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2007 Sebring: killing the franchise

2013-16 Dodge Ram pickup trucks: Engine, Transmission, Axles

hemi with eight speed automatic

The 2013 Ram 1500 achieved best in class gas mileage with the V6 and V8 engines, thanks largely to the new “TorqueFlite 8” automatic transmission. (Ram 1500 sustained its best in class mileage with diesel engines through 2016.) For 2014, the Ram 1500 diesel not only beat the gas engines, but most midsize pickups (even with four cylinders) as well.

The V6 leapfrogged Ford to get best-in-class gas mileage with higher performance, having 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque; the Hemi also got a five horsepower boost. Gas mileage for the 2014 Ram 1500 gasoline V6 HFE was rated at 18/25, while the best 2014 Ford mileage was 17/23; Chevrolet lagged at 15/20 and Toyota sat at the bottom.

The Ram 1500 diesel used a VM 3-liter engine, the same one as the 2014 Grand Cherokee, with the eight-speed automatic. A state of the art engine, it is compatible with up to 20% biodiesel fuel (B20) and has a common-rail injection system, high pressure cooled EGR, and selective catalyst reduction; the diesel exhaust fluid system can maintain full power when fluid is low, and has a refill port under the regular fuel cap (DEF cost around $34 per 10,000 miles from early 2014 to late 2015). The engine block and bedplate are made of compacted graphite iron, and has a structural aluminum oil pan; the heads have individual bearing caps.

Some Ram features include passive cooling for the DEF injector, an insulated DEF tank with heated lines for cold weather operation, and an exhaust designed to reduce crystal build-up. DEF is normally refilled roughly every 10,000 miles, corresponding with oil change intervals (using 5W30 synthetic). Ram 1500 diesels have a standard 3.55 axle ratio, with an optional 3.92 — no 3.21.

4x2Pentastar V6 VM 3.0
Hemi V8
6 speed
Hemi V8
8 speed
4.7 V8
(2013 only)
Horsepower305 @ 6,400240 @ 3,600395 @ 5,600 310 @ 5,650
Torque269 @ 4,175420 @ 2,000407 @ 3950 330 @ 39,50
Fuel notesE85DieselCylinder cutoffE85
Towing (max)3,450 lb
(7,450 lb, 2014+)
9,200 lb 11,500 lb6,050
Payload (max)1,810 lb  3,125 lb1,717 lb
Gas mileage18 / 25 (HFE);
17/25 (base)
base: 20/28
HFE: 21/29
14/20 (4x2)
13/19 (4x4)
15/22 (4x2)
15/21 (4x4)
8-speed capacity, lb-ft332 (450 Nm)516 516 (700 Nm)6 speed

Ford claimed, for 2013, a peak non-turbo V6 tow rating of 6,700 lb.

The 2013 Ram cost around $1,000 more with the V6, over the base 4.7 V8 engine; that continued when the 4.7 was replaced by the Hemi as the standard engine. The HFE version got 1 mpg more in city-mileage tests than the standard V6, and included the three-part tonneau cover and many systems changes (the stop-start system, grill shutters, fluid pre-heating, adjustable suspension, lower front air dam, and others — details); it also had numerous options as standard features.

Competitive comparisons as of November 2014

V6 Pickups Axle City Hwy. Comb. HP Torque Towing Payload Price
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT 4.3 3.23 18 24 20 285 305 6,100 1,950 $27,060
Ford F-150 XL 3.7 3.55 18 25 20 282 253 5,100 1,910 $26,915
Ram 1500 Tradesman 3.6 3.55 17 25 20 305 269 6,300 1,900 $26,660
V8 Pickups Axle City Hwy. Comb. HP Torque Towing Payload Price
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT 5.3 3.42 16 23 19 355 383 7,200 1,940 $28,155
Ford F-150 XL 5.0 3.55 15 22 18 385 387 9,200 1,930 $28,510
Ram 1500 Tradesman 5.7 3.55 15 22 17 395 410 9,050 1,750 $27,985

The Ram 1500 Tradesman V6 is competitive in horsepower, torque, payload and towing capacity, while coming in at a lower price. The Ram and Chevy bodies are less costly to repair, which could mean lower insurance costs.

Standard cab, standard box, base model Axle City Hwy Comb. HP Torque Towing Payload
Chevrolet 1500 WT 4.3 3.23 18 24 20 285 305 6,100 1,950
Chevrolet 1500 WT 5.3* 3.08 16 23 19 355 383 7,200 1,940
Ford F-150 XL 2.7-liter EcoBoost 3.55 19 26 22 325 375 7,600 1,800
Ford F-150 XL 3.5-liter EcoBoost 3.55 17 24 20 365 420 7,600 1,910
Ford F-150 XL 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 3.55 18 25 20 282 253 5,100 1,910
Ford F-150 XL 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8* 3.55 15 22 18 385 387 9,200 1,930
Ram 1500 Tradesman 3.6-liter 3.55 17 25 20 305 269 7,600 1,940
Ram 1500 Tradesman 5.7-liter Hemi V8* 3.55 15 22 17 395 410 10,650 1,820
Ram 1500 SLT w/3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6* 3.55 20 28 23 240 420 9,200 1,620
*Equipped with 8-foot box.

The 2.7-liter engine is a $795 option, so the Ford F-150 XL with it costs $27,310. The Ram V6 Tradesman is $26,155. Using the combined mileage estimate for the two trucks and a price of $2.839/gallon for fuel, it would take more than 89,500 miles to recoup the difference through fuel savings. Even at $4.00/gallon, it would take 63,500 miles, or more than two years of typical commercial fleet use, to justify selecting the Ford over the Ram on the basis of fuel savings. Of course, these arguments also apply to the Ford 2.7 vs the ram diesel.


The Ram 1500 faced down the aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 and new Chevrolet Silverado in Motor Trend’s half-ton truck shootout. The three contenders were put through a broad array of testing, including a 260-mile drive through California and Arizona. Measurements included:

The winner was chosen both by empirical results and and by driver impressions. 

Motor Trend beat EPA fuel economy ratings with the Ram, turning in 20/28; the Ford was a distant second (17/22) and the Chevrolet was the worst, at 13/19.  All three were 4x4s, with Ram running a diesel six, Ford running a twin-turbo gasoline six, and Chevrolet running a 325 cid (5.3 liter) V8.  The Ram had the highest torque (420) and lowest horsepower (240); Chevrolet had the second best torque (383) and the best hosepower (355), while Ford lagged on both.


The Ram diesel was by far the slowest in 0-60, unladen (8.8 seconds) or towing a 7,000 lb trailer (23.9 seconds), while the Ford was best (6.5 and 16.2 seconds) and the Chevrolet not far from the Ford (6.9 and 19.5 seconds). Even so, the Ram did the quarter mile in just 16.6 seconds (the Ford did it in 15.1).  In braking, all three came within one foot of each other, with Ram slightly better than the others; lateral acceleration was likewise extremely similar.

The judges found that, over 260 miles with a thousand-pound payload, the Ram 1500 diesel turned in 22 mpg, easily beating the turbocharged-gasoline V6 in the Ford.  The Ram’s optional air suspension provided a good combination of comfortable ride and good handling, along with strong interior aerodynamics.

Rank* Make & Model Engine/Transmission HP Torque City Hwy Comb.
1 Ram 1500** 3.0L Diesel/8-speed 280 420 20 28 23
2 (tie) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4.3L V6/6-Speed 285 305 18 24 20
2 (tie) Ram 1500 2WD 3.6L V6/8-Speed 305 269 17 25 20
4 (tie) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 5.3L V8/6-Speed 355 383 16 23 19
4 (tie) Ford F150 (2014) 3.7L V6/6-Speed 302 278 17 23 19
6 Ford F150 (2014)** 3.5L V6/6-speed 365 420 16 22 18
7 (tie) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L V8/6-Speed 420 460 15 21 17
7 (tie) Ford F150 (2014) 5.0L/6-Speed 360 380 15 21 17
7 (tie) Ram 1500 2WD 5.7L V8/8-speed 395 410 15 22 17
10 (tie) Ram 1500 2WD 5.7L V8/6-Speed 395 410 14 20 16
10 (tie) Toyota Tundra 4.6L V8/6-Speed 310 327 15 19 16
12 (tie) Ford F150 (2014) 6.2L V8/6-Speed 411 434 13 18 15
12 (tie) Nissan Titan (2014) 5.6L V8/5-Speed 317 385 13 18 15
12 (tie) Toyota Tundra 5.7L V8/6-Speed 381 401 13 18 15
NR Ford F150 (2015)** 2.7L V6/6-Speed 325 375 ? ? ?
NR Ford F150 (2015)** 3.5L V6/6-Speed 365 420 ? ? ?
NR Ford F150 (2015) 3.5L V6/6-Speed 282 253 ? ? ?
NR Ford F150 (2015) 5.0L V8/6-Speed 385 387 ? ? ?
**Indicates a turbocharged engine.  Bold indicates highest figure. Ties are listed alphabetically.

At current fuel prices, the Ram 1500 with the Pentastar V6 has a lower fuel cost per mile than the EcoDiesel, because regular gasoline prices have fallen more than diesel; but this is expected to change in 2016. The federal government and 20 states tax diesel at a higher rate than gasoline. Indiana slaps about 11 cents more per gallon on diesel - on top of the six-cent federal add-on; while Nevada taxes diesel at nearly five cents less per gallon than gasoline.

TorqueFlite 8: ZF Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission

The eight speed automatic was the first of its kind to be used in a pickup truck. Just as the new transmission cut around two seconds off the Charger’s 0-60 times while adding several miles per gallon to its highway mileage, it helps the new Ram V6 to beat the 2012 model from 0-60 by three seconds, 0-60, while increasing gas mileage 20%.

The eight-speed does not just add gears; it dramatically increases the range from first to top gear, shifts much faster than the older automatics, and is reportedly lighter than the 65RFE transmission.

The eight-speed makes a stop-start system possible, and one is available on “select Ram 1500 models:” it automatically shuts the engine off when the truck comes to a complete stop, conserving fuel. The engine restarts instantly when the gas pedal is used. The feature can be shut off if desired, but has little impact on acceleration and a large impact on city-cycle driving.

shifter knobThe V6 comes only with the 8HP45 “Torqueflite 8.”  The Hemi had an optional higher-torque version of the eight-speed, the 8HP70, which has identical gear ratios.

Trucks with the eight-speed get a dash-mounted dial shifter, a style used on Class 6-8 heavy duty trucks. The class-exclusive shifter allows quick blind-shift transitions from Reverse to Drive; it is completely electronic, with no shift linkage, eliminating a common source of problems in well-worked trucks. Low gear is obtained with gear-change buttons on the steering wheel.

Both the 8HP45 and 8HP70 transmissions are fully electronic, and can change their shift maps to meet current conditions; Ram has over 40 shift maps. The software uses engine torque gradients, kick down, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, hill detection, friction detection, downshift detection, cruise control, stability control interaction, and temperature to determine shift points and methods.

 12345678Reverse Range Peak Torque
65RFE3.001.671.501.000.750.67  3.00 2.33 410 lb-ft (540 Nm)
8HP4.713.142.101.671.291.000.840.673.30 4.04 332 / 516 lb-ft (450/700 Nm)

The 8HP has a much higher range than the 65RFE, for good highway economy without sacrificing low first gear power and acceleration. Rather than comparing any particular gear ratio to Ford, Chevy, or Toyota, we suggest that you look at the range and the overall top gear ratio with one of the four axle ratios (listed later on this page).

The transmissions have four gear sets and five shift elements (multi-disc clutches and brakes); only two shift elements are open at any time (on both six and eight speeds). By minimizing the number of open shift elements, drag losses can be reduced.

torqueflite eight

Pentastar V6

The Pentastar V6 gas engine has dual overhead camshafts (DOHC), high torque over a broad rpm range, E85 capability, and best-in-class noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The Pentastar won Ward’s 10 Best Engines award in its debut year of 2011 and repeated in 2012.

The 60-degree aluminum block is made of die-cast T380 aluminum with cast iron bore liners. Six bolt main bearing caps contribute to an extremely rigid lower structure. Cast aluminum pistons are fitted to forged connecting rods; aluminum cylinder heads with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder include integral exhaust manifolds. The large intake ports are a “tumble” design. Despite the high (10.2:1) compression ratio, the Pentastar V-6 runs on regular 87 octane fuel (or E85).

pentastar engine with eight speed automatic

For better fuel efficiency across a wide torque band, the engine includes variable-valve timing (VVT) with dual independent cam phasing. Nearly 90% of the engine’s peak torque is available from 1,800 to 6,400 rpm.

For 2013, due to the increased power, customers can opt for a V-6 engine with a 4x4 and in crew cab models.

Hemi V8 and Next Generation V8

The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 has best-in-class towing and payload (11,500 pounds and 3,125 pounds, respectively, with the Ram 1500 Tradesman Heavy Duty). Cylinder shut-off deactivates four cylinders when full V-8 power is not needed, increasing gas mileage by up to 20%; the system operates nearly-instantly between 1,000 and 3,000 rpm.

VVT first closes the intake valve (to increase pumping efficiency) and, later, the exhaust valve, to increase the expansion process of the combustion event. This allows more energy to be transferred to the wheels instead of being lost out of the exhaust as heat. VVT also improves engine breathing for efficiency and power.

Interactive Deceleration Fuel Shut Off (iDFSO) cuts fuel to the engine during deceleration, improving fuel economy in both city and highway driving. The system does take getting used to, as the valves close when it is active, so the engine suddenly “drags.”

Midgrade gasoline (89 octane) is recommended; 87 octane regular is allowed.

vvt heads

The Next Generation V8, a 4.7 liter single-cam design with 16 valves and normally-open check-valve lash adjusters, returned for 2013 only, with horsepower similar to the V6. The engine has a cast-iron block with aluminum-alloy heads, and a 9.8 compression ratio. We asked Ram’s Dave Sowers if the 4.7 would continue throughout 2013. He said:

We have a 4.7 at least for ’13. A large portion of our sales today are Hemi. We think with the Pentastar we’ll sell some more V6s, and the 4.7 is kind of the ‘tweener engine. It’s still an important part of the lineup. We can produce as many as we need. It’s not a production constraint. It’s more of demand I would say. People who are buying V8s, most people, particularly individual consumers are buying the HEMI. Great name, great seat-of-the-pants feel, great power, and very good fuel economy.

Today, the ’12 model year, the 4.7 and 5.7 have similar EPA fuel ratings. 20 MPG highway in a 4x2 configuration. They vary a little bit in the city. With the 8-speed, the HEMI will be hands down better than the 4.7 in both power, acceleration, capability and fuel economy.

Thermal Management System

Thermal management to cut transmission wear and raise efficiency

A segment exclusive on the 2013 Ram 1500 is a new thermal management system, designed to quickly raise the transmission fluid temperatures to cut parasitic losses and wear, improving fuel efficiency by 1.7%. It is enabled by an electronic thermostat which constantly monitors antifreeze temperature; once it’s hot enough, warm engine coolant is circulated through a thermal exchange unit which heats up the transmission fluid. In most vehicles, the transmission heats up independently of the engine. (The system also works for engine oil.)

Chrysler’s Dave Sowers said:

We get benefit from bringing both of them [oil and transmission fluid] up to operating temperature faster. The primary benefit comes in the transmission. In colder climates, you could drive a vehicle for hours in the winter and the transmission might never reach that 190° (F) for the most efficient operation. So what we do is use some of that hot engine coolant through the heat exchanger to bring it up to 190° as quickly as possible, and that gives us efficient operation very quickly.

cylinder shutoff (MDS)

This is a big leap forward in efficiency given most customers’ drive cycles and like I said, the fact that they might never get to that level of efficiency. We even use it with engine oil. You might think that once you start running the engine, the engine, the coolant and the oil are all the same temperature but that’s not true. We’re circulating coolant around where the combustion process happens to take all the heat out that we need to. What we’re going to do is heat the engine oil up to that – about 190° – as quickly as possible too. More benefit comes from the transmission than from the engine, but it helps in both cases.

Why do you say that more benefit comes from the transmission? Because the engine oil would’ve heated up eventually anyway. So we’re speeding up in the engine. In the transmission case we’re getting to where we might not have ever got in cold temperatures and low loads.

Stop-start system

Adding to industry firsts in a pickup truck is the stop-start system, on “select 2013 Ram 1500 models.” This new system improves fuel economy by up to 3.3%, or around one mile per gallon (mpg), in the truck’s city drive cycle. It shuts the engine off when the truck comes to a complete stop. Amenities (radio, gauges, heating or air conditioning, etc.) continue to operate, making the operation transparent to the driver. The engine restarts automatically when the driver releases the brake, allowing seamless acceleration.

pulse width modulation

The system monitors brake pedal position and vehicle speed over time to determine appropriate engine shut off, preventing frequent on/off cycling in heavy stop-and-go traffic situations. The starter, alternator, and battery have been upgraded on trucks with this system; the high-durability starter (with 300,000 tested on/off cycles) is in a stronger case, with heavy-duty flywheel teeth and a more robust starter solenoid. The new battery is 800 amps, with Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology, and the alternator capacity is 220 amps. (These upgrades only apply to trucks with the stop/start system; standard alternators are 160 and 180 amp, and the standard battery is a 730 CCA model).

If the battery’s charge is reduced, the truck will discontinue stop-start until the battery is recharged to an acceptable level. A system disable switch is on the dash.

Transfer Cases

Two transfer cases are available on the 2013 Ram 1500: the Borg Warner 44-45, a part- time four-wheel drive; and the Borg Warner 44-44, an on-demand four-wheel drive system. Both transfer cases are two-speed models (2.64:1 low gear) engaged with a dash-mounted rotary dial (column shifter) or buttons (TorqueFlite 8 rotary e-shifter). The on-demand system is only available with the Hemi engine.

interative deceleration fuel shutoff

The part-time transfer case provides three operating ranges, 2HI (two-wheel drive), 4HI (four-wheel drive) and 4LO (low-range reduction four-wheel drive), and a neutral position. Operating mode may be switched between 2HI and 4HI while the vehicle is in motion, but the transmission must be in neutral to engage 4LO.

The on-demand transfer case provides four operating ranges: auto, 2HI, 4HI and 4LO. The auto range engages two- or four-wheel drive depending on road conditions. 2HI, 4HI and 4LO function the same as in the part-time transfer case.

Driveshafts incorporate 1350 series universal joints, two-piece thrust washers with triple-lip seals and improved journal cross strength.


Two final drive ratios, 3.21 and 3.55, are available on both the 2WD and 4WD models, reducing engine rpm throughout the operating range for better fuel economy. Two higher ratios are also available. (Note: on 2014 Ram diesel, the standard ratio is 3.55:1, with a customer-orderable 3.92:1 ratio.)

Four-wheel drive models of the 2013 and 2014 Ram 1500 use a front axle designed for optional air suspension or standard torsional independent front suspension, incorporating half-shafts that drive front hubs. The axle also has a disconnect system that automatically disengages the axle when four-wheel drive mode is disengaged, for increased fuel economy.

The rear axle uses a new optional air suspension or multi-link mounting design to facilitate a coil- spring setup, with forward-facing shock absorber brackets. An optional clutch-type limited-slip rear axle is optional; it instantaneously divides torque between the rear wheels in proportion to the traction available to each wheel. The system is smooth when turning corners because it responds only to variations in traction. (Heavy duties use a helical gear type limited-slip rear axle.)

Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)

Pulse-width modulation reduces parasitic electrical load and increases durability of fuel delivery and forward cooling fan. The fuel efficiency improvement is small (0.4%) but measurable over the trucks’ long lifespan.

Chrysler’s Dave Sowers explained the system:

Our fuel pumps historically have been created so that I can haul a long grade with wide-open throttle and provide enough fuel pressure and volume to maintain my speed the whole way up. Previously, we had two fuel lines to the engine compartment: one with pressure, and one where we return pressure. [With returnless fuel injection], We moved that fuel pressure regulator from the fuel realm to the fuel pump itself. But the fuel pump always still came on and ran at full speed and we just relieved the extra pressure right back into the tank. So that was returnless fuel.

pulse width modulation

Now what we’re doing is on-demand. We use pulse width management to do that, where we will only turn the pump on when we need it to generate the power. So we get two benefits of that: lower electrical load and longer fuel pump life because we’re not running it all the time. What we did in the past was the equivalent of turning your stereo onto 10 and covering your ears when it’s too loud. Now what we do is turn the volume down.

We also use pulse width for alternators. That’s been true for a long time; that’s not a new technology. But we’re using it for our cooling fans as well, so we don’t have to run them at full speed, we can run them at partial speed. [you've had two-speed fans for a while, haven’t you?] Yes, but we’d turn them on and turn them off. Now we can vary the speed with pulse width. [He could not answer how many steps they had for the fan.]

ram shutters

Powertrain Warranty: 5 Years / 100,000 Miles

The 2013 Ram 1500 is backed with a best-in-class 5-Year / 100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty which cost parts and labor for covered powertrain component (engine, transmission, and drive system) and free towing to the nearest Ram dealer, if necessary. The warranty is transferable to new owners. The standard 3-Year / 36,000-Mile Basic Limited Warranty provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for the Ram 1500.

TorqueFlite 8: the name

Ram’s Dave Sowers said:

I was part of the process [of coming up with the name] but I can’t point back to a single person. It was kind of a general agreement when it came up. We look back at TorqueFlite… the TorqueFlite name was a period of time when Chrysler was known for having bulletproof, efficient transmissions. That’s a notion that we all still held. So when the name came up in discussion, we all agreed. It sounded good. We did some research. We did some online research, and we did some customer research, and it does resonate that way. It speaks to high-quality transmissions and efficiency.

ZF 8-speed automatic transmission for Chrysler

When TorqueFlite 8 was originally used, the number afterwards referred to the number of cylinders in the engine it was made into. Now we’re using it to designate the number of speeds in the transmission.

So we’re going to have 8-speed transmissions behind 6-cylinders like the Pentastar, and now we announced today we’ll have them behind 8-cylinders like the HEMI and the truck.

In 2014, will I still see the 65RFE? Yes.

Comparisons to Ford F-150

2014 Ram
2013 Ford
Pentastar V6F-150 V6
F-150 V8
F-150 V8
F-150 V6
Hemi V8
6 speed
Hemi V8
8 speed
Horsepower305 @ 6,400302360411365240395 @ 5,600
Torque269 @ 4,175278380434420420407 @ 3950
FeaturesTwin-cam, E85     Cylinder cutoff
4x2 mpg18 / 25 (HFE);
17/25 (base)
4x4 mpg16/2316/2114/1912/1615/21?13/1915/21

Specifications and dimensions 

Crew cabFrontRear
Volume64.0 cubic feet61.0 cubic feet

For the crew cab with five-foot-seven bed: Wheelbase, 140.5; track, 68.6 front, 68.0 rear; 229 inches long; 81.5 inches wide. 26 gallon tank fuel standard, and 32 gallon optional. The cargo box is 5 foot 7 inches in length, with a volume of 50.3 cubic feet (SAE), and a 67.4 inch length at the floor with the tailgate closed; the width is 66.4 max, 51 inches between wheelhouses. Depth is 20 inches. The tailgate opening width is 60.4 inches.

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