2013 Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4X2Posted on July 15th, 2013
New powertrain boosts gas mileage 20 percent
By Nina Russin
What could be better than a truck that works harder and uses less fuel? The base powertrain on the newest Ram 1500 pickups does just that. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is slightly smaller than the 3.7-liter block it replaces, and its aluminum construction minimizes weight. A new eight-speed automatic transmission has twice the number of gears on the former unit.
An aluminum hood shaves additional weight off the body. Other fuel economizing measures include an active grille shutter system, low rolling resistance tires and aerodynamic improvements around the exterior. The result: 25 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy according to the EPA.
Since EPA figures can be soft, I wanted to experience this for myself. This week, I had the opportunity to do so, in the rear-wheel drive version of the Ram 1500 crew cab.
Being the middle of July, I cranked the air conditioner and headed for the hills. Elevation gain was about 2000 feet. While the 90-mile test didn’t include a lot of stop-and-go driving, I did bury the throttle a few times, just for hoots. Average fuel economy, according to the car’s information pages, was just over 23 miles-per-gallon.
Furthermore, the Ram didn’t feel the least bit anemic. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the truck’s performance on steep grades, and its acceleration off the line.
Priced from $23,585
Base price for the 2013 model is $23,585 including the destination charge. The SLT crew cab tested starts at $33,820. Options include a ten-way power driver’s seat, rear 60/40 split folding seats and 115-volt outlet ($900); leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant controls, power heated mirrors, auto dimming rearview mirror and overhead console ($695); remote start ($350); fog lamps ($120), front and rear rubber floor mats ($80); 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen display pre-wired for hotspot connectivity ($970); rear park assist ($250); class IV receiver hitch ($335); and a spray-in bedliner ($475). Adding the $995 destination charge, final MSRP is $38,990.
Car-like ride and handling
Except for its size, the Ram’s ride and handling is very much like a passenger car. The coil link rear suspension that debuted on the 2009 models is one of the reasons why. Twin-tube shock absorbers combine the stiffness necessary to haul large payloads with a comfy ride. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners.
The engine is surprisingly quiet for a block with a chain drive. The timing chain saves owners the expense of replacing a belt at 60,000 miles. The engine runs on 87-octane fuel and is E-85 compatible.
A rotary knob on the instrument panel controls the automatic transmission, freeing up room in the center console for additional storage. The unit performs flawlessly, with no noticeable shift shock under normal driving conditions.
The electric power steering system has decent on-center response: not quite as sharp as mechanical units, but better than most. Part of the test route was a section of the Bush Highway east of Phoenix. It is a two-lane road with a lot of pitchy hills and off-camber turns. I felt completely in control throughout, even when I pushed the envelope.
Braking is firm and linear.
Visibility to the front and sides of the truck is good. I had no problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway. The side mirrors do a good job of minimizing blind spots to the back of the vehicle when the driver is moving forward.
My only criticism of the test truck was its lack of a rearview camera. I would rather see that on the list of standard equipment than satellite radio. While park assist sounds an audible signal if it detects an obstacle to the rear, it cannot replicate the rearview camera’s ability to monitor cross traffic, nor can it display the vehicle’s trajectory.
While the redesign isn’t a dramatic departure from the outgoing model, the bolder grille and new vertical headlamps make the truck more clearly identifiable as a Ram. I think it’s a good move, since design is one of the brand’s strengths.
Ram owners are not part of the herd, so to speak, and they appreciate the brand’s edgy hipness. Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind the increase in sales over the past four years.
The crew cab easily accommodates five adult passengers. Designers did a good job of configuring the second-row bench seats to give the middle passenger a reasonable amount of legroom.
Chrysler products across the board have an abundance of functional storage space. I have to believe that decades of minivan design had something to do with this. The newest Ram pickup has a large center console bin, large map pockets and bottle holders in the doors, a large glovebox and cupholders for all five seating positions. There is additional storage space under the rear seats.
The ten-way power driver’s seat makes a big difference for smaller adults such as myself. I had no problems adjusting the seat to give myself a clear forward view.
The optional Uconnect screen is easy to see in a variety of lighting conditions, with easy-to-read graphics. Ram has partnered with Sprint to provide wireless connectivity, so the truck can function as a mobile hotspot.
The wireless connection also enables owners to perform functions such as locking and unlocking the vehicle with a smart phone, or call 911 in an emergency. Voice-activated controls make it easier to access infotainment functions and minimize distraction.
The spray-in bedliner protects the surface from weather-related corrosion. The newest version of Ram’s optional RamBox cargo system locks using the same keyfob that unlocks and locks the cabin doors. The RamBox is an expensive option, but adds a lot of secure, weatherproof storage space outside the passenger compartment.
The Ram 1500 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, knee bolsters, hill start assist, antilock brakes and electronic stability control.
Ram builds its light-duty pickup trucks at its Warren, Michigan assembly plant
Like: The new Ram 1500 gets exceptional gas mileage for a vehicle of this size plus the ride and handling of a passenger car. The crew cab’s spacious, well-configured interior has lots of storage and the ability to function as a mobile hotspot.
Dislike: Rearview camera is not standard equipment.
Model: 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4X2
Base price: $33,820
As tested: $38,990
Horsepower: 305 Hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 269 lbs.-ft. @ 4175 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg2013, Best Value 2013, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, performance, pricing, Ram, standard safety
One response to “2013 Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4X2”
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