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2013 Ram 1500 - Long Term Report Part 3 of 4

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on June 4, 2014
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During the third quarter behind the wheel of our 2013 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year winner, we decided to get some work done. This included trailer towing, moving a pickup-less friend out of an apartment, hauling tools to the jobsite and more. Our 2013 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman may be option packaged toward the needs of an outdoor enthusiast, but many of these features are extremely handy when working day to day on the job. Our favorite feature by far has been the RamBox option. We can’t even begin to tell you how useful these two huge bedside compartments have been. We’ve used them to stow away tools, tie-downs, towstraps, rigging equipment, and more. We even fit a 48-inch Hi-Lift jack in there. For us, having the RamBoxes meant that the interior of our 2013 Ram 1500 stayed cleaner. We didn’t have to secure any dirty items in the cab, and our stuff didn’t get stolen as it was safely locked in the boxes instead of sitting in an open bed for all to see. We have never missed the in-bed storage above the rear wheelwells that the RamBox option fills.

The tie-down rails mounted in the bed, however, have not been a favorite feature. We like the idea of the adjustable tie-down spots, but the aluminum railings and large plastic loops seem to get in the way when we want to use the bed for squarish items like boxes, couches, or refrigerators. The aluminum rails can dig into the cargo’s finish, mar paint, or punch holes in soft items. We’d rather see flush-mounted or submerged hidden hooks here so they don’t interfere with the cargo. The factory spray-in bedliner does a great job of warding off scratches, but it stains easily with oil and is hard to clean. It also does nothing to protect the bed from larger dings and dents caused by heavier items shifting during transport. We typically prefer a drop-in–style bedliner in most cases.

"The self-leveling air suspension and backup camera make towing a trailer a pleasure."

Towing with the 2013 Ram 1500 is a dream. The combination of the 395hp Hemi V-8 mated to the 8HP70 eight-speed transmission in front of our optional 3.92:1 axle gears provides an impressive ½-ton towing platform with a trailer tow rating of up to 10,450 pounds (depending on how the truck is outfitted). Another feature we have come to love is the Active-Level Four-Corner Air Suspension System. Hitching up a trailer and safely hauling a load has never been easier. You can even manually lower the truck’s suspension to get under a hitch. Then, once the trailer is set down onto the ball, the air suspension automatically inflates and self-levels the truck and loaded trailer. No more dealing with twitchy steering from an unweighted front end or headlights pointing up into the night sky. As an option at only $1,595, the air-link suspension has proved extremely useful and soft-riding while loaded and unloaded.

The cargo management bedrails and adjustable loops come in handy, but they can damage your cargo if you don’t load carefully. Using the bed extension is easy and allows a bit more bed space. Overall, we prefer a sturdy drop-in bedliner over the spray-in types when hauling heavier items that can roll around and dent the sheetmetal. Also, the factory Ram spray-in liner seems to stain easily with dirt and oil.

A few of the smaller, less often noticed options on our truck have been very helpful as well. The backup camera is well worth the $200 cost if you tow regularly or need to frequently back into tight places. It has allowed us to hitch up trailers on our own in seconds, every time. The tailgate bed extender may seem like a cumbersome chunk of plastic at first, but it folds up and stores out of the way at the front of the bed. We have used it many times in place of tie-downs to keep the cargo from rolling around. It also functions as a very sturdy bed extender for those larger loads. We appreciate that the dual trailer plugs are mounted in the bumper, rather than below it where they would get damaged off-road. We love that the built-in adjustable trailer brake control is conveniently located above the center console where you can see and reach it. The gain readout is displayed in the dash so you don’t have to look away from the road when making adjustments. Next quarter we’ll wrap up our year-long evaluation and see if there is anything we would change or order differently on our 2013 Ram 1500.

Report: 3 OF 4
Previous reports: January ’14, May ‘14
Base price: $37,300
Price as tested: $47,080
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time, two-speed, in-dash pushbutton
Miles to date: 12,718
Miles since last report: 3,978
Average mpg (this report): 13.59
Test best tank (mpg): 16.74 (70-75 mph on desert highways)
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.71 (towing 7,500 pounds)
This period: None
Problem areas: Leaky oil filter, replaced at dealer under warranty
Hot: Self-leveling air suspension with load or trailer
Not: Bedrail system interferes with cargo
“The cargo management bedrails and plastic loops dig into anything you haul that is taller than the bed.”
“It’s getting 9.71 mpg while aggressively towing 7,500 pounds. Not awesome, but better than some other ½-tons I’ve driven.”
“This spray-in bedliner is really only good for keeping the bed from getting scratched. It still gets dented and oil stained. I prefer a sturdy drop-in liner.”

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