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2013 RAM 1500 Big Horn Crew Cab 4x4 Review

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2013 RAM 1500

Tough and Trendy Hauler

By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

The redesigned Dodge Ram pickup gained significant refinement and broadened its personality for 2013 as it competes in this most popular, and most profitable, segment of the automotive market. The best-selling F-150 Ford remains the top seller and the full-size Chevy and GMCs became more luxurious and cushy with their latest redesign as well. Even the Toyota Tundra just moved upmarket with its mid-cycle refresh. There is no question that all vehicles in the segment are competent, tough and tight. But the Ram still feels more like a tough man’s truck in spite of a more sophisticated personality.

We tested the 2013 Ram not long before the 2014 version became available. So, we’ll make some references to both and make it as easy for you to sort out as possible. Remember, bargains can often be had when buying a new vehicle at the end of a model year (if you can find them) even when the content and actual value is little changed.

Our tester is a dressed up Ram 1500 Big Horn Crew Cab 4X4 with base price is $37,300 and more than $16,000-worth of options. The bottom line on the sticker shows close to 45-grand including almost a grand for destination charge. Seems like a big price for a pickup but it is loaded and luxurious. The base truck with V6 and no options may show a sticker price around 25 grand. The price range with all pickups these days is mighty broad depending on whether you just want a simple work truck or an urban cruiser with some machismo.

Styling gets a modest upgrade without risking the popular trucky styling from the last version of the Ram. A larger grille, LED turn signals and more modern headlight design is most noticeable. The big crosshatch grille remains unmistakably Ram as does the bulging hood and broad-shouldered fender profile.

It’s a darn good thing we have running boards because it’s a long step up into the cabin. Once up and into the power, ten-way, premium fabric bucket driver’s seat I find it firm and comfortable with a good driving position and lots of room. Those unfamiliar with this kind of vehicle could be overwhelmed by the size, height and commanding position up there. Adjustable pedals, and exceptional seat range will accommodate folks of many different sizes. Fit, finish and quality of materials inside are more like a mid-luxury car. As with its competitors, Ram has enhanced the center console to be essentially an office space where the guy who uses it for work can stow or spread out his computer, clipboards and everything else. He/she could even have a secretary managing things from the passenger seat if necessary.

This four-door has a generous rear seat as well – plenty to accommodate those extra crew members. The mechanisms that flip up the rear seat and fold out a little flat floor panel are easily operated with one hand – perhaps one of the easiest-to-operate systems we’ve encountered. The power sliding rear window panel is handy for ventilation when we don’t want to use the AC.

For 2013 the base V6 engine offers much better performance than its predecessor, but we have the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 in our test truck. This 395-hp Hemi makes a substantial 407 pound-feet of torque and is a “Multi Displacement” design, that is, able to shut off half its cylinders when they’re not needed. I can say without equivocation that this Ram has bucket loads of power and acceleration. The gearing is quick as well and you have four choices in rear end ratios. The new 8-speed automatic transmission feels nearly seamless and well balanced in our mostly undemanding use of the truck. We didn’t have an opportunity to tow a load or challenge it very much but did lots of highway cruising. EPA rates the Hemi at 15 mpg city and 21on the highway and 17 combined.

For 2014 the base V6 is rated at 25 mpg on the highway and they just announced a diesel option for the Ram 1500 which will do even better. This will be the first, and only (for now), diesel in the half-ton pickup market.

The big news in this generation of Ram is the rear suspension. Ram has decided that a sturdy coil spring arrangement will provide a bit more civilized feel on the road without compromising capabilities. That may very well be so as we’ve heard nothing to the contrary from colleagues or truck enthusiasts. We recently drove a 2014 with the new, optional air adjustable suspension, which will compensate for loads as well as allow the manual adjustment of height for such activities as serious off-roading. We loved that truck as well.

Payload maximum is just around 1,600 pounds and it is tow rated at two 9,200 pounds.

Warranty is 3-year/36,000-miles on the whole truck and 5 years or 100,000 on the powertrain.

Our week with the Ram was a pleasure, indeed. Not only were we stylin’ around town but on our frequent highway jaunts we found it easy to love as well. That love is shared my lots of reviewers, we see, as many think it's the best in class. The others are so good, though, we would hesitate to make that call.

We would certainly recommend that if you’re looking for a truck, take a close look at this one.

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions

2014 Ram 1500 Offers Best-in-class Fuel Efficiency with Industry’s Only Light-duty Diesel Pickup

Auburn Hills, Mich September 13, 2013; The 2014 Ram 1500 will offer a new, 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine, mated with the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine delivers an outstanding combination of best-in-class fuel efficiency – greater than 25 mile per gallon (mpg) – unsurpassed torque and up to 9,200 pounds of towing capability.

Pricing for the 2014 Ram 1500 starts at $24,200, plus $1,095 destination. The exclusive V-6 EcoDiesel with TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission is priced $2,850 greater than a similarly equipped Ram 1500 with a 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 with Torqueflite eight-speed transmission.

The 2014 Ram 1500 equipped with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 achieves best-in-class base V-6 engine towing capacity of 7,450 pounds.

“The new 2014 Ram 1500 offers more innovation than the competition and delivers best-in-class fuel efficiency,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO — Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “The new truck builds on a very successful 2013 model, which has won every award we could have hoped for.

“Adding the new EcoDiesel engine is more than just icing on the cake, it answers a long-time consumer demand and Ram is the only manufacturer to offer it,” Bigland added.

The 2014 Ram 1500 delivers best-in-class fuel economy with a truckload of pioneering, fuel-saving systems including: eight-speed automatic transmission, stop-start system, thermal management system, pulse-width modulation and active aerodynamics with grille shutters and air suspension.

The 2013 Ram 1500 won Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year, The North American Truck of the Year and Truck of Texas – a rare trifecta in the pickup segment. Building on the award-winning truck, the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel will further stretch its best-in-class fuel economy title lead and continue to raise the innovation bar in one of the automotive industry’s most customer-loyal segments.

The 2014 Ram 1500 continues the brand’s quest of re-defining the half-ton full-size pickup class with the introduction of an exclusive small displacement turbo diesel engine that delivers a best-in-class combination of torque and fuel efficiency.

Aptly branded EcoDiesel, the new 3.0-liter powerplant is a turbocharged 60-degree, dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) 24-valve V-6 that produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque is more efficient than all V-6 gasoline engines in the half-ton category. This abundant torque from a 3.0-liter engine is the enabler for 9,200 pounds of towing capacity while delivering fuel economy better than 25 mpg on the highway.

Like the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 gasoline engines already offered on the Ram 1500, the new EcoDiesel V-6 will be mated to the TorqueFlite 8, the only eight-speed automatic transmission offered in the half-ton class.

The new EcoDiesel – developed and manufactured by VM Motori (a Chrysler supplier since 1992) – is one of the most advanced diesel engines in the marketplace. Equipped with a diesel oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filter, and selective catalytic reduction, it is emissions-compliant in all 50 states.

The new Ram 1500 also is equipped with a capless fuel filler system for re-filling convenience.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine (Ward’s 10 Best Engines Award three years in a row) with variable-valve timing (VVT) offers 305 horsepower, 269 lb.-ft. of torque and best-in-class fuel economy of 25 mpg. For 2014, the Pentastar V-6 equipped Ram 1500 also offers best-in-class base engine towing capability at 7,450 pounds. The Pentastar V-6 features 42 percent more horsepower, 13 percent more torque and at least 20 percent better fuel economy when compared to the previous 3.7-liter V-6 powertrain. The legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with fuel-saving cylinder shut-off and VVT provides 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.

The class-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission (TorqueFlite 8), standard equipment with 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel and 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar, doubles the amount of gears compared to the previously available four-speed automatic transmission, which improves drivability and enhances fuel efficiency. The eight-speed also is available with the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8.

When the 2014 Ram 1500 full-size pickup arrives in retail outlets the fourth quarter of calendar year 2013, it will establish what is unmistakably the most advanced and efficient powertrain portfolio in the light-duty category, as evidenced by:

  • Exclusive offering of a small-displacement turbo diesel engine (EcoDiesel V-6)
  • Exclusive offering of an eight-speed automatic transmission (8HP45 with Pentastar V-6,
  • 8HP70 with HEMI V-8 and EcoDiesel V-6)
  • Unsurpassed torque
  • Best-in-Class capability and fuel economy in a base V-6 gasoline (Pentastar V-6 mated to eight-speed transmission)
  • Best-in-Class combination of power and fuel efficiency in a V-8 engine
  • (HEMI V-8 mated with eight-speed transmission)
  • Only manufacturer in light-duty class to offer diesel, gasoline, and flex-fuel
  • (E85 capable 3.6-liter V-6) engines
Beginning in model year 2014, the Ram 1500 will offer a front park assist system, a first-time offering on a full-size Ram pickup truck.

The system uses four sensors located on the front bumper. The bezel-less, integrated sensors sequentially send out ultrasonic waves when the vehicle is driven forward at low speeds. The system can detect objects as far away as 47.2 inches.

The sending sensor and adjacent sensors pick up the echo of a signal when it bounces off an object. Triangulation is used to determine relative distance, based on elapsed time between the outgoing signal and its return.

Readouts located in the cluster display (and audible chimes) notify the driver of front/rear object proximity.

Parasitic Loss Reduction
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is a fuel-saving technology for the Ram 1500, which reduces parasitic electrical load. The technology not only eliminates unnecessary load on the alternator but also improves the durability of benefitting systems. The forward cooling fan takes advantage of PWM, adding a 0.2 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.

The 2014 Ram 1500 will carry additional uses of PWM technology and a host of new efficiency, comfort and emissions-friendly refinements. These include a variable displacement air-conditioning compressor pulse-width modulated vent blower and humidity sensor.

Variable displacement compressor (VDC)
As opposed to a “fixed” displacement compressor, the variable displacement compressor (VDC) automatically varies its pumping capacity to meet air conditioning demands rather than working in an on/off fashion. As a result, the variable displacement compressor lessens loads on the engine, reducing parasitic losses for enhanced fuel efficiency and helping to maintain a consistent cockpit temperature. The technology also reduces related noise and vibration annoyances.

When the interior cabin temperature is higher than what’s desired (outside the automatic temperature control setting), the VDC increases refrigeration capacity until the desired temperature is reached. Once the temperature is reached, the VDC automatically reduces its capacity to maintain the desired temperature rather than shutting off completely.

The overall result is smoother compressor transitions, less noise and greater fuel efficiency.

Pulse-width modulated blower
Like the VDC, the pulse-width modulated (PWM) blower continually controls fan speeds for optimal performance in all driving scenarios; quiet, efficient operation; and virtually unnoticeable performance. Not unlike other PWM applications that debuted on the 2013 Ram 1500, the pulse-width blower ensures an infinite amount of varying fan speeds to satisfy every customer-requested condition in relation to the air conditioning system.

Humidity sensor
The new humidity sensor is packaged behind the rearview mirror, and works in tandem with the PWM blower and VDC to continually measure the potential for humidity being formed on the windshield interior. While the sensor enables noticeable de-fogging benefits, it also enables the VDC and PWM blower to run at the most optimal speeds to expedite humidity reduction.

New Air Conditioning Refrigerant
Beginning in 2014, the Ram 1500 will be the first in its competitive set to carry F1234yf refrigerant, an application developed to help reduce greenhouse emissions.

The 2014 Ram 1500 retains its ruggedly handsome appearance with an award-winning interior (Ward’s 10 Best Interiors), exterior design aesthetics and segment-leading technology. Every Ram 1500 truck benefits from content specifically designed to match each model’s unique style.

For 2014, the Ram 1500 offers 12 different colors, including two new shades: Blue Streak and Granite Crystal; available in a monotone and/or two-tone depending on the model. Other colors include: Black Gold Pearl, Copperhead Pearl, Maximum Steel Metallic, Prairie Pearl and Western Brown Pearl are all available in a monotone and/or two-tone, depending on the model.

Unsurpassed powertrain warranty – five years/100,000 miles
The 2014 Ram 1500 is backed with a five-year /100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty. The powertrain-limited warranty covers the cost of all parts and labor needed to repair a covered powertrain component – engine, transmission and drive system. Coverage also includes free towing to the nearest Ram dealer, if necessary. The warranty also is transferable allowing customers who sell their truck during the warranty period, to pass the coverage onto the new owner.

The standard three-year / 36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for the Ram 1500, from the body to the electrical system.

The 2014 Ram 1500’s quality is scrutinized at the company’s Chrysler Technology Center’s state-of-the-art scientific labs in Auburn Hills, Mich., including the Noise/Vibration/Harshness Lab, Electromagnetic Compatibility Facility, Wind Tunnel and the Road Test Simulator (RTS).

For example, the RTS recreates the abuse a truck endures at the hands of a 95th percentile driver – meaning someone who drives the vehicle in more severe conditions than 95 percent of all customers. The RTS can put a lifetime of wear and tear on a truck in about one month’s time. The Ram development team is committed to finding and fixing any issues before the customer does.

The 2014 Ram 1500 is built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant (Warren, Mich.), which has built more than 12.5 million trucks since it started operations in 1938. Regular Cab models of the 2014 Ram 1500 are built at the Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Saltillo, Mexico.