By Patrick Rall
Today in New York, the Chrysler Group
introduced the 2013 Ram 1500. It receives a handful of subtle exterior changes–but the most exciting news has to do with all the bits you can’t see. There’s a
new V6 engine, an adjustable air suspension system, more horsepower from the
Hemi and an 8-speed transmission for both engines. Hit the jump for all the details.
The 2013 Ram 1500 ditches the current 3.7L V6 in favor of the 3.6L Pentastar V6. The Pentastar is found in the engine lineup of almost every Chrysler Group product and in the 2013 Ram, it packs more punch than in any other application. The Pentastar makes 305 horsepower and 269lb-ft of torque; edging out the Challenger version of this V6 that makes the same horsepower and 1 less lb-ft of torque.
The 5.7L Hemi V8 doesn’t receive any modifications but
thanks to a new electric power assist steering system, the output of the Hemi
is raised to 495 horsepower and 407lb-ft of torque. When fitted into the Ram 1500 Tradesman HD,
the Hemi-powered half ton pickup can tow a best-in-class 11,500 pounds and haul
3,125lbs in the bed.
New for 2013, the Ram 1500 will feature a standard
TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission with both the Pentastar V6 and the
Hemi V8. This new transmission, combined
with a new auto start/stop system, active aero shutters behind the grille to
improve aerodynamics, a lighter chassis and the Chrysler Fuel Saver engine technology
is expected to allow the 2013 Ram 1500 to offer 20% better fuel economy than
the comparable models from the 2012 model year.
If the Ram 1500 can be found by the EPA to be that much better, it will
make the Ram V6 the most fuel efficient full sized truck on the market and the
Hemi Ram will be the most efficient V8 half ton truck on the market.
One interesting aspect of the new 8-speed transmission is
the shift control, which is now handled with a large knob on the dash rather
than a traditional shifter on the steering column or on the floor console. With the turn of a large knob mounted to the
left of the stereo/navigation screen area, the driver can select between drive,
reverse, neutral and park and when equipped, this knob is accompanied by a
selection of buttons to control the 4 wheel drive system.
Last but certainly not least is the 2013 Ram 1500’s new air
suspension system. In addition to
offering automatic load leveling, this new air suspension package features a
variety of settings for different conditions that make the Ram more capable and
easier to use. Those modes are NRH
(normal ride height), Aero Mode, Off Road 1, Off Road 2 and Park Mode with the
first being the default setting. When
cruising on the highway, the driver can select Aero Mode, which lowers the
truck by just over an inch to help improve fuel economy. When the driver needs some extra ground
clearance, Off Road 1 and Off Road 2 raise the truck by 1.2 and 2 inches,
respectively and when set to Park Mode, the 2013 Ram drops itself by 2 inches
for easier passenger access and easier loading/unloading.