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2013 Ram 1500 First Review: Expanding the MPG Wars to Trucks

By KBB.com Editors on August 27, 2012 2:14 PM
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For decades, auto manufacturers squared-off against each other to prove their respective full-size pickups were the most rugged, capable and powerful vehicles in the category. By now it's no secret that every modern full-size truck can handle virtually anything you throw at it, so Ram decided to develop a pickup that addressed the Achilles' heel of the category, fuel economy.

Thanks to twelve segment-first innovations specifically geared towards enhancing fuel efficiency, the 2013 Ram 1500 offers best-in-class fuel economy when equipped with the new 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. Mated to a category-exclusive 8-speed automatic transmission, the new Pentastar V6 delivers 42 percent more horsepower and 20 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing 3.7-liter V6. When combined with supplementary fuel-saving technologies like electric power steering (EPS) and electronically controlled air suspension that automatically - and unperceivably - lowers the ride height to improve aerodynamics, the all-new Ram 1500 achieves an EPA-estimated 17/25 mpg city/highway rating. Our real-world driving reflected those ratings. In fact, with the cruise control set to 65 mph, we were able to hit the 27 mpg mark on the highway.

Entering and exiting the lofty Ram 1500 was a trouble-free experience on account of the air suspension's remote-operated lowering feature. Furthermore, the Ram's pneumatic suspenders are also designed to help facilitate the loading and unloading of cargo from the truck bed. For grueling off-road situations, the air suspension can be raised with the push of a button to provide the truck with a respectable 10.7 inches of ground clearance. In terms of on-road handling, the new Ram 1500 felt unexpectedly agile for a full-size pickup. Some road noise did find its way into the cabin, but the comfortable ride and in-vehicle entertainment supplied by the new Uconnect Access infotainment system more than made up for the elevated noise levels.

Comprised of an 8.4-inch touch-screen display, 3G Wi-Fi access, improved conversational voice recognition and telematics-based emergency services, Uconnect Access is perhaps the most intuitive full-featured infotainment system on the market. This new iteration addressed our grumbles regarding the previous version's sluggish voice command processing and the lack of one-shot destination entry (the ability to speak the complete address in a single command). We were surprised to see that the second-generation Uconnect systems no longer incorporate Garmin navigation, and instead employ a new and improved system from Harman. The 8.4-inch touch-screen combined with the 7-inch cluster-mounted information display add an essential measure of style to the new 1500, particularly since the Ram's interior and exterior designs remain largely unchanged for the 2013 model year.

The base price for the 2013 Ram 1500 comes in around $800 higher than last year, leading to a new starting price of just over $23,500. Opting for the fuel-efficient powertrain comprised of the new Pentastar V6 and 8-speed automatic gearbox tacks an additional $1,500 to the bottom line. Expect the 2013 Ram 1500 to hit showrooms in October.   

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