Full 2013 Ram 1500 Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Ram 1500 gets a stronger V6, a stronger frame, an eight-speed transmission and a truckload of comfort and convenience technology.
You might not have noticed that the 2013 Ram has just undergone a rather mild face-lift. It would take a sharp eye to notice the larger grille, restyled headlights and LED turn signals/taillights. But before you dismiss this cosmetic makeover, you should know that the 2013 Ram 1500 boasts a number of substantial improvements under the skin that round out the résumé of this already well-regarded truck.
First off, the base engine is no longer something to be ignored as you spec out your new truck. While the previous V6 had neither good performance nor good fuel economy going for it, the new 3.6-liter V6 boasts 42 percent more horsepower and 20 percent higher fuel mileage. Other advances in efficiency include available stop-start technology and a new standard eight-speed automatic transmission that also pays dividends when towing.
And the worthwhile changes don't stop with the powertrain, as the Ram 1500's frame has been redesigned. It's both stronger and lighter, while a newly available air suspension offers five different settings for ride height and a total ride-height adjustment span of 4 inches. This means owners can raise the 1500 for better ground clearance or lower it for better fuel efficiency and easier entry and exit for occupants. The air suspension also has automatic load-leveling functionality, helping to improve towing and hauling performance.
Other new conveniences include power-folding mirrors, power stainless-steel running boards, a power rear-sliding window with defrost, and a central locking mechanism that also secures the tailgate and RamBox cargo system with one button. New for 2013, the Ram 1500 Crew Cab will also offer an optional full-size, 6-foot-4 cargo bed. And although the Ram already arguably had the nicest cabin in its class, it's even nicer now. Premium materials are used liberally, while available conveniences include keyless entry/ignition and even a WiFi hotspot link.
With so much capability and luxury, the 2013 Ram 1500 stands out because it makes an owner's life easier and more comfortable, while still offering the sort of capability you expect from a pickup. In this way, most variations of the Ram stand above their respective 2013 competitors: the Chevy Silverado 1500, Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra. It's hard to go wrong with any of those full-size trucks, but if you want the one that feels the most advanced, the Ram 1500 ranks as our favorite.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Ram 1500 is a full-size pickup available in multiple body styles. The regular cab seats three and is available with either a 6-foot-4-inch or 8-foot cargo bed. The extended cab ("Quad Cab") can seat up to six and comes only with the 6-foot-4 bed. The Crew Cab expands rear-seat legroom even farther, and is available with either a 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-4 bed. There are six main trim levels: Tradesman, SLT, Sport, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited.
The workhorse Tradesman comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, black bumpers/grille, automatic headlights, a locking tailgate, a sprayed-in bedliner, vinyl floor covering, air-conditioning, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, vinyl upholstery, a folding rear bench seat (extended-cab only), a tilt-only steering wheel, cruise control, power windows (Quad Cab and Crew Cab) and a six-speaker sound system with auxiliary/iPod/USB inputs.
Options for the Tradesman include the Power and Remote Entry Group that adds keyless entry and power locks, mirrors and windows. The ST Popular Equipment Group provides keyless entry, cloth upholstery, carpeting and satellite radio.
The SLT includes all of the above (except the spray-in bedliner) and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, a power-sliding rear window, satellite radio and dual gloveboxes. The Luxury Group adds power-folding outside mirrors (with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, additional interior lighting, an overhead console (with garage opener), illuminated vanity mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls) and a 7-inch multifunction in-dash display.
The Sport includes all that with a few visual differences and added features, such as a tuned dual exhaust, body-colored grille/bumpers, LED running/turn signal lights, foglamps, power heated/folding/auto-dimming outside mirrors (with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps), 20-inch alloy wheels, bucket seats, a center console, a 10-way power driver seat (including lumbar), LED cabin lighting, Bluetooth (phone and audio), and a separate USB charging port.
The Laramie trim level (available in Quad and Crew Cab only) comes standard with virtually all of the Sport's features, with a few differences (such as chrome bumpers/grille, two-tone paint and a front split bench seat) along with added luxuries such as a rear parking camera, additional exterior chrome trim, power-adjustable pedals, driver memory functions, leather front seats (vinyl rear), a six-way power passenger seat, heated/ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 115-volt power outlet, wood-grain/chrome interior trim, an 8.4-inch display and an upgraded sound system with a subwoofer.
The Laramie Longhorn (Crew Cab only) adds a mesh grille insert, the spray-in bedliner, tow hooks, the larger gas tank, remote start, rear parking sensors, a leather/wood steering wheel rim, heated/leather second-row seats, HD radio and a navigation system (with real-time traffic/sports/movie info). Should all that not be enough, there's the Laramie Limited with its monotone paint, chrome side-step bars, the RamBox storage system (includes lockable bedside bins, adjustable cargo tie-downs and a bed extender), automatic windshield wipers, automatic high beams, keyless ignition/entry and upgraded leather upholstery.
Many of the features incorporated into the upper trim levels of the Ram 1500 as standard equipment can be had on the lower trims as options. There are also a variety of packages (depending on trim level) available as well. The Outdoorsman (only available on four-wheel-drive trucks) includes gray bumpers, a larger gas tank, underbody skid plates, tow hooks, all-terrain tires, a limited-slip rear differential, cloth bucket seats with console, two-tone paint and fender flares. The Lone Star (Texas only) and Big Horn (everywhere but Texas) are similar in that they bundle together a bunch of the SLT's optional equipment along with special badging and trim. The HFE (high fuel economy) package (standard cab only) includes auto stop/start, a 3.21:1 rear axle ratio (versus 3.55:1) and a tonneau cover, all of which optimize fuel economy. Other notable options include an air suspension (optional for Quad and Crew Cab models only), mobile WiFi capability and smartphone app integration.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on the SLT, the new 3.6-liter V6 engine is dramatically stronger and more efficient than the dated mill that preceded it, generating 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The new V6 is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission (the only available gearbox). The latter is controlled not with a traditional gearshift lever but instead with a rotary "e-shift" knob on the instrument panel, which either frees up storage space in the console or replaces the clunky old column selector. Two-wheel or four-wheel drive is available.
With the V6, the 2013 Ram 1500 boasts EPA-estimated fuel economy of 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined for a 2WD Quad Cab. At the test track, a 2WD Quad Cab V6 ran the 0-60-mph dash in 7.8 seconds. That's fairly quick for a full-size pickup, let alone one with four doors and powered by a V6.
The Ram 1500 also offers two V8s. A 4.7-liter V8 is standard on the Tradesman and puts out 310 hp and 330 lb-ft. Standard for the other trims is a 5.7-liter V8 with 395 hp and 407 lb-ft. Both are matched to a six-speed automatic gearbox until a bit later in the model year, when the 5.7 gets the eight-speed automatic. 2WD and 4WD is again available. Fuel economy for a 2WD Ram 1500 with either V8 stands at 14/20/16.
Properly equipped, a Ram 1500 V6 can tow up to 6,500 pounds, which Edmunds testing confirmed is a reasonable expectation. One with the 5.7-liter V8 can tow up to 10,450 pounds -- that's less than its competitors, but not by much.
Standard safety equipment on the 2013 Ram 1500 includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, hill-start assist, trailer-sway control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A fully integrated trailer brake control is optional.
During Edmunds testing, a 2WD Quad Cab V6 came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is average for a similar full-size pickup.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Ram 1500's cabin is as good as it gets in the pickup segment. Even the lower trim levels boast an attractive design, with quality materials and intuitive controls that are reasonably easy to reach, while the luxurious Laramie's wood-grain trim and leather upholstery is predictably posh. The front seats are soft, yet strike an adequate balance between support and comfort. The crew cab's rear seat is very comfortable, offering loads of legroom and an agreeable seatback angle.
This year brings two new touchscreen interfaces -- one 5 inches, the other 8.4 inches -- that both do a great job of controlling simple and complicated tasks. The touch buttons are large and easy to see at a glance, while physical knobs and buttons provide much appreciated redundant control. Other modern convenience features include keyless entry/ignition, adjustable pedals, Bluetooth, voice recognition, smartphone app connectivity and even a WiFi hotspot link.
The Ram provides plenty of standard and optional storage spaces. The Quad Cab has a clever fold-out flat floor space when you flip up the 60/40 rear seats, while the Crew Cab features watertight storage compartments under the rear floor as well as shallow bins under the flip-up backseat. Unique to the Ram 1500 is the optional RamBox feature, which places a pair of lockable compartments over the rear fenders inside the truck bed.
Whether jockeying with city traffic or merging onto a fast-running freeway, the 2013 Ram 1500 moves out swiftly and smoothly whether the V6 or the V8 is doing business. Gear changes from the new eight-speed automatic are imperceptible so the transmission never feels busy, as you might expect with so many gears. It's also a benefit when towing, as there are more ratios available to achieve an ideal engine rpm, and it could even limit your need to get a different axle ratio. As you'd expect, the V8 is a better choice for heavier towing tasks, given its notably greater torque outputs.
From behind the wheel, the Ram feels less like a truck than its competitors in terms of its ride quality and steering. Running at speed on the freeway, the Ram 1500 is impressively quiet and composed thanks to its coil-spring rear suspension, making it well suited for long-distance drives.
It gets better when fitted with the available air suspension. Not only does it deliver an even more supple ride, but a switch on the dash allows the truck to drop 2 inches to ease liftover and step-in heights when parked. Two off-road settings also allow increases of 1.2 and 2 inches above standard height for extra clearance. The suspension automatically drops 0.6 inch at freeway speed for improved aerodynamics and to save a bit of fuel.