written by Kent Sundling
Ram offers heavy-duty changes for 2013 models
The last noteworthy changes in the truck market—in horsepower and torque, beefed-up frames and suspensions—were introduced in 2010 and 2011.
Now Ram is making major changes for 2013 in its light- and heavy-duty trucks. Ram joins Ford and General Motors in turning to urea (diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF) to meet emission standards for diesels for 2013. The Ram Chassis Cabs already use DEF.
Heavy duty. The biggest changes are in the 2013 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty truck. Delivering 30,000 lb. of trailer capacity to its closest competitor’s 23,100-lb. maximum, the 3500 Heavy Duty now boasts the highest tow capability in its class.
Under the hood, the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 makes its debut as standard equipment in the Ram 3500 Heavy Duty pickup (single rear wheel). The engine offers 383 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque.
For those who prefer diesel, the 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel I6 is available in three versions. The first is paired with a Ram six-speed manual transmission, delivering 350 hp and 660 lb.-ft. of torque.
The second option matches the Cummins to the 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission. It offers
370 hp with 800 lb.-ft. of torque.
Third, an upgraded 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel is paired with a Aisin six-speed automatic transmission (AS69RC). With 385 hp, the most powerful Cummins generates 850 lb.-ft. of torque. The Aisin automatic transmissions are already in Ram 4500 and 5500 Series trucks.
All 2013 Ram Heavy Duty diesels feature a new cooling system. A high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers and charge-air cooler provide 25% more cooling capacity.
Hitch it. For easier trailer hook-up, a new center high-mounted stop light camera provides a view of the bed. It also works for monitoring bed loads.
The Ram 3500 features an optional factory-installed trailer connector in the truck bed, which is better than a trailer cord hanging over the tailgate to plug in on the bumper.
The tire pressure in the gauge cluster display now works with integrated air pressure readings on dually tires.
In an important safety improvement, the integrated brake controller has been moved to the right side of the steering wheel on 2013 models. This allows for faster use in an emergency when you need to use just the trailer brake controller to control trailer sway or drive down slick roads.
Production of the 2013 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013.
Significant changes are coming for heavy-duty trucks from Ford, Chevy and GMC in fall 2013. Each model will feature improved fuel mileage, which is a big deal because gaining even 1 mpg is a struggle when it comes to heavy-duty pickups.
Natural Gas Is Back
For 2013, compressed natural gas (CNG) is back in heavy-duty pickups. Ford uses bi-fuel, CNG and gasoline in its 6.2-liter, as does General Motors in its 6-liter and Ram in its 5.7-liter.
When you buy a factory CNG conversion, the OEM handles the warranty, service and financing. If you access to a gas well, you just need a compressor pump to fuel up your truck.
The Ford CNG conversion from upfitter Venchurs costs $10,900. The conversion can pay for itself in 75,000 extra miles from lower fuel cost—which beats the diesel engine option.
GM has the only factory option with the CNG tank under the bed and not taking up bed space. CNG engines have less power than gas engines, but the fuel is less expensive—if you can find it. There are only about 1,000 CNG fuel stations in the U.S.
For more about updates to Ram 1500 trucks and other changes in the pickup market, visit