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2013 Ram 1500 Overview
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In their dogged quest to erase the stigma of unreliable trucks that looked good but performed less than satisfactorily, Chrysler/Ram presents the reworked 2013 Ram 1500 lineup. Teetering on the brink of insolvency less than four years ago, Chrysler removed the Dodge moniker from its Ram truck line, upped its reliability and quality standards, and now produces a full-size pickup that still looks good and rivals Ford and GM in cabin quality, performance and techno-wizardry.
Ram’s half-ton medium-duty pickup likely will remain available in 10 trim levels: Tradesman, ST, Express, SLT, Outdoorsman, Sport/R/T, Bighorn/Lone Star, Longhorn, Laramie and the top-shelf Limited. A couple of trims should once more be available in all three cab configurations, the 3-passenger regular cab, the 5/6-passenger Quad Cab (Ram’s take on the extended cab) and the 5/6-passenger crew cab. The Quad Cab configuration is unique in that it offers 4 independent forward-opening doors instead of the rear-opening “suicide doors” traditional on such trims. Regular cab trims, meantime, can be delivered with either the standard 6.4-foot bed or an 8-foot long-bed. Crew cab Rams are still delivered with the standard 5.7-foot short bed, but beginning this year, the standard-length 6.4-foot bed will be available on select crew cab editions. Though all trims should again come with standard rear-wheel drive (RWD), all are, of course, available with part-time four-wheel drive (4WD).
Scheduled to be available in the early fall, the improved 2013 Ram 1500 is expected to offer an enhanced aerodynamic look, including a new fascia and a larger grille. The new electric-assist power steering, meantime, finds most reviewers hesitant to note any improvement over the old and frustratingly imprecise system, but a new air-bladder-integrated suspension will be available to select trims and seems to be a hit with the media. Finally, 2013 sees the debut of an economical 305-hp, 269 lb-ft/torque V6 powerplant that combines with a standard 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission that’s also new for this year and ought to make folks forget the pokey, 4-speed-laden V6 of yore.
The staid and dependable 4.7-liter Flex Fuel V8 is a step up from the V6 and should retain the new-in-2012 6-speed shiftable automatic. This combo pumps out 310 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, thus towing is maxed out at 7,500 pounds with proper equipment, and mileage with this baby eight is estimated at 14 mpg city/20 highway for RWD trims, 14/19 for 4WD variations.
Finally, the tried and true—not to mention over-the-top potent—5.7-liter Hemi V8 has been tweaked this year to put out 395 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque with the standard 6-speed shiftable automatic. Fear not, however, as the brand-new 8-speed shiftable automatic is expected to be available with the Hemi. Though towing and mileage numbers are not yet available, with variable valve timing (VVT) and cylinder shut-down at cruising speeds, look for slightly better mileage numbers from this re-tooled V8.
Appearance features and creature comforts in the 2013 Ram 1500 Tradesman, ST and SLT trims, meanwhile, ought to include standard 17-inch steel or alloy wheels, vinyl upholstery, heated power-adjustable mirrors, air conditioning, tilt-wheel steering, an MP3-capable single-CD player with 6 speakers, a power sliding rear window and full power accessories.
The Tradesman, though priced marginally lower than the ST, is expected to flaunt a few more standard features, including 17-inch styled steel wheels, a Class IV trailer hitch and wiring, spray-in bedliner and the RamBox cargo management system.
Stepping up to the Outdoorsman, Sport and R/T twins, and the Bighorn, look for all-terrain tires, premium cloth upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a universal remote garage door opener and auto-dimming outside mirrors. Premium speakers, front bucket seats (5-passenger seating), a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted audio controls and an anti-spin rear differential, as well as UConnect/Bluetooth hands-free audio and communications, a USB port and Chrysler’s touted Media Center with dash-mounted touchscreen monitor and a 30GB hard drive also come standard.
The Laramie will likely reprise such bling as leather-trimmed front bucket seats, heated, power-adjustable front seats with memory for driver's settings, dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals and rear parking sensors. Ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a rear-view camera, navigation and color-accented step running boards should once again adorn the Longhorn.
Finally, the top-shelf Limited is expected to again boast standard chrome tubular side steps, premium leather upholstery and upgraded cabin trim.
Options-wise, look for an integrated trailer brake controller to again be available lineup-wide. Lower trims should, as is traditional, be eligible for many of the cabin amenities, appearance goodies and truck stuff that comes standard on higher trims. Meanwhile, look for a power sunroof and rear-seat DVD entertainment to be optional for upper-level editions.
Standard safety features in the 2013 Ram 1500 are expected to mirror those of the 2012 lineup, with 4-wheel antilock brakes backed up by traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front, and in Quad and crew cabs, rear head airbags and a post-collision safety system. In Express and higher trims, front fog/driving lights should be standard again this year, while the Outdoorsman and above trims should continue offering standard turn-signal-integrated mirrors, remote engine start and a remote antitheft alarm.
by Eric Tallberg
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