The Dodge Ram pickup has had its place on the farm, ranch, or construction site for many years. But now that Ram trucks has been pulled out from under the Dodge name and made a division of its own, the Ram is butting heads over and over. Instead of simply glancing at the new 2013 Ram 1500 in a parking lot, consumers might need to take a minute and find out what they can not see that is making this new Ram pickup so special.
The past few years, Ram pickups have taken a quantum leap into the real world of trucks. Their new motto, “Guts & Glory”, really define this vehicle. The outside ‘looks’ are the much the same as last year, with a slightly larger grille and the bumper being restyled. But it is the ‘guts’ of this truck that makes the difference.
A large group of automotive journalists were invited to the Nashville, Tennessee area to preview and test-drive the new 2013 Ram 1500. There is so much to learn about what Ram has done to improve their pickup for this year. More comfort, more utility, better economy, and more innovative technology are those unknowns that cannot be seen by giving this truck a once-over glance on a parking lot.
The last group of media to attend the test-drive event were mostly from Texas. It was referred to as the ‘Texas Auto Writers’ group because a lot of emphasis was on TAWA’s fall Truck Rodeo and the bragging rights if a truck is named ‘Truck of Texas.” Even Ram President Fred Diaz was present to shake hands, socialize, and further extol the benefits and improvements of the 2013 Ram 1500.
Much like other manufacturers, there is a major use of high-strength steel. Ram has reshaped the front bumper but managed to drop about 4 pounds of weight. The hood looks the same, but it is now made of high-strength aluminum and that drops about 26 more pounds. Less weight and better aerodynamics improve fuel economy, and that’s the name of the game in today’s automotive industry.
The new Ram is powered by the Chrysler Pentastar V6 engine. This is a 3.6 liter power-plant that provides 305 horsepower and has been used in other Chrysler products such as the Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler 300, and Dodge Challenger. This is the first Ram truck to have the Pentastar V6, which adds about 90 horsepower and better efficiency that the 3.7 liter engine it replaces. The presentation notes say this Pentastart V-6 is rated as one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines, features 42 percent more horsepower, 13 percent more torque, and 20 percent better fuel economy.
During the press briefing, four large guys sat down on the open tailgate of one of the displayed Ram pickups. There was an immediate drop at the back end, but then a noticeable leveling of the truck. This demonstration was done to show off a great new option available. There is a four-wheel height-adjustable air suspension system. Since most pickups are used for carrying large loads in the rear bed area, the trucks often lean and tilt towards the rear. This leveling action increases the smoothness of the ride as well as help increase the gas mileage when carrying heavy loads.
The engine, the use of lighter weight materials, self-leveling actions, and better aerodynamics all add up to the real story about the 2013 Ram 1500 – fuel economy. Each small improvement adds a small bump in miles-per-gallon. A stop-start feature actually turns the engine off when the truck is sitting at a traffic signal or other stop for significant amount of time. There are new active grille shutters that close to reduce air flow. Even the wheel-to-wheel running boards add a significant help. This new Ram 1500 is EPA rated at 25 miles-per-gallon, which is announced as the best-in-class fuel economy.
There is a new 8-speed TorqueFlite transmission that offers very smooth gear changes. Actually, the electronic brain works very quietly to match the Pentastar V6 engine gears with the 8 ratio levels of the transmission so that the shifting and gear changes are not noticeable. Because of this special interaction, the company’s engineers say that a tow-haul switch is not necessary any more and that this 2013 Ram 1500 is tow rated about 2600 pounds more than last year’s model.
Inside, the cabin has been restyled and improved. The AC vents are now positioned on the center stack. The center console is larger. There is a large 8.4-inch touchscreen that offers an easy-to-use navigation system, audio controls, phone, and much more. Almost all new materials have been used for the interior. The event briefing for the media said, “The 2013 Ram entry level models this year are like the premium models from last year.”
Starting price for 2013 Ram is only $23,585, but that is for the regular cab, 2-wheel drive. The Crew Cab 4×4 is in the neighborhood of $37 – $38,000. A standout favorite is the Longhorn Edition that features leather seating, special badging, and a lot more features, although the pricing is slightly more.
Bottom line: the new 2013 Ram 1500 pickup is awesome, but most consumers can not see the improvements. Sometimes what’s hidden inside can be a lot more valuable that what’s on the outside, whether it is a person or a vehicle. This truck delivers a great value and great mileage for a great price. This makes the 2013 Ram more competitive than ever. Guts & Glory. Check it out yourself at a Ram dealership.