2013 Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4X4

The pick-up truck war is torqueing up and the new battleground seems to be fuel efficiency.  And to that end, the emergence of the V6-powered full size is well under way.  This 2013, don’t-call-me Dodge, Ram 1500 is equipped with the company’s workhorse 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, programmed here to make 305 horsepower and 269 pound feet of torque.  Combined with their obsession to improve aerodynamics, reduce weight and utilize any gas saving trick possible such as low rolling resistance tires, electric power steering and pulse-width modulation, engineers were able to extract 16mpg city/23mpg highway from this 5,148 truck.  To be specific I’m driving the SLT Crew Cab 4X4 with the 5’ 7” box.  That’s 2mpg better than Ford’s Ecoboost offering, and because I have a gas station near me that sells E85 for $.50 less per gallon, having a flex-fuel engine in the Ram is another advantage.  As configured here, payload capacity is listed at 1,650 pounds with 4,150 pounds towing.  2-wheel drive models with a more aggressive axle ratio can pull towing to 3 ¼ tons.

The Crew Cab model is best suited for those who place an emphasis on passenger volume and it does not disappoint.  With a flip-up of the center console, you can easily seat 6 and its over 125 cubic feet of passenger volume far exceeds that of any large car on the market.

But the focus this week seemed to be whether or not the same engine that powers the Chrysler 200 is Ram tough.  And I’d say for the vast majority of half-ton truck buyers the answer is a resounding yes.  This motor is flexible enough to be used in a wide variety of applications and you can add the Ram to that growing list.  It’s car-quiet and refined, as quick as mid-size sedan, powerful across a wide RPM range and works harmoniously with the new TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic.  There’s been a lot of buzz about the rotary shift knob but I found it to be a complete non-story. With its unique coil springs, the Ram already had the smoothest big truck ride and the optional 4-corner air suspension just sweetens the deal.  It works automatically; even lowering at highway speeds for improved efficiency or you can button push it to 4 different levels including 2 off-road modes and the ability to bring the Ram to its lowest setting right from the key fob.  And other than simply being so big…for instance, parking is always an adventure, the Ram actually drives small; a hallmark of well-engineered trucks.  But these optional tow mirrors have got to come with a power folding feature.

(Stand-up 2)  I had this Ram on a long highway trip as well and found it to be a beautiful cruiser.  Highly optioned with dozens upon dozens of convenience features I would highly recommend all of the park assist systems for obvious reasons, the high end UConnect system for its breadth of offerings not the least of which is a WiFi hot spot, and the Apline Surroud sound system for audiophiles.  The instrument cluster offers easy access to a multitude of information and configuration options and there’s a trailer brake controller for better control.

And new this year, Crew Cab buyers can opt for a 6’ 4” box for more utility.  This model starts at about $38,000 and totals $47,135 as tested.  The Ram brand comes out swinging hard with the new 1500 which goes easy on you at the pump.

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