Not to be outdone by Ford’s F150 EcoBoost V6 equipped pickup, Ram has debuted their 2013 Ram half-ton pickup with a new V6 powertrain that promises similar economy and performance.
Chrysler’s new Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine with 305-hp and 269 lb/ft of torque at 4,175 rpm (Ford’s EcoBoost V6 produces 365-hp and 420 lb/ft of torque at 2,500 rpm), gets coupled to a new TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission that has a unique rotary e-shift dial in place of a traditional shift handle. The new powertrain carries improved (for a V6) EPA mileage figures of 18, city, 25 highway mpg, which is a tad better than Ford’s 15/21 for their EcoBoost F-150 powertrain with 6-speed automatic.
Mileage ratings aside, the new 8-speed transmission, according to Ram, allows quick blind-shift transitions from “Reverse” to “Drive” when towing or navigating out of mud, snow or crowded worksites, and with gloves on. With 8-gears, Ram was able to increase mileage ratings in concert with the new engine that includes the industry’s first Stop-Start technology in a pickup. According to Ram, Start-Stop (shuts the engine off when the truck comes to a complete stop) improves fuel economy by 3.3 percent.
In a test drive of the 2013 Ram V6 with Start/Stop, there is some slight hesitation when stepping on the accelerator from a complete stop (awakening the engine from “sleep” mode). But it’s not unnerving; it just takes some getting used to.
New too for the powertrain is Ram’s Thermal Management System that quickly raises engine and transmission fluid temperatures. By raising fluid temperatures, parasitic losses from low viscosity engine oil and transmission fluid are reduced to improve fuel efficiency by 1.7 percent, claims Ram.
With this improved powertrain, tow ratings for a Standard Cab 4X4 Outdoorsman with a 3.55 rear axle ratio and six-foot four-inch box, is rated at 6,250 pounds. Payload capacity is rated at 1,550 pounds and it carries a GCWR of 11,200 pounds.
For a Crew Cab 4X4 Outdoorsman with a 3.55 rear, tow capacity is 5,700 pounds (Ford’s EcoBoost V6 boasts 11,300 pounds), payload is 1,490 and its GCWR is also 11,200 pounds. A Quad Cab containing the same specs as above has a tow capacity of 6,100 pounds, a payload of 1,770 and a GCWR of 11,200 pounds.
Ram offers two 4WD transfer cases: a Part-Time model that provides traditional 2H, 4H and 4L positions while the On-Demand version offers Auto (for all road surfaces), 2H, 4H and 4L selections.
So far we’ve listed powertrain refinements, but there’s more improvements, all in the name of fuel economy.
There’s the new electric power steering system that replaces a fuel robbing and weighty hydraulic system. The truck also has more aerodynamic styling for a 0.5 percent improvement. Another first on a half-ton pickup are Active Grille Shutters that automatically close when not needed to improve fuel economy, reduce drag and improve warm-up time/defrost time.
Ram’s optional Air Suspension System is helpful, especially when towing as it detects load balance from trailer or payload weight, then levels itself automatically. It then re-levels the truck when the load is released.
The new air suspension system has five height settings of Normal Ride Height (provides 8.7 inches of clearance), Aero Mode (lowers vehicle 1.1 inches from normal), Off-Road (lifts the vehicle 1.2 inches from normal), Off-Road 2 (increases ground clearance by 2 inches) and Park Mode (lowers the vehicle 2 inches from normal). The system adds up to 4 inches of lift span that maintains a best-in-class step-in height of 21 inches. Ram’s best-in-class ground clearance of 10.7 inches, best-in-class departure angle of 27.8 degrees and best-in-class breakover angle of 24.2 degrees, are important factors when traversing off-road conditions be it snow, mud, sand or brush. Another nice feature of this system is that a separate button on the key fob allows the driver to manually lower the truck for easier passenger ingress/egress and for bed loading.
The 2013 Rams’ overall weight has been reduced by using lighter materials and includes an aluminum hood that saves 26 pounds. To further increase fuel efficiency, low-rolling/resistance tires are shod on all new 2013s with the V6 engine.
In my short test of new Ram prototypes, they proved to be smooth riding, quiet and relatively easy to park. When being passed by 18-wheelers, the trucks remained stable and planted.
The up-level Longhorn model I initially drove, with its posh embroidered leather seats and real wood trim on doors and dash, rode almost as good as a Chrysler 300 luxury sedan. Even the base model with cloth seats was equally as accommodating.
Optionally available in 2013 Ram’s is a new 8.4-inch LCD touch screen for audio and navigation functions. It incorporates Uconnect web access with background screens that are tailored to specific Ram models and themes. And for interior choices, there is a wide selection of configurations, materials and colors. Buyers can literally custom tailor the interior to suit their needs and budget.
One very important new feature on Ram is its central locking of doors, tailgate and RamBoxes (storage for tools and gear) via the key fob. This is a commendable attribute that is certain to be copied by others.
As for pricing, Rick Deneau, Ram Brand Manager, said MSRP will average just one percent higher than 2012 prices. A base Ram starts at $23,585 including a $995 delivery charge. For those opting for the thrifty Pentastar V6 along with the 8-speed automatic transmission, add an additional $1,000 for all models. Likewise, the air suspension tacks on an added $1,595 for all models.
Here are some base prices for other Ram models: Ram 1500, 4X4 Regular Cab, Long Wheel Base, $31,320; Ram 1500 4X4 Quad Cab Sport, $39,650; Ram 1500 4X4 Crew Cab Sport, $41,505; (topline) Ram 1500 4X4 Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn., $47,420. All prices do not include a $995 delivery charge.
The new 2013 Ram should be arriving in dealers’ showrooms this fall. When they do, you can see them at Rothrock Motors off Route 22 in Allentown.
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