The full-size truck market is an incredibly competitive one, but strangely it's also one of the segments where technology seems to pop up well after passenger cars have already benefited. This has been changing in recent years, as pickups have begun to offer turbocharging and other advanced fuel-saving systems in order to maximize efficiency without sacrificing power.
The 2013 RAM 1500 is the most recently updated full-size pickup available, and it has been given a comprehensive makeover that not only improves its tech quotient but also makes it more capable and more livable on a daily basis.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2013 Ram 1500.
01. The 2013 Ram 1500 Boasts Subtle Styling Changes
The 2013 Ram 1500 features bold styling that doesn't deviate much from the standard Ram playbook - and that's by design. By and large Ram 1500 owners have been happy with the macho look of the full-size pickup, which means that for 2013 Chrysler elected to keep changes evolutionary in nature. Most distinctive is the shift to projector headlights across all models, and combined with LED taillights that dress up the rear of the truck and the availability of LED turn signals the Ram now sports a more subtly modern appearance. On the inside, top-tier models feature real wood trim and offer the availability of the latest 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen and higher quality leather upholstery.
02. The 2013 Ram 1500 Features A Brand New Engine
The 2013 Ram 1500 comes with a new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. This mill has been making the rounds of Chrysler products over the course of the past year, and for good reason. The Pentastar motor found as the base unit on most Ram 1500 trims not only generates significantly more power than last year's 3.7-liter V-6 (305 horses and 269 lb-ft of torque, an improvement of 90 ponies and 34 lb-ft of twist), it's also more efficient. The Ram 1500 offers up mileage of 17-mpg in city driving and 25-mpg on the highway when equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6, with the latter figure representing a 20 percent improvement compared to 2012. On top of its fuel-sipping ways, the Pentastar engine gives the Ram 1500 the ability to tow up to 6,500 lbs.
03. The 2013 Ram 1500 Provides Two V-8 Options
Of course, not every task required of a pickup truck can be accomplished with a V-6 under the hood, and for this reason the 2013 Ram 1500 also offers a pair of eight-cylinder engines as optional equipment. The entry-level 4.7-liter V-8 is standard on the stripped down Tradesman trim level and generates 310 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. A much more significant upgrade is available in the form of a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which gains five additional ponies for 2013 in order to give it a total of 395 horsepower and 407 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for the larger motor checks in at 14-mpg in stop and go driving and 20-mpg on the highway.
04. The 2013 Ram 1500 Offers A Pair Of Transmission Choices
The 2013 Ram 1500 offers not one, but two automatic transmissions depending on which engine is selected. The Ram 1500 carries over last year's six-speed automatic gearbox for those who order either the 4.7-liter or 5.7-liter V-8 engines, but standard for the 3.6-liter V-6 is a new eight-speed auto. The eight-speed automatic transmission plays an important role in reducing the Ram's fuel consumption, and it also does away with the column shifter inside the cabin and replaces it with a dial on the dash that controls what gear the vehicle is in. The Hemi V-8 will eventually benefit from the availability of the eight-speed tranny later in the model year.
05. The 2013 Ram 1500 Debuts Several Fuel Economy Enhancing Features
Fuel mileage has become a hot topic for pickup truck manufacturers, and not all of the Ram 1500's efficiency improvements can be attributed to engine and transmission enhancements alone. The 2013 Ram 1500 comes with a number of new features that are designed to help the vehicle slip through the air more effectively, including active aerodynamics on its grille (by way of shutters that automatically open or close depending on speed), as well as an automatic engine start/stop feature that reduces idling. Low-rolling resistance tires and a side step bar that smoothes out the air flowing around the side of the truck also contribute to higher mpgs.
06. The 2013 Ram 1500 Can Be Had With An Air Suspension System
The 2013 Ram 1500 still offers its standard coil spring rear suspension, which helps it provide perhaps the most comfortable ride in the segment. New for 2013, however, is the option of an air suspension system that provides five different ride height settings. Borrowed from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the adjustable air suspension offers Normal, Aero, Off-Road 1, Off-Road 2, and Park settings. Park is the lowest, making it easier to get in and out of the truck, while Aero automatically drops the Ram 1500 by 1.1 inches at highway speeds in order to improve fuel mileage. The two Off-Road settings provide up to two inches of additional ride height for clearing obstacles on the trail. Each setting can be dialed in either on the key fob or the dash using a simple set of buttons.
07. The 2013 Ram 1500 Is Available In Several Models
The 2013 Ram 1500 is primed to reach almost every potential driver thanks to a myriad of available configurations. The Ram 1500 is offered in Regular, Quad, and Crew Cab body styles, with the latter two providing an additional set of doors to make it easier to access their extended passenger compartments. Three bed sizes are provided, and the Ram can also be ordered in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive layouts (unlike last year, the V-6 is now available with four-wheel drive). 11 of the Ram 1500's trim levels will carry over from 2012 into 2013, which ensures that regardless of whether it's barebones functionality or luxury a buyer is after, both are on the table.
08. The 2013 Ram 1500 Is Stronger And Lighter
The 2013 Ram 1500 comes with an all-new frame that is not only stronger than the chassis it replaces, but also lighter. In fact, the entire truck has gone on a diet in order to reduce its curb weight. This adds a spring to its step in the handling department, and cuts down on the mass that its engine has to cart around. The frame itself checks in at 30 lbs lighter, while the extensive use of aluminum subtracts 26 lbs from the hood and reduces the weight of the vehicle's front control arms. The front bumper and bed slats are also less heavy than they were the year before.
09. The 2013 Ram 1500 Is Safe
The 2013 Ram 1500 counts on more than its impressive bulk to protect its driver and passengers from harm in the event of an accident. The Ram 1500 is equipped with multi-stage forward airbags and side curtain airbags that extend along the entire length of the vehicle's cabin in order to create a cocoon of safety should the unthinkable occur. The truck also features electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, trailer sway control and traction control to keep the vehicle pointed straight and true regardless of how treacherous road conditions might become.
10. The 2013 Ram 1500 Raises The Ante In The Full-Size Truck Segment
There's no doubt that the decision to equip the 2013 Ram 1500 with the new Pentastar V-6 was made as a direct shot across the bow of the Ford F-150, which had been touting the power and fuel efficiency of its EcoBoost V-6 engine. The Pentastar slides into the lead as the least thirsty engine available under the hood of a full-size pickup, and the Ram's available air suspension and eight-speed automatic transmission leave the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra on the outside looking in as the oldest designs still plying the truck landscape.