2013 Ram 1500: Introduction
The veritable sweet spot of the American auto industry, pickup trucks are as much a part of life in the USA as baseball, hamburgers, milk shakes and fireworks on the Fourth of July. Because of this, the segment is one of the most competitive in the auto industry. Thing is, these vehicles are being called upon to do more than haul tools and materials to and from jobsites. People are using pickup trucks as their primary mode of transportation.
Automakers are recognizing this and building more and more features into trucks that were previously only found in very nice cars. Additionally trucks are being engineered to ride more smoothly, hand more adroitly and just generally coddle their occupants more. With this in mind, the Dodge Ram product planning team set about specifying the parameters of the all-new 2013 RAM 1500 pickup truck.
Easily the quietest pickup truck we’ve ever driven, the 2013 Ram 1500 is a technological tour de force, representing an outstanding achievement in improvement over an already fine product. The Ram product team say they were after four key areas of improvement; design, technology, features, and fuel economy.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Competition
When it comes to pickup trucks, the best selling models read like a who’s-who of the usual suspects, as the crown for the best selling truck circulates among the same three models endlessly. However, wearing the crown so often it has an indentation around its cranium ids the Ford F-150, routinely America’s best selling automobile—period.
Following closely on the F-150’s heels is the Chevrolet Silverado and its GMC sibling, the Sierra. Rounding out the field are the Asian competitors, the Nissan Titan and the Toyota Tundra. In terms of power, the entry-level V6 powered Ram bests them all with a 305-horsepower/269 ft.-lbs. of torque 3.6-liter V6. Titan has no V6 offering and thus eliminates itself from this aspect of the marketplace right off the bat.
Of course, V8 power is what these trucks are really all about, and in that regard, the Ram is firmly in the hunt with its 395-horsepower/ 407 ft.-lbs. 5.7-liter V8.
All are priced pretty competitively, as for features; the nod generally goes to the newest truck in the segment. Each successive generation of each model pretty much one-ups the competition.
But when it comes to towing, the F-150’s 11,300-pound maximum capacity wins the day.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Pricing and Trim Levels
For 2013, the Ram’s model designations include ST, Express, Tradesman, Outdoorsman, R/T, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn. Available in Regular-, Quad- and Crew-cab configurations, with either four-wheel drive, or two-wheel drive, and both long and short truck boxes; 2013 RAM 1500 pricing starts at $23,585 (including destination charges).
With all of those trim levels and three different body styles, tailoring a Ram 1500 to your specific needs should be infinitely doable. For model year 2013, the working truck oriented Tradesman features a 4.7-liter V-8, to get the big V8 on the basic end of the spectrum; you’ll want to take a look at the 5.7-liter Hemi-powered Express.
For off roaders, the Ram Outdoorsman comes with on/off-road tires, front suspension and transfer-case skid plates, power folding mirrors, and the 5.7-liter Hemi.
Executive truckers looking for the full deluxe treatment will want to check the box labeled Laramie Longhorn; it comes with power adjustable pedals, real wood trim on the center stack, dual-zone A/C, power adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, as well as a heated steering wheel and rear seats.
Urban truckers will want to consider the R/T. Designed to look mean on the street, it gets 22-inch wheels, the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, a sporty dual exhaust system, the Ram’s billet grille with a body-color grille surround, door handles and rear bumper.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Exterior
Continuing the ‘big rig” theme that so distinguished the RAM pickup upon its introduction back in 1994, the look of the new 2013 Ram 1500 is more evolution than revolution. The signature grille is larger and features a unique treatment for each different version.
The halogen/LED lighting suite is designed to produce more throw and a broader spread. The taillights incorporate LEDs too. The model designation on the doors has been laid out vertically rather than horizontally to make it easier for contractors and businesses to mount their signs.
Behind the grille, paired with the eight-speed transmission is a movable air shutter system designed to improve the aerodynamics at highway speeds. Under certain parameters, the system can block up to 80 percent of the air flowing through the grille to reduce drag.
Sharp-eyed observers will note the 2013 Ram’s chin is closer to the ground. This is another effort aimed towards improving aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Don’t worry though, the edge of the chin spoiler is made of a deformable material designed to pop back into shape if it hits something hard.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Interior
The top of the line Laramie model features plush leather and burl walnut unintentionally created by ranchers using trees as fence posts for barbed wire. Eventually, the trees grow over the rusting metal wire, creating a unique swirl coloring pattern and tone.
On the features/technology front, all secondary controls have been grouped by function, making them much easier to locate. Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system has been applied to the new Ram. It uses an 8.4-inch touchscreen interface—in addition to redundant controls, for each incorporated system. Additionally, TFT (thin-film transistor) technology has been incorporated into the instrument cluster—enabling instant reconfigurability of the instrumentation and the information provided—depending upon the operating mode selected.
A new electrical architecture was developed for the Ram to enable the new electronic feature-set. High and low-speed data networks are employed for both comfort and convenience features, as well as to improve the truck’s performance. The Ram is also capable of functioning as a Wi-Fi hot spot. Available Smartphone applications include remote lock and unlocking of the truck.
Speaking of locking the truck, the new Ram has a central locking system like that applied to better luxury cars. Locking the Ram’s doors also locks the storage bins in the walls of the pickup box, in addition to the fuel-filler and the tailgate.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Powertrains And Fuel Economy
Three engines are offered; a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter which generates 269 ft-lbs of torque and will tow 6,500 pounds. The 4.7-liter V8 produces 310 horsepower and 330 ft.-lbs. of torque and will tow up to 7,700 pounds. The 395-horsepower, 5.7-liter HEMI V8, pumping out 407 ft.-lbs. of torque is the top offering. Towing capacity with this engine is expected to be in the 9,000-pound range. An eight-speed automatic transmission is specified, which is a first for any Chrysler product with a V8.
Controlled by a rotary dial on the dash, rather than a conventional shift lever on the center console, the transmission is a big part of the fuel economy gains. It also features a thermal management system to get it up to operating temperature more quickly in order to reduce friction, improving its longevity as well as its ability to increase fuel efficiency.
The EPA estimates 17-mpg city/25 mpg highway. Which, for a vehicle the size of this new Ram is quite remarkable. There is also a high fuel efficiency (HFE) version of the truck equipped with a stop-start function, in addition to other fuel saving measures. That version of the Ram 1500 returns 18-mpg city and 25 on the highway.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Driving Impressions
On the road, the 3.6-liter V6 is so well matched we thought it was the V8, until we were informed otherwise. Then, when we drove the 5.7-liter V8, it was like wow! This thing’s got a lot of kick. Additionally, the Ram 1500 has a very smooth ride, thanks to the new air suspension system—which also features a load leveling function. Surprisingly, to be as big as it is, the Ram 1500 really does drive like a car. It is comfortable and smooth, as well as very quiet.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Safety
Safety features include standard front airbags, front and rear side-curtain air bags and seat-mounted side air bags. The Ram also features knee bolsters and seat-belt pretensioners Options include adjustable pedals, rear park assist and a rear back-up camera. Electronic stability control (ESC), traction control, trailer-sway control, Hill-start Assist and ABS are standard.
2013 Ram 1500 Road Test And Review: Final Thoughts
The state of the art of pickup trucks has advanced mightily. Features formerly found only in mega-dollar luxury cars are now available to truckers; thanks to the determination of Ram’s product planners to make the 2013 Ram 1500 the most advanced pickup truck on the market.
Of course this status will only last until Chevy redoes the Silverado and Ford reworks the F-150. That said, when they raise their games to the level of this new Ram, we’ll all win, whether we favor Chrysler’s, Ford’s, or GM’s take on that most ubiquitous of American vehicles—the pickup truck.