Trucks are like sports cars, in the sense that its consumer base is fiercely loyal to one particular brand. For Ram, which formerly flew under Dodge's tutelage, it has always had its own loyal fan base. As a newly formed trucks-only division of Chrysler Group, Ram division has been enjoying 2013 so far. Upon launching the 2013 Ram 1500, Chrysler Group quickly saw a return on it with accolades rolling in and sales figures quickly climbing. Features like the 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar engine and all-new eight-speed automatic transmission can be thanked for that. With the recent rearrangement, fans of the newly anointed Ram trucks brand have already caught onto the change and are the first ones to correct you if you mention "Dodge" and "Ram" consecutively now. So did Chrysler Group make the right decision breaking Ram off and making it a separate entity? We recently spent a week with the 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4x2 to find out for ourselves.
Model and PriceThe SLT trim isn't considered Ram's base model--that distinction belongs to the blue-collar Tradesman model--but it's still not lavishly equipped. However, our 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4x2 tester came with features like audio and USB inputs, Bluetooth capability, and a seven-inch multi-view display in the instrument cluster. Opting for features like the Luxury Group ($560), which includes auto-dimming rear-view and exterior mirrors, the Big Horn Equipment Group ($1,495), featuring a billet grille, Class IV receiver hitch, cloth seats, fog lamps, and chrome side steps ($600) will raise the SLT's price quickly. Tack on other features like a trailer brake control ($230) and a spray-in bedliner ($475), our test truck would set you back $35,725. If you can live without all that, you can pick up a 2013 Ram 1500 SLT for $31,515.
Safety and Key FeaturesRiding in a full-size truck can give off the sense of elevated security because of the overall size and weight of the pickup. While that can be an advantage in the event of an accident, you're still going to need some additional safety features. Ram is more than aware of this, and included standard safety features on our tester like electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and both multistage and advanced airbags which are strewn throughout the cabin. The 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4x2 earned an overall score of four stars when tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Some key features include the all-new rotary shifter, which replaces the column shifter many truck owners are accustomed to grabbing for, and a five-inch screen with Chrysler's Uconnect system. The rotary shifter sifts through park, reverse, neutral, and drive in a buttery smooth fashion. Chrysler's Uconnect system was also flawless and easy to interact with. Pairing a phone through Bluetooth was as simple as playing music from said phone.
Family Friendliness and UtilityDepending on your stature, you may have to get a running start to be able to climb in the 2013 Ram 1500 SLT. Ram's light-duty pickup has a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, making it easy to clear a ground-down stump, but the kids may have some trouble climbing in. Installing a child's seat is a breeze with the rear doors swinging wide open and the LATCH points being easy to get at. The 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab is also ideal for tackling the daunting "weekend to-do list." During its stay with us, we picked up a week's worth of groceries for a family of five, a 30 pound bag of dog food, and a ton of rocks. Obviously, the rocks were carried in the bed, which forced the back seat to become a storage shelf for the groceries. Lucky for us, the Ram's Quad Cab configuration provided enough space for this all to happen.
Comfort and QualityIt hasn't always been known exclusively as Ram, but the Chrysler Group's current truck arm has always had the reputation for possessing a comfortable ride. The four-corner coil spring suspension system is unique among full-size trucks--most have leaf springs in the rear--and it's responsible for that airy ride and it's noticeable on almost every single road surface we came across. The 2013 Ram 1500's ride felt unphased whether it was riding on cement, asphalt, gravel, or raised pavement. Inside, cloth seats provide support and can be molded in a variety of ways with the power 10-way driver's chair and adjustable lumbar support system. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels like it shares a circumference with a manhole cover, making it easy to maneuver the full-size Ram through heavy traffic or a crowded parking lot.
How it DrivesStarting with the 2013 model year, Chrysler began implementing a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission in vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger, and the Ram 1500. All three models have seen a bump in fuel economy, despite the early speculation that eight gears is just too much. Now, that speculation seems silly, to say the least, as the Ram's new pairing of the 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar engine to the eight-speed automatic transmission is already bearing fruit. The comfortable ride is complemented by the surprisingly strong engine when you want to drive quickly. The V-6 engine, rated at 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, make getting up to speed quickly a reality and the eight-speed automatic transmission rows through the gears seamlessly. The new mill also holds onto the appropriate gear longer before shifting into another one.
SummaryRam kicked off the 2013 model year winning awards like Motor Trend's Truck of the Year accolade, and after spending a week with the full-size pickup, it was easy to see why. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 mated to the all-new eight-speed automatic transmission delivers loads of power while sipping fuel. During our time with it, the 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4x2 hovered around 23 mpg, and that was in mixed driving conditions. While the Uconnect system and five-inch infotainment screen where easy to interact with, we had trouble justifying our tester's $35,745 price tag, especially without navigation and a back-up camera riding on board. Nevertheless, if you're in the market for a full-size truck, you don't have to look much further than the 2013 Ram 1500.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $35,745
EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Highway: 25 mpg
EPA Combined: 20 mpg
Cargo Space: 25 "grocery bags"
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Good
Child Seat Fitment, Third Row (if applicable): Not Applicable
Estimated Combined Range: 520 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Excellent