What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Ram 2500 is redesigned. It may not look it, as most of the changes are under the skin, such as a stronger frame, a more powerful turbodiesel engine and a revised suspension. Others, such as LED turn signals, a slightly refreshed cabin, a new touchscreen and a configurable display within the instrument panel, are more readily apparent.
If the battle for heavy-duty pickup truck supremacy involved muscle-bound, heavily tattooed guys instead of trucks, it would resemble an Ultimate Fighting Championship. Either way, the combatants are fierce and not afraid of hard physical work. The 2013 Ram 2500 has all the requisite talents to compete with its full-size foes, including strong powertrains, a well-sorted suspension and a handsome, comfortable cabin. And with this year's more-than-meets-the-eye redesign that boasts a stronger frame and more powerful diesel engine, those talents are even more impressive.
The Ram 2500's standard 5.7-liter V8 is rated at 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, respectable to be sure. But if your truck's duties are going to involve more serious tasks, then we recommend going with the optional turbodiesel, which churns out up to 385 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. As such, the Ram 2500 more than earns its "heavy-duty" status. Properly equipped, it can tow up to 18,350 pounds (depending on body style and powertrain choice) and haul up to 3,170 pounds.
And yet as it's performing all that grunt work, the big Ram coddles its passengers in the upper trim levels with a handsome cabin furnished with high-quality materials. This year, the Ram 2500 also gains Chrysler's latest electronic features, including an available 7-inch display in the gauge cluster, an 8.4-inch touchscreen and the newest Uconnect services. Adding to its easy-to-live-with demeanor is a quiet, comfortable ride and generous array of available luxury features.
Compared to its 2013 Chevy Silverado 2500HD and 2013 Ford F-250 rivals, the 2013 Ram 2500 finds itself essentially evenly matched in terms of capability and ruggedness. But considering that it has the newest design along with arguably the most attractive styling and upscale interior, the Ram could very well take the title belt.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup is available in three cab styles: two-door regular, four-door Crew Cab and Mega Cab (a jumbo crew cab). The regular cabs come with a long bed only, while the Crew Cab has either a short or long cargo bed. The Mega Cab rides on the same wheelbase as the Crew Cab long bed, but it combines an even bigger cabin with a short bed.
The regular cab comes in Tradesman or SLT trims; the Crew Cab in Tradesman, SLT, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Power Wagon trims; and the Mega Cab in SLT, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn trims.
The Tradesman is the most basic Ram and it comes with 17-inch steel wheels, black grille/bumpers, vinyl upholstery and flooring, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, cruise control, an electronic vehicle information display, a tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with USB/iPod and auxiliary audio jacks. Power windows and door locks are standard on Crew Cab models, while regular cabs have manual controls.
The SLT adds chrome exterior trim, chrome-clad wheels, electronic trailer brake control, heated side mirrors, a sliding rear window, cloth upholstery, full power accessories, keyless entry and satellite radio. SLT Crew Cab and Mega Cab Rams are eligible to upgrade to the Big Horn package (sold as the Lone Star package in Texas). This includes a chrome grille, foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio.
There is also the Outdoorsman package for the SLT that adds the diesel engine, a limited-slip rear differential, tow hooks, polished alloy wheels (with white-letter tires), two-tone paint, wheel flares, a body-color grille frame, foglights, remote starting, auto-dimming mirrors, an overhead console, a 115-volt power point, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, power front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls).
For those planning on using the Ram for serious off-road duties, the Power Wagon (available only as a Crew Cab 4WD with the short bed and 5.7-liter V8) should be of interest. It includes tow hooks, skid plates, all-terrain tires, a manual transfer case, a 4.56 axle ratio with electronically locking differentials, a power winch rated at 12,000 pounds of capacity, a front antiroll bar that disconnects electronically to improve wheel articulation off-road, rooftop running lights, foglights, quad headlights and Bluetooth.
On the other end of the spectrum is the luxurious Laramie, which features polished alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, a power driver seat with memory, power-adjustable pedals, auto-dimming mirrors, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and an upgraded nine-speaker surround-sound audio system with digital music storage. The Laramie Longhorn adds color-keyed bumpers, a spray-in bedliner, remote start, rear park assist, HD radio, bucket seats/console, heated rear seats and a navigation system.
Many of the upper trims' features are available as options in lower ones. Other option highlights include the RamBox cargo management system (which includes bedside storage compartments, an adjustable bed divider and tie-downs), a sunroof, an upgraded stereo and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Ram 2500 is available with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive (4WD is electronically engaged at the high trim levels and mechanically engaged at the lowest one). The 4WD version has a solid front axle and recirculating-ball steering setup, while the 2WD model gets an independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.
Every Ram 2500 comes standard with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The 5.7 is paired with a six-speed automatic. In Edmunds testing, a 4WD 2500 Power Wagon equipped with the gasoline V8 and the previous five-speed automatic went from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 8.1 seconds.
The optional engine is a 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline-6 that produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed manual transmission, or up to 385 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed automatic.
Depending on body style and powertrain configuration, the Ram 2500 has a maximum tow rating of 14,350 pounds with the gasoline engine, 17,250 for the manual-equipped diesel and 18,350 with the automatic and diesel engine.
Standard safety equipment for the 2013 Ram 2500 includes antilock disc brakes and side curtain airbags. Optional on the SLT and standard on the Laramie are power-adjustable pedals.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Ram 2500 takes a page out of the Ram 1500's playbook by offering the best interior among all pickups. On the higher trim levels, soft-touch materials and tasteful stitching are abundant throughout the cabin, while the plush seats and metallic accents are almost too nice for work truck status. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes. Unique to this pickup is the optional RamBox feature, which places a pair of lockable compartments over the rear fenders inside the truck bed.
The controls are within easy reach and user-friendly, especially in the upper trims (and any equipped with navigation) with the 8.4-inch touchscreen. With large, logically located virtual buttons, this is one of the best examples of this high-tech interface seen in any vehicle.
Even though the 2013 Ram 2500 is built to tackle demanding pickup duties, it remains comfortably composed in most situations. The ride is expectedly firmer than that of its smaller 1500 sibling (which features a coil-spring rear suspension), but the 2500's leaf spring rear is as good as most other heavy-duty trucks.
Further isolating the occupants from the outside world are hydraulic cab-to-frame mounts that are tuned to reduce the jolting ride that is typical of an unloaded heavy-duty truck. On the highway, road and wind noise are nicely quelled. Both of the Ram's engines are strong and provide plenty of power for towing and hauling heavy loads. Still, we highly recommend the big diesel matched to the six-speed automatic transmission, as its 190 extra lb-ft of torque over the diesel with the manual gearbox makes a noticeable difference in towing ability.