Sponsored: 2017 RAM 2500 Laramie – Boot Camp – Part Three – Towing
In this series of articles we’re looking at the performance of the RAM 2500 Laramie in harsh Australian conditions to find out if it’s got the right stuff to make it Down Under.
SO FAR IN THIS SERIES of articles on the RAM 2500 Laramie we’ve looked at its right-hand drive conversion and equipment. In this article, we’re looking at how well it performs as a load hauler. And, apologies but there are going to be a lot of numbers to absorb… so, let’s get stuck in.
The RAM 2500 Laramie has a tare weight of about 3500kg, is rated to tow 6942kg and has a GVM (gross vehicle mass) of 4490kg with a GCM (gross combination mass) of 11,432kg.
To put that in perspective, the Ford Ranger PX2 has a tare of 2250kg, is rated to tow 3500kg, and has a GCM of 6000kg…
Make no mistake, the RAM’s numbers are very impressive, but there’s more to the numbers than just the RAM’s are bigger than everyone else’s; as usual, the devil is in the detail. First up, the GVM is 4490kg so you can drive the RAM 2500 Laramie on a car licence (anything over 4500kg requires a light-truck licence). The maximum front axle load is 2609kg and rear axle is 3176kg (total 5785kg) which is much more than the 4490kg GVM. And that’s great news indeed. Stay with me, if we divide that GVM of 4490kg in two for a front:rear split we get a nominal 2245kg, so, the front axle maximum load of 2609kg is 364kg over what it is likely to be at GVM, and the rear 931kg over, assuming an equal front:rear split.
This means that you’re unlikely to overload either front or rear axle, whereas small utes are pretty much at front-axle load limit or beyond once you put a bullbar and winch on.
It’s also noticeable on the RAM 2500 Laramie just how far back the rear axle is relative to the tub. Most, ahem, small utes have their rear axle too far forwards to properly distribute load.
Then we come to the GCM. Happily, 4490kg GVM plus the 6942kg maximum braked towing weight equals 11,432kg, which also happens to be the GCM. That means you can load the RAM 2500 Laramie to its maximum capacity of 4490kg, tow nearly 7000kg and be within its limits. Again, most small utes are misleading when it comes to maximum towing capacity. The Ranger PX2 for example, cannot tow 3500kg unless you reduce payload to a miserable 300kg or so as its GVM plus max braked tow is well below its GCM.
The good news is that if you only need to tow around the 2500-3500kg mark then the RAM is laughing as it’s so far within its capabilities you end up with a very easy, comfortable and safe towing platform.
As a real-world example, with a 3500kg trailer on the back, and the RAM fully loaded you’re looking at 4490kg + 3500kg = 7990kg, which is around 3500kg below the GCM. That’s a decent safety margin.
What’s the towing equipment like?
The RAM 2500 Laramie has an exhaust brake, and a tow/haul mode for the engine and transmission. An electric brake controller is standard. The sensitivity is set via buttons in the centre console and the Uconnect touchscreen, and it can be manually controlled. Impressive.
There are three different types of hitch and two receivers. The standard tow hitch we’re all used to is a 50mm ball which is rated to 3500kg. A 70mm ball is the same concept but larger and rated to 4500kg. A pintle is a closed-loop hook and rated up to whatever that pintle is rated for. You’ll see them on big trucks, military vehicles and bigger vehicles like the RAM.
The RAM’s tow hitch takes a 70mm tongue, and an adapter is supplied to accept the smaller 50mm tongue.
Maximum tow-ball masses are 350kg for a 50mm ball, 450kg for a 70mm ball and 690kg for the pintle. Even at 690kg the RAM is within limits; the payload is 913kg so 913-690 = 223kg, not much payload but still able to pull even that massive load. The rear axle load is 3176kg, so even allowing for half the vehicle’s tare mass (1750kg) there’s still capacity left over: 3176kg – 1750kg – 650kg = 776kg.
How does it tow?
We did a fair bit of towing with the RAM 2500 Laramie on and off-road. The first load was a 2400kg single-axle Elite Goulburn, then a Cat 303 excavator on a trailer which totaled 4000kg.
The RAM performed as you’d expect from the figures above; impressively easily. The long wheelbase, heavy vehicle weight and relatively short rear overhang meant the trailers were kept under control around corners and when braking. Braking was easy; the exhaust brake helped a great deal, and the tow/haul mode does a beautiful job of changing down as you lose speed, so all the brakes ever need is a light touch. You’re also up high so you can see well ahead.
It’s worth pointing out that the standard-fit brake controller isn’t designed for off-road use. The gain is adjusted using buttons and that takes far too long to go from minimum to maximum, as you’d experience when tackling a steep ascent followed by a steep descent. But for on-road use it’s perfect.
You also need to be aware the RAM 2500 Laramie is 2WD, with the ability to select high range 4WD up to 88km/h on the fly. It does a good job of putting power to the ground most of the time, as any wheel spin is quickly controlled by the traction control system, and the excellent throttle response makes it easy to pull away.
Despite ratings, the current crop of normal utes shouldn’t be used for towing more than around 2500-2800kg, regardless of the rating the numbers-obsessed marketing people make the engineers slap on them. If that’s the sort of load you want to pull, then you owe it to yourself and anyone else in the vicinity to do the job properly and get yourself a truck like this RAM 2500 Laramie, which is a whole new level of towing capability. This truck will tow 4000kg like a Ford Ranger tows 2000kg, and you’ll be very glad of the difference come that rainy, dark night when you’ve got country miles to cover.