If you thought the tow rig wars were finally cooling down, think again. For 2013, the Ram 2500 and 3500 series trucks are stepping up their game and Ram is rolling out a host of new innovations and features for the heavy-duty line including best-in-class towing and best-in-class Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). We recently got a first look at the new ¾- and 1-ton models, and while more info is still to come, the fresh sheep are aiming to lead the herd. For most of us looking at the heavy-duty line, the torque-churning diesel engine is the biggest draw. While it’s hard not to gravitate towards the 6.7L Cummins diesel, it is worth mentioning that the 2500 and 3500 (single-rear wheel) model trucks are now fitted with the 5.7L Hemi V-8 as a standard issue powerplant.
As one of the few trucks still available with a manual transmission, Ram continues to champion those who cherish the control and simplicity of rowing gears. For those looking for top-level power and refinement, the Ram 3500 can now be outfitted with a 6.7L Cummins High-Output turbodiesel that delivers 385hp and 850 lb-ft of torque when mated with the AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission. The Cummins diesel also receives a fresh emissions system that is said to allow for 15,000 miles between oil change intervals, run on B-20 biofuels, and see an improvement of 10-percent in fuel economy. The exclusive dual-inlet Ram Active Air in diesel models only adjusts induction from underhood to inner fender depending on driving conditions and environment for optimal performance. Dual 220-amp alternators are also available (diesel 3500 only).
Underneath the updated exterior is a 50KSI steel frame that’s wider and equipped with eight crossmembers. The rear portion of the chassis is fully boxed and can be optioned with a factory-integrated fifth-wheel or goose-neck hitch. The in-bed plugs and wiring are also included in this package. A Class 5 receiver hitch capable of 17,000 pounds of load-carrying capacity and 1,800 pounds of tongue weight brings up the rear. The new frame is paired with a redesigned radius-arm front suspension (3500 only for now but we suspect the 2500 will follow shortly) and typical Hotchkiss leaf spring rear. The goal was to increase roll-stiffness and load-carrying capacity, while improving comfort and reducing NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness). The new front suspension system created the opportunity to improve the steering for greater durability and control. The new premium reciprocating ball steering gear, redesigned steering knuckles, ball joints and more robust steering linkages are said to deliver enhanced and precise on-center feel despite the vehicles higher towing and payload capacities.
To further the fuel economy gains, Ram has fitted the front axle with an axle-disconnect that allows the frontend to be disengaged when not in use resulting in up to a 1 mpg increase in fuel economy. Traditionally, front axle-disconnects are not a wheelers best friend, but in today’s high-priced fuel market, any help on the fuel economy front is welcomed.
There are enough lighting, computer, safety, and information technology upgrades on the Ram to make even the most tech savvy guy dizzy. Ultimately, you’ll want to know that the headlights are better, power outlets and Wi-Fi capability will make for a great mobile office, and the Uconnect Access system will wow your friends, once you find a 13-year-old whiz-kid to show you how to use it. We’re excited to see the changes to the Ram platform and look forward to getting behind the wheel of the new heavy-duty model line later this year.
Vehicle model: 2013 Ram 2500/3500 4x4
Base price: TBD
Engine type (optional): 6.7L Cummins diesel, six-cylinder, inline, liquid-cooled, turbocharged, intercooled
Valvetrain: OHV, 24 valves, solid lifters
Mfg’s hp @ rpm: 385 @ 2,800
Mfg’s torque (lb-ft) @ rpm: 850 @ 1600
Transmission: AS69RC 6-spd automatic
Transfer case: 2-spd, part-time (2.64:1 low range ratio)
Axle ratio(s): 3.73:1
Suspension (f/r): Solid axle, coil sprung/solid axle, leaf sprung
Steering: Recirculating ball, power assisted
Brakes (f/r): Disc
Curb weight (lb): TBD
Max payload capacity (lb): TBD
Max towing capacity (lb): 17,000 w/class 5 receiver
Fuel capacity (gal): TBD
EPA city/hwy mileage estimates (mpg): N/A