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The Ram renaissance continues: After already showing off a light-duty lineup that will feature the first eight-speed automatic transmission in the full-size pickup segment—among other benefits—the Chrysler Group’s truck experts recently unwrapped the 2013 Ram Heavy Duty family, which will deliver the highest max tow rating, highest payload and most available torque in its class. Ram’s workhorses also get thoroughly upgraded interiors, with more premium features and design cues, along with the latest iteration of the Uconnect infotainment technology.
In other words, according to Fred Diaz, president and CEO of the Ram brand: “To answer the needs and wants of our customers, Ram Truck has taken a big step forward in capability while improving cost of ownership and efficiency. The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty allows you to push and pull more than any competitor, and the truck looks great doing it with new exterior design cues and an all-new interior featuring our latest technology.”
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2013 Ram Heavy Duty: Hardware
The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty trucks aren’t being touted as “all-new,” but they’re fairly close to earning that descriptor. After all, even the frames are new, and are now built with more high-strength steel, eight separate cross-members, hydroformed main rails and fully boxed rear rails. The pickups’ suspensions have been comprehensively reworked as well. For example, the 2013 RAM 3500 now sits on an advanced three-link setup in the front, to better handle snowplows and other nose-heavy applications, while the rear suspension features a fresh new Hotchkiss leaf-spring system for improved ride and handling even when drivers are taking advantage of the truck’s enhanced towing and payload capabilities.
Speaking of which, although Ram has yet to put any actual numbers on the HD trucks’ “best-in-class” abilities, the brand did reveal that, thanks to a conventional trailer hitch system that has been upgraded to meet Class 5 guidelines, towing prowess here is up to 17,000 lbs., to go with a maximum of 1,800 lbs. of tongue weight when used with 2- and 2.5-inch receiver hitches.
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2013 Ram Heavy Duty: Powertrains
There are upgrades a-plenty in the powertrain department, where the 2013 Ram Heavy Duty leverages some serious engine expertise. The starting point is a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that is standard on the 2013 RAM 2500 Heavy Duty and, for the first time, also standard on the 2013 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty (with a single rear wheel). On tap in both trucks are 383 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, managed by a six-speed automatic transmission.
Then, there is a trio of powertrain picks that feature a 6.7-liter I6 turbodiesel from Cummins. That engine can be paired with a segment-exclusive six-speed manual transmission for 350 hp and 660 lb.-ft. of torque—a 10 percent jump past the comparable 2012 setup—or be mated to a six-speed automatic to make 370 hp and a whopping 800 lb.-ft. of torque that’s unsurpassed among ¾-ton pickups.
At the head of the class is a high-output version of the Cummins diesel, hooked up to a new Aisin six-speed automatic that’s been specifically designed to handle the truck’s 385 hp and best-in-class 850 lb.-ft. of torque.
Both HEMI- and Cummins-powered trucks have been re-engineered for improved fuel economy, too. All 2013 Ram Heavy Duty pickups offer exclusive technology that disconnects certain drivetrain components in certain driving scenarios, reducing driveline drag and boosting fuel-efficiency by up to a full mile per gallon. The diesel-engined Ram HDs also benefit from a new selective catalytic reduction system and other enhancements for another 10 percent jump in fuel economy.
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2013 Ram Heavy Duty: Design
The exterior of the 2013 Ram Heavy Duty is distinguished by a redesigned grille with much-improved halogen headlamps and, of course, LED turn indicators, running lamps and taillights, but most of the exterior changes are fairly light. New wheel designs, aerodynamic and more functional running boards, 6- by 9-inch power-folding side-view mirrors, and new rear camera technology are the most noticeable.
On the other hand, the cabin of the 2013 Ram HDs gets the full treatment, with premium materials and improved attention to detail, as well as reconfigured controls and gauges that have been thoughtfully enhanced to deliver improved ergonomics for truck owners. This includes a cutting-edge version of the Chrysler Group’s award-winning Uconnect infotainment and connectivity technology. Backed by an 8.4-inch screen, the premium Uconnect systems deliver hands-free control over navigation, music choices, and phone calls, but then ups the ante with advanced text-messaging capabilities.
The texting system utilizes the latest Message Access Profile (MAP) technology and cloud-based voice recognition to allow users to create and send customized, verbatim text messages—not just canned responses.
As a further advantage, Uconnect can provide wireless Internet connectivity for tablets, laptops, smartphones and other digital devices. Which means that not only will the 2013 Ram Heavy Duty be able to transform itself into a tech-friendly hotspot, but it’s also likely to have the same effect on Ram dealerships.
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