Trucks ain’t what they used to be. Years ago, you bought a truck because you needed to haul stuff or do other manly (sorry, ladies) chores that required payload capacity. They were typically noisier and rougher riding than cars, and they lacked some of the more refined creature comforts. The 21st century has changed all that, and today’s trucks offer the best of all worlds with their ability to haul/tow and wrap you in comfort on the street or in the dirt.
Take the Ram 1500 for example. It has become a highly recognized truck body in America. For 2013, the engineers at Chrysler wanted to improve on that design. They didn’t deviate hugely from the familiar Ram profile but did make some subtle body changes, as well as some rather significant mechanical changes. Top that with a myriad of minor changes throughout the truck to substantially improve mpg ratings.
Models are available in regular cab, quad cab, and crew cab in 2WD and 4WD. Engines include the 3.6L V-6, 4.7L V-8, and 5.7L Hemi V-8. Auto transmissions include six-speed and eight-speed versions. So, there are a lot of options to choose from to satisfy customer needs.
We had the chance to drive both a truck with the 5.7L Hemi V-8 backed by a six-speed automatic transmission and the 3.6L Pentastar V-6 followed up with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. The 395hp Hemi certainly put a smile on our face when we cracked the throttle open hard. However, the smooth drivability of the eight-speed and V-6 was impressive. With the extra gears, you always felt like you were in the rpm sweet spot, and that made acceleration brisk with the smaller V-6. Plus, we appreciate the fact that the transmission can be manually shifted via steering wheel mounted buttons.
For those not needing the greater power of the V-8, you can tap the higher gas mileage numbers from the 305hp variable-valve timing V-6 engine. The eight-speed will also soon be available behind the Hemi for even smoother delivery of the higher torque motor. We’re looking forward to trying that combination for heavier-use applications.
For those looking for the best in city fuel mileage, Ram offers a truck option using stop-start action that shuts off the engine during complete stops and then re-fires the engine as soon as the driver releases the brake pedal. This combination is said to offer best-in-class mileage of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway in their 2WD high-efficiency model.
The 4WD versions come with one of two Borg-Warner transfer cases, either the 44-45 (part-time 4WD) or the 44-44 (on-demand 4WD). Low-range gearing is 2.64:1, and the 1350 series U-joints are used in the driveshafts.
For those who like to tow or haul materials with their truck, the 2013 Ram 1500 is rated for towing up to 11,500 pounds and rated to a payload of 3,125 pounds. Electric braking control is integrated into the truck and allows automatic and manual control from the dash.
This is only a quick summary of the new features of the Ram. We were impressed with the overall handling, ride, and performance of the new 1500. The bar has been raised with new creature comforts and efficiency improvements of this venerable yet redesigned half-ton.