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2013-2014 Ram Chassis Cabs: 3500, 4500, and 5500

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For both the 2013 and 2014 model years, Ram upgraded its chassis cabs to increase durability, efficiency, creature comfort, and upfitter friendliness; in 2014, Ram also added a 6.4 liter gasoline engine, tapping new markets and dropping the starting price for 4500 and 5500.

ram 5500

  GCWR Max trailer weight
Ram 3500 chassis cab 30,000 lb 22,750 lb
Ram 4500 chassis cab 32,500 24,650
Ram 5500 chassis cab 37,500 29,600

In 2013 and 2014, Ram 5500 Chassis Cabs had best-in-class towing and gross weight ratings. A new dual tank option combines the standard 52 gallon tank and an optional mid-ship 22 gallon one for a total of 74 gallons. An exclusive backup camera is optional and delivered with factory wiring and multipurpose mount for easy installation; it provides a view of the rear with high definition and dynamic imaging in the available 5.0-inch and 8.4-inch radio display, or a 1.7 x 3-inch display in the rearview mirror.

One major change for 2014 was the addition of a gasoline powertrain on both Ram 4500 and Ram 5500 — the new 6.4 liter Hemi V8. Other major changes for 2014 included diesel exhaust fluid and selective catalytic reduction on Cummins diesel engines for higher gas mileage, a new Ram 3500 single rear wheel option, and stability control on all models. Upfitters will find power takeoff (PTO) on both right and left, and including a five-minute shutdown timer.

ram 5500 chassis cab interior

The 2014 Ram 3500 chassis cab went to the three-link front suspension used by Ram Heavy Duty pickups, for better on-road handling and off-road performance; this reduces body roll and can handle heavier loads. The Ram 4500 and 5500 have an advanced five-link front suspension, which improves ride and handling and provides the capacity for heavy loads and snow plows.

Ram 4500 and 5500 both went to front gross axle weight ratings of 7,000 lb with 6.4 engines, or 7,250 lb with diesels.

2013 ram chassis cab

2013 Ram Chassis Cab engineering, suspension, and steering

Ram Chassis Cab are designed to ease installation of multiple systems and bodies without interference.

  • Industry standard frame lengths (60-inch, 84-inch, 108-inch, and 120-inch)
  • No components or lines above the one-piece C-channel rear frame rails
  • Through-the-frame plumbing and electrical lines
  • Removable/movable exhaust and frame components

To increase durability and allow greater modification flexibility, 2013 Ram Chassis Cab trucks use new frames (rear frame strength is 50,000 psi), and including eight cross-members. Mounting points were added for bolt-on capability, avoiding the need for welding, and riveted rear cross members are easily relocated for different needs.

New front and rear suspensions improve both handling and ride; an advanced five-link front suspension ensures roll stiffness, contributes to the higher Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and aids use with heavy front loads, including snow plows. New front springs help handle heavier loads and maintain front right height. A revised Hotchkiss leaf spring rear suspension gives a minimum of a 0-degree rake angle at max load and has better ride, handling, towing, and payload.

For 2014, Ram 3500 gained a front-axle disconnect for greater fuel efficiency.

2013 ram 5500 chassis cab

Steering has been improved for a precise on-center feel. The drag link was moved over the track bar to reduce roll oversteer and to improve tracking at highway speeds; it is also attached directly to the knuckle, improving efficiency. The caster and track were increased, improving return-to-center. Aligning the ball joint inside the tie rod improves alignment and service life; new ball joint seals on the tie rod and drag link improve corrosion resistance. The Ram Chassis Cab has a new steering damper with new valving and protective cover.

All regular cab Chassis Cab models can be modified by a qualified upfitter to remove 80% of the rear panel using the cutaway instructions. The cutaway design retains the truck’s structural integrity.

Exterior door and fender badges are located in a portrait style format providing usable real estate on the door for a commercial customer’s logos and graphics.

2013 Ram Chassis Cab Engines

This year, the Hemi gasoline V8 is the standard engine on Ram 3500 Chassis Cab. The 6.7-liter Cummins straight-six turbodiesel has been upgraded and comes in two power levels, matched to the transmission.

 Horsepower
@ rpm
Lb-ft @ rpmRequired
Transmission
5.7 Hemi383 @ 5,600400 @ 3,95066RFE six-speed automatic
6.4 Hemi 367 hp* 429 @ 4,000  
Cummins Diesel 320 @ 2,800 650 @ 1,500 six-speed manual
Cummins Diesel 325 @ 2,800 750 @ 1,600 Aisin AS69RC (upgrade from prior AS68RC)

*The 6.4 Hemi is rated at 410 hp on a single model a special new Ram 3500 witha 10,000 lb GVWR to fall below certain truck-weight restrictions.

The new Aisin AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission has more robust components and a new control system that improves shift quality and drivability. It enables a left-side power take-off (PTO) option and allows for a split shaft PTO configuration. It has a higher output (45 horsepower/250 lb-ft torque) case-mounted, larger floor patch plate, and relocated exhaust.

For buyers preferring a manual, Ram's segment-exclusive six-speed manual transmission features a wear-compensating clutch for lifetime like-new performance and a dual-trunion shift tower to accommodate a compact shift pattern.

Diesel engine upgrades

cooling and frame

All 2013 Ram Chassis Cab diesels have a new cooling system, which uses a high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers, and a low-slung charge air cooler to raise heat-rejection capacity by 25%, delivering higher performance and durability.

active air

New weight ratings also led to the development of the Ram Active Air intake system. Triggered by the computer, it draws cooler air from the front of the vehicle when it senses extreme heat; it also engages at high altitudes for superior throttle response. When conditions are wet, the system pulls air from an under-hood inlet, dry and clear of snow packing.

Two new innovations help to increase gas mileage. The new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) is more efficient than the old Lean NOx Trap (LNT) technology, and while it requires diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), the Ram maintains full power when fluid levels are low (the fill port is at the rear of the cab, on the driver’s side). DEF is relatively inexpensive, compared with the fuel savings; easily available; and does not need to be refilled often. Using a larger exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) cooler, cutting soot production, and reducing fuel dilution allow owners to cut costs by allowing oil change intervals of up to 15,000 miles. The SCR-equipped diesels can run on B-20 biofuel.

DEF

The Cummins diesels have better cold-start performance and refinement, due to innovations such as the "smart" exhaust brake. Enabled by Cummins' sliding-nozzle turbine design, this setup electronically manages exhaust braking for smoother downhill driving, regardless of vehicle load. Cummins' variable-geometry turbocharger also affords more effortless operation at high altitudes, greater management of EGR flow rates and improved control over exhaust temperatures to accommodate de-sooting. [Variable geometry turbochargers were pioneered with Chrysler's gasoline engines.]

The frame-mounted fuel filter/water separator has 3-micron particulate filtration and water stripping to increase performance and durability. The unique venting system prevents dirt and water from entering the tank; a warning light tells when the high-capacity sump requires draining.

Ram has two new Borg-Warner part-time transfer cases, both of which have a low-range ratio of 2.64 and use a locking differential from front to rear.

  • The BW 44-46 is an electric shifting part-time transfer case with 2WD, 4WD High, 4WD Low, and Neutral.
  • The BW 44-47 is a manual shifting transfer case with 2WD, 4WD High, 4WD Low, and Neutral.

New and improved features

For 2014, dual-alternator setups were created, with diesels able to go up to 440 amps and gasoline engines going to 380 (one 220 and one 160 amp alternator).

Two new grille designs are available on the 2013 Ram Chassis Cab. Tradesman and SLT have a black “Hex-Link” design. Laramie has the “Hex-Perf” texture in chrome.

The 2013 Ram Chassis Cab quad headlamp design has better light spread, pattern consistency, and distance. Laramie has bi-functional halogen projectors, with 15 amber LEDs for park/turn/position, and three amber LEDs for the side marker, with an inner lens softening the glow. The Ram shield logo is molded into the housing.

chassis cab door

New back-up camera and wiring provisions give upfitters the opportunity to mount the camera in a custom location to work with a variety of body styles and upfits.

For 2013, Ram Chassis Cab is sold in 12 different colors with 18 specialty paint options, including midnight blue, Case Construction power tan, Case IH red, New Holland construction yellow, New Holland agriculture blue, and robin egg blue (Case New Holland is a corporate relative).

Ram Chassis Cab has material upgrades, better fit and finish, new colors, better HVAC controls, and new multimedia systems. Soft-touch materials enhance armrests and upper door bolsters.

  • Tradesman has a black/diesel interior with iron gray metallic coloring and diesel vinyl seating.
  • SLT has black/light-gray or canyon brown/light frost interior with anodized driftwood paint and satin chrome accents with diesel or canyon brown seating.
  • Laramie has a black or canyon brown/light frost interior with light anodized driftwood paint (for a contemporary wenge wood pattern) and a black or light frost leather seating.

2013 Ram 5500 dashboard

Six-passenger capability is available with the 40-20-40 bench seat. The bench seat design includes three cup holders in console lid with a washable rubber bellow lining. The center console and center front seat base have a large storage bin with optional CD player. Both versions of the console have two tiers of storage and are available with a multi-media port (USB, SD card, and auxiliary inputs) in the upper tier. The console center stack has a 115-volt outlet and a new drawer with USB and 12-volt outlets.

HVAC controls now have a redundant architecture, with both touchscreen and manual controls. Below the HVAC is a new switch bank with relocated controls. The top row has buttons for the exhaust brake, tow/haul, and electronic stability control (ESC). The bottom row comes standard as an auxiliary switch bank for all five spots with a power take-off (PTO) option; it also can be optioned as an auxiliary switch bank for all five spots. Next to the switch bank is an adjustable trailer brake control.

closeup

Ram Chassis Cab trucks use a column shifter for the automatic transmission. Electronic range select (ERS) is on the right side of the steering wheel for individual gear selection. Only diesels are sold with a manual six-speed transmission.

Ram Chassis Cab also uses sapphire blue LED lighting on switches and the rear-view mirror. Laramie has white LED lighting for dome, map, and foot wells. Laramie has additional sapphire blue ambient lighting throughout the interior.

Ram’s powertrain warranty, as of the 2014 model year, was five years or 100,000 miles.

Uconnect system, gauge cluster, and audio

The next-generation Uconnect system uses Sprint as its wireless partner, and depends on the fast Powernet architecture. Powernet allows up to 40 individual modules; each module (e.g., stability control) can activate other systems (e.g., anti-lock brakes).

r4 stereoA new VSIM can communicate between aftermarket modules and Chassis Cab control modules. The VSIM up-fitter interface has 72 inputs and outputs, including lighting controls, door position, and power take-off (PTO) use. It is a secure gateway to electrical systems and data bus architecture to enable safe, secure plug-and-play connectivity.

A 3.5-inch vehicle information center screen is now standard, displaying vehicle operating functions on the gauge cluster. A thin-film transistor (TFT), fully customizable 7-inch multiview display is now standard on SLT and Laramie. Similar to the 8.4-inch Uconnect system, select 7-inch cluster background screens are specific to Ram models.

The 2013 Ram Chassis Cab has Alpine high-performance speakers with a 12-channel digital signal processing (DSP) amplifier, 7.1-adapted surround sound, and:

  • Three 3.5-inch speakers in the instrument panel
  • Two 6x9-inch speakers in the front doors
  • Two 2.5-inch rear surround speakers in the headliner
  • Two 6x9-inch speakers in the rear doors
  • One 8-inch dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofer in a sealed enclosure under the rear seat

The 2014 model year chassis cabs are slated to start production in early 2014.

Credit: Chrysler Communications as edited and appended by David Zatz.

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