2013 Ram 1500
Base price: $23,585 – $48,415
MPG: 18 city/25 highway (RWD V-6)
- Classy updates inside and out
- More powerful, efficient V-6 engine
- Excellent ride and handling quality
- Not the biggest payload or towing capacity among trucks
By Jim Prueter
Truck buyers are among the most loyal, switching brands only under rare circumstances. So loyal are they, the sales pecking order has remained unchanged since 1994, when a revolutionary restyled Dodge Ram surpassed the GMC Sierra for the No. 3 spot.
The re-skinned and significantly re-engineered 2013 Ram is arriving at dealers earlier than expected. With General Motors scheduled to start selling a re-designed Silverado and GMC Sierra next spring, and Ford planning a new 2014 aluminum body pickup to further improve fuel economy, the folks at Ram decided to pull out all stops now.
Fred Diaz, the head of Ram predicts that the new Ram will lure loyal customers from other brands mainly because of better fuel economy, with about a dozen significant features on the new truck contributing to that goal.
Chrysler says the new Ram 1500 will have best-in-class fuel efficiency, led by a new 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 that is 20 percent more fuel efficient than the outgoing 3.7-liter V-6 with 215 horsepower. Fuel economy is rated at an impressive 18 city/25 highway mpg.
The Ram 1500 will continue to offer two V-8 options: a 310-horsepower 4.7-liter and a 395-horsepower 5.7-liter. The larger V-8 (slightly more powerful than before) will be more fuel efficient, thanks to the new eight-speed automatic and available stop/start technology. The smaller V-8 will still have a six-speed automatic gearbox.
The eight-speed automatic will use a rotary “e-shift” knob located on the left side of the lower center stack rather than a traditional gearshift lever. Diaz says it's easier to use and frees up more storage space for the console.
There’s also an air suspension system with five settings that change the ride height up to a total of 4 inches, meaning the owner can raise the 1500 for better ground clearance or lower it for better fuel efficiency and easier entry and exiting for vehicle occupants. The air suspension will also have automatic load-leveling functionality, helping improve towing and hauling performance.
On the outside, the 2013 Ram has a new, taller grille and front bumper, and previously optional quad halogen headlamps are now standard on all 11 trim levels, as are LED taillights. The popular RamBox cargo system will be offered on 80 percent of all models and can now be locked and unlocked via the vehicle’s central locking system.
The already best-in-class Ram interior gets a modest update, but materials and trims are all-new and befitting luxury models with a reworked center stack and new operational interfaces. The center stack features an 8.4-inch screen that controls media, climate, and navigation, as well as the Uconnect Access system that offers SiriusXM Satellite Radio, plus real-time weather and traffic. In front of the driver, there’s a new gauge cluster with a 7-inch screen between the tachometer and speedometer. Other features include keyless entry/ignition, adjustable pedals, Bluetooth, voice recognition, smart phone app connectivity, and a WiFi hotspot link.
From the entry level Ram ST to the Laramie Limited, the Ram 1500 will be offered in a total of 13 trim levels, with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive; regular, quad, or four-door crew cabs; and short, medium, or long bed lengths. A new bed and cab configuration, the mid-length 6-foot, 4-inch bed with the four-door crew cab, is also available for the 2013 model.
The 2013 Ram will be available in a choice of 12 colors, including five new shades. Black Gold Pearl, Copperhead Pearl, Maximum Steel Metallic, Prairie Pearl, and Western Brown Pearl are all new. Other monotone and two-tone options are available.
Actual pricing was not available as of this writing but we expect the Ram 1500 to start for less than $24,000 and as high as $46,000 for the top-of-the-line Laramie editions.
On the road, Ram 1500 drives and rides more like a car, thanks to its advanced coil-spring rear suspension and luxurious interior, especially on the upscale top-of-the-line Laramie Longhorn. But even the lower trim-level models are excellent and comfortable, making the Ram 1500 is the best-driving pickup in the class overall.
Standard safety features include six standard air bags, side-curtain bags, and seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax bags, plus stability control with a trailer-sway system and hill-start assist.
We expect buyers will be especially pleased with the updated Ram 1500 because of its striking good looks, upscale interiors, smooth ride, towing and hauling capabilities, and now, its best-in-class fuel economy. It’s a winning combination that maintains Ram’s status as a top pick in the full-size pickup truck segment and that may even entice buyers to switch brands.