Review: 2013 Ram 1500
By Winding Road Staff
April 05, 2012
This is the Master Landing Page for the Ram 1500. From now on, as we further review this car, we will be updating this page with whatever fresh content we create. Future drive reviews, updated specifications, videos, and other relevant information will all be found right here, in one convenient spot.
Ram Trucks has unveiled a significantly upgraded version of its bread-and-butter pickup, the Ram 1500, for 2012. The new model gains access to a new engine, a new transmission, stop-start technology, and air suspension, just to name a few things.
The new engine is only new to the Ram 1500 line. It’s the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, and engine that we’ve raved about in countless vehicles. The 3.6 delivers 306 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, barely besting the standard 3.7-liter V-6 found in the rival Ford F-150.
The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 soldiers on for 2013, with 395 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque. Cylinder deactivation is still available, and helps deliver a ten-percent improvement in fuel economy.
Both engines are available with Ram’s new eight-speed, “TorqueFlite 8” automatic transmission. Rather than a column-mounted stalk or the recalcitrant shifter we sampled in the eight-speed equipped Chrysler 300S
, the Ram uses a Jaguar-style knob, mounted vertically to the right of the steering wheel.
The goal of things like the eight-speed auto and Pentastar engine is to increase the Ram’s fuel economy. A new thermal management system has been fitted, allowing quick heating of fluids, while a stop-start system is also present. The result is, according to Ram, best-in-class fuel economy among V-8 trucks (although exact economy numbers for either engine are not available quite yet).
The new Ram should be a fair bit more agile on the road as well. A new adjustable air suspension allows lowering of 1.1 inches in Aero mode to raising of two inches in Off-Road II mode.
Ram engineers also focused on weight reduction, using a lighter frame and lighter engines to improve economy and on-road behavior. Between the new frame and an aluminum hood, over 56 pounds have been shaved. Lighter engines shave an additional 30 pounds of fat. It doesn’t sound like much, especially on such a large vehicle but we can’t help but be happy to be getting a lighter Ram.
Finally, the interior and exterior have been given significant revisions. The exterior utilizes active aerodynamics to improve fuel economy while reducing noise. The coefficient of drag has been reduced from .386 to .363. Not exactly Nissan GT-R figures, but admirable all the same.
The cabin benefits from a variety of new, soft-touch and premium materials. An 8.4-inch touchscreen, the same that the Chrysler groups been trotting out on everything with four wheels and an engine, is now available on the Ram. A seven-inch TFT instrument cluster is also available on up-level models.
There are a ton of details in the press release below, although there’s no mention of availability, pricing, or a firm listing of trim levels. Look for a firm update on those areas in the near future.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Ram.
Best-in-class Fuel Efficiency, New Technology and New Features Without Sacrificing Capability
Best-in-class fuel economy:
· New 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine (Ward’s Automotive 10 Best Engines) features 42 percent more horsepower, 13 percent more torque and at least 20 percent better fuel economy when compared to the previous 3.7-liter V-6 powertrain
· 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 with Fuel Saver Technology and variable-valve timing provides 395 horsepower, 407 lb.-ft. of torque and best-in-class fuel economy for V-8 trucks (at least 10 percent better fuel economy when compared to 2012 V-8 powertrain)
· Class-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission (TorqueFlite 8), standard equipment with 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar, doubles the amount of gears compared to previously available four-speed automatic transmission to greatly improve fuel economy
· New eight-speed also available with the 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI – the Company’s first application with a V-8 (TorqueFlite 8 late availability)
· New TorqueFlite 8 operated by an innovative dash-mounted, rotary e-shift design
· First-in-segment Fuel Saving Technology: eight-speed automatic transmission, stop-start, thermal management system, pulse-width modulation and active aerodynamics, including grille shutters and air suspension
· Class-exclusive air suspension enhances fuel economy, improves ride control and off-road capability along with improved ingress/egress and loading, and features automatic load leveling
· New exterior design cues including all-new grille/fascia, improved quad projection headlamps and LED front turn signals and taillamps
· Best-in-class aerodynamics, coefficient of drag (Cd) at 0.363
· New, upgraded interior features include: standard and premium vehicle information center, passive entry, Keyless Enter ’n Go, steering wheel and controls, wood accents, updated door panels, instrument panel, interior colors and premium materials
· All-new, next-generation Uconnect® Access debuts on the 2013 Ram 1500
· Uconnect Access combines a new lineup of smart Media Centers with a powerful new wireless platform
· With Uconnect Access, Ram 1500 owners will have alternative ways to access new connected services and applications via the vehicle’s 8.4-inch touchscreen display or the web
· Next generation Uconnect system is designed to be forward-thinking, providing the freedom to upgrade to the latest features and services
· Voice-recognition technology, steering wheel controls, touchscreen displays and traditional controls provide Ram 1500 customers with a variety of ways to interact with their mobile phones, music, navigation system and applications
· Ram 1500 now available with a premium, customizable, full-color 7-inch vehicle information center
· Addition of Powernet vehicle architecture system allows new content with improved data speeds
· Chrysler Group offers Ram 1500 customers expanded Sirius XM Radio channel lineup, with exclusive programming including new SiriusXM Latino channels, an automotive industry first
· Sprint selected as the strategic partner to bring wireless connectivity and service delivery to the vehicle
· New remote central locking RamBox® cargo management system and tailgate combined with door locks
· New rain sensing wipers, SmartBeam® headlamps, power folding mirrors and power sliding rear window with defrost
· Best-in-class powertrain warranty – 5 years/100,000 miles
April 5, 2012 , New York -
Ram 1500 – the most recognizable pickup on the road – delivers best-in-class fuel economy with a truckload of pioneering, fuel-saving systems including a more fuel efficient and more powerful 3.6-liter V-6 engine and first-in-segment technologies: eight-speed automatic transmission, stop-start system, thermal management system, pulse-width modulation and active aerodynamics, including grille shutters and air suspension.
“The new 2013 Ram 1500 is the most capable, best-looking half-ton pickup in the world and delivers best-in-class fuel efficiency, new technology and new features while upgrading the interior and exterior,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO of Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico — Chrysler Group LLC. “We changed every area of the truck – from a newly designed frame with air suspension, to a new eight-speed transmission to a new interior with the next-generation Uconnect® system.
“With best-in-class towing and payload, best-in-class ride and handling and best-in-class aerodynamics, the 2013 Ram 1500 delivers unmatched content, performance and capability to our customers,” Diaz added.
The new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine (Ward’s 10 Best Engines Award two years in a row) with variable-valve timing (VVT) offers best-in-class standard 305 horsepower, with 269 lb.-ft. of torque and best-in-class fuel economy for V-6 trucks. New V-6 features 42 percent more horsepower, 13 percent more torque and at least 20 percent better fuel economy when compared to the previous 3.7-liter V-6 powertrain.
The legendary 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 with fuel-saving cylinder shut-off and VVT provides 395 horsepower, 407 lb.-ft. of torque and best-in-class fuel economy for V-8 trucks (at least 10 percent better fuel economy when compared to 2012 V-8 powertrain). Also, the HEMI delivers best-in-class towing and payload – 11,500 pounds and 3,125 pounds respectively, with Ram 1500 Tradesman Heavy Duty.
The class-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission (TorqueFlite 8), standard equipment with 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar, doubles the amount of gears compared to previously available four-speed automatic transmission, which improves drivability and enhances fuel efficiency. The new eight-speed also is available with the 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI – the Company’s first application with a V-8 (TorqueFlite 8 with V-8 is late availability). The exclusive new transmission is operated by an innovative, dash-mounted rotary e-shift dial, which enables quick blind-shift transitions from “Reverse” to “Drive” when towing or navigating out of mud, snow or busy parking lots.
Owners will appreciate an innovative rotary e-shift dial for trucks equipped with the new TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission that replaces both column and floor shifters. The exclusive rotary e-shift enables intuitive operation with a direct and confident feel, even with gloves on. The convenient, dash-mounted, easy-to-understand and operate system provides total control of the sophisticated eight-speed transmission and is Ram Truck's innovative approach to electronic shifters, already used in Class 6-8 trucks. This new design allows quick blind-shift transitions from “Reverse” to “Drive” when towing or navigating out of mud, snow or busy parking lots and crowded worksites. The new rotary e-shift dial also yields space for more functional and usable storage in the console.
Another segment exclusive with the eight-speed transmission is a new thermal management system that is designed to quickly raise engine and transmission fluid temperatures. By raising fluid temperatures, parasitic losses resulting from high-viscosity engine oil and transmission fluid can be reduced, improving fuel efficiency by 1.7 percent. As the engine temperature increases to pre-determined levels, warm engine coolant is circulated through a thermal exchange unit, which also contains dedicated pathways for transmission fluid. As the thermal exchange unit heats up, it also heats up the transmission fluid. This action dramatically reduces warm up time for the transmission, improving fuel economy, drivability and shift quality. In most powertrain configurations, the transmission heats up independently of the engine, delaying warm-up time and reducing efficiency.
Adding to industry firsts in a pickup truck is the application of stop-start, another fuel saving feature available on select 2013 Ram 1500 models. This new system improves fuel economy by up to 3.3 percent, an increase of about one mile-per-gallon to the truck’s city drive cycle.
Stop-start increases fuel efficiency by shutting the engine off when the truck comes to a complete stop. Amenities (radio, gauges, heating or air conditioning, etc.) continue to operate, making the operation transparent to the driver. The engine restarts automatically when the driver releases the brake, allowing seamless acceleration.
Enabling components have been upgraded for heavy-duty operation on models equipped with the stop-start feature.
Although the new 2013 Ram 1500 boasts numerous segment-exclusive features, many aren’t readily visible, but deliver best-in-class fuel efficiency, ride and handling.
The new 2013 Ram 1500 continues to maintain its ruggedly handsome appearance with new exterior design elements. Extensive wind-tunnel testing honed the 2013 Ram 1500 exterior shape, resulting in continued best-in-class aerodynamics. Also, the cooperative application of active aerodynamics and modern styling led to a six percent aerodynamic improvement on the new truck. The 2013 Ram 1500 Regular Cab 4x2 coefficient of drag (Cd) is .363 – compared with a Cd of .386 for a 2012 Ram 1500 Regular Cab 4x2.
Best-in-class ride and handling gets even better. The 2013 Ram 1500 is now available with an all-new air suspension system featuring five height settings for optimum ride and aerodynamic performance. The feature operates automatically, or may be controlled manually via console or key fob controls:
Normal Ride Height (NRH): 8.7 inches of clearance (measured from the base of the door sill) is the default, load-leveled ride height
Aero Mode: Lowers the vehicle 1.1 inches from NRH. Aero Mode improves fuel efficiency by up to one percent and is activated by vehicle speed, adjusting for optimal performance and fuel economy
Off-road 1: Lifts the truck 1.2 inches from NRH for added height in clearing obstacles
Off-road 2: Delivers more off-road capability, increasing ground clearance by 2 inches over NRH
Park Mode: Lowers the vehicle 2 inches from NRH for easy ingress/egress and cargo loading
The new air suspension system adds up to 4 inches of lift span, offering best-in-class step-in height of 21 inches, best-in-class ground clearance of 10.7 inches, best-in-class departure angle of 27.8 degrees, and best-in-class breakover angle of 24.2 degrees supported by four-corner air springs that provide a cushioned, premium ride.
Another benefit to the new air suspension is load-leveling capability, which automatically detects load on the suspension from a trailer or payload. The air pressure increases until the vehicle reaches normal ride height, leveling the truck and improving the loaded ride.
Additionally, a separate button on the key fob gives the operator the ability to manually lower the truck, allowing for ease of passenger entry and reduced tailgate lift-over height.
Electric Power Steering
The 2013 Ram 1500 features electric power steering (EPS). By using an electric motor to power the truck’s rack and pinion steering system, the engine is relieved from the task of constantly turning a hydraulic pump, improving fuel efficiency up to 1.8 percent and adding five horsepower. Also, the introduction of EPS reduces complexity by removing the previous hydraulic pump, high-pressure hydraulic hoses and cooling apparatus.
Weight reduction is an important variable in the fuel economy equation. Reducing the weight of components improves fuel economy and allows for more content without affecting payload or towing capability.
A newly redesigned frame benefits from a weight reduction of up to 30 pounds by using advanced high-strength steels. Also benefitting from advanced metal, new box floor cross-members in the bed eliminates seven pounds and a new front bumper design removes four pounds. Additionally, aluminum lower control arms in the front suspension contribute to additional weight reduction and handling. The Ram 1500 also features an aluminum hood saving 26 pounds.
Underneath the hood, the combination of the new Pentastar V-6 and new TorqueFlite 8 transmission reduces the weight by approximately 76 pounds. The V-8 and TorqueFlite 8 together reduce weight by more than 30 pounds.
The weight reductions not only allow for more convenience, comfort and entertainment features but also best-in-class fuel saving technology such as thermal management, stop-start and active aerodynamics.
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is a new fuel-saving technology for the Ram 1500, which reduces parasitic electrical load. The technology not only eliminates unnecessary load on the alternator but also improves the durability of benefitting systems. Fuel delivery and the forward cooling fan are two systems that take advantage of PWM, adding a 0.4 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.
Low rolling-resistance Tires
The 2013 Ram 1500 features standard low rolling-resistance tires to minimize wasted energy and decrease required rolling effort. Tread patterns, advanced materials and millions of miles of testing result in greater fuel efficiency.
The 2013 Ram 1500 uses a newly designed frame with improved, low torsion (stiffness) attributes that increase stability and handling precision while decreasing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) up to 30 percent, depending on drive cycle. Front rails feature 20 percent increased yield strength from the use of high-strength steel. Among other features, the new frame design incorporates a new powertrain, new air suspension and new body-mounting technology.
Portions of the frame are hydroformed for dimensional accuracy (hydroforming reduces the amount of welding that leads to distortion), and side rails are fully boxed. The front frame section incorporates advanced, high-strength steel that maintains overall strength and durability while saving approximately 30 pounds. To further improve NVH, new larger body mounts are located on the front frame rails and at the C-pillar.
New standard front independent suspension combines redesigned upper control arms, aluminum lower control arms and retuned geometry with coil springs for improved responsiveness and handling. New, more robust ball joints on the front suspension yield greater durability and are engineered with improved sealing methods.
The new 2013 Ram 1500 retains its ruggedly handsome appearance with all-new interior and exterior design aesthetics, improved aerodynamics and all-new, segment-leading technology – and every Ram 1500 truck benefits from new content specifically designed to match each model’s unique style.
Ram Truck brand designers started with the Ram grille making it not only larger – with the same overall width, but approximately one inch taller – “saddled” within the new upper fascia panel for a more integrated appearance. The classic Ram crosshair horizontal and vertical grille bars are now flush at the top and bottom of the grille surround.
The new front bumper design supports the “saddled” Ram grille theme with new vertically oriented fog lamps for improved light spread, distance and more lumens. Larger openings around the front tow hooks (four-wheel drive models) allow for easy access to the hooks.
The 2013 Ram 1500 quad headlamp design has improved light spread, pattern consistency, distance and 30 percent more lumens. An all-new premium headlamp lighting system is a bi-functional halogen projector design with 15 amber LEDs for park/turn/position lamp and three amber LEDs for the side marker.
For 2013, the Ram 1500 offers 12 different colors, including five new shades. Black Gold, Copperhead, Maximum Steel Metallic, Prairie and Western Brown are all new and available in a monotone and/or two-tone depending on the model.
The new, polished stainless steel running boards have a sturdy box cross-section design. Also, the new wheel-to-wheel exclusive running board design offers aerodynamic improvements over the current version and provides customer’s improved access to the forward portion of the truck bed.
A new 6-ft.-4-in. bed option is now available on Crew Cab models giving customers the ability to combine Ram 1500’s largest available cab with the largest four-door/bed combination. All-new premium tail lamps are standard and consist of 15 red LEDs with three red LEDs for the side marker.
For 2013, new features and technologies create opportunity for a redesigned interior with material upgrades; improved fit and finish; all-new interior themes with different colors and materials; all-new HVAC controls and new multimedia systems. The 2013 Ram 1500 also features an exclusive eight-speed transmission with a new rotary e-shift dial design.
Rear occupants can enjoy the same quality, fit and finish as the driver. With points of contact a priority, new premium materials, colors and designs are now on all four doors. Soft-touch materials enhance armrests and upper bolsters with expanded use of premium surfaces.
The 2013 Ram 1500 features the next generation 8.4-inch Uconnect system with background screens tailor-made to specific Ram models and themes. To make room for the new big screen, the center stack is upgraded with matching materials found throughout the interior. To complement the range of Ram 1500 models, the interior design team created new, individualized themes with different colors and materials. For the Laramie Longhorn, the Ram design team sought out a very rare Walnut grain with a unique burl that was unintentionally created by ranchers using trees as fence posts for barbed wire. Eventually, the trees grow over the rusting metal wire, creating a swirl coloring pattern and tone that is not found anywhere else.
The all-new HVAC controls take lessons learned from other Chrysler Group Uconnect applications and feature simple, improved function, meeting the highest Human Machine Interface (HMI) standards. The HVAC system includes a redundant architecture allowing the operator to use either the 8.4-inch touchscreen or manual controls to alter the truck’s environment. Below the upgraded HVAC arrangement is a new switch bank with relocated, easy-to-use controls for a number of features depending on vehicle models and options. All buttons in the comfort bank also are redundant on the Uconnect system. Contiguous to the switch bank is a prominently placed, adjustable integrated trailer brake control allowing the driver to add or reduce trailer brake function on the fly.
The Ram 1500’s new, exclusive eight-speed transmission created the need for an innovative rotary e-shift dial in the cockpit to replace the center console gate shifter – a first for pickups. The new shifter works in a multitude of seating configurations and will replace floor and column shifters for use in the eight-speed transmission. Realizing this is a dramatic change in the way trucks have historically shifted gears, the interior design team accepted the challenge with a new shift knob, naturally and prominently placed to the driver’s right, at the lower left-hand side of the center stack, in place of the previous transfer case shift knob. The rotary dial enables intuitive blind-shift transitions between “Drive” and “Reverse” with a direct and confident feel. The transfer case retains full capability with push buttons located directly under the e-shift dial.
New technology also moves to the gauge cluster. Previously only available on premium models, the 3.5-inch vehicle information screen is now standard on ST and SLT and displays vehicle operating functions. The new thin film transistor (TFT), 7-inch screen is now available on SLT, standard on Sport, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models. The 7-inch screen features fully customizable function and configurability. Similar to the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen, select 7-inch cluster background screens are tailor-made to specific Ram models, with designs that match the truck’s theme.
Introducing Uconnect Access: A Powerful New Platform That Provides Multiple Ways to Connect
The Uconnect Media Centers R3 and R4 provide the Ram 1500 with a built-in cellular connection so vehicle occupants are automatically connected to a variety of new services and the internet with WiFi hotspot capability. The new Uconnect Media Centers provide a direct connection to emergency services when the new 911 button found on the rearview mirror is pushed. Ram 1500 customers also will automatically receive regular vehicle health reports and be able to remotely lock or unlock truck doors, start the vehicle, and flash lights from any distance via the web or a smartphone application.
Ram truck owners will be able to access select, certified in-vehicle applications. Driving-relevant applications will be introduced over time and are designed specifically for in-vehicle use. The certified applications are easily controlled with natural voice recognition or steering wheel controls to keep drivers focused on the road. The responsive 8.4-inch touchscreen includes the award-winning user interface designed by Chrysler Group Human Machine Interface engineers, featuring large icons and visual cues allowing consumers intuitive control of system features.
Uconnect Media Centers Are Always Current
Ram truck owners will be confident to know their truck is designed to be forward-thinking, providing the freedom to upgrade to the latest features and services, without having to replace their factory installed Uconnect systems. Applications are updatable over the air and are downloaded directly to the Uconnect Media Center, so features remain current. Ram truck owners will be able to continually evolve their in-vehicle connectivity experience by downloading app updates or new applications as they become available directly to the Uconnect Media Center from inside the car, via the 8.4-inch touchscreen.
The Ram 1500’s new Uconnect Access system features best-in-class functionality, integrating new entertainment content and is the first time Ram will offer HD Radio to its customers. Ram customers also will have access to SiriusXM satellite radio, handsfree mobile phone operation, handsfree navigation, handsfree texting with compatible phones and handsfree control of music. Additionally, new connected services and applications provide real-time access to information and content that Ram 1500 customers want and need while on the road. Uconnect is designed to provide drivers and passengers with relevant, focused and contextual information that is not distracting and easy to use, allowing drivers to remain focused on the road.
Also enhancing driver convenience, Uconnect features one-step voice command of navigation, the ability to check real-time fuel prices and listen and respond to text messages, combined with familiar knobs for climate and comfort controls.
A Variety of Ways to Control Your Content
Uconnect Access controls are placed on the steering wheel. Customer research has shown a preference towards audio controls located at the rear of the steering wheel and Ram was the first truck manufacturer to integrate these rocker switches for ease of use. Audio system controls, including next station, radio preset and previous station or track, are located on the left. Volume up or down and change audio source are located on the right. This means Ram truck drivers can keep their hands on the wheel while they enjoy a variety of entertainment content sources.
Media Console Offers a Variety of Options
Neatly integrated within the upper storage tier of the center console, a new multimedia input includes USB, SD card and auxiliary connections. The USB allows control of iPod or other media device through the large touchscreen displays and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. A more powerful 2.5 amp, USB port and 12-volt outlet also provide mobile recharging for electronic devices. In addition, MP3 and WMA audio files on a USB memory device may also be played and controlled via the Uconnect system.
New 7-inch Vehicle Information Center
Filling the gauge cluster in front of the driver is an available 7-inch, color, premium vehicle information screen, featuring a new customizable function that enables Ram 1500 customers to personalize information inside the instrument cluster. Similar to the premium Uconnect Systems, select 7-inch instrument cluster background screens are branded with a Ram theme. Ram’s new information display is designed to visually communicate information, using graphics and text, quickly and easily.
The vehicle information display offers drivers a wide range of customization options, from a basic digital speed read out to specific vehicle status information. Operation of the display is clearly communicated to users with easy-to-understand icons and instructions. Using buttons on the steering wheel, drivers can customize the screen with as much or as little information as they desire. The system is intuitive and can be arranged for a variety of views. Up to three analog vehicle status gauges can be added to the display. The main screens found inside the instrument cluster menu are: digital speed, vehicle information and fuel economy, trip A information, trip B information, trailer-tow information, audio, stored messages and screen customization. Additionally, the four corners of the display can be customized to show information at a glance, including current fuel economy, outside temperature, time and compass direction.
All-new Powernet Electrical Architecture
As the Ram 1500 continues to offer more feature content, it created the need for a technology that allows more information to be electronically communicated within the truck. The new Powernet system, used for the first time on a Ram 1500, allows both high- and low-speed data networks to be equipped with as many as 40 individual modules, all designed to improve vehicle performance and enhance the comfort and safety of driver and passengers. Within the Powernet high-speed network, each module (e.g., electronic stability control) processes its individual data and transmits the appropriate commands within the vehicle to activate any additional systems (e.g. anti-lock brake system and cruise control). Uconnect leverages Powernet to deliver fast response time, and share critical information between the 8.4-inch touchscreen and the vehicle information center. The Powernet architecture also is the backbone that supports the Uconnect Access services and applications, including the Ram 1500 vehicle health report and remote services.
Sprint Provides Wireless Platform for Next Generation Uconnect Access
Sprint is the strategic wireless partner for the next generation Uconnect Access system. The integrated wireless technology inside the Ram 1500 enhances the driving experience by offering new connected services and applications. The services delivered through the partnership will be easy to learn, easy to use and will offer a seamless experience with the Ram owner’s digital life. An increasing number of features in the new Ram 1500 will rely on enhanced user interfaces including voice capabilities and commands to help limit driving distractions and keep the focus on the primary driving task.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
On the safety and security front, the Ram 1500 offers more than 45 active and passive safety and security features, including standard front airbags, front and rear side-curtain air bags and seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax air bags with Enhanced Accident Response System, knee bolsters, seat-belt pretensioners, BeltAlert® System; and available adjustable pedals, ParkSense® rear park assist and ParkView® rear back-up camera. The 2013 Ram 1500 also includes standard electronic stability control (ESC), hosting a number of technologies including all-speed traction control, trailer-sway control, Hill-start Assist and anti-lock brake system (ABS).
The new 2013 Ram 1500 now features available Keyless Enter ’n Go technology, which allows the doors to be unlocked and the vehicle ignition to be started without having to touch the key fob. Also new for 2013, remote central locking includes the RamBox® cargo management system and tailgate power locks, creating a convenient solution for locking down the truck with the push of a button. An available remote start feature allows a driver to start their vehicle from up to 300 feet away. Door controls, illuminated entry, engine immobilizer and panic alert are standard features with the Keyless Enter ’n Go system. Auto rain-sensing wipers and SmartBeam® also find their way into the feature availability list, adding to a truckload of content offered in the new 2013 Ram 1500.
Additional New Features
For 2013, Ram 1500 customers can enjoy the convenience of power folding mirrors and a combination power and rear-sliding window with defrost. Also available is a new six-foot-four-inch bed option on the Crew Cab model, allowing for maximum passenger and bed hauling capability.
Unsurpassed Powertrain Warranty – 5 years/100,000 Miles
The 2013 Ram 1500 is backed with a best-in-class 5-year / 100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty. The Powertrain Limited Warranty covers the cost of all parts and labor needed to repair a covered powertrain component – engine, transmission and drive system. Coverage also includes free towing to the nearest Ram dealer, if necessary. The warranty also is transferable allowing customers who sell their truck during the warranty period, to pass the coverage onto the new owner.
The standard 3-year / 36,000-Mile Basic Limited Warranty provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for the Ram 1500, from the body to the electrical system.
To ensure durability, the Ram development team is putting the 2013 Ram 1500 to the test – actually thousands of checks and almost six million customer equivalent testing miles – to validate its performance and reliability for the long haul.
The 2013 Ram 1500’s quality is scrutinized at the company’s Chrysler Technology Center’s state-of-the-art scientific labs in Auburn Hills, Mich., including the Noise/Vibration/Harshness Lab, the Electromagnetic Compatibility Facility, Wind Tunnel and the Road Test Simulator (RTS).
For example, the RTS recreates the abuse a truck endures at the hands of a 95th percentile driver – meaning someone who drives the vehicle in more severe conditions than 95 percent of all customers. The RTS can put a lifetime of wear and tear on a truck in about one month’s time. The Ram development team is committed to finding and fixing any issues before the customer does.
The 2013 Ram 1500 is built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant (Warren, Mich.), which has built more than 12.5 million trucks since it started operations in 1938. Regular Cab models of the 2013 Ram 1500 are built at the Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Saltillo, Mexico.
2013 Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4X4
Engine: V-6, 3.6 liters, 24v
Output: 305 hp/269 lb-ft
Weight: 4741 lb
Fuel Economy, City/Hwy: 18/25 mpg
Towing Capacity: 6500 lb
Base Price: $34,585
2013 Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4X4 3.6
The pick-up truck market is, to be honest, a game of one-upmanship. Each new truck needs to be able to tow more than the competition, get better fuel economy, have a bigger bed, use more leather in the cabin, come with a bigger grille, be completely plated in chrome, and retail for the price of a decent mid-sized sedan. It should also be able to cook, clean, bathe small children (not as crazy as it sounds), juggle, and be able to compose an award-winning concerto.
We may have exaggerated a bit, but our point is this: each shiny new truck that comes off the assembly line needs to offer more, more, more of everything than the cross-town competition.
That story of one-upmanship extends to a battleground that has become as hotly contested as towing capacity: fuel economy. At 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, the V-6 1500 (the one we drove) now offers best-in-class fuel economy for a half-ton pickup. Ram’s engineers achieved this through a comprehensive, bumper-to-bumper inspection of how different components can affect efficiency.
The most obvious area to improve efficiency is under the hood. Not only is Chrysler Group’s award-winning Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6
available (a $1000 option over the standard V-8), but it’s coupled to a super-thrifty eight-speed automatic (a powertrain combo we’ve raved about before
Fuel economy is up 20 percent, and horsepower is up to 305 ponies, while net torque sits at 269 pound-feet. That compares quite favorably with Ford’s entry-level V-6 (302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque). It’s also a massive improvement over the 2012 Ram’s 3.7-liter V-6 (an anemic 215 horsepower and 235 pound-feet) while representing a viable alternative to the base 4.7-liter V-8’s 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. And it does all this while netting best-in-class fuel economy.
Ram’s engineers also placed a large emphasis on aerodynamics, getting so nitpicky that they redesigned the truck’s stepboards to reduce drag. Other changes include the first instantiation of active grille shutters on a full-size truck, while the front fascia itself has been refined in a wind tunnel for prime aerodynamics. Ram’s engineers became so fanatical about economy that the optional air suspension features an automatic Aero Mode that lowers the truck 0.6 inches. The result is only a one-percent improvement in economy, but it shows the dedication that the Ram team had toward making an efficient pickup.
Not content with a slippery car, the engineers went all Jenny Craig and significantly cut the weight. The frame itself is 30 pounds lighter thanks to tougher steel (also a big part of the NVH improvements). The hood is made from aluminum and accounts for a 26-pound reduction. Those new powertrain components? 76 pounds lighter. We like lighter vehicles for fuel economy, but we also can’t forget that a lighter vehicle is faster, more maneuverable, and generally offers a better driving experience.
Speaking of that driving experience, it was every bit as good as we expected. The vast majority of our day was spent behind the mid-grade SLT. Slotting above the base ST, Tradesman, and Express, our tester came nicely equipped with comfortable cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, adjustable pedals, an 8.4-inch navigation screen, adjustable air suspension, four-wheel drive, and the talented combo of an eight-speed automatic and a Pentastar V-6 (we’ll be testing the venerable Hemi V-8 with the new eight-speed auto at a later date).
The first challenge of the day was for our co-driver, who had to make sense of the 8AT’s shifter. Like Jaguar and Land Rover, the eight-speed in the Ram utilizes electronic shifting, and necessitated a twisting knob that selected between the standard PRND, rather than the traditional column- or floor-mounted shifter.
Unlike JLR, Ram’s knob was mounted vertically, just to the right of the steering wheel. It was easy enough to reach, and the knob was well sized with nice grooves, allowing for operation with a thicker pair of gloves. We certainly had no issues in blind operation, as the “gates” for park, reverse, neutral, and drive all felt quite easy to identify. To put its ease of use in context, it’s far more intuitive than the complicated shifter on the Chrysler 300 we tested.
Our experience with this powertrain meant our hopes were rather high for the Ram. We weren’t disappointed. Shifts were just as well timed and fast as when we tested it in a car-based application. Throttle tip-in wasn’t as sharp as the 300, requiring a bit more assertion with the right foot. When we dove into the skinny pedal, though, the Ram shot forward with more thrust than its numbers would indicate. This was mainly due to the way power was distributed, with 90 percent of the torque spread from 1800 to 6400 rpm. It meant easily accessible power at nearly any speed, and will be an absolute blessing for those who wish to tow.
Having such a smooth, broad torque curve, we could forgive the V-6 for lacking in other areas. It continued to impress, though, offering a free-revving and ear-pleasing character. We’re quite curious to see what the sales response is to this powertrain. It’s really excellent, but its sales will depend far more on salespeople convincing buyers to try it over the V-8 that they probably don’t need anyway.
We’ve said it before, but we really like what Chrysler Group has been doing with these eight-speed automatics. Like on the Chrysler 300S we tested, it felt well engineered, with intelligent shift logic. It’s fast to downshift, with a minimum of hunting despite the sheer number of cogs. Simply bury the gas and it drops down, with little interruption to the overall driving experience. Upshifts are smooth and timed well, although it did seem prone to short-shifting. Shift shock was kept to a minimum, even under hard throttle applications. Really, this was just an all-around great gearbox.
As good as the gearbox was, it’s not the crowning achievement of this truck. No, that honor goes to the ride. To be fair, the Ram was already the smoothest pickup truck on sale, owing to the independent rear suspension it gained in 2009.
For 2013, Ram’s engineers have fitted a full-on air suspension, offering a setting for every occasion. With an 8.7-inch ride height in the standard setting, the air suspension grants an extra 4 inches of travel. There’s a load/parking height that drops the truck 2 inches for easier ingress/egress and bed access, along with an aero mode that automatically lowers the truck 0.6 inches at speed for improved fuel economy. Off-road 1 and Off-road 2 increase ground clearance by 1.2 and 2.0 inches, respectively. The air ride was easily adjusted via a series of buttons at the bottom of the center stack.
On the road, the 2013 Ram 1500 was nothing less than the smoothest-riding pickup we’ve ever tested. Secondary motion, notably that obnoxious shuddering sound that you hear and feel when you hit a big bump in a regular truck, was precisely controlled. It’s this quality that gives the Ram a feeling of real solidity. What pass for potholes in Tennessee just couldn’t disrupt the smooth ride, with little in the way of impact noises or other disruptions. There was some vertical motion over undulating roads, but by and large the Ram feels nicely planted and composed.
If, like many owners, you are planning on using your Ram to tow, then the air suspension will be your new best friend. It features a self-leveling system that keeps the body level regardless of just how much of this truck’s towing capacity you may be using.
The air suspension didn’t perform quite as well dynamically. This was more an issue of feedback than of actual handling potential. It was difficult to judge things like grip levels or steering input through the chassis, and as we’ll discuss in a moment, the steering wasn’t much help, either. The air suspension did a decent job of countering lateral body motions, although fore and aft movement was more noticeable.
As we said, the issue of limited feedback was compounded by the Ram’s electric power-assisted steering system. This tiller felt overboosted and lacked feel. Still, it’s part of what nets this Ram its excellent fuel efficiency.
Perhaps our biggest qualm during our drive route was the Ram’s size. Big trucks and Tennessee two-lanes are not good bedfellows. This truck was too big and too uncommunicative to really give us any confidence on the tight roads. The Ram took up our entire lane, and the result made for a very nervous driving experience. This was one of the few areas where the 1500 loses out to its competition. This truck just doesn’t feel as manageable in tight environments as a Ford F-150.
We can complain about this being a difficult truck to handle in confined spaces, but we’d be ignoring a key benefit to its size: this cabin was huge. Not only that, it’s darn nice too. It’ll easily accommodate four adults, with nary a complaint from any corner of the cabin. Honestly, we’d like to see how comfortable it’d be with six passengers, as there’s enough room to make that a real option.
The seats are comfortable, although we found them slightly flat on the twistier parts of the road. The steering wheel was a large-diameter version of Chrysler’s corporate tiller, and works just as well in a truck application as it does in a small car. The 8.4-inch touchscreen display feels just as massive, despite being in a larger cabin than usual, and it’s just as snappy to respond to inputs. Dash materials are soft-touch, and look and feel great. The door panels have been redesigned as well, with higher-quality plastics. Notably, despite there still being a healthy amount of plastic in this cabin, it didn’t feel rubbery like Rams of the past. Instead, it felt modern and clean, with a degree of functionality that other trucks seem to lack.
For the past few years, the Ford F-150 has defined the truck market. Its EcoBoost and V-8 offerings were excellent, its interiors were class leading, and its telematics were unbeatable. In one fell swoop, Ram has countered Ford’s advantages, offering advanced and economical new powertrains, including the first eight-speed auto in a truck, an interior that’s every bit as good as Dearborn’s, and telematics that should be the envy of F-150 drivers. We’ve yet to get our hands on Ford’s 2013 F-150, but when we do, it’ll have some work to do.
Ram 1500 ST Crew Cab 4X4
The ST isn’t listed on Ram’s consumer or media website. The ST is actually identical to the Ram 1500 Tradesman, but is considered a “fleet-only” vehicle. It’s something for utility companies or construction firms to buy in bulk, and at a reasonable price.
And boy is it basic. Plastic abounds in the interior, but it’s not exactly a bad thing. It’s soft to the touch, and feels well assembled. It doesn’t creak or flex when pressed on, and most importantly, it has a look of durability about it. The 1500 ST looks like it could last for donkey’s years on the worksite, which is kind of what you want in a work truck.
Being a work truck, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a ton of space in the Ram’s cabin. But then you climb in. Backseat space can only be described as limo-like. Those with long legs will find a paradise in the back seat, while overall shoulder and headroom are quite impressive too. Moreover, the back seats are actually not uncomfortable. Yes, that’s an accomplishment for a pickup.
Things aren’t bad for the driver, either. Even though this is the base Ram, it’s still got Chrysler Group’s global steering wheel, although only a few of the buttons on its face actually do anything. The front seats are wide, supportive, and are quite comfortable if long haul driving is your thing. Adjustments to the seating position are made manually, and there aren’t a lot available, so if you require an odd seating position you’ll want to opt for a higher end model with electric adjustments.
Audiophiles aren’t going to go crazy for the ST, but it’s still got six speakers, an auxiliary input, and a USB socket. It’s not great, but considering the truck’s purpose, it’s more than we’d originally anticipated.