Sheer size and thirsty V8 will likely make it a rare sight on UK roads, but the American pick-up isn't without charm

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An enormous pick-up truck is about as American as apple pie, and the recipe has to be just as traditional.

While Europe has been down-sizing its pick-up trucks and their engines, in America your truck still isn’t considered the gen-u-ine article unless it’s got a sizeable V8 upfront. This, then, is the new 2019 RAM pick-up which, true to the recipe, harbours a 5.7-litre Hemi V8

Considering its size and weight, the RAM is admirably dynamic and more than comfortable being pushed hard into bends

What the American consumer probably couldn’t care less about, however, is weight loss, and the RAM has undergone quite the diet. It’s shed 225lbs (102kg) thanks to changes to the chassis and body work, with 100lbs (45kg) coming from the use of high-strength steel in the ladder chassis frame alone. It does still weigh 2404kg as a crew cab, but for a pick-up as traditional as the RAM any weight saving should be considered progress. 

The enormous petrol Hemi produces 390hp and 410lb ft, and is paired to a TorqueFlight eight-speed torque converter automatic with a low-range gearbox. Suspension is coil springs front and rear, or you can choose the optional air suspension. 

The RAM is not short on trim levels and options either, with five different possibilities from the UK model’s range-topping Limited down through macho-sounding Longhorn, Rebel, Laramie and Bighorn editions. 

Is the RAM 1500 a true performance pick-up?

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It’s loud, it’s brash and it’s most definitely big. It also justifies its 'all-new' label and manages to be bigger and wider than the previous generation introduced in 2014. 

From the outside, the engine creates quite a racket but is muted on the inside by a massive increase in sound deadening. Rather than the engine, you’re much more likely to hear the two huge exhausts burble and roar as you bring in the power, which arrives rapidly but steadily though to its 5600rpm peak. Gear changes are slick – the TorqueFlight is a ZF gearbox after all – but not the quickest in this application. Hit the throttle hard for a kickdown and the response is painfully slow; instead it’s best to leave the transmission to its own devises.

Gaining speed isn’t a problem, though. The RAM is ferociously quick, hitting 60mph in just over 6 seconds. It’s remarkably smooth too. We tested the RAM 1500 Laramie with optional air suspension, which allows four different height settings. An entry-exit setting drops the ride height to just an inch above the tyres, while Normal raises the body to its lofty standard position.

The lowest setting is Aero, which drops the RAM to mid-way between the exit position and standard ride height and goes a long way to improve stability while cornering, whereas Off-road takes it to the highest setting with a maximum 273mm ground clearance. 

Considering its size and weight, the RAM is admirably dynamic and more than comfortable being pushed hard into bends, where we found grip was limited by the tyres rather than the chassis. It’s comfortable and fun, two things American pick-up trucks rarely are. It’s also no slouch off-road where it is more than capable of transferring those excessive speeds to all manner of terrains.

The inside is a host of surprises, too. While everything is most definitely in American proportions, it’s done to a pretty high standard. The central storage compartment between the front seats, for example, is large enough to house a decent-sized bag and is made from substantial feeling plastics covered in a good grade of leather. The seats (again in leather) are nearly 50% larger than you’d find in anything in Europe with full electric adjustment, and there’s acres of space in both the front and the back. It’s hard not to be impressed.

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Yet it’s not all good. At 5916mm in length it feels as though nearly two metres is found between you and the bumper. Factor in the high bonnet line to house the gigantic engine and it makes going forward harder than necessary. Navigating a British 'drive-thru' would be unquestionably challenging.

Does the RAM 1500 make sense in the UK?

Stateside, trucks such as the RAM are built to be functional, which is why it can transport more than one tonne with a nearly square 1.71m-long and 1.68m-wide load bed. In the UK, the sheer size of the RAM, particularly its 2m width, makes it slightly less practical. Nevertheless, UK importer KWA – which hopes to bring the RAM to selected Fiat dealerships early next year – still believes there’s a demand among existing Navara, Ranger and Amarok customers looking to tow up to 3.5 tonnes with minimum effort.

As a pick-up truck in the UK, the RAM is expensive and tragically flawed, but as a slice of Americana the 2019 update has transformed it into something wholesome, heart-warming and enjoyable.

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