THE NEW 2013 RAM HEAVY DUTY TRUCKS
As you'll read in the report, the RAM folks introduced the new 2013 trucks at the State Fair of Texas last Thursday (September 29, 2012). We worked to a four page report for the upcoming TDR #78 magazine and wanted to quickly share the text with TDR web members. Here is the story. You'll like the horsepower and torque ratings!
THE NEW 2013 RAM HEAVY DUTY TRUCKS
For 2013, all Ram Heavy Duty diesels will benefit from an all-new cooling system. A high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers, and charge-air cooler will afford 25 percent more heat-rejection capacity. Lower operating temperatures deliver improved performance, better durability and lower operating costs. Definition: back.ground.er: noun, an off-the-record briefing for reporters
The term “backgrounder” was used for the Ram press conference on September 27 at the Texas State Fair where the 2013 Ram Heavy Duty pickup trucks were unveiled to the public. Although I had not used the word before, the on-line Webster dictionary states that the first known use of “backgrounder” was in 1960. Once again I find myself behind the times.
Regardless of the fine points of usage, what was learned at the Ram presentation?
First off, it was a presentation by Ram—not Dodge, not Dodge Ram—simply Ram. We are all familiar with Chrysler’s new branding of the truck as Ram, effective back in the 2009/2010 timeframe. However, traditionalists continued with the “Dodge” nomenclature and insisted that it could only be called “Ram” if there was a new entry on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate designating Ram as the manufacturer. However, my VIN research for positions 1-3 of the VIN shows they were using “Chrysler Group LLC-Truck” as far back as 2005, before the Cerberus Capital Management ownership. Others tell me that position 5 has recently been changed from “D” to “R”. Regardless, to make it an official stand-alone Ram truck took time: lots of legal and government mumbo-jumbo to go through, not to mention separate franchise agreements which every Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and now Ram dealership was required to sign. So let it be known: the 2013 truck is a Ram. The Ram franchises have been signed.
Okay, back to the Ram backgrounder: The Webster definition suggests that a backgrounder is an “off the record” briefing. Perhaps I should modify my definition of backgrounder to read “product presentation that still allows for surprises, interleaved with unequivocal, take-it-to-the-bank fact.” Such was the take-away from the Texas unveiling: there are still some surprises to be revealed at a location and date to be determined.
Did the Texas backgrounder serve its PR purpose, to build anticipation for the new-and-improved, and leave me wanting still more facts? Without a doubt. Let’s jump into the material that I can share with you.
The new 2013 Heavy-Duty truck.
Where do I start? How ‘bout with the big unknowns:
Availability – sometime after 1/1/2013
Pricing – To be determined
Now add two big questions: What are the tow and haul ratings for the consumer 2500 and 3500 trucks; as well as those for the 3500/4500/5500 cab and chassis trucks?
Moving on to the knowns—perhaps the best way to present the data is to list the changes to the truck’s components made specific in Ram’s backgrounder: engine, driveline, frame, suspension, etc.
Note: if some of the text sounds like marketing-speak, it is. The preview of the truck(s), text, and pictures for this article arrived after the regular due date for magazine proofs to be submitted to our printer. Rest assured that the Dodge, oops Ram, guys will re-invite the press for a ride-and-drive event in the spring for a head-to-head evaluation against competitive trucks. The words you’ll read from the forthcoming test drive will be the genuine stuff.
For the 2500/3500 pickup trucks there are some big changes to the engine for 2013. The Cummins 6.7-liter engine is now available in three versions. The first version is paired with Ram’s six-speed manual transmission, and delivers 350 horsepower at 2,800rpm and 660ft-lb of torque at 1,500rpm—a significant boost from the 2012 model-year maximum of 600ft-lb.
The second option matches the Cummins to the 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission. The rating: 370 horsepower at 2,800rpm and 800ft-lb of torque at 1,600rpm. This engine/transmission is available in the 2500 truck.
Finally, an upgraded 6.7-liter engine is available for the Ram 3500 with an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission (AS69RC). In addition to 385 horsepower at 2,800rpm, the most powerful Cummins generates best-in-class torque of 850ft-lb at 1,600rpm. The new AS69RC transmission features wide gear ratios that contribute to upgraded shift performance, an approximate 1 percent gain in transmission efficiency, and improved drivability when compared to the previous design.
For the Ram 3500/4500/5500 Chassis Cab trucks, the 6.7-liter Cummins engine will be rated at 325 horsepower at 3,000rpm and best-in-class 750ft-lb of torque when coupled with a new AS56RC Aisin six-speed automatic transmission. For those who want a manual transmission, the existing G56 manual is matched to an engine rated at 320hp at 2800rpm, 650 torque at 1500rpm.
Diesel-equipped Ram Heavy Duty pickups feature an industry-exclusive Ram Active air intake system, activated by new monitoring capabilities added to the engine controller. When the intake system senses extreme heat, it draws cool air from the front of the vehicle—a function that also engages at high altitudes for superior throttle response in low oxygen environments. When conditions are wet from snow, ice or water fording, the system pulls air from the standard/conventional underhood inlet, clear from snow packing and water ingestion.
The Cummins power plants benefit from a larger exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) cooler, which complements the debut of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and accommodates a best-in-class oil-change interval of 15,000 miles. Oil life is increased by reducing soot production and reducing fuel dilution of the oil.
SCR promises a net reduction in Ram Heavy Duty operating costs. The change to SCR in 2500/3500 pickup trucks (the 3500/4500/5500 trucks debuted in 2010 with SCR) should result in a net 10% increase in fuel mileage. The SCR-equipped diesels, which can run on B-20 biofuel, also operate cleaner by lowering greenhouse-gas emissions and better managing soot production than the previous NOx adsorber technology.
When needed, the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is injected into the exhaust to reduce NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) emissions coming out of the tail pipe. Unlike the competition, the Ram Heavy Duty maintains full power when fluid is low. The state-of-the-art DEF system applied on the Heavy Duty brings the following features and benefits:
• An electric heater in the DEF tank to ensure the fluid is available in a liquid state regardless of climate. The result is a less complex system for enhanced durability. Competitive designs have used a network of glycol-circulated cooling/heating lines
• A new passively cooled DEF injector that does not require engine coolant to control its temperature, which reduces the complexity of the system
• Exhaust-system refinements to improve the utilization of DEF for NOx reduction and to reduce the risk of side effect from DEF crystalline build-up
• Emissions-system strategy revisions to reduce soot output from the engine and improve fuel economy, all while meeting the legislative requirements
Fill DEF on the left, diesel fuel on the right.
The DEF tank holds eight gallons (9.25 in Chassis Cabs trucks) and refill intervals are based on vehicle usage and duty cycles. DEF is commonly available at fuel stations and is also offered by Mopar, the Chrysler Dealer Network, and Cummins dealers and distributors. The DEF refill port is conveniently located at the rear of the cab on the driver’s side of the vehicle, a configuration that ensures easy access at fuel stations when compared to the competition.
The Ram Heavy Duty also features a segment-exclusive front axle disconnecting system. When conditions warrant, selected drivetrain components are disconnected, improving overall efficiency and enabling a gain in fuel efficiency of up to 1mpg.
Two new Borg-Warner part-time transfer cases make their debut on the 2013 Ram Heavy Duty (pickups and Chassis Cabs). The BS 44-46 is an electric shifting part-time transfer case with 2WD, 4WD High, 4WD Low and Neutral. BW 44-47 is a manual shifting transfer case with 2WD, 4WD High, 4WD Low and Neutral. Both options feature a low-range ratio of 2.64 and locking differential from front to rear.
For 2013, Ram Heavy Duty trucks feature new frames built with high-strength 50 KSI steel, including eight separate cross-members, hydroformed main rails and fully boxed rear rails for optimal strength and mass efficiency. Wider front frame rails (approximately one inch per side; two inches overall) enable front suspension springs to be positioned slightly outboard, an enabler for generating more positive roll stiffness. A new front suspension cross member is now a two-piece welded component between the front axle and oil pan.
Center frame rail sections are roll-formed, an efficient means for maintaining consistent strength in less complex longitudinal sections. In the rear portion of the new frame, the structure includes fully boxed rear rails and a factory-installed rear axle cross member with provisions for fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitches. A new conventional trailer hitch system is upgraded to Class 5 with a 17,000-pound load capability and 1,800 pounds of tongue weight for use with 2-inch or 2.5-inch receiver hitches.
To support the best-in-class towing and payload capability of the new Ram Heavy Duty, a new front and rear suspension system with advanced geometry builds upon the chassis improvements and greatly improves overall roll stiffness. An advanced three-link front suspension on the Ram 3500 is necessary for the vehicle’s higher GVWR and for use with heavy front loads, including snow plows. Additionally, a newly designed Hotchkiss leaf spring rear suspension on the Ram 3500 offers improved ride and handling while delivering higher towing and payload capability.
The new premium reciprocating ball steering gear, redesigned steering knuckles, ball joints and more robust steering linkages deliver enhanced and precise on-center feel, despite the vehicle’s higher towing and payload capability.
The new truck comes equipped with an updated engine, transmission and body mounts, including pioneering hydro-mounts at C-pillar positions for class-leading NVH characteristics, despite the truck’s capability for higher payloads and towing.
The Ram 3500 features a factory-installed trailer tow connector in the truck bed, included with the optional fifth-wheel or gooseneck tow prep package. New structural support is designed into the body to support the payload increase and improve durability performance. Additionally, new reinforced tie-down points with enhanced strength are designed for heavier loads.
A new fuel filter/water separator has been implemented. The frame-mounted unit delivers best-in-class, 3 micron particulate filtration and water stripping for improved engine performance and durability.
New fuel/water separator.
A new quad headlamp design has improved light spread, pattern consistency and distance. An all-new premium headlamp and lighting system features bi-functional halogen projectors and LEDs for park/turn and tail lamps.
Optional premium headlights.
New power-folding 6x9-inch outside mirrors help to monitor traffic and obstacles to the side of the truck and allow a better view of the trailer when towing.
A tailgate handle-mounted rear camera back-up system has been upgraded for 2013. Also, a new center high-mounted stoplight camera provides a view of the bed for easier connecting of fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailers as well as for monitoring bed loads.
An all-new premium tail lamp is standard on Laramie Longhorn and optional on Laramie. The stop/tail/turn functions consist of 15 red LEDs with three red LEDs for the side marker. A frosted inner lens creates visual entertainment and softens the flow of the segment-exclusive LEDs.
Available RamBox cargo-management system with remote lockable and lighted bedside storage on Ram 2500 and 3500 SRW.
New Ram Heavy Duty features and technologies create an opportunity for a redesigned interior with material upgrades, improved fit and finish, new colors, HVAC controls and new multi-media systems.
A majority of the commercial truck customers need to tie into the electrical system. A new best-in-class vehicle system interface module (VSIM) is capable of communicating between aftermarket modules and various factory control modules. The VSIM up-fitter interface module features a total of 72 inputs and outputs, including lighting controls, door position and throttle and transmission position. The class-exclusive module acts as a secure gateway to the vehicle’s electrical system.
Safety and Security
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is now standard on 3500 dual rear wheel pickup and all chassis cab trucks.
ESC enhances driver control and helps maintain directional stability under all conditions. It provides the greatest benefit in critical driving situations such as turns, and is especially valuable when driving on mixed surface conditions including snow, ice or gravel. If there’s a discernible difference between what the driver asks through the steering wheel and the vehicle’s path, ESC applies selective braking and throttle input to put the vehicle back onto the driver’s intended path.
Newly introduced trailer-sway control reduces trailer sway and improves handling in adverse towing conditions caused by crosswinds and traffic. The system monitors the vehicle’s movement relative to the driver’s intended path, then applies alternating brake pressure to slow the vehicle, and then increases the pressure on one front wheel in order to counteract the sway induced by the trailer.
New for 2013: central locking includes the RamBox cargo management system and tailgate power locks, creating a convenient solution for locking all exterior doors and storage with one push of a button. Auto rain-sensing wipers and SmartBeam headlamps also find their way into the feature availability list of the new 2013 Ram Heavy Duty.
I spoke earlier of the meet-the-deadline nature of this report, so I’ll apologize in advance for any errors or omissions. As an example, my 2010 truck still uses a key to start the vehicle, not a key fob thingee. It appears that some of the 2013 trucks will use the “Keyless Enter ‘n Go” technology that allows you to do all kinds of things to the truck (remote start, illuminated entry, panic alerts, etc.) with only a transmitter in hand. Now, I ask myself, is the “keyless” an extra-cost option or the new standard? Aside from the question of whether option or standard, is it to be a feature for both the 2500/35 pickup trucks as well as the commercial 3500/4500/5500 chassis cab trucks? As you can imagine, it is difficult to decode and condense 65 pages of press-release text into four pages of highlight material.
Much like the “keyless” system, I’m not going to attempt to describe the many features touted in Ram’s next-generation radio platform. Actually “radio” is not the right word—the box in the center of the dashboard is there to support many “vehicle connectivity activities.” Uconnect Access is the name for the system. There are a multitude of WiFi, sweet-tooth or blue-hair activities that you can order (technology terms intentionally blundered). Myself, I wonder what happened to the push button AM radio, which probably makes me an old geek. (And how ‘bout those FM stations that were introduced in the 60s?)
The new center control panel.
Enough rambling about optional electronic items that are left to personal choice. I could also ramble on about the many changes to the interior fabrics/textures/colors for both the interior and exterior, but I’ll stick to my limit of four pages and leave these details to you and your dealer to sort through.
Time for Point/Counter-Point
A key and final item to discuss here about the consumer 2500/3500 pickup trucks or the Chassis Cab trucks, do you purchase the 2012 or wait for the 2013?
I can equally argue both sides of the question.
2012: Known specifications; known pricing; availability on the dealer’s lot; proven technology; no DEF to fill on consumer 2500/3500.
2013: Unknown specifications; unknown price; unknown availability. I do expect the consumer engine/drivetrain to deliver better fuel economy. You will now have to use DEF on the 2500/3500.
Additionally, although it is not stated anywhere in the press material, the engine used in the pickup is not simply an adaptation of the Chassis Cab engine’s DEF system that has been in use since 2010. And, whereas both the pickups and Chassis Cab trucks will use the DEF, there are other updates to the engines to meet a new round of emissions legislation. I hope to provide insight into the emissions requirements in the next issue of the TDR.
Ram representatives made a big to-do about the forthcoming tow and haul ratings. The press was assured that these numbers would kick…, oops, would be well beyond the numbers posted by the competition. But, true to my modified definition of “backgrounder,” they did not disclose the values, choosing to wait until a date closer to the truck’s availability date of January 1, 2013. We will both have to “stay tuned to the same channel” for further updates. I look forward to sharing the announcement(s) with you.
I encourage your comments and questions.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM HD - Overview.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM HD - Design Data.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM HD - Powertrain.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM HD - Specs.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM HD - Engineering Data.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM Cab and Chassis - Overview.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM Cab and Chassis - Design Data.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM Cab and Chassis - Powertrain.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM Cab and Chassis - Engineering Data.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM - Safety and Security.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM - UCONNECT.
Click here to read full text of Dodge Press Release, 2013 RAM - Brand.