Joe Duarte

2013 Ram 1500: Guts. Glory. Ram.

Chrysler changes Ram in ways you can only imagine

2013 Ram 1500: Guts. Glory. Ram.

Car Review

Overall rating:

7/10

Editor's Ratings:

  • Performance: 7/10

  • Price: 7/10

  • Comfort (front): 8/10

  • Look: 6/10

Chrysler changes Ram in ways you can only imagine

"Ram 1500 heads into 2013 with a new exterior (barely noticeable unless you put it beside the outgoing model)."

NASHVILLE - Guts. Glory. Ram.

I wanted to get that in your head at the start so you read the rest of the story in Sam Elliot’s voice.

Chrysler really wants to push the message that its 2013 Ram full-sized pickups are the toughest and most comfortable on the market, but it’s probably preaching to the converted since the people likely to buy the new model probably already own one and the message is likely to fall on the deaf ears of those who own Ford and Chevrolets (and probably GMC, Toyota and Nissan, too).

Read a related article

And that’s why we question the idea that in a market that’s pretty well saturated, growth is going to come from conquest sales. About the only time there have been any conquest sales in the segment happened during the global financial downturn when Chrysler and General Motors came upon hard times and Ford was able to capitalize with a pickup sales surge that pretty much mirrored the decline of the others.

It’s understandable why Chrysler wants a larger piece of the large pickup pie, because the segment represents the second-most annual sales of the entire Canadian market (at 16%, behind the 21% of the compact car segment), and though it’s been on a steady climb for the past three years, the climb has come as a result of slides from Ford and a continuous downhill slope for GM.

Part of that conquest strategy starts with a charge from the Ram 1500, which heads into 2013 with a new exterior (barely noticeable unless you put it beside the outgoing model), new interior (most noticeably changed in the centre stack with a large display screen, button array and a new rotary shift selector), new platform (frame and suspension), and new powertrains (most noticeably the introduction of the Pentastar V6) leading to fuel economy improvements.

Aside from the suspension and frame improvements, the biggest news surrounds the availability of the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 (one of the most widely praised features to come out of the “new Chrysler”), which by its very inclusion instantly lowers average corporate fuel economy figures. Add in the eight-speed automatic (with its high cruising gears, engine stop/start and active grille shutters) and you begin to see a real change.

Now, Chrysler has also figured out a way to link the eight-speed to the Hemi engine (5.7-litre V8, later in the model year), meaning that established powertrain also sees an improvement in economy. Sadly, though, there is still no movement on power management (where the Hemi knocks out fuel delivery to four cylinders under steady cruising) for the V6.

For ride and handling improvements, Chrysler fits in a segment exclusive coil link suspension (pickups traditionally like their rear leaf springs that often make the rear end skip around when there’s nothing in the bed) and throws in a new electric steering rack. Also available: a segment exclusive air suspension with a four-inch ride-height adjustment.

In a tour outside Nashville, and into it (to apparently illustrate the truck is just as manageable in city traffic), the wonders of the improved economy is well illustrated on sweeping two-lane highways and the toughness is readily displayed on off-road and towing exercises.

One last word on toughness – a Polk Canada survey has shown that 77% of Ram pickups built since 1987 are still on the road (compared to 73% of GM models and 63% of Fords).

Yes, it’s a tough hombre. Yes, it rides beautifully. Yes, it’s capable of hauling a boat trailer, motorhome or select pieces of construction equipment.

And at the end of the day, you can uncouple the trailer and potentially have a roomy cabin in which to shuttle the kids to practice or the treat the family to dinner.

Follow us on Twitter @Autonet_ca

Fact file

2013 Ram 1500

Models available: Regular cab short box; regular cab long box; extended cab short box; crew cab short box; crew cab short box.

Trims available: ST; SLT; HFE; Big Horn; Outdoorsman; Sport; Laramie; Longhorn

MSRP range: $26,995- $50,995

Notable options: air suspension; rear parking assist; heated seats; climate control; navigation system; wheel-to-wheel running boards

Freight/PDI: Exp. $1,595

Configuration: front engine/ rear or four-wheel drive

Available engines: 3.6L V6 (305 hp/ 269 lb.-ft.); 5.7L Hemi V8 (395/407)

Available transmissions: 6-spd auto with sequential shift; 8-spd automatic

Fuel economy ratings (L/100km): 11.4 city/ 7.8 hwy (V6); 15.4/10.2 (V8 6-spd)

Observed fuel economy: 10.2 L/100km over 620 km

Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain)

Competitors: Chevrolet Silverado; Ford F-150; Nissan Titan; Toyota Tundra

Strengths: economy; cabin comfort; ride and handling

Weaknesses: looks the same as old model;