2013 Ram 1500
Yes, we know that a V6 was already available in the RAM, but it was a pretty weak one, and only available in 2-wheel-drive models. The 2013 RAM 1500 is a whole different animal, with its Pentastar V6 packing V8-like performance in a more fuel efficient package; the same draw used sucessfully by Ford with its EcoBoost. And speaking of packaging, the new Ram’s rugged exterior wrappings have also gotten some updating. Nothing drastic, but a new front fascia with an even more imposing grille, updated quad headlights, and available LED turn signals all work to bring this beast up to date. Active grille shutters help make aerodynamics best in the full-size truck ranks, while an aluminum hood and suspension pieces help reduce weight.
Crew Cab models are now available with a 6-foot 4-inch bed, so you no longer have to choose between people or cargo room. RAM 1500 lettering on the doors is now stacked to make additional room for business signage, resolving a common complaint of current Ram owners.
Things continue mostly the same in back save for some new LED tail lights set between a substantial tail gate. 17-inch steel wheels are standard, while SLT’s come with 17-inch aluminum hoops; 20’s and even 22’s are also available.
But, this is really all about the drivetrain, and here in the new RAM 1500, the Pentastar 3.6-liter FlexFuel V6 cranks out 305-horsepower and 269 lb-ft. of torque. Combined with a new standard “TorqueFlite” 8-speed automatic transmission you can tow up to 6,500 lbs. Way less than EcoBoost, but still class best for a normally aspirated V6. The optional HEMI V8 tows over 9,000-pounds. Tranny gear selection is by a rather unmanly-like electronic rotary shifter. But it does free up console space and works so well, it’s hard to complain about it.
The 4X4 transfer case is also electronically controlled with buttons located just under the shifter. Both part-time and on-demand systems are available. An integrated trailer brake controller is also offered.
Other much appreciated updates inside the cabin include premium materials throughout and a new TFT multi-view configurable gauge display. Fit-and-finish has been improved and most controls are easier to operate. Chrysler’s next generation Uconnect Access makes its debut in the Ram 1500 with an 8.4-inch touch-screen and Wi-Fi hot spot. Rear seat room in our Crew Cab SLT was more than plentiful, and softer materials on the doors make for a more pleasant experience. Seat bottoms fold up for additional storage space.
While the RAM was already one of the smoothest riding pick-ups on the market, a lighter but stiffer frame and new available air suspension smooth things even further. Offering up to 4-inches of adjustability, from a low “park-and-load” mode, to a pair of off-road modes that increase ground clearance a full 2-inches over normal ride height. In addition, automatic load-leveling will ensure a level stance when fully loaded with cargo or towing a trailer.
We left the cargo behind and hauled our way to 60 in 8.5-seconds. About 2 seconds slower than an EcoBoost but not bad for a big pickup. Off the line grunt is close to a V8, and power comes on fairly strong down the quarter mile where we hit 84 miles-per-hour in 16.7-seconds. Braking from 60 was great for a full size truck as we averaged stops of just 131-feet from the standard 4-wheel disc with ABS. The RAM plowed its way through the cones however, with predictable understeer and body roll that reminds you of its full-size stature. But new electric power steering maintains a consistent feel, while reducing weight, and further improving fuel economy.
Even without the available automatic stop/start system, the RAM 1500 Pentastar boasts best in class Government Fuel Economy Ratings. Our 4X4 rates 16-City, 23-Highway, and 19-Combined. Overall that’s 2 MPG better than a comparable F150 EcoBoost, and that’s without the complexity of a turbo. Still, this is a full-size truck and Energy Impact Scores are below average at 17.3-barrels of annual oil consumption, with yearly CO2 emissions of 7.7-tons.
Full pricing was not announced at this writing, but the 1500 Regular Cab 4X2 begins at $23,585. That’s up over last year, but just barely. And that would put our Crew Cab SLT 4X4 around $35,000 to start.
The Pentastar-packing 2013 RAM 1500 truly has the guts to deliver real world truck usefulness; all while getting class best fuel economy and delivering a killer ride. It may not have the extra boost of its blue oval rival, but it has what it takes to charge through the full-size pickup truck ranks at ramming speed.
Engine: Pentastar 3.6-liter FlexFuel V6
Torque: 269 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.7 seconds @ 84 mph
EPA: 16 mpg city/ 23 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 17.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.7 tons/yr