2013 Ram 1500 Review
Good question. There are several answers to this, but a strong argument can be made for the Ram 1500 as perhaps the best all-rounder.
Chrysler’s pickup truck is unmistakably the most versatile amongst the full-sized half-toners. The Ram 1500 is the first pickup of its kind in a few decades to feature diesel power. It also started the V6 economy race with its powerful Pentastar 3.6litre engine.
As tested, this Outdoorsman version – essentially a package on top of the Ram’s popular SLT trim – has HEMI power. Driving a Ram 1500 with the 5.7litre HEMI V8 is enough to draw a crowd. Yet, there is so much more about to Ram to love.
For starters, the Ram 1500 is considered one the best looking full-sized pickup truck in this market. The Ram’s design language can be traced back to the 1990s when Chrysler introduced a Dodge Ram pickup that embodied a heavy-duty tractor-trailer style with a big grille and lower fenders capped with the headlamp unit. The latest Ram is an outgrowth of that design – still announcing its arrival at work with the big grille up front.
The Outdoorsman may not have the acres of chrome seen in the average pickup of today. The painted black body color grille, gray accents on the lower part of the truck and purposeful seventeen-inch allow rims denotes more of a recreational application rather than one for mixed use.
You can get the Ram 1500 in various configurations: A Regular Cab with either a 6-foot-4-inch bed or an 8-foor bed, a Quad Cab with a 6-foot-4-inch bed or a Crew Cab with a choice of a 5-foot-7-inch or 6-foot-4-inch bed. This Outdoorsman is the Crew Cab model with a balanced stance, despite the shorter 5-foot-7-inch bed.
The Outdoorsman’s bed comes with two side compartments to balance out smaller parts of the load. The Ram Box was developed to replace a large toolbox normally installed at the nose of the bed. These two compartments are lockable to protect anyone looking at taking your power equipment or hand tools you might need for the job at the cabin, or your fishing or hunting gear when you are done with the job. Inside the bed are two rails with locking tie-down anchors to ensure more precise cargo management. For longer loads, you could put up the bed extender guard. Once you put down the lockable tailgate, you set up this heavy plastic guard to either manage longer loads or a dirt bike.
The Crew Cab seats six inside when the center compartment up front is folded up. Ideally, this is a four-to-five seater, since the driver would most likely use the center armrest and storage bin for work-related materials. It fits a 14″ laptop with room for a cord or two. Seats are done in a nice cloth material with two-tone black/green-ish woven inserts. They offer a lot of room with some good bolstering, but could wound up being uncomfortable after a while behind the wheel. Rear seat room is exceptional for adults of all sizes with a comfortable bench in the same materials.
Rams are known for having the best interior in the pickup truck market. For 2013, they upped the ante integrating a TFT screen in the middle of the instrumentation binnacle and the 8.4-inch UConnect touch screen in the center stack. The audio system is the familiar AM/FM/Sirius satellite radio with USB and auxiliary jack ports, plus an SD card slot in the center compartment up front. You cannot miss the fantastic graphics on either screen – the best in its class for both the instrumentation and the center screen – including a rearview camera. You also get UConnect apps and two buttons on the rearview mirror linking back a team at Chrysler in support of your Ram. The quality of materials is high and durable. Switches are also of high quality and very familiar for Chrysler drivers and owners.
When shopping for a Ram 1500, it would be a mistake to pass up the HEMI 5.7litre V8 and six-speed automatic combination. No matter the cabin trim level, cab or bed configuration, the HEMI is the best engine to get. With 395 horsepower and 407-pound-feet of torque on tap, it has strong enough to do anything you ask it to. This Outdoorsman came with a fantastic four-wheel drive system that is great for all climates and conditions.
Though it may have a high performance driveline, the suspension set-up is not amenable for getting a bit loose on the tarmac. The Ram has one of the softest and most compliant suspensions in the full-sized truck world. There is plenty of feedback from the road, especially with the four-wheel drive system with an empty bed. The new air suspension kept everything in balance and in control. It also includes ride height adjustment that is set automatically depending on use. On the highway, the suspension is lowered to “Aero” for limited airflow underneath the truck.
The rear suspension also compensates for higher payloads, with this Outdoorsman maxing out at 1,430 pounds. The more you fill towards the limit, the better the ride will be. You can pull 8,600 pounds of trailer and load behind you with this Outdoorsman.
One thing that would surprise you on the Ram 1500 is the quick steering action. It is one of the sharpest turning reactions in the business. Even though it is a short pickup, sharp turns are easy to do. This helps tremendously when towing a trailer. If you are positioning a trailer, you can correct your approaches easily and exactly.
Brakes are strong, but would require some earlier reaction to ensure a full stop. However, panic braking is very good as the system reacts quickly to the pedal. Panic stops were downward and direct, but do take a longer distance to come to a full stop than regular automobiles. For a non-truck person, this may be discerning.
The only thing that would challenge your balance sheet is the fuel economy with the HEMI. Overall fuel consumption came to an average of 14.6MPG – expected from a powerful V8. If you do the math, you may want to play with your vehicle budget to compensate for low fuel efficiency from the HEMI in terms of your fuel costs.
Another shock would be the price you pay for a Ram 1500 Outdoorsman. Keep in mind that the Ram 1500 line starts off at $23,600 for a Tradesman regular cab with a short box and two-wheel drive. Selecting the Outdoorsman in the Crew Cab/short box configuration as equipped with select packages and the air suspension will jump the price up to $45,630. It is not that unusual for Ram 1500s with the top of the line Laramie Limited trim to scale around $55,000.
Why is the Ram that good? Why not the competition? You may or may not be surprised by this fact – the Ram pickup is the best selling single product in the Chrysler lineup. Sales include heavier duty Rams – including big dual rear wheel models and cab/chassis commercial applications. However, Ram sales in the U.S.A. are about half of that of Ford’s F-Series – the best selling vehicle in North America.
But, if you must have a truck – choose the Ram, please? Now, back to cars and crossovers…