Winner Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4
For 2013 the Ram 1500 is virtually all-new from the ground up. This includes a lighter and stronger frame, body panels, and a host of technology upgrades. For our test we took the reins of the Outdoorsman 4x4 Crew Cab. The Outdoorsman edition is designed to accommodate fisherman, hunters, and general outdoor hobby enthusiasts. Some of the highlights of the Outdoorsman package include a limited-slip differential, Hemi V-8, class IV hitch, and beefy all-terrain tires.
For 2013 our test Ram was also fitted with some class-exclusive features. A part of that exclusivity is the multilink rear suspension, which when fitted with the optional and new Active-Level 4-Corner air suspension as our tester was, equates to a truck with automatic load-leveling capabilities. This feature is a major plus for those constantly hauling trailers and toting heavy loads.
Another area that Ram is bidding for exclusivity in is mpg. To achieve the fuel economy goals, Ram has removed power-robbing components such as the power steering pump and replaced it with an all-electric power steering system. Another fuel saving feature Ram has worked in with models equipped with the optional air suspension, is an aero mode that causes the truck to lower its stance at highways speeds. These are just two of the many cues built into to the '13 model year to claim the best mpg numbers in its class.
When we first set eyes on the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman a few of us thought there was a mix-up. With its heavily blacked-out styling and minimal badges, we thought we had received some sort of NASCAR Truck edition. It didn't help that when the air suspension is in entry/exit mode it makes the truck appear that much lower. For a truck with Outdoorsman in the title, we half expected a deer head silhouette or some sort of Mossy Oak trim.
The more we studied the truck though, the more we began to appreciate the understated, but very clever attributes of it. Where the Tacoma Baja screams "hey, look at me", the Ram subtly states, "get out of my way, I have work to do." Beefy all-terrain tires and a simple click of the truck into Off-Road mode provides the truck with a stance better fitted with its name. While the approach angle isn't terrible, a removable lower bumper face would do wonders for keeping things out of harm's way off-road.
With our test truck fitted with the optional cargo management system known as RamBox it became the go-to truck for putting away items that we didn't want to place inside of the pickup (i.e., tools, tow straps, recovery gear). We especially liked that you could lock and unlock the RamBoxes wirelessly via the same key fob that engages the door locks. Overall, the Ram still has a very brand specific look and style that we like, and front and rear tow points to get us out when we get into trouble.
Inside the Ram the new for '13 cloth seats provided great support and had plenty of adjustment to accommodate a variety of drivers. And seating in the rear was adequate for a grown man. If there was one area that was a little overwhelming, it's the new dash. Even after spending a 1,000 miles behind the wheel, we were still finding new read outs and features on the vehicle information center.
What makes the razzle-dazzle of the dash stand out even more was the extremely odd and clumsy radio fitted with the truck. The optional in-dash navigation unit would have been great, but our as-equipped truck radio was fitted with knobs that looked better suited for a Fisher-Price toy than a modern-day pickup. Fortunately, the Ram has enough interior storage compartments that you could hide the hideous radio easily in one of the many easily accessible compartments. Inside the cab is extremely well insulated and everything about the truck feels solid and securely fastened-something easy to appreciate after exiting the Tacoma.