From the outside, the new-for-2013 Ram 1500 doesn’t look much different. The distinctive cross-hair grille is a bit bigger and the headlights and bumpers were restyled. But under the hood and in the cabin, it’s a whole new truck.
The base engine is now a 3.6-liter beast of a V-6 that offers a huge boost in power and fuel economy over the outgoing 3.7. The new powerplant delivers 305 horsepower (hp) at 269 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque and is mated to an all-new, eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission.
Moving up the line, the available 4.7-liter V-8 ups the ante with 310 hp at 330 lb.-ft., followed by a 5.7-liter V-8 with 395 hp at 407 lb.-ft. of torque.
All that power is complemented by a redesigned frame. The new truck is lighter, stronger and more adjustable. An available air suspension offers five ride settings with four inches of travel, allowing drivers to lift the truck for better ground clearance and lower it for better fuel economy. It also features a load-leveling technology that raises or lowers the rear suspension to compensate for increasingly heavy loads.
The Ram 1500 is available in regular cab, Quad Cab and Crew Cab. For the first time, a 6-foot-4-inch bed is available across the model line. The regular cab seats three and can be fitted with an 8-foot bed. The Quad Cab has room for six passengers and is available only with the standard bed. The Crew Cab adds rear legroom and is available with a shorter bed.
Each cab carries six trim levels — Tradesman, SLT, Sport, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited — but even the base models are nicely equipped. Standard features include 17-inch steel wheels, tilt wheel, cruise control and six-speaker stereo, as well as power windows for the Quad Cab and Crew Cab. Options for the base models include power locks and mirrors, keyless entry and more.
Upgrading to the SLT, Sport and Laramie editions adds a parade of features once foreign to the full-size truck segment. Powered and heated seats with leather upholstery, driver memory functions and dual-zone climate control are but a few examples.
Fleet buyers would be remiss to stand by their F-150s, Silverados and Tundras without giving the Ram 1500 a look. It’s in showrooms now, and prices range from $22,590 for the three-seat Tradesman to $44,275 for the Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn.