Jacob’s ladder is a layman’s term to describe the connection between Earth and Heaven. The term relates to the biblical patriarch Jacob (from the book of Genesis) flight dream but has been used for everything from movies, books, flowers and an electrical device to (my favorite) a song by Huey Lewis and the News.
Jacob’s brake or Jake brake is a layman’s term used for an engine braking system – generally heard in big rigs or trucks as they descend into small towns at night. When used, the system opens exhaust valves after the compression cycle which in turn releases the trapped air in the cylinders and slows down the vehicle. The resulting sound is awesome and should be every trucker’s ringtone.
The new RAM Laramie 2500 brings both of the above points together in one giant package.
First of all, you’ll need a ladder because it’s HUGE. Hard to really describe here but I’ll give it a go and add some perspective. The overall length is a shade over 6m and width a fraction over 2m which is essentially 3 King sized beds end to end. On the subject of beds, the flat bed or tray is almost 2m x 1.7m (taking out the arches) which will just about fit a family Spa pool. Its near 2m in height would dwarf some of the most respected All Black forwards and as such the cabin is a place that (without the side steps and cabin handle) you’d need a ladder to get in. Then there’s the (braked) towing capacity, 6.989 Tonnes – enough to pull a quarter of the weight of the Statue of Liberty – get three mates and you could tow the whole thing! I think you get the picture – it’s big, hell; the chrome grille and bumper are a feature all by themselves!
Funnily enough the RAM is also somewhat attractive, large but not fierce – powerful but seemingly gentle, it’s kind of comfortable in its size, a ‘nothing to prove’ confidence about it and that makes it very endearing. In saying that, it still made me nervous to take this beast on the city streets.
Ramtrucks NZ have converted the US model to be a right hand drive; it’s a seamless and meticulous conversion that has literally gone back to the blueprints to achieve – you really would never know. The attention to detail covers far more than just moving the wheel to the other side, it’s been positioned in the exact bonnet line. The ‘hidden’ mechanics such as steering box have been re-engineered and the interior trim is faultless – I climbed inside the 6 seater cab to be given the tour of the rest.
The first button that was pointed out was the brake selection button; at the flick of a switch in the dash you can enlist the help of Jacob (either automatically or full time). Needless to say it spent most of the time in the on position – if I was going to be a trucker for a few days, I wanted to sound the part too. Front and centre is an 8.4” touchscreen with Uconnect (an easy to navigate infotainment/connected system) with Alpine providing the tunes. The cabin materials are robust and well presented with wood and chrome accents and LARAMIE styling across the leather seats. The wheel is RAM branded and holds key functions such as Phone, Cruise and Menu controls. To the right is the gear shift, a column change stem that you wrap your whole hand around. Front seats can be altered from 2 to 3 at the raise of a storage tub and the rear seats convert to a lie flat ‘bed’.
At the flick of a button the window between the cab and the rear tray opens and shuts making it easy to chat to the people in the Spa pool you may be carrying. 2WD/4WD and 4WD low is selected by the turn of a dial and it has heated/ventilated seats and heated wheel. Now you can chose to start the RAM while sitting in the driver’s seat OR you can stand outside and double tap the key fob (I did this every time and never got tired of it once). This is a feature that is mainly used in icy temperatures, you start the truck while in the warmth of your home – it will even heat the seats should it feel necessary – but it was too ‘cool’ not to use constantly.
The engine is a hefty 6.7L Cummins diesel that churns out 276kW and a whopping 1084Nm of torque from as low as 1,600rpm and I can tell you that the wheels will spin given half a chance. Negotiating the Auckland traffic in a truck this size does require your undivided attention (certainly initially) but one of the oddest experiences is looking across at lorry drivers and being at their level. It doesn’t take too long to get into the rhythm of driving the RAM, wider swings when turning into side streets and double/treble checking the big mirrors before lane changing and once you do the ride and the experience is great – fun even!
Despite it has cameras and sensors parking is (as expected) challenging – you do need to think about where you’re going to stop. I had the RAM on my driveway and it overlapped into the road – this is not a compact vehicle.
Most people would say that the RAM 2500 is unnecessary. It’s large and obnoxious and has a VERY American feel about it but I would disagree. Yes it’s difficult to park and not exactly ‘city’ friendly but there is a point where your regular trucks towing (and grunt) capacity stops and bigger trucks that require HGV licenses begin and that’s where the RAM comes into its own. It is a spectacle on the road and ultimately very practical should you have the need to tow towns or ocean liners from one place to another. The height and brakes alone make this a cool truck for the garage – if of course you have the room.
By the way (for the observant amongst you) the photos were taken at the foot of Auckland very own Jacobs ladder stairway.
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