Road Test: 2013 Ram 1500 Pickup

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The whole time I was driving the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup I kept expecting to hear the Fanfare for the Common Man.

2013 Ram 1500 Express

That’s because my test truck was the kind of Ram that I think an average guy on a limited budget would buy for work.

The only power was the 310 horsepower under the hood. The windows had a crank, the mirrors required your hands to move and the seats went nowhere without your butt scooting. Called the “Express” model it should price around $24,000 (my test truck was a pre-production model so there was no window sticker).

Look Ma, a window crank!

Before I talk more about how well it worked, I need to remind you this is a Ram, not a Dodge. Back in 2010 Chrysler decided that the Ram truck line was strong enough to strike out on its own. So instead of calling this a Dodge Ram, it’s a Ram 1500. No difference in heritage, except that you can no longer attend Dodge family reunions except as a cousin.

4.7 Liters and 310 Horsepower

Now back to the truck. You have your choice of three engines. I spent the week with a 4.7 liter V8 and the aforementioned 310 horsepower. There is also a Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 that  makes 305 horsepower and claims to make 18 city/25 mpg highway. That’s pretty good for a big truck. Ram claims that even the top of the line 5.7 liter 395 horsepower hemi engine gets 20% better mileage than last year. Power in the 4.7 liter wasn’t overwhelming, but I have a feeling it’s geared more for torque than acceleration. One thing I did like was the push button for shifting up or down. You use the usual shifting handle to get into drive or back into park. But if you suddenly find yourself needing to drop down a gear or two, you can tap the plus or minus button to change gearing. It’s a lot nicer than grabbing the stalk and searching for the right gear.

Chrysler redesigned the suspension this year which means if you liked the old Ram, you’ll love this new version. The ride felt like a truck, but it wasn’t too stiff. You’re not going to confuse it for a comfy crossover, but it won’t shake your teeth out over every little bump. I didn’t get to try the air suspension option so I’m not sure if it will make enough difference to justify the cost to the common man.

The Test Truck was Simple and Functional

Inside, it was functional. Everything was in the right place. I had the bench seat with the flip down console, so  you can carpool with your two buddies to the job site. My stripped down version didn’t have the 8.4 inch Uconnect Touch screen. But then, is that something you really need in a beast of burden? It did have a media input so you can still bring along your own tunes.

Ram Styling Hasn't Changed Much

Outside, it looks like a Ram. I have to admit I didn’t really like the Ram truck styling when it first came out. It just seemed too big. Once again, I was proven wrong. That’s exactly what truck buyers wanted. Big and Beefy. The styling that first appeared in 1994 has evolved over the years, but isn’t hugely different with its big rig feel. In fact, although the truck was redesigned for 2013 you’d be hard pressed to spot many differences. Hey, if it’s working, why change?

I’ve said before, I’m not much of a truck guy. If I did buy one, I’d probably include lots of the optional creature comforts. But I can see why people like Ram trucks. It does the job it’s supposed to do. Just like the common man.

 

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