Used 2013 Ram 1500 Regular Cab
Used 2013 Ram 1500 Regular Cab for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
With a winning combination of strong powertrains, a smooth ride and a well-trimmed cabin, the 2013 Ram 1500 is our top pick in the full-size pickup truck segment.
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.
Trim levels & features
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
Park a 2013 Ram 1500 in plain sight at your local home improvement store and a random shopper will likely push his cart straight past without a glance. The Ram's new midcycle refresh just isn't that dramatic on the outside.
After all, the Ram's cab, hood, front fenders and bed look no different. Its headlights and taillights appear similar and fit into the same openings. The only substantive new styling element is a larger grille that gapes about an inch lower at the bottom lip, with a resculpted front fascia and bumper styling to match.
But that "carryover" hood is now made of aluminum and weighs a full 26 pounds less. The use of high-strength steel in the reshaped front bumper lops off another 4 pounds. Then there are the active shutters that lurk behind the enlarged grille to improve aerodynamics when cooling demands are low. All together, the subtle front styling tweaks help shave critical points off the drag coefficient, dropping it from 0.386 to 0.360.
If you smell an emphasis on improved fuel economy, you would be right. But these changes are mere tweaks compared to the 2013 Ram 1500's big improvements that are hidden out of sight.
That aluminum hood conceals the most familiar of the Ram's improvements. That would be the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, an engine that makes its first Ram truck appearance after being spread far and wide across the Chrysler landscape, from the Dodge Challenger to the Chrysler 300 to the Jeep Wrangler.
Compared to the 3.7-liter lump it replaces, the Pentastar brings 90 additional horsepower, 34 more lb-ft of torque and greater efficiency to the table. In so doing it transforms the Ram 1500 V6 offering from a loss-leader no one wanted to a legitimate choice worthy of serious consideration.
Unlike last year, you can pair the V6 with four-wheel drive. You can also get it with a Crew Cab or SLT trim or both. You can even have all of them at once, like the SLT Crew Cab V6 4x4 test sample we're sitting in now.
The result is surprisingly good as there's enough motivation on tap to make us buy into Ram's 7.5-second 0-60 claim for the lighter 4x2 version. The Nashville-area roads we're driving today don't feature the sorts of grades we're used to back home, but in this environment, at least, the Pentastar goes about its business smoothly, with no thrashing or shortness of breath.
Eight Is Enough
A heaping helping of credit goes to the revolutionary piece of pickup hardware the Pentastar is bolted to, a new eight-speed Torque-Flite automatic transmission. For now this gearbox (code name: 8HP45) is limited to use with the Pentastar V6, but a beefier 8HP70 version will come out for the 5.7-liter V8 Hemi in early 2013.
The presence of eight closely spaced gears means its torque converter is not a particularly slushy one, and since the added ratios primarily tighten the gaps at the low end it's able to lock up readily in any gear, right from the get-go, for increased efficiency.
Between this and the new V6, 4x2 fuel economy soars from last year's 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway up to an estimated 17 city and 25 highway, a massive 20 percent jump that boots Ford's 3.7-liter V6 (17 city/23 highway) off the best-in-class podium. A new Ram 1500 HFE model adds a start/stop system and other tweaks that are good for 18 mpg in the city.
For our part it's hard to detect a distinct progression through the transmission's eight ratios. We expected lots of activity, but the gear changes are so smooth they're often hard to pick out. Instead the Ram motors along confidently, the V6 never far from its sweet spot as the electronic brain quietly chooses from among 40 available shift strategies as needed.
The engineers at Ram say this has rendered the familiar tow-haul switch unnecessary, even with a tow rating of 6,500 pounds, some 2,700 more than the old V6 setup. We'll reserve judgment until we test it on steeper terrain with a sufficient burden latched behind, but manual shifting via a thumb-operated steering button is available if they're wrong.
Drilling farther down we get to the very frame itself, which has been redesigned to incorporate high strength steel, hydroformed sub assemblies and larger cab mounts. Ram engineers tell us the reworked skeleton delivers significant improvements in torsional stiffness, noise, vibration and harshness while managing to shed up to 30 pounds of weight.
Along with the frame's new structural changes, there's a new size offering, too. It's a 149.5-inch wheelbase version that allows the Ram 1500 lineup to offer the popular Crew Cab with a 6-foot-4-inch standard-length bed for the first time.
Running along that frame is an entirely new wire harness that does more than passively supply power to all the subsystems; it's more of a smart grid that can also communicate effectively with them. Things like the electric fuel pump and engine cooling fan can now be adjusted to meet demand.
Additional fuel savings (and NVH improvements) come from changing the 2013 Ram 1500 over to electric power steering. Feel and composure are improved over the old hydraulic setup, but we could use a smidge more natural return-to-center behavior. That said, an F-150 provided for comparison suggests the tables may have been turned on Ford, as the EPS calibration in that truck seems to have backslid from our favorable initial first drive and full test impressions toward a bygone era of overboosted numbness.
Riding on Air
There are significant suspension upgrades as well. The front end's upper control and lower control arms are lighter, with the lower ones making the switch to aluminum. We're unable to say exactly how this unsprung weight reduction affects ride and handling, though, because our test truck is also equipped with a significant new option: four-wheel height-adjustable Ram Active Level air suspension.
The Ram's exclusive use of a five-link axle and rear coil springs made this relatively simple to execute by swapping out the coil springs for airbags at each corner. Height sensors, a compressor, under-bed accumulators and a control system add or subtract air to keep the vehicle at its normal ride height no matter how the truck is loaded.
A switch on the dash allows the truck to kneel 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 to save a bit of fuel, too, but the fuel savings aren't captured by the window sticker because the system is a $1,595 option.
As expected, the ride is buttery-smooth much of the time, filtering out coarse textures as only air springs can. On a handful of rougher surfaces, though, the ride seems a tad tight, giving the impression that the bump stops are closer at hand. More time on familiar home soil will prove whether this means much.
Take a Seat
Our 2009 long-term Ram 1500 Laramie was certainly a pleasant place to sit, but the 2013 Ram 1500 is markedly better. Similar in overall design, the new cabin benefits from a subtle restyling of the A/C vents on the center stack and new upgraded climate control switchgear that gives off a more premium vibe.
And the center console is more spacious because…hey, where's the shifter? Turns out a mechanical linkage can't handle eight gears, and Ram designers seized this opportunity to replace the clunky column and console shifters with a chunky rotary knob mounted just to the right of the ignition key. Positive detents give it appropriate heft, and it's less odd to use than we expected — certainly less weird than any goofy Prius joystick.
New for 2013 is a large 7-inch TFT display between the speedometer and tachometer. Switches on the steering wheel provide access to numerous data screens, ranging from towing and off-road status to real-time readouts of transmission temperature and the like. Or you can choose a big, fat digital speedometer.
There's also a new 8.4-inch touchscreen on the center stack, which opens the door to a vastly more capable and user-friendly UConnect system that controls audio, phone and optional navigation functions. It's a massive step up from the previous setup, and within minutes of use it's clear to us this interface is likely more responsive and intuitive than anything coming from the competition.
Prices for the 2013 Ram 1500 are similar to 2012, beginning at $23,585 for a Tradesman regular cab with two-wheel drive, including destination charges. The SLT V6 Crew Cab we're driving today didn't previously exist, but the base price of $34,515 for the 4x2 is only $225 more than last year's similar 2012 Ford F-150 XLT. Our Crew Cab 4x4 V6's $37,735 price tag can't be matched by Ford, which sells its competing version with a 5.0-liter V8.
As for the 2013 Ram 1500 V8s, the 4.7-liter continues in a diminished role, appearing as the base engine in the Tradesman and nowhere else. The marquee 5.7-liter Hemi soldiers on in the Sport and Laramie with a six-speed until its high-torque eight-speed transmission arrives a few months down the road.
No EPA fuel economy hints are available for this combo just yet, but the hidden improvements detailed above apply equally here. The 2013 Hemi eight-speed rating will likely gain a point or two over the 14 city/20 highway mpg earned by the current six-speed, and beyond that there's a Hemi HFE model with start-stop that'll go one better.
It's no surprise that the average parking lot pedestrian would overlook all of the Ram's improvements. To him the new 2013 Ram 1500 looked like it had a few minor upgrades; a good job, but nothing special. Lurking beneath the surface, however, are substantive improvements that make the 2013 Ram a significantly more competitive pickup. Whether it's better mileage you're after, a more useful interior or an innovative new suspension, this Ram delivers in ways that you'll never expect from just looking at it.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Ram 1500?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.