Video: 2013 Ram 1500 promises better fuel economy, more high-tech features

Consumer Reports News: April 06, 2012 04:08 PM

Ram knows that full-sized pickup trucks see a wide variety of buyers and uses. That's evident in some of the detail changes they made to the 2013 Ram 1500, unveiled this week at the New York auto show.

Commercial users will like that the "Ram 1500" logo is now stacked to allow more room to fit magnetic commercial signs on the front side doors. And users who like buying high-end luxury trucks will benefit from the availability of air suspension and its adjustable ride height.

But all Ram buyers can benefit from the truck's biggest changes: The Ram will offer an optional eight-speed automatic transmission controlled by a dash-mounted rotary dial. It is available on the Hemi V8, with claims of best-in-class fuel economy with a V8 engine.

The eight-speed unit is standard on the new-for-2013 Pentastar V6. While some may scoff at offering a V6 in a full-sized truck, Ford's success with their twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 is changing perceptions. Unlike some competitors, Ram offers their non-turbo V6 on a wider variety of body styles, including crew cabs.

Fuel economy is aided by weight reductions from a new frame. All of these mechanical changes ride beneath very familiar styling, although it received some tweaks for aerodynamics. Ram also added more little Ram name badges and ram head logos all over. It seems like they tried to label every part so that if it falls off, you know what truck it came from.

Other updates include the available Uconnect 8.4-inch screen for controlling HVAC and audio functions. Backed up with redundant knobs and buttons for common functions, we found this touch-screen system easy to use in our previously tested Dodge Charger, Journey, and Chrysler 300. The Ram goes a step further with a very slick color display between the instruments. It can be custom configured to show a large variety of information, including ancillary digital gauges, and trailer brake and air suspension information.

The full-sized pickup market is very competitive. It's hard to buy a bad truck. We'll see if these changes put the Ram atop the stack when we buy one to test.

See our complete New York auto show coverage.

Tom Mutchler

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