This Ram 4x4 pickup addresses the natural gas storage issue by putting a tank within a steel enclosure in the front of the pickup box

Ram rolls out overhauled 1500

Nov. 1, 2012
RAM Trucks' Dave Koch said Ram has taken it to the next level with the rollout of the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup. A new air suspension option provides five

RAM Trucks' Dave Koch said Ram has “taken it to the next level” with the rollout of the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup.

A new air suspension option provides five “ride height” settings to choose from, including two higher levels for off-road operation, a low-to-the-ground aerodynamic setting, as well as one to help during parking maneuvers.

“We're getting tremendous coverage on the air suspension,” Koch said. “We took a Jeep brand Cherokee air suspension system and adapted it to a 1500 truck and updated it for the truck duty cycle, and it really has surprised the industry.”

The completely overhauled design is aimed at significantly improving the vehicle's fuel economy profile without compromising on performance.

The biggest factors in the 2103 Ram 1500 fuel efficiency calculations are a pair of retooled engines. The first is a new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, which offers 42% more horsepower, 13% more torque, and at least 20% better fuel economy than the 3.7-liter V-6 powertrain it replaces.

The second is a 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI equipped with what Ram calls “Fuel Saver Technology” and variable-valve timing in order to crank out 395 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque, yet offer 10% better fuel economy than the 2012 Ram V-8 powertrain it replaces. That extra power also gives the 2013 Ram 1500 heavy-duty tradesman model, which comes spec'd with the V-8 package, 11,500 pounds worth of towing capacity and 3125 pounds of payload.

Ram is also introducing a new eight-speed automatic transmission — the TorqueFlite 8, which will come standard with 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar — to replace its previous four-speed automatic model to help further improve the 1500's fuel economy profile.

The new electronic transmission is operated by a new dash-mounted “rotary e-shift dial” that eliminates the need for steering column or floor-mounted shift levers — enabling what the company calls “quick blind-shift” transitions from “reverse” to “drive” when towing or navigating out of mud, snow, or busy parking lots. The dash-mounted shift system also yields space for more functional and usable storage in the console as well.

“High Fuel Efficiency” or “HFE” model designations for the 2013 Ram 1500 are going to be offered. “HFE”-designated trucks also feature especially low drag coefficients — 0.36 versus 0.376 for its “normal” models — to improve the pickup's aerodynamic shape and thus lead to fuel economy gains.

For starters, the new 3.6-liter V6 engine and TorqueFlite 8-speed combination is 76 pounds lighter than the 2012 Ram 1500's powertrain. Other chassis changes — such as lighter steel wheels — took another 54 pounds of weight out of the new truck.

Other “fuel saver technology” improvements include: a new thermal management system that quickly raise engine and transmission fluid temperatures helps reduce parasitic losses, improving fuel efficiency by 1.7%, according to Ram's figures; and a “stop-start” engine feature that can boost fuel economy by up to 3.3% or about one mile-per-gallon for the truck's city drive cycle.

The “stop-start” feature will be a standard feature on all HFE model 2013 Ram 1500 pickups equipped with either the new V-6 or V-8 engine option.

On the inside, Ram's next-generation Uconnect Access debuts on the 2013 Ram 1500 as an optional feature; an 8.4-inch touch-screen display connected to a new onboard wireless platform called “Powernet” that gives operators a variety of in-vehicle computer and Internet connectivity options. The wireless connectivity of “Powernet” is provided done in partnership with Sprint.

Rounding out the new features on the 2013 Ram 1500 are power folding mirrors and a combination power and rear-sliding window with defrost. Also available is a new six-foot-four-inch bed option on the Crew Cab model, allowing for maximum passenger and bed hauling capability.

Chrysler said the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 2013 Ram 1500 will average just over 1% higher than the MSRP for its 2012 models. Starting price for the 2013 Ram 1500 will be $23,585, including $995 destination charge, with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and TorqueFlite 8 transmission combination offered as a $1000 option over the 4.7-liter V8 engine/6-speed combo offered on Ram's tradesman models.

In other news

Gery Jankovits said all bailment pools for Ram trucks will involve National Truck Equipment Association membership and MVP status.

“The individuals we want working on our trucks and responsible for delivering professionally equipped, upfitted trucks to our customers should be just like the product: the best of the best,” he said.

Chris Borczon provided some chassis updates:

• For most applications, the PTO switch and the relay are incorporated into the vehicle.

“All you will have to connect is the hot shift clutch and pressure switch under hood,” he said. “There are extensive new EVIC screen programming functions, giving more customization capability so you can avoid trips for dealer reprogramming.”

• The exhaust system and floor panel have been revised to allow for larger PTOs.

• There’s a new optional left-side PTO coming for the 4x2 only. It requires new unique PTO models Muncie FA6B and Chelsea TBD. 

• There’s split-shift capabilities on the automatic that allows higher horsepower and larger components to be driven through the driveshaft.

• DEF system improvements: The DEF pump is removed from the rail and installed in the tank; the tank now includes a skid plate; and the park bracket is moved forward.

Electrical update

Bob Wind gave some electrical engineering updates: 

• Dual alternators are optional on all Cummins diesel engine applications. 

• Combined alternators amperage output is greater than 400A.

“One of the advantages of this system, other than the tremendous output, is that both alternators are energized at all times, allowing lower demand on each individual alternator,” he said. “Both alternators will therefore run cooler. Cooler alternators are more efficient, and that translates into better fuel economy.”

• Vehicle system interface module (VSIM) replaces today’s DGE module with a Chrysler-designed and installed module that more than doubles the number of I/O functions. It’s standard with ambulance and PTO prep packages and optional with 2500/3500 pickups and 3500/4500/5500 chassis cabs.   

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.