2013 Ram Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks: Ram 2500 and 3500
Ram's 2013 heavy duty pickups, the Ram 2500 and 3500, have upgraded powertrains, lighting, creature comforts, utility, and electronics. The Ram 3500 shot past Ford and Chevy pickups’ maximum tow rating of 23,100 pounds to a stunning 30,000 pounds, enabled by a new 50,000 pounds-per-square-inch, high-strength steel frame, a stronger transfer case, a higher-load transmission (Aisin AS69RC), larger front drive shafts and U-joints, an upgraded Cummins diesel engine, and other upgrades.
The rumored 6.4 liter Hemi V8s are still missing — perhaps to arrive in the 2014 model year — but there have been power boosts to the existing engines, including a hefty power hike for the Cummins diesel in the Ram 3500.
The Ram 2500 is mainly used for towing large personal items, while the Ram 3500 is usually a work truck that hauls heavy equipment, boulders, or livestock. In both classes, Ram claimed at launch that the Heavy Duty pickups have best-in-class “attributes” in cost of ownership, towing capability, features, quality, and dependability.
The Ram 3500’s Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) was boosted to 37,600 pounds, which far surpasses the closest competitor’s 30,500-pound GCWR. The 2013 Ram 2500 also saw towing and combined weight rating boosts; at 18,350 and 25,000, Ram 2500’s towing and GCW ratings are also best among ¾-ton pickups.
The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty will be available as a two-door Regular Cab, four-door Crew Cab, and four-door Mega Cab, with two bed sizes (6-foot 4-inch and 8-foot). There are ten trim levels: ST (fleet only)/Tradesman, Power Wagon, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited.
This year, the Hemi gasoline V8 is the standard engine on both Ram 2500 and Ram 3500. The 6.7 liter Cummins straight-six turbodiesel has been upgraded, and comes in three different power levels, matched to the transmission. All of them have a substantial torque boost from 2012’s maximum of 600 lb-ft.
|Lb-ft @ rpm||Required|
|5.7 Hemi (Gasoline)||383 @ 5,600||400 @ 3,950||66RFE six-speed automatic|
|Cummins Diesel||385 @ 2,800||850 @ 1,600||Aisin ASC69RC (Ram 3500)|
|Cummins Diesel||350 @ 2,800||660 @ 1,500||Six-speed manual|
|Cummins Diesel||370 @ 2,800||800 @ 1,600||68RFE six-speed automatic|
The new Aisin AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission, available only in the Ram 3500, has wider gear ratios for better efficiency and performance. 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.
Buyers opting for the Cummins and 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission in the Ram 2500 get an unsurpassed-in-¾-ton trucks 800 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm.
Diesel engine upgrades
All 2013 Ram Heavy Duty diesels benefit from 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.
The Ram Active Air intake system, triggered by the computer, 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 by 10%. 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. DEF is relatively inexpensive, compared with the fuel savings; easily available; and does not need to be refilled often. The larger exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) cooler slashes soot production and fuel dilution, allowing best-in-class oil change intervals of up to 15,000 miles.
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 SCR-equipped diesels are certified to run on B-20 biofuel.
The frame-mounted fuel filter/water separator has 3-micron particulate filtration and water stripping to increase engine performance and durability. The unique venting system prevents dirt and water from entering the tank; a warning light illuminates on the truck's instrument cluster when the high-capacity sump requires draining.
Ram Heavy Duty drivetrain and suspension
The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty has a higher Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) than before, continuing the capacity race with GM and Ford. To support the greater weight, the Ram Heavy Duty's front drive shafts and U-joints are larger, and the Ram 3500 has a 11.8-inch rear axle matched with the high-output diesel engine. This axle boasts a 300-mm hypoid gear set, a 4-pinion helical differential, and a finned aluminum cover for thermal management.
A segment-exclusive front axle disconnecting system disconnects select drivetrain components when possible, allowing a gas mileage increase of up to 1 mile per gallon.
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.
Ram 3500 dual-rear-wheel setups are the first in their class to get electronic stability control (ESC).
2013 Ram Heavy Duty engineering, suspension, and towing
For 2013, Ram Heavy Duty trucks are using new frames, built with high-strength 50 KSI steel, to increase stiffness, improving noise reduction, ride, and handling. These frames have eight separate cross-members, hydroformed main rails, and fully boxed rear rails.
Wider front frame rails (around one inch per side) allow the front springs to be moved slightly out, to create more positive roll stiffness. The front suspension cross-member is now a two-piece welded component, essentially vacuum formed between the front axle and oil pan. The plated structure's interface to the frame has a weld surface that's twice as large as the previous model. This creates a stiffer, more robust front section, and eliminates the need for reinforcements.
Center frame rail sections are roll-formed, for maintaining strength in less complex longitudinal sections. In the rear portion of the frame, there are fully boxed rear rails and a factory-installed rear axle cross member with provisions for 5th wheel and gooseneck hitches.
The trailer hitch system was upgraded to Class 5 with a 17,000-lb. load capability and 1,800 pounds of tongue weight for use with 2-inch or 2.5-inch receivers.
New front and rear suspensions aid handling and ride. An advanced three-link front suspension on Ram 3500 ensures roll stiffness, contributes to the higher Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and aids use with heavy front loads, including snow plows. A newly designed Hotchkiss leaf spring rear suspension on the Ram 3500 has better ride, handling, towing, and payload. The hydro-filled cab mounts at the C pillars are 30% larger to cut noise and vibration.
The new reciprocating ball steering gear gives greater durability and control with redesigned steering knuckles, ball joints, and more robust steering linkages delivering an enhanced and precise feel despite the vehicles higher towing and payload capacities.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all 2013 Ram Truck models with dual-piston calipers all around. Front rotors measure 14.17 inches in diameter, while rear rotors are 14.09.
A new capless fuel filler on diesel applications enables side-by-side fuel and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) ports for more convenient refills.
Ram 3500 buyers who opt for the fifth wheel or gooseneck tow prep package now get a standard uses a factory-installed 7-pin trailer tow connector in the truck bed. New structural support is designed into the body to support the payload increase and increase durability; and tie-down points have been strengthened.
New and improved features
Finally, 2013 Ram Heavy Duty customers can enjoy the convenience of power folding/auto-dimming side mirrors and a defrosting power-sliding rear window. Auto rain-sensing wipers and SmartBeam headlamps also find their way into the feature availability list, adding to a truckload of content offered.
The quad headlamps have better light spread, pattern consistency, and distance. Laramie Longhorn and Laramie have 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 (it's optional on Laramie). The Ram shield logo is molded into the housing.
An intelligent battery sensor monitors current flow and “intelligently” shuts things down as the battery gets low.
New power folding 6x9-inch outside mirrors provide a better view of trailers when towing; and a tailgate handle-mounted rear camera back-up system has been upgraded for 2013 with higher definition. A new center high-mounted stop light camera provides a view of the bed for easier fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer connection, and can help to monitor bed loads.
Styling and interior
The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty will have four different grille designs: Tradesman and SLT use the molded-in black "Hex-Link," while Big Horn and Power Wagon have a "Billet-Perf" (with different finishes), Laramie has a chrome "Hex-Perf," and Laramie Longhorn has "Wave-Mesh."
There are also five new colors: black gold pearl, copperhead pearl, maximum steel metallic, prairie pearl and western brown pearl.
Wheel-to-wheel polished stainless steel running boards have a sturdy box cross-section design with a hexagon tread pattern; the design offers aerodynamic improvements and more access to the truck bed's forward portion. Front and rear custom end caps feature Ram logos.
Soft-touch materials enhance armrests and upper door bolsters, while all trims except for Tradesman are available with canyon brown/light frost interiors.
- Tradesman has a black/diesel interior with iron gray metallic coloring and disel vinyl seating.
- SLT has black/diesel interior with anodized driftwood paint and satin chrome accents, along with disel or canyon brown seating.
- Laramie has an all-black interior with light anodized driftwood paint (for a contemporary wenge wood pattern) and all black or light frost leather seating.
- Laramie Longhorn has a cattle tan/black interior and real walnut burl inserts stained in canyon brown or cattle tan with cattle tan leather with black welting/stitching or canyon brown with tan welting/stitching.
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.
Surrounded by a chrome tracer, HVAC controls have improved function with redundant architecture allowing the driver to use either the 8.4-inch touchscreen or manual controls.
Below the upgraded HVAC arrangement is a new switch bank with relocated controls. The top row has functional controls including exhaust brake, tow/haul, and electronic stability control (ESC). The bottom row has comfort controls including heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated seats; 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.
Ram Heavy Duty trucks continue using a column shifter for the automatic transmission. Electronic range select (ERS) is now located on the right side of the steering wheel for individual gear selection. Only diesel models are offered with a manual six-speed transmission.
Ram Heavy Duty also uses sapphire blue LED lighting on switches and the rear-view mirror. Laramie and Laramie Longhorn are adorned with white LED lighting for dome, map, and foot wells. Laramie has additional sapphire blue ambient lighting throughout the interior.
Uconnect, gauge cluster, and audio
The next-generation Uconnect system depends on the fast Powernet architecture, which allows up to 40 modules; each module (e.g., stability control) can activate other systems (e.g., anti-lock brakes). The dashboard gauge cluster has a 7-inch, color multiview display, controlled from the steering wheel. Up to three analog vehicle status gauges can be added to the display. The main screens in the instrument cluster menu are:
- Digital speed
- Engine hours
- Vehicle information
- Fuel economy
- Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) levels
- Trailer-tow information
- Stored messages
- Screen customization
The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty has optional Alpine high-performance speakers with a 12-channel digital signal processing (DSP) amplifier, 7.1-adapted surround sound, and ten speakers:
- 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
Credit: Chrysler Communications as edited and appended by David Zatz