Ram is its own individual brand of truck, and even has its very own president and CEO. Talk about accountability. So it’s no wonder Fred M. Diaz infused the 2013 Ram with its current level of superiority, quality, performance, safety and technology. And with 11 models, two engines, two transmissions, as well as 2WD and 4×4 configurations, twelve colors in three cab choices: a Regular Cab, Quad Cab or Crew Cab to select from, there is literally a Ram 1500 truck to suit each and every type of pickup truck buyer in the marketplace. Customers can select from several trim levels: the ST (fleet), Tradesman, Express, SLT, Big Horn, Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Sport, R/T, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn. In addition, the Ram 1500 Mossy Oak Edition and Laramie Limited have been added to the lineup for the active enthusiast and affluent pickup owner.
During a recent test-drive through the outskirts of Nashville, TN we were able to evaluate a majority of the aforementioned models — my favorite being the True Blue exterior and Canyon Brown/Light Frost interior 1500 Crew Cab Laramie 4×4.
The 1500 Series is the breadwinner of the pickup market, so manufacturers like Ram, Ford, GM, GMC, and Toyota have to be super assertive with their offerings. It’s not abnormal to see the F-150, Sierra, Tundra or Silverado with stately features such as luxurious cabins and car-like ride quality. Does this mean that trucks are getting softer and a bit out of touch from their original purpose? Do owners suddenly feel their reputations being challenged? It’s been said that the harder they come the harder they fall. Not any more! The new Ram is as hardcore as they come, but delivers the sophisticated touch that today’s customers are demanding. Doesn’t this sound delightful?: an 8-speed transmission; 4 Corner Air Suspension; rear back-up camera; Keyless go; projector headlamps; an 8.4” LCD screen with downloadable apps and a 7” full color LCD Information Center (350 screens of services); locking tailgate due to the large amount of thefts; and a fuel saving stop/start system. These features not only allow the Ram to perform its traditional array of duties such as hauling tree trunks and towing trailers, but permits the driver and passengers to enjoy the “to and from” ride in style, comfort and efficiency.
Power for the 2013 Ram 1500 originates from either the enhanced HEMI 5.7-liter V8 with Fuel Saver Technology or the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine. The HEMI will give you 395 horsepower and 407 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,950 rpm while the Pentastar offers a substantial 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,175 rpm. The Pentastar was respectable on the roads and showed no obvious signs of being underpowered, even though we weren’t hauling a fallen and chopped tree. So real world performance remains to be seen. It is however 20% more fuel efficient than the 3.7-liter it replaces, yet, is only found in the 1500 4×2. I’m a 4×4 guy, so the Pentastar wouldn’t work by default in my circumstance. Additionally, I like the dual exhaust pipes offered by the V8. Also new to the powertrain menu, is Ram’s eight-speed automatic transmission that is standard equipment with the Pentastar and available with the HEMI come early 2013. Honestly, I can’t recall any recent drives in a pickup where the shifting was so smooth. Dubbed TorqueFlite 8, the latest 1500’s 8-speed features an e-shift rotary dial on the dash that allows for quick and easy gear changes. Supplanting the traditional column and floor shifter, the placement does take a bit of getting used to. Initially I kept reaching for the steering column when shifting out of park. The HEMI is also engineered with a fuel saving cylinder shut-off. The key is that Ram Trucks packaged the new 1500 to be as fuel efficient as possible so that the pickup can be used as a daily means of transportation. For example, there is a High Efficiency model with stop/start feature that powers down the vehicle when is comes to a halt. A 220-amp alternator and an 800-amp battery keep the vehicle’s electronics running in the interim. Electric Power Steering also saves fuel, as does the innovative Active Grille Shuttering that reduces drag and prevents turbulence in the engine compartment by closing airflow through the grille when extra cooling is not needed. Thus, the airflow is then diverted over the front of the Ram.
My favorite offering of the new Ram is the 4 Corner Air Suspension, which Ram says is probably their biggest singular improvement. There are four different ride heights that increase the total range of travel up to 4”. The default height is 8.7” of clearance. Off-road 1 and Off-road 2 adjust the height another 1.2” and 2” respectfully from the default load-level. Park Mode lowers the suspension to 6.7” of ground clearance for comfortable exiting and loading. A fifth mode, Aero, is automatic and drops the Ram .6” when the Ram hits 62 mph. I experienced these variations when we traveled through a mini obstacle course with steep inclines and uneven ground surfaces. In addition, the air suspension will adjust the Ram to normal height even after it’s weighted down with a payload.
Weight was reduced from the prior model in almost every area of the 2013 Ram 1500. An aluminum hood, new bumper, aluminum control arms, fog lights, steel wheels and more, all add to the lightened form. Already the most dominant and menacing front fascia in all of truck-land, the Ram’s grille and has been re-sculpted and has grown 30mm taller. Moreover, each model receives its own finishing. For instance the Longhorn has a large epic bumper that’s real metal. This may sound like an oxymoron, but much emphasis was put on the aerodynamics of the Ram such as the new running boards that now extend from wheel to wheel. Owners should also like the power side view mirrors and rear window. Others will like the bed extender, spray in bedliner and savvy RamBox cargo enhancer embedded within the side of the bed. Yet, if you go with that setup then you won’t be able to opt for the cool rail pipes.
Step up into the Ram and discover a brave new world of interior craftsmanship. Now, it is possible to select simple interiors with cloth seats and basic trimmings, yet, Ram has the versatility of allowing owners to haul up to 11,500 pounds and carry loads up to 3,125 pounds as if they’re in a golden chariot, replete with full leather, multi-layered woods and trim, and a new center stack with more gadgetry than an iPad, including a 115-volt outlet, 12-volt outlets, a USB input and the 8.4” Uconnect multi-media center. Inside the wide and deep center console, there is another set of power sources, including USB, a 12-volt and an SD slot. A dual glove compartment and a multitude of slots, indentations and storage bins are omnipresent throughout the cabin. Uconnect not only provides precise and graphically enhanced navigating, but also operates your media devices, music, climate and WiFi through partners Sprint and Bluetooth for phone pairing while offering an array of apps just like the iPad.
Word by Kimatni D. Rawlins