More gear, optional and standard, for massive pickup

Ateco Australia has announced a host of 2018 model year changes to the Ram 2500 and 3500 in Australia, promising better comfort and refinement from a new, locally-developed suspension tune.

Behind the wheel, the changes start with a new 8.4-inch uConnect touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's capable of mirroring two phones at once, and swapping between them at the push of a button. Perhaps more significantly, there's now a five-seat option with standalone front buckets instead of the six-seat setup that was previously the norm.

Convenience features like rain-sensing wipers, auto-dipping high-beam headlights and timers for the load-bay lights are available, while RamBoxes – a pair of locking 243-litre containers on each side of the load bay that can be accessed even when you're carrying a tray full of stuff – are now offered with a locking hard tonneau cover.

The load bay itself is now offered in an eight-foot configuration, supplementing the standard 6ft4 setup for owners who want to carry more gear. That leaves space for objects up to 2496mm long, and expands total load space from 1.6 to 2.1 cubic metres.

Also new down back is the option of auto-levelling air suspension, capable of 'kneeling' to make it easier to hook up a trailer. While passers-by won't notice the air suspension, they will notice the optional 2500 Sport Appearance package.

In addition to body-coloured bumpers and a unique grille, there are cab-length side steps, 20-inch wheels with 275/65 tyres, a sportier suspension tune and black badging.

Power in both the 2500 and 3500 comes from a 6.7-litre diesel engine making 276kW and 1084Nm, hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission and switchable four-wheel drive. That prodigious torque opens the door for 3.5t of towing capacity with a 50mm tow ball, or 4.5t with a 70mm ball.

Max payload is 913kg in the 2500 and 1713kg in the 3500. Ateco has made clear the difference between the 2500 and 3500 in its official materials, saying the 2500 is "the 2500 is designed for owners who will use the towing capabilities on an occasional basis and will be running the vehicle less often fully laden" – which is why it has coil springs.

Meanwhile, the 3500 "is designed for owners for whom towing and carry major payloads for the majority of the time will be their main use" and, therefore, runs with leaf springs. There are actually two versions available, one for a regular car license and one with a 6.9-tonne towing capacity, provided the driver has the right type of license and tow hitch.

With that difference in mind, there are a number of options for the 2500, and just one for the 3500. Metallic or pearlescent paint ($950), side steps ($1500) and auto-levelling air suspension ($4000) can all be added to the 2500, while the 3500 is only offered with a tri-fold tonneau cover ($1795) in addition to its starting price.

2018 Ram 2500 and 3500 pricing  

ModelPrice (excluding on-road costs) 
2500 Laramie 6ft4 tub$139,950
2500 Laramie 6ft4 tub, five seats$140,950
2500 Laramie 8.0ft tub$140,950
2500 Laramie Sport Appearance Pack$146,550
2500 Laramie 6ft4 tub, RamBoxes$144,350
2500 Laramie 6ft4 tub, RamBoxes, five seats$145,350
2500 Laramie Sport Appearance Pack, RamBoxes$150,950
3500 Laramie 6ft4 tub, car license tow rating$144,350
3500 Laramie 8.0ft tub, car license tow rating$145,350
3500 Laramie 6ft4 tub, light rigid tow rating$146,950
3500 Laramie 8.0ft tub, light rigid tow rating$147,950