Naydene Bosch saw nothing but blue skies as she climbed a 30-degree slope in a Ram 1500 pickup truck Friday at Mandalay Bay, the same blue skies she might see in her home state of Washington.
Bosch, visiting Las Vegas for the Academy of Country Music awards this weekend, figured the Ram ride-and-drive track set up in the parking lot of the resort's convention center would be a cheap thrill. In fact, it's free.
"It was nice. It's got great suspension," Bosch said after a professional driver took her over a series of obstacles that simulate rough terrain.
Chrysler Group brought the Ram ride-and-drive to Las Vegas in conjunction with the first ACM Experience, which includes a barbecue "throwdown," live country music and vendor expo. The event is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
"We're so into country music," said Fred Diaz, president and chief executive officer of the Ram truck brand. "We're all cut from the same cloth, the same people, the same interests. You see these country music superstars and they're so down-to-earth. That's basically the personality and brand of our truck."
Chrysler's research shows that 70 percent of Ram truck owners listen to country music, he said.
The Ram 1500 starts at about $23,000 and goes up to $45,000 for the Laramie Longhorn edition, which features a luxurious Southwestern-style interior.
The Ram ride-and-drive made its debut in February at the Chicago Auto Show, where it attracted more than 25,000 participants.
The course includes a 12-foot-by-25-foot section of steel beams 12 inches in height; a series of offset steel ribbons that highlight the truck's suspension; and steel culverts that demonstrate the stability and ride quality of the truck. The ride finishes with a hill climb for passengers to experience traction capabilities.
That's a popular part of the trip.
"It was sweet," said Josh Dollard of Steamboat Springs, Colo. "I like the hill."
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at email@example.com or 702-383-0491.