Ram has upped its game in 2013 with the new 1500 pickup. The full-size truck is offered with either rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive in a host of models and configurations. Regular cab trucks seat three across and feature bed lengths of either 76 inches or 96 inches. Quad Cabs feature two smaller rear doors and seat up to six passengers, with only the 76-inch bed available. Finally, Crew Cabs have four full-sized doors, seat six with even more leg room, and are paired with either a 67-inch or 76-inch bed. Within those configurations, several different models are offered: Tradesman, Express, HFE, R/T, SLT, Lone Star/Bighorn, Outdoorsman, Sport, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn.
Tradesman models are powered by a 310-hp 4.7L V8, which is rated to tow up to 6,450 pounds; HFE and SLT models benefit from the new PentaStar 305-hp 3.6L V6 and 8-speed transmission, good for towing up to 4,800 pounds; and all other Ram 1500s utilize the 390-hp 5.7L Hemi V8 and 6-speed automatic, which will tow up to 7,200 pounds. Ram plans to upgrade all 6-speeds to the new 8-speed by 2014.
Base model Tradesmans come standard with blacked out grille, front fascia and bumpers, a spray-in bedliner, a Class IV receiver hitch, and Chrysler Uconnect 3.0, which features an LCD display, AM/FM stereo with remote USB, iPod integration and available SiriusXM satellite radio.
The Express offers body-color grille, fascia, and bumpers, as well as 20-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust, fog lamps, and Uconnect 3.0.
SLT models come with 17-inch alloy wheels, a power rear sliding window in Crew and Quad Cabs and active grille shutters, which close off airflow up front to cut drag and improve fuel economy when cooling isn't needed. Additionally, Uconnect on the SLT includes SiriusXM satellite radio. In the HFE, in addition to the SLT features, you'll find an engine stop-start system to improve fuel economy and a tri-fold tonneau cover.
Ram R/T models are available only as 2-wheel drive regular cabs with the 76-inch bed. They feature 22-inch polished alloy wheels, smoked bi-functional halogen projector beam headlights, smoked LED taillights and LED interior lighting, a 7-inch instrument cluster, and Uconnect 8.4, which includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, and available navigation -- a dealer-installed feature. Sport models are equipped largely the same, but with 20-inch wheels and availability across the full range of Ram cab and driveline configurations.
Big Horn and Lone Star trims add a leather-wrapped steering wheel 20-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, overhead console with universal garage door opener, the Class IV hitch, and Uconnect with a 5-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth.
The Ram Outdoorsman provides a tougher exterior appearance, with the addition of off-road tires and tow hooks, as well as power folding, heated, auto-dimming side mirrors with integrated turn signals. Remote start is also included on the Outdoorsman.
Finally, Laramie models boast all the bells and whistles found on other trucks in the Ram 1500 lineup, as well as dual zone automatic climate control, woodgrain interior accents, sapphire blue ambient lighting, a 9-speaker audio system, dealer-activated navigation, rear backup camera, and driver seat and pedal memory. Range-topping Laramie Longhorns are exclusive to the Crew Cab bodies and add special badging, real wood interior accents, full-screen navigation with 3D city modeling and digital terrain modeling, HD radio, premium filigree leather seating, rear backup camera with park assist, and a spray-in bedliner.
Ram 1500s feature several standard safety features such as crumple zones and side-impact door beams, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, trailer sway control, and front and side-impact airbags.
While the 2013 Ram 1500 full-size pickup looks a lot like last year's truck, the changes are, in fact, far more than skin deep. In fact, the new Ram rides on a new, stronger chassis. Under the hood, the old 210-hp 3.7L V6 and 4-speed automatic powertrain is gone, replaced by a new 305-hp 3.6L "PentaStar" V6 mated to a new 8-speed automatic, which results in an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway -- a 20 percent increase over the outgoing V6. The new engine is also rated to tow up to 4,800 pounds. The 8-speed automatic is slated to make its way into 4.7- and 5.7L V8-powered Ram 1500s midway through the model year, to replace the current 6-speed auto, which should aid in fuel economy on those models as well.
New available air suspension offers five separate settings for controlling ride height, which allows for increased ground clearance off road or improved fuel efficiency on the highway, as well as automatic load leveling to aid in towing and hauling. Electric power steering replaces the previous hydraulic setup, making for an easier steering experience, particularly at low speeds.
Inside, the cabin has been rethought, with new materials, improved sound deadening and noise reduction, a more functional design, and improved gadgetry, with Uconnect multimedia and an intuitive touchscreen at its core. Finally, the column shift lever has been replaced by a small rotary dial on the lower left corner of the dashboard.