Full 2013 Ram 3500 Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Ram 3500 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 and new touchscreen display, are more readily apparent. It all keeps the already highly regarded Ram in the thick of the heavy-duty truck game.
With the battle for heavy-duty truck supremacy as much a show of brute strength as the World's Strongest Man competition, one might half expect the 2013 Ram 3500 to be sporting a lifting belt around its cab and chalk powder on its tires. Any of the choices in this specialized segment can move pretty much anything short of a mountain. They're all ridiculously capable, but the Ram 3500 manages to distinguish itself via its sharp styling and handsome cabin.
More to the point, the rugged Ram's interior boasts clean, classy styling, high-quality materials and a wealth of available luxury features. While doing its grunt work, the Ram 3500 provides its occupants with comfortable seats and a quiet ride, making the cabin a pleasant place to unravel the miles.
The Ram 3500's muscle comes by way of either a 5.7-liter V8 with 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque or a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-6 that churns out up to 385 hp and a best-in-class 850 lb-ft of torque when equipped with Ram's high-capacity automatic transmission. So yes, you could say the Ram 3500 more than earns its "heavy-duty" status. Properly equipped, it can tow up to 30,010 pounds (depending on body style and powertrain choice), while maximum payload capacity is equally astounding at 6,730 pounds.
As you may have realized, the 2013 Ram 3500 is more than ready to take on its muscle-bound rivals. Even if we're talking about "just" the 660 lb-ft version, the turbodiesel is still plenty strong for everybody short of Paul Bunyan. Certainly the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 (and its GMC Silverado twin) and 2013 Ford F-350 Super Duty are also worthy of consideration, as they're certainly plenty capable as well. You really can't go wrong with any of them. That said, we still think the Ram 3500 has the advantage when it comes to bold styling and that uncommonly upscale interior.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Ram 3500 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 pairs an even bigger cabin with the short bed.
The regular cab comes in ST or SLT trims; the Crew Cab in ST, SLT, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn; and the Mega Cab in SLT, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn only.
With the exception of Crew Cab short beds, all Ram 3500s have a dual-rear-wheel axle.
The Ram ST is the bare-bones trim level that comes with black bumpers and grille, 18-inch steel wheels, vinyl upholstery and flooring, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, cruise control, an electronic vehicle information display, a tire-pressure monitor, 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, an electronic trailer brake control, a sliding rear window, power/heated side mirrors, 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, brighter quad headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio.
There's also the luxurious Laramie, which features polished alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, a power driver seat with memory, power-adjustable pedals, auto-dimming mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display and an upgraded nine-speaker surround-sound audio system. 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 3500 is available with either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Dual rear wheels are standard, but buyers may choose single rear wheels as an option.
A 5.7-liter gasoline V8 engine with 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque matched to a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Optional is the Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline six-cylinder engine, which comes in three different states of tune. Equipped with an available six-speed manual transmission, it produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. You can also get it with one of two different six-speed automatic transmissions: With the standard automatic, it makes 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque, while a heavy-duty Aisin automatic bumps those ratings up to 385 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque.
The Cummins comes with a big-rig-like exhaust brake, an unusual feature for a factory pickup that provides additional stability and braking power when towing very heavy loads. Properly equipped, the Ram 3500 can tow up to 30,010 pounds.
Standard safety equipment for the 2013 Ram 3500 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 2013 Ram 3500 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 in higher-trimmed Rams are almost too nice for work truck status. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes.
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 3500 is built to tackle the most demanding of pickup duties, it remains comfortably composed in most situations. The steering is responsive and the truck tracks through turns in a confident manner. The ride is firm but not harsh, and well controlled over broken pavement.
On the highway, road and wind noise are nicely quelled, with only a muted diesel clatter at full throttle. The diesel engine is strong and provides plenty of power for towing and hauling heavy loads. We recommend picking either of the six-speed automatic transmissions, as the extra torque over the diesel with the manual gearbox makes a noticeable difference in towing ability.