. How could I not be? It’s almost six metres long (5817mm to be exact). It overhangs your standard supermarket car park, which according to a government website is 3.5m x 5m.
This Laramie is made special thanks to a Mopar cat-back exhaust, sports bar and LED lighting, genuine black badging (optional), and rack kit for Ram tray, which includes a bed extender and bicycle racks, which puts the bikes across the bed, not along it.
I was concerned about how I would climb into the beast, as it’s 1.9m tall, and I’m 1.6m. But, thanks to a handy automatically deploying side step that swings out when you open the door, it was actually no problem. I will admit though, when I first attempted to put my son’s car seat into the back, tippy-toeing on the step did take a moment of getting used to.
The height was a problem in the case of fitting into central Auckland car parks though, mainly down to the optional spotlights.
The cabin is extremely comfortable. Huge, spacious, and comfy, wide seats. The steering wheel is heated, and the front two seats are both heated and ventilated.
There’s a massive 12-inch touchscreen featuring ‘Uconnect’ with split-screen functionality and navigation. The 900-watt Harman Kardon sound system is impressive. When I first picked it up, the bass was set so high it matched the growl of the engine (which is exaggerated on the Laramie thanks to a Mopar cat-back exhaust).
Under the bonnet sits a powerful 5.7L V8 Hemi eTorque mild-hybrid system that produces 291kW and 556Nm. Considering the ute's physical size and huge power, I felt even more like a fish out of water. But, I kind of liked it.
What I didn’t kinda like was the 17.1l/100km fuel economy. My local petrol station is currently charging $2.77 for 91 (according to the Gaspy app on Tuesday 6th September), so to fill the 98L tank would cost me roughly $250. I used half that during my week of driver-ship, and considering I didn’t put too many Ks on the clock, it’s safe to say this would be a very expensive everyday run-around.
I don’t know whether drivers around me were feeling genuinely intimidated, or if standing out made me more conscious of people’s glares. Interestingly, I definitely noticed people were cutting me off... a lot! And in a truck this size, it should be the other way around!
Clearly, I’m not the average Ram 1500 Laramie buyer. Considering the huge 4.5-tonne tow rating, massive amount of cargo space, and general grunt of the Ute, it’d be great for the right purpose.
But lesson learned: don’t let Twilight influence your motoring purchase decisions.
BREAK IT DOWN
Ram 1500 Laramie
Price: $141,990 (as tested: $152,190+)
Engine: 5.7L V8 Hemi eTorque
Towing: 4,500 kg
Weight: 2,617 kg
Fuel Economy: 17.1l/100km