2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Review and Prices
The 2013 Ram 1500 is the best truck for you if you want the new-and-improved version of America’s best-riding, best-handling full-size pickup.
The 2013 Ram 1500 is re-engineered with freshened styling and advances in powertrain and suspension. The 2013 Ram’s sheetmetal more aerodynamic. It has a new V-6 with 42 percent more horsepower and 20 percent better fuel economy than the one it replaces. It also has the segment’s only eight-speed automatic transmission and rotary shift dial. The newly available air suspension improves control, load-leveling, and ground clearance. Ram’s 2013 revamp keeps it competitive with the No. 1-selling pickup, the mildly revised 2013 Ford F-150, and keeps in fresh as the No. 2-seller, the fully redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, rolls out.
Should you buy a 2013 Ram 1500 or wait for the 2014 Ram 1500? Wait for the 2014 Ram if you’re a diesel-engine fan and take stock in rumors that one will be available next model year in this half-ton pickup. Buy a 2013 Ram if a diesel isn’t a priority; no other major changes are forecast, and you’ll avoid the inevitable model-year price escalation.
2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Changes back to top
Styling: The 2013 Ram 1500 doesn’t look radically different than the 2009-2012 generation, but nearly every surface is new. The in-your-face grille design is larger and taller and its Ram-brand crosshair bars are now flush at the top and bottom of the grille surround. Headlights, taillamps, and the front fascia are revised, and Rams with 4-wheel-drive (4wd) have larger front tow-hook openings. Fenders, body sides, and tail are recontoured, too.
Improved aerodynamics was a key goal in the 2013 revamp. Ram says a 6-percent improvement makes this the most aerodynamic pickup in the class. The new running boards are shaped and positioned to aid aerodynamics as well as access to the cargo bed. And some models provide additional aero gains via active grille shutters -- flaps behind the grille that close automatically when their cooling properties aren’t needed.
Multiple-trim-levels addressing a range of budgets, tastes, and avocations are the rule in this class and the 2013 Ram doesn’t disappoint. Ten model grades are available. Most reprise 2012 trims, but the work-oriented Tradesman is now the entry-level model in place of the ST. A High Fuel Economy HFE model is added. And the new top-of-the-line Ram is called the Laramie Limited.
In ascending order of equipment and price, the 2013 Ram models are the Tradesman, the value-oriented Express, fuel-economy HFE, volume SLT, Western-region Big Horn and Texas-region Lone Star, fishing-and-hunting-outfitted Outdoorsman, Sport (the basis for the performance R/T package), upscale Laramie, luxury Laramie Longhorn, and premium Laramie Limited.
The 2013 Ram again matches its domestic competition’s three cab styles. It offers the two-door regular cab, the extended-cab Quad Cab with two abbreviated rear doors, and the full-four-door Crew Cab. The regular cab seats up to three, the Quad and Crew seat up to six. All are exceptionally roomy in front and provide width enough for three adults on both the front and rear bench seats. The Quad cab’s rear seatback is fairly upright and leg room is a little tight if you’re tall. But Crew Cabs have stretch-out rear-seat space in all directions.
Only the Ford F-150 offers both short and long cargo beds with all three of its cab types. But the 2013 Ram gains ground by adding a long-bed choice with the Crew Cab, leaving the Quad as the only Ram with just one bed length.
The regular-cab short-bed has a 120.5-inch-wheelabse and a 6-foot-4-inch cargo box.
Riding a 140.5-inch-wheelbase, the regular-cab long-bed has an 8-foot box, the Quad cab has a 6-foot-4-inch bed, and the Crew Cab short-bed has a 5-foot-7-inch box.
The new-for-2013 Crew Cab long bed has a 149.4-inch wheelbase and uses the 6-foot-4-inch bed.
The 5-foot-7 and 6-foot-4 beds are again available with the RamBox cargo-management system. This features locking, lighted, and watertight covered bins along the inner bed walls, plus a bed-extender frame. For the first time, Ram’s keyfob-remote locking system controls the tailgate and RamBox locks.
The Tradesman, Express, HFE, SLT, and Sport, and R/T Rans are available as regular-cab short-beds. The uplevel regional editions and the Outdoorsman, Sport, and Laramie models are available only in Quad and Crew cabs. The premium Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited models are Crew Cabs only.
Exterior trim details are specific to nearly every model, though only the Tradesman has a black grille and black front fascia and only the Laramie Longhorn has a painted “white gold metallic” grille. Most models have a body-colored front fascia. The regional editions, the Sport, and all the Laramie iterations have some variation of chrome grille trim. They also get new-for-2013 halogen projector headlamps with LED turn and signal lamps and LED taillights. The R/T gets a black mesh grille insert and its own scooped hood.
As with other recently freshened vehicles from the Chrysler Group’s Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep divisions, the 2013 Ram 1500 gets a revamped interior with higher quality materials for a richer overall look and feel.
The 2013 Ram 1500’s dashboard is redesigned to accommodate Chrysler Group’s next-generation Uconnect infotainment-control system with its 8.5-inch touchscreen. The screen background follows specific Ram models and themes, as does the general interior décor. For example, the Laramie Longhorn employs a rare Walnut grain with a unique burl unintentionally created by ranchers using trees as fence posts for barbed wire. Eventually, the trees grow over the rusting metal wire, creating a unique swirl coloring pattern and tone.
Ram’s new climate-control design copies some Uconnect applications with a redundant architecture allowing the operator to use either the 8.4-inch touchscreen or manual controls. Below those controls is a new switch bank for a number of features depending on vehicle models and options -- also redundant on the Uconnect system. Contiguous to the switch bank is a trailer-brake control. The Ram 1500’s eight-speed automatic transmission uses an innovative rotary dial in place of a center-console or steering-column-mounted shift lever. A first for pickups, the dial is mounted on the dashboard above the driver’s right knee. A knurled knob about the size of an aerosol-can lid, it rotates easily through the traditional, Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive settings, which display at the dial and in the main instrument cluster. Manual-type gear control is available via steering-wheel buttons.
Using the rotary dial becomes second nature. And its location and compact size frees up access to other controls. However, the dial itself would benefit from a larger, heftier design. And transfer-case controls on 4wd Rams are relegated to a cluster of elongated buttons beneath the knob. The buttons are not in the driver’s direct line of sight and, given their mission, have markings and dimensions that are too small, especially for hands wearing gloves. The same can be said of the steering-wheel shift buttons.
Ram’s new gauge cluster includes an information screen tailored to the various models. Previously available only on the top-line versions, a 3.5-inch vehicle-information screen is now standard on all models up to the Outdoorsman. A new-to-Ram thin-film-transistor 7-inch multiview display features customizable function and configurability. It’s available on the SLT, regional editions, and the Outdoorsman and is standard on Sport, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models. Similar to the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen, select screen backgrounds are tailor-made to specific Ram models, with designs that match the truck’s theme.
Storage cubbies, pockets, and cup holders are plentiful. Crew Cabs again have handy in-floor bins behind the front seat that feature removable liners and can be used as hidden storage or beverage coolers.
Aside from reservations over the size of the new gearshift and transfer-case controls, Ram’s cabin is hard to criticize. Materials are solid and their quality is more than appropriate to each trim level. And this is a remarkably quiet truck; isolation from road, wind, and engine noise is on par with many upscale automobiles.
Mechanical: Strong sales of F-150s with Ford’s impressive twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 is an indication that full-size-pickup buyers will accept something other than a V-8. Nearly half of F-150s are sold with a V-6, and General Motors is placing new emphasis on improved six-cylinder power in its redesigned 2014 Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
The 2013 Ram is positioned to capitalize on the trend with its new V-6. This version of Chrysler Group’s 3.6-liter Pentastar engine is rated at 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as the muscle behind acceleration; it’s particularly important for towing and for helping heavy trucks feel responsive to throttle inputs.) This dual-overhead-cam engine replaces Ram’s previous V-6, a 3.7-liter whose 215 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque was no match for the pickup’s mass.
The Pentastar V-6 is standard in HFE, SLT, and Outdoorsman models and optional in the Tradesman. In the HFE model, it has fuel-saving stop-start technology that shuts off the engine when the truck is stopped and automatically restarts it when pressure on the brake pedal is released. No other pickup has this feature.
Returning as Ram’s “entry-level” V-8 is a 4.7-liter rated at 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. This engine is standard in the Tradesman model and available in the SLT trim.
Ram’s headliner V-8 is again the 5.7-liter Hemi. For 2013, it gains variable valve timing and five horsepower, for 395. Torque remains 407 pound-feet. The Hemi again features automatic cylinder deactivation that allows it to run on four cylinders during low-demand cruising. This fuel-saving feature had been a class exclusive, but the V-6 and V-8 engines in GM’s redesigned 2014 pickups will adopt it, as well.
The Hemi is optional in Ram 1500 Tradesman and SLT models and is the standard engine in the Big Horn and Lone Star Rams, in the Sport model, and in all three Laramie variants.
All 2013 Ram engines are available in all cab types and with rear-wheel drive (2wd) and 4wd. Previous V-6 Rams were available only with 2wd.
All engines team with an automatic transmission, either a six-speed or an eight-speed. Chrysler calls the eight-speed automatic the TorqueFlite 8. Along with the rotary shift dial and active grille shutters, it was introduced in the 2013 Ram in combination with the Pentastar V-6. (Previous V-6 Rams had a four-speed automatic.) Model-year 2013 Rams with the 4.7-liter V-8 retain a six-speed automatic with a center-console-mounted shift lever.
All Ram 1500s with the Hemi V-8 began the 2013 model year with a six-speed automatic. Depending on trim level, it used a column- or console-mounted shift lever. The eight-speed automatic, rotary shift dial, and active grille shutters are to be made available with the Hemi late in the 2013 model year. Availability of the Hemi/eight-speed combo will extend to HFE models.
Like the F-150 and the Silverado 1500 and Sierra 1500, the 2013 Ram 1500 is a “half ton” pickup, a traditional categorization that loosely expresses a truck’s payload capacity. By contrast, the Ram 2500 (and the F-250 and GM 2500 series) is a three-quarter-ton truck and the Ram 3500 is a one-ton. Those are heavier- duty models we don’t review here. They feature beefier construction for commercial users and, unlike half-ton pickups, are available with diesel engines.
Although manufacturers brag about relatively minor differences in towing and payload ratings, most half-ton buyers don’t approach the maximum limits, and those that might tend to recognize that a three-quarter or one-ton model is the wiser choice. The 2013 Ram 1500’s towing and payload ratings are competitive in the class.
Crew Cab models are the most popular configuration and are rated to tow trailers up to 6,050 pounds with the V-6 engine, 7,300 pounds with the 4.7-liter V-8, and 10,300 pounds with the Hemi V-8. Ram’s maximum tow rating, 10,450 pounds, is achieved with the regular-cab long-bed equipped with the Hemi V-8. It’s worth noting that the tow rating of Ram 1500s with the previous V-6 maxed out around 4,000 pounds.
The HFE and the performance-tuned R/T models come only in 2wd, but all other 2013 Ram 1500s are again available with a choice of two 4wd systems, depending on the model. Both systems include low-range gearing for rugged off-roading or to help traverse deep mud ruts or snow drifts.
Ram’s basic 4wd system is an elementary “part-time” setup not intended for use on dry pavement. It’s standard in 4wd versions of the Tradesman, Express, SLT, and Outdoorsman models.
The more sophisticated system is Chrysler’s Active Transfer Case and Front-axle Disconnect setup. This is a full-time 4wd system that can be left engaged on dry pavement. It automatically switches between 2wd and 4wd to maintain best traction and is designed to disconnect the front axle when 4wd isn’t engaged to help fuel economy. It’s standard in 4wd versions of the regional editions, the Sport model, and all the Laramies.
Aided by the alert shifting eight-speed automatic, a 2013 Ram with the Pentastar V-6 has good-enough everyday performance to render the 4.7-liter V-8 unnecessary unless you plan to regularly haul relatively heavy loads. The Hemi remains a smooth, willing, and reliable workhorse and is our top all-around engine choice in a 2013 Ram 1500.
With any engine, the Ram 1500 is a paragon of pickup ride and handling. It’s stable on the highway and secure in turns. A revised frame (stiffer and 30 pounds lighter thanks to high-strength steel) helps the 2013 model absorb bumps with little of the tail chopping and skittering common to pickups, especially when the bed is empty or lightly loaded. Electric power steering replaces hydraulically assisted steering for 2013, reducing parasitic loads on the engine and sharpening steering response in turns and tightening on-center feel along straight-aways.
Much of the credit for these impressive road manners goes to the Ram 1500’s rear coil-spring suspension, a class exclusive versus rivals’ traditional leaf springs. To this advantage the 2013 Ram adds an available air-sprung suspension in place of both the front and rear steel coil springs. Designed to improve ride, control, and aerodynamics, this second class-exclusive is a $1,595 option on all 2wd and 4wd Quad and Crew Cabs.
The air suspension features five height settings and operates automatically or via controls on the console and – remotely -- on the keyfob. The default mode maintains Ram’s normal 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Park mode lowers the truck 2 inches for easier passenger and cargo ingress and egress. Aero mode, activated by vehicle speed, lowers the truck .6 inches, improving fuel economy by as much as 1 percent, Ram says.
Off-road settings increase ground clearance up to 10.7 inches. The system’s leveling capability automatically detects load on the suspension from a trailer or payload. Air pressure is increased to restore normal ride height, leveling the Ram and improving the loaded ride.
Mainstay Rams have 17-inch wheels – painted steel on the Tradesman, alloy on the HFE, SLT, and Outdoorsman. Twenty-inch alloys are optional on the Outdoorsman and SLT and standard on other Ram grades in various combinations of polished, chrome, and painted surfaces. The R/T comes with 22-inch forged aluminum wheels.
The 2013 Ram 1500 line continues standard with four-wheel disc brakes with antilock technology to improve control in emergency stops. Now mandated by federal safety rules, electronic stability control also is standard to help prevent fishtailing in sudden or extreme handling situations. A trailer-sway control function for secure towing should also return.
Features: The 2013 Ram 1500 upholds tradition with a long list of features to satisfy both work-truck buyers and those who want what’s in effect a luxury car with a pickup bed.
Among newly available features are the Uconnect multimedia control center. It’s standard starting with the Big Horn and Lone Star models and optional on the Tradesman, Express, HFE, and SLT. Uconnect is similar to Ford’s MyTouch system and features customizable touch screens on a dashboard mounted video display, plus voice command of various systems, including audio, navigation, and climate. It also affords full integration with smartphones and other portable devices and the ability to check real-time fuel prices and listen and respond to text messages
Ram’s optional voice-activated navigation system again comes with iPhone/iPod connectivity and a hard drive for storing digital music files. It’s standard on the Laramie Longhorn and Limited models and optional on Big Horn, Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Sport, and basic Laramie versions.
On the safety front, the standard equipment list adds seat-mounted chest protecting side airbags for the driver and front passenger, and continues to include head-protecting curtain side airbags for all outboard seating positions.
Also standard across the line are automatic headlamps, air conditioning, and a tilt steering wheel. Other items optional or included, depending on the trim level, are a rear parking warning system, power memory seats, remote engine starter, and garage- and gate opener.
Leather upholstery is optional on Sport and standard on the Laramie models, culminating in the Laramie Limited with its contrasting-stitched hides. The Laramie models also come with heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.
Audio systems range from a basic six-speaker CD unit to a premium 10-speaker setup with a subwoofer and a 12-channel amplifier. USB iPod connectivity is standard on all models, and Bluetooth hands-free phone linking is standard starting with the Big Horn/Lone Star models. Bluetooth is optional on the Tradesman, Express, HFE and SLT.
Power, heated mirrors are optional on Tradesman and Express and standard on other 2013 Rams. Rain-sensing windshield wipers are standard on the Laramie Limited and optional on the Sport and other Laramie models. The Laramies also have interior ambient lighting and power adjustable pedals; the latter are a Sport-model option. A power-sliding rear-cab window is standard on Quad and Crew Cabs starting at the SLT trim.
2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2013 Ram 1500 is $23,585-$48,415. That range starts a little lower than the F-150 but higher than the Silverado 1500, and tops out a little above the Chevy but below the Ford. Base prices for the 2013 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited and the new Crew Cab long-bed were not released in time for this review, but they’ll be at the high end of the range.
Note also that all base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; the fee is $995 for the 2013 Ram 1500.
Actual transaction prices for full-size pickups can vary widely as manufactures leverage incentives and discounts to gain a sales edge in this high-volume category. The full-size pickup market also is among the last bastions of automotive brand loyalty. Many buyers commit first to a make and then seek out a model based on equipment, image, and price.
Starting with the Express and Tradesman models and topping out with the Sport version, base-price range for the 2013 Ram 1500 regular-cab short- bed is $23,585-$33,930 with 2wd and $27,345-$36,850 with 4wd.
Beginning with the Tradesman and culminating in the SLT, base-price range for the 2013 Ram 1500 regular-cab long-bed is $23,970-$28,745 with 2wd and $27,645-$32,315 with 4wd.
Quad Cabs have a base-price range of $28,180-$39,610 with 2wd and $31,625-$42,755 with 4wd. The identically priced Express and Tradesman are the least-expensive Quad Cabs and the Laramie is the most expensive.
With the Tradesman and Express at the low end and the Laramie Longhorn at the high end, 2013 Ram 1500 Crew Cab short-beds have a base-price range of $30,760-$45,270 with 2wd and $33,980-$48,415 with 4wd.
Assorted option prices can differ depending on application, but it’s easy to end up with a $43,000 V-6 SLT Crew Cab or a $50,000-plus Laramie. One pick for a top Ram value is a Quad Cab in Express trim with the Hemi and 4wd. It’s a great truck and starts under $32,000.
In general, expect the RamBox to add roughly $1,295 to a 2013 Ram, and the new Hemi/eight-speed automatic combination at least $2,600. A backup camera should be priced about $200, the rear DVD entertainment system near $1,700, and a factory spray-on bedliner about $475.
2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Ram 1500 put the V-6/eight-speed-automatic versions atop the class, at 17/25/20 mpg city/highway/combined with 2wd and 16/23/19 with 4wd. That’s a dramatic improvement over the 14/20/16-mpg rating of the 2wd 2012 Ram 1500 with the 3.7-liter V-6 and its four-speed automatic transmission.
The closest model-year 2013 rival to the V-6 Ram 1500 is the V-6 F-150 with 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It rates 17/23/19 mpg with 2wd and 16/21/18 with 4wd, though it’s available in a regular-cab configuration only.
The V-8 2013 Ram 1500 models trail their closest F-150 rivals by a mile or two per gallon in EPA ratings and are roughly even with comparable 2013 GM models.
The 2013 Ram 1500 with the 4.7-liter V-8 is rated 14/20/16 mpg with 2wd and 14/19/16 with 4wd.
That’s almost identical to the more powerful 5.7-liter Hemi’s ratings of 14/20/16 mpg with 2wd and 13/19/15 with 4wd. Those ratings are with the six-speed automatic transmission. Ram engineers say the Hemi/eight-speed-automatic combination should match the EPA ratings of the Ford F-150 with its EcoBoost V-6. Indeed, that F-150 is arguably the class fuel-economy surprise. It has 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque yet reasonably good ratings of 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined with 2wd and 15/21/17 with 4wd.
Buying a 2013 Ram 1500 with the 4.7 V-8 will save you money on the purchase price compared with the more expensive Hemi. But note that Ram recommends midgrade 89 octane gas for the Hemi Ram 1500 and less expensive 87 octane for the V-6 and 4.7-liter V-8.
2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Release Date back to top
The 2013 Ram 1500 went on sale in autumn 2012, with availability of some trim and powertrain combinations delayed into calendar 2013.
What's next for the 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 back to top
Appreciated for their toughness, longevity, torque, and fuel economy versus gas engines, diesels have legions of fans among truck owners. Nearly every manufacturer of a half-ton pickup has floated diesel plans over the past few years. But Fiat’s control of the Chrysler Group appears to have improved odds that a diesel will make it into a Ram 1500 in the near future.
The key is availability of a six-cylinder diesel engine already used in several of the Italian automaker’s overseas models. A heavy-duty Cummins diesel engine has long powered Ram 2500 and 3500 models. But Fiat’s 3.0-liter diesel V-6 is more appropriate for a half-ton pickup because it can more easily satisfy emissions standards. It’s also adaptable to other U.S. Chrysler Group models, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Other than a possible diesel, expect the Ram 1500 to carry on with few major changes until its next full redesign, which would probably come for model-year 2015 or 2016.
2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Competition back to top
Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500: The last of the 2007-2013 generation of General Motors’ half-ton pickups are available at deep discounts. They’re admirable trucks, if not quite as spacious or refined as their Ram and Ford rivals. A better match for the 2013 Ram and F-150 comes in spring 2013 with release of the fully redesigned 2014 Silverado and Sierra. Their new styling is evolutionary but more muscular and more aerodynamic. The crew cabs get needed additions to rear-seat room, and extended-cabs have rear doors hinged at the front not the rear. GM prioritized improved noise suppression and better ride quality. It revised the suspensions and added electric steering. A 4.3-liter V-6 and V-8s of 5.3- and 6.2-liters return, and all gain direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation that allows them to run on three cylinders. Six-speed automatic transmissions with traditional column shift remain. New safety features include Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and front and rear park assist. GM’s MyLink hands-free infotainment control is new, and all models get multiple power outlets and multiple USB ports. Access to the cargo beds is improved with a “CornerStep” bumper and built-in hand-grip pockets.
Ford F-150: America’s top-selling vehicle of any kind gets a revised grille for 2013 and is offered for the first time with xenon headlamps. Ford also makes available its advanced but glitch-prone MyFord Touch infotainment controller. A Limited model joins the line as the new F-150 flagship. A segment-exclusive power-telescoping steering column and power-folding trailer-tow side mirrors also are new. These changes update an F-150 design introduced for model-year 2009. A base V-6 and a pair of V-8s are available but the headliner is the twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6; along with the 6.2-liter V-8, it’s responsible for the F-150’s top tow rating of 11,300 pounds. A wealth of available high-tech features includes an in-dash computer with Internet connectivity and a novel Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tool-tracking system. Base-price range for the 2013 F-150 is $24,665-$47,395 with 2wd and $29,305-$53,450 with 4wd.
Toyota Tundra: Toyota’s capable full-size pickup skews toward private use and recreational buyers and serves them well with genuine big-rig dimensions and good performance. Regular- and extended cabs offer two bed lengths, the crew cab just one. That CrewMax does have a class-exclusive power vertical opening and closing rear cab window. Topping the roster of a V-6 and two V-8s is a 5.7-liter V-8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque and a 10,400-pound trailer rating. This Tundra design bowed for model-year 2007 and is due a major revamp for 2014. Toyota freshens the 2013 version with a new chrome package option and first-time availability of the company’s Entune infotainment system with access to a variety of smartphone apps.
Base-price range for the 2013 Tundra is $26,350-$46,005 with 2wd and $31,545-$49,065 with 4wd.
UPDATED BY CHUCK GIAMETTA