So Chrysler has been aggravating all of us by doing its social media teasing via Facebook. Between the SRT Viper and the Ram1500 teasing campaigns, we were about teased out. Just as it did with the Viper, Chrysler redeemed itself by finally releasing the actual production 2013 Ram 1500.
This new 2013 Ram1500 made its debut on April 5th via a live webcast on, you guessed it, FACEBOOK! First and foremost, Chrysler’s focus with the new Ram 1500 was gas mileage, as pickups are falling drastically behind cars in this area, and soon buyers will not be able to fuel these monsters. Luckily, Chrysler has no plans to drastically reduce engine size or mess with the aesthetics of the Ram in order to increase mileage. There are just a few tweaks here and there.
The true test is if this pickup can catch up to its main competitors, the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and the GM Sierra 1500. The only way that Ram can hope to catch up to these models is to significantly increase its V-6 output and lower the fuel consumption on the V-8 models.
Hit the jump to read the full review on the Ram 1500.
2013 Ram 1500
We were under the impression at first that this new release was going to be just a model or trim line addition, but instead it is actually a restyling. The Ram 1500 will retain its basic shape and looks, even though it has had the semi-truck look for over a decade now. The most obvious change on the outside is a grille that is one inch taller than the one in 2012, which is obviously why Ram teased us with the cheese grater-like grille pictures. In addition, the signature crosshair bars are now flush with the grille at the top and bottom.
Making the grille look different is not the only change up. The grille is also a mechanical component. As less air flow is needed to keep things cool under the hood, the grille actually closes, so air can flow over the Ram’s body more effectively, increasing fuel mileage.
The front bumper also saw some revisions, as Ram introduced vertical fog lamps into it, allowing for better lighting. on four-whee-drive models, buyers will also notice that the holes surrounding the front tow hooks are larger, easing your access to the hooks.
At first pass, the headlights look identical to the 2012 model, but looking closer you will notice it is now a quad-beam system — two headlight bulbs on each side. Chrysler claims that this will improve light spread, pattern consistency, and increase lumens by 30%. The headlights themselves are bi-functional halogen projectors and LED lighting makes up the turn, parking, and brake lights.
Chrysler has also added five new colors, bringing its total color offering up to 12. These new colors include: Black Gold, Copperhead, Maximum Steel Metallic, Prarie, and Western Brown.
The Ram also now features polished stainless steel running boards with a wheel-to-wheel design, which increases its aerodynamics and thereby raises fuel efficiency.
The last addition to this growing laundry list is an all-new 6’4" bed is now available on the Crew Cab models. The Ram 1500 Crew Cabs were the largest available cab on the market and this addition of a larger bed now makes it the largest cab and bed combination. It may be a bear to parallel park, but it’ll haul everyone and everything.
2013 Ram 1500
Truck interiors often get overlooked, as they have a history of just being a place to sit and steer. With buyers now using trucks as daily drivers, the Ram came to the plate with some drastic restyling. Ram did away with the shifter altogether and replaced it with an on-dash knob that allows you to shift gears. Plus the four-wheel drive interface has been changed from a knob to a push-button type.
Chrysler stresses that the front and rear occupants of its full-size pickup will experience the same levels of comfort. The armrests now feature soft-touch materials, which keep your arms comfortable for the long haul. In addition, Chrysler upgraded all of the upholstery to "premium materials," which rids you of that cheap feeling to some interiors.
There is now an 8.4-inch next-generation Uconnect system available on the 2013 Ram. To make room for this new screen, Chrysler has to redesign the center stack. The vents and all of the trim around the vents look more refined and have a more angular appearance.
Also changed up is the climate control interface. It now has an almost luxury car look to it. It is about time those three big knobs in the center of the dashboard went away. You can also choose to adjust the HVAC system using the aforementioned Uconnect system instead of the knobs, if you so desire. The new switch bank, which will control various features on each truck, is positioned under the HVAC controls, which can also be controlled using the Uconnect system.
2013 Ram 1500
Adding a little flare to the interior are multiple "Ram" emblems. There is a chrome one on each door, a chrome one on the dashboard and a raise "Ram" logo inside the storage compartment above the new touch screen. In addition, each Ram model will have its own interior styling. For example, Laramie Longhorn models will feature a special burled wood trim set.
Even the gauges were revised, as Ram swapped the fuel and temperature gauge with the battery and oil pressure gauges, putting the former in the lower part of the speedometer and odometer, and placing the latter two near the top of the instrument cluster. The gauges themselves are completely redesigned and more refined looking.
Underneath the gauges is a standard 3.5-inch LCD screen that displays vehicle information and operation. Optional on the SLT models, and standard on the Sport, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models is a 7-inch TFT screen under the gauges that allows you to customize it and certain settings on your Ram.
2013 Ram 1500
Chrysler went all out when it started adding in available technologies on the 2013 Ram.
We’ll start off these features with the Uconnect system. This includes the 8.4-inch screen that we mentioned in the previous section, but it’s much more than just a screen. This system is a complete infotainment system that allows you to listen to HD radio and satellite radio. It will also connect to your Bluetooth phone to allow for hands-free usage of the cell phone. It also includes voice-controlled navigation and it checks real-time fuel prices across the nation. There is no worrying about this system becoming outdated either, as it automatically updates itself via satellite signals... Pretty cool, huh?
The Uconnect system also features steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Instead of being only on the face of the wheel, Chrysler found it beneficial to place them on the rear of the wheel too, so you don’t have to loosen your grip on the wheel to switch stations, change the volume, switch tracks or change audio sources.
Some more new features on this Uconnect system are the addition of USB, SD card, and auxiliary connections. The USB port allows you to control an iPod through the touch screen or even using the steering wheel controls. The Uconnect system also supports playback of MP3 ans WMA files, via a media storage device, like a flash disc, connected to the USB port.
Chrysler took a page from GM’s book by adding in a 911 button on the rear-view mirror, so Uconnect can contact emergency services, if needed.
2013 Ram 1500
Here’s where things get a little fishy... Ram and Uconnect are in cahoots with Sprint. It looks as if there are some "extra" features you get with the Uconnect system, if you have a Sprint cellphone. The exact specifics are not given, but on the surface it looks innocent enough and only adds to the Uconnect experience. Not having a Sprint phone does not appear to limit its features.
Earlier we spoke of an optional 7-inch screen inside the instrument cluster and we will get into more detail on that now. This system allows the driver to customize what he sees on his Ram’s instrument cluster. It allows the driver to customize the digital speed read out and even vehicle status information.
You can add up to three vehicle status gauges to this screen. One we saw was the fuel filter life gauge, which makes all of those repair shop managers grin. The four corners of this screen are setup to display information that you want it to, allowing you to quickly glance downward to see what is going on with things like fuel economy, outside temperature or traveling direction.
The main screens on this system include: digital speed, vehicle information and fuel economy, trip A information, trip B information, trailer tow information, audio, stored messages, and screen customization. Most of those are typical of today’s cars, but the trailer tow information intrigues us a little.
The final technical addition the addition of Powernet electrical architecture. Saving you all of the technical jargon and complex explanations, this system allows all of the systems within the Ram (i.e. ABS, Uconnect, cruise control, and stability control) to all process information independently. Once they process their own information, they then send pertinent information to its related systems.
So, instead of using several computers to process data from every inch of the truck, the Ram now has upwards of 40 modules that process each individual system and communicate the information to other modules. This helps speed up the response time of the vehicle, both electrically and in mechanical performance. It also helps develop a more in-depth health report of the Ram, which the Uconnect system can access, kinda like having an on-board OBD-II diagnostic center.
Engine and Drivetrain
2013 Ram 1500
Let’s have a look at what makes this thing tick, shall we? First we all stand in applause at the news that Chrysler finally scrapped the 215-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 as the standard Ram 1500 engine. Truck lovers across the nation will rejoice at this news.
Replacing that useless hunk of metal is a far more useful 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that cranks out a respectable 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. This finally puts the Ram 1500 up there with the base level F-150, but without the lag of the F-150’s turbocharger. This V-6 is promised to get 20% better fuel economy than the 3.7-liter it replaced, which will place it at roughly 17 mpg in the city and 23 to 24 mpg on the highway.
2013 Ram 1500
The HEMI 5.7-liter V-8 will remain the top engine but with 5 horsepower more than the 2012 model. This engine will also feature Chrysler’s MDS system, which shuts off cylinders at cruising speeds and variable-valve timing. In total, this V-8 will pump out 395 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque. Ram claims a minimum 10% increase in fuel economy from the 2012 model year’s V-8, which would place this setup around 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway with two-wheel drive, and 14 mpg city and 21 mpg highway with four-wheel drive.
No mention is made of the 4.7-liter engine, so our assumption is that it will not be continued into next year. A surprising move, considering Ford — the class leader in sales — still offers four engine options. However, there may have been no updates to give on the 4.7-liter, so they may have just skipped it in the press release.
2013 Ram 1500
A class-leading eight-speed automatic transmission will come standard with the 3.6-liter engine and it will be an option on the HEMI. Though there is no mention of it, we assume the V-8 will include a six-speed automatic transmission standard, just as it did in 2012.
As earlier stated, the transmission will include a rotary shifter knob mounted on the dashboard. Chrysler claims that this knob delivers a confident feel, even with gloves on, so you can shift blindly, but we question that, unless there is a sort of indicating click or chime.
Suspension and Chassis
2013 Ram 1500
The 2013 Ram 1500 will now have available an air-ride system that you can control manually or allow the truck to automatically control. The five settings for this system area normal ride height, aero mode, off-road 1, off-road 2, and park mode.
The normal ride height mode will place the Ram 1500 at 8.7 inches of ground clearance from the ground to the door sill. This will automatically adjust back to the correct ride height as the load on the truck increases.
Aero mode drops the ground clearance to 7.6 inches, which increases the aerodynamic efficiency of the pickup, allowing it to perform better at high speeds and get better fuel economy.
Off-road 1 and off-road 2 lift the truck 1.2 and 2 inches, respectively, over normal ride height. This allows for a class-leading step-in height of 21 inches and a class-leading 10.7 inches of ground clearance. The 2013 Ram will also lead the class in departure angle (27.8 degrees) and breakover angle (24.2 degrees).
2013 Ram 1500
The suspension system is fully independent on the front end with coil springs. Redesigned ball joints on the front end are also more durable than they were in 2012. the ball joints also feature better sealing properties to keep the lubricating grease from oozing out — the No. 1 cause of ball joint failure.
The final mode in the suspension system is park mode. This lowers the truck a full two inches from normal ride height to allow us vertically challenged folks to get into the cab easier.
2013 Ram 1500
The chassis features low torsion attributes, which increase its stability and handling. This also decreases noise and vibration by a Chrysler-claimed 30%. In addition, the front frame rails feature 20% higher yield strength than they did in 2012.
Many of the frame rails are hydroformed, instead of welded, which decreases the chances of warping. The side rails are boxed, adding to the strength of the frame.
All of this adds up to a more comfortable ride, yet a stronger truck altogether. This also leads it into a much higher towing and payload capacity.
Fuel Economy Advances
2013 Ram 1500
Since this was a main focus by Ram, we will give it its own little section. First off, the Ram 1500 will be the first pickup ever to feature an automatic start-and-stop system, which shuts the engine off at idle, conserving gasoline. Once you lift your foot off of the brake pedal the engine fires back up. In addition, all of your accessories continue working as they normally would, which means there must be some sort of modification to the air-conditioning system to allow it to run without engine power.
Transmission fluid is most effective at 190 degrees, so Chrysler fitted the Ram 1500 with a special system that keeps the transmission fluid at that specified temperature. It performs this task via a thermal exchange unit that the engine coolant runs through. This exchange unit directs warm coolant directly to the transmission lines, increasing its temperature prior to complete engine warmup.
In typical systems, you had to wait for the engine to reach operating temperature. Once it was hot, the thermostat would allow coolant to circulate into the radiator. At that point it would then heat up the transmission fluid. This small change up reduces friction enough to increase fuel efficiency by 1.7%.
Advancements to the structure of the Ram, which most buyers would never notice, increased the Ram’s aerodynamic performance by 6%. This decreased drag will certainly help in the mpg department, especially at highway speeds.
Weight reduction is an often overlooked factor in mpg. A restructured frame is 30 pounds lighter than the 2012’s frame. New cross-members in the bed shed an additional seven pounds. The new bumper is four pounds lighter than it was in 2012. Aluminum control arms on the front end drop a little bit of weight and the most noticeable by the buyer is a 26-pound decrease by adding in an aluminum hood.
2013 Ram 1500
The drivetrain went on a diet too, as the V-6 drivetrain weighs in 76 pounds fewer than in 2012, and the V-8 drivetrain dropped 30 pounds. If you are keeping score at home, this is roughly a 143-pound drop on the V-6 models and a 97-pound drop on V-8 models when compared to 2012.
Ram also installed a pulse-width modulation system that decides where it can eliminate parasitic draws on the alternator. The less draw on the alternator, the less crag it creates on the engine, which is good for a 0.4% increase in mpg.
Also on the list for fuel savings are low rolling resistance tires. These are basically tires that are a little harder than the average tire and have a smoother tread pattern to reduce the amount of energy needed to roll them along the road. Once you replace the factory tires you need to make sure to get the equivalent tires, or you may get slightly lower fuel economy.
The last fuel economy-boosting component is the elimination of a belt-driven power steering pump, which uses engine power to run and therefore eats up fuel. Its replacement is an electric pump that uses no engine power to operate, which increases fuel economy by 1.8%.
The 2013 Ram will feature a plethora of safety features. As for airbags, there are plenty of them: two front air bags, front and rear curtain air bags, and pelvic thorax air bags.
It also features seat-belt pretensioners, which keep you in your seat during an accident, standard electronic stability control, trailer sway control, and anti-lock brakes.
The Ram will feature an optional "Enter ’n Go" keyless entry system which unlocks the doors and starts the engine without any more action than waling up to the truck. The remote keyless entry system has also been expanded to work for the RamBox storage system and the tailgate lock, so one press of a button locks the entire truck down.
Also available on the 2013 Ram 1500 will be automatic rain-sensing wipers.
There is no official pricing from Chrysler yet, but we can assume that the base pricing should remain in the $22K range, as it is in 2012. The 2012 F-150 starts off at $23K and the 2012 Silverado starts off at just over $22K, so Ram needs to step up to the plate with something to make it shine in 2013.
2013 Ram 1500
There are rumors floating around of revisions to the 2013 F-150, but all we have seen are unconfirmed spy shots. In addition, the shots we have seen don’t show anything drastic. If the F-150’s power plants and mechanics carryover into 2013, the Ram 1500 will likely meet it in mpg. As for total power, the Ram’s 5.7-liter HEMI certainly beats the F-150’s 4.9-liter V-8, but falls a little short of the 6.2-liter V-8. Then again, the 6.2-liter is in the Raptor SVT model, so that’s not quite a fair comparison.
What we got back from customer surveys was, 'I don't want high-tech V6 in my pickup with turbo
Last year the F-150 smashed the Ram 1500 in standard towing, 5,500 pounds to 3,750 pounds, as well as maximum towing, 11,050 pounds to 10,400 pounds. The new frame on the 2013 Ram now puts it in the lead for maximum towing, but we still don’t know about the standard towing. It’s bound to be higher than 3,750 pounds, but can it exceed the F-150’s 5,500 pounds?
The 2012 F-150’s interior definitely rivals the released images of the Ram 1500’s interior. Then again, not all 1500’s are going to have that fancy interior. But comparing an apple to an apple, the Ram’s interior beats out the F-150’s, because its not as square and cheap looking as the F-150’s.
Next let’s bring in the Silverado and Sierra 1500. General Motors has plans to completely revamp the Silverado/Sierra for 2014, so this means the 2013 model is likely a carryover.
The Silverado’s tired old 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 makes the Ram’s outgoing 3.7-liter V-6 look powerful. So unless General Motor plans to axe this engine – finally – the Ram will be far superior. The Silverado and Sierra pickups have three V-8 options, a 302-horsepower 4.8-liter V-8, a 315-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8, and a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8. On the highest end, the General Motors products win, but in the middle the Ram comes out on top. The 2012 Silverado get 13 to 15 mpg in the city and 18 to 21 mpg on the highway, so the 2013 Ram should certainly come in ahead of the Silverado in mpg.
Comparing the Silverado’s interior to the Ram 1500’s is kind of like comparing a Picasso to a 3-year-old’s finger painting. It’s really that much of a difference, making it not so surprising that Chevy’s website does not many pictures of the Silverado’s interior.
In towing, the Silverado and Sierra beat out the 2012 Ram 1500, as the GM products have a standard towing weight of 4,700 pounds and a maximum towing weight of 10,700 pounds. In 2013, the Ram will take over as the highest maximum towing capacity in the class. Standard towing is still a wildcard.
We’ll be blunt and say that Chevy needs to step it up soon, if it wants to maintain its No. 2 ranking in full-size pickup sales. This revamping of the Ram is seriously going to hurt its sales and may just take over the no. 2 slot in 2013. We all know that the Silverado and Sierra are in for a redesign for 2014, but GM better come to the plate with the big bats next year.
The F-150 will of course remain the top-selling pickup, as it has for several decades. If they didn’t lose the title when they went all "spaceship" on us in 1997, they are going to lose it any time soon. The 2013 Ram may just snag some of its sales, however.
In conclusion, we say that on the surface the 2013 Ram is a no brainer and you should pick one up the second it comes out. However, with all of these new advancements, what kind of reliability will we be looking at? Typically a first model year car, or one that’s undergone significant changes, have some bugs to work out. Fortunately, Chrysler is good with servicing its customers and have put the equivalent of 6 million miles on the 2013 Ram, so it is likely to be pretty much bug-free.
To put you mind at ease even more, the 2013 Ram will come with a 3-year or 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year or 100,000-miles drivetrain warranty. All we need to wait for next is a release on its pricing, we’ll let you know as soon as Chrysler lets us know.
2013 Ram 1500
305-horsepower V-6 without turbo
High-tech features that put the competition to shame
Luxury car-like interior
The high-tech gizmos could bite you after 100K miles
No high performance model to compete with SVT Raptor
No manual transmission offered