The most fuel-efficient full-size pickup in America is now the 2013 RAM 1500—or it will be when it arrives in dealerships later this year with a Pentastar V6 mated to an exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission called the TorqueFlite 8. That combination is expected to deliver “at least 20 percent better fuel economy” than the Ram’s current V6 powertrain, which would move the needle from today’s EPA marks of 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway/16 mpg combined to a projected line of about 17/24/19.
At the same time, the switch to Pentastar power also delivers a best-in-class 305 hp and 269 lb.-ft. of torque, representing upgrades of 40 percent and 13 percent versus the Ram’s 2012 V6 engine.
Prefer a HEMI under the hood? Ram will offer the new TorqueFlite 8 transmission with a 5.7-liter HEMI as well, providing owners with 395 hp, 407 lb.-ft. of torque and at least a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy (versus the comparable 2012 powertrain). The results should include an EPA highway mark of 22 mpg and the best V8 fuel-economy performance in the full-size pickup segment.
The HEMI-TorqueFlite powertrain will launch early next year.
2013 Ram 1500: Dialing up the TorqueFlite 8
Although Ram actually will be deploying a number of new mileage enhancers for the 2013 model year—also including active grille shutters and the segment’s first stop-start system—the real difference-maker here is the TorqueFlite 8 transmission. It builds on the Chrysler Group’s pioneering work in bringing an eight-speed automatic to the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger earlier this year, enabling those full-size sedans to achieve up to 31 mpg on the highway. But now it’s been upgraded to handle the more rigorous demands of pickup owners, complete with a shifter design borrowed from heavy-duty Class 6-8 work trucks.
Instead of either column- or floor-mounted shifters, the TorqueFlite 8 relies on a rotary-style e-shifter that’s been developed to provide simple, intuitive operation, even if a driver is wearing work gloves. Not only does this create a cleaner, more spacious cabin, but the unit also is perfect for the kind of quick “blind” shifts needed to go from reverse to drive—and back again—in tricky towing and travelling situations.
(To be clear, the driver changes gears with the TorqueFlite 8 by turning a rotary dial mechanism that has no direct mechanical linkage to the transmission; gear changes are signaled to the transmission electronically. This also allows for an “intelligent” approach to gear selection, with software analyzing conditions on the fly and then using one of more than 40 shift maps tailored to providing the ideal shift points in a wide range of driving scenarios.)
Pricing and other details of the 2013 RAM pickup will follow in the near-term future.