2013 Ram Heavy Duty

By June 13, 2013
2013 Ram Heavy Duty

The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty models, the 2013 Ram 2500 and 2013 Ram 3500, have reset the bar for pickup truck towing and further advanced the luxury heavy-duty pickup.

Changes applied to all 2013 Ram HDs include three different ratings for the updated Cummins diesel engine and cooling systems, a new transmission, minor exterior cosmetic changes, a heavily revised interior and electronics package, and two rear camera options. 2013 Ram 3500 trucks get a new frame and front suspension arrangement.

The changes for 2013 have netted Ram a maximum towing limit of 30,000 pounds, more than 6,000 pounds greater than their GM and Ford counterparts; a 2013 Ram 3500 Crew Cab 4WD dually will tow at least two tons more than an F-450 Crew Cab 4WD, its nearest competitor. The Ram 3500 tows like a medium-duty truck in a pickup wrapper.

Chrysler’s 383-hp Hemi 5.7-liter V8 with 6-speed automatic is the standard setup. Most models offer at least two powertrain choices, though Longhorns are automatic only and Power Wagons are gas engine only.

The 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel comes in three variants: 350-hp/660 lb-ft with 6-speed manual; 370/800 with 6-speed automatic; and 385/850 with 6-speed automatic on the MaxTow package. 2013 Ram pickup diesels require diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF, aka urea, typically refilled at oil change interval but easy for the owner to add and available at parts stores and fuel depots.

Fuel economy for the 2013 Ram HD models appears to be up 15 percent to 20 percent over 2012 models.

Ram HD rides well and cruises quietly by heavy-duty pickup standards but you can’t compare the ride to a car, nor noise from six tires, lots of airflow and trailer hardware. We found a Ram 2500 rode quite comfortably with 800 pounds in the bed, and four-door cabs towed comfortably into the 28,000-pound range. As with most full-size pickups, four-door cabs’ better body mounts and a longer wheelbase help ride quality and isolation.

Equipment levels vary from the Ram Tradesman’s rubber-vinyl coverings and crank windows to Ram Laramie’s heated steering wheel and rear seats, heated/ventilated front seats, driver memory system, configurable instrument cluster and text-to-voice infotainment systems. All cabs are roomy but the MegaCab offers more cabin lounging space than any HD pickup.

The most capable Ram HD pickup will carry nearly 7000 pounds of cargo, the least capable Power Wagon around 1600 pounds. Gas-engine tow ratings have improved, approaching 14,000 pounds, and the only towing statistic where the competition has an edge is in maximum tow-behind (as opposed to fifth-wheel or gooseneck), and we’re not fond of pulling 18,000 pounds on a tow ball. Most HD pickups pulling a trailer rated for anything near their maximum load capacity may require some sort of driver’s license beyond the norm or an endorsement.

The Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty models compete with Ford Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado HD, and GMC Sierra HD pickups. Ram HD shares many interior elements and styling cues with Ram 1500 models, though they are not identical.

Ram HDs remain a compelling choice for anyone in need of a heavy-duty pickup truck. Ram Heavy Duty models are an excellent choice for anyone pulling big travel trailers, multi-car race trailers, big boats or a stable of horses. They are a good choice for anyone who has work to do, be it hauling construction tools and materials or substituting for a medium-duty when a primary business rig is on downtime.

Model Lineup

The 2013 Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 Heavy Duty pickups come in Tradesman, SLT, Outdoorsman, Power Wagon, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn trim levels, plus regional editions such as the Big Horn. Three cab configurations are available: Regular, Crew Cab, Mega Cab. Two bed lengths (6-foot, 4-inch and 8-foot) are offered, along with a choice of four wheelbases. Ram 3500 models are available with single or dual rear wheels (SRW or DRW). The Power Wagon is 2500 4WD, Crew Cab, gasoline only; Ram HD regular cab is Tradesman or SLT trim only; Mega Cabs come only with the short bed.

Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 come standard with the 5.7-liter V8 and 6-speed automatic; no manual is offered for the V8. A factory-built CNG (natural gas) unit is available on 2500 Tradesman and SLT Crew Cab long box. The optional Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel is available in three power levels with three corresponding transmissions. On most Ram HD models, part-time 4WD (manual or electric shift) adds about $3,000.

Ram 3500 dual-rear wheel models come standard with the Cummins diesel, so prices may appear misleadingly high relative the competition’s HDs, which come standard with a gasoline engine and offer diesel as a pricey option.

Ram Tradesman models are commercial-grade: black bumpers, grille and mirrors, crank windows on regular cab (power windows and locks on others), vinyl 40/20/40 seat, steel wheels and a manual-shift transfer case on 4WD. Vinyl floor covering is standard and can be ordered in place of carpet on all but Laramie models. Ram Tradesman comes standard with an automatic transmission, air conditioning, Class V hitch with 4/7-pin plugs, AM/FM Uconnect 3.0 stereo, cruise control, locking tailgate and tilt steering wheel. Options for Ram ST are plentiful, including a diesel engine (which adds front tow hooks and cruise control), power heated and towing mirrors, integrated trailer brake controller, sliding rear window, spray in bedliner, floor mats, cloth upholstery, DVD/HDD and Sirius audio, limited-slip differential, skid plates, RamBox or fifth-wheel/gooseneck prep, various option groups, and choices for wheels, tires and axle ratios.

Ram SLT adds power mirrors, remote keyless entry, power windows (including rear windows on four-doors), carpeting, cloth upholstery, electric-switched transfer case, chrome wheels, sliding rear window, in-dash tire-pressure display (2500 only) and the integrated trailer brake controller. Some notable SLT options are fog lamps, CHMSL rear camera, heated power towing mirrors, forged aluminum wheels, bucket seats and console, power seats, adjustable pedals and driver memory system, moonroof, navigation, Uconnect phone, remote start, back-up camera, security system, and rear park assist.

Ram Outdoorsman is a package for Ram 2500 and 3500 models based on an SLT luxury package with some additional extras. Standards include gray painted bumpers and fender flares, two-tone paint, body-color grille/black insert, fog lights, power folding/heated mirrors with signals, HomeLink, mud/slush floor mats, 115-VAC outlet, power split-bench seat, leather-wrapped wheel, LT265/70R17E on/off-road tires on forged aluminum wheels, 7-inch TFT info display, Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen AM/FM/sat/Bluetooth/voice nav-ready audio, security system, limited-slip differential, tow hooks, and remote start. Primary options are a moonroof and electronics: navigation, park sensors, Uconnect.

Ram Big Horn and Ram Lone Star (Texas only) editions are packages based on a Ram SLT with some Outdoorsman parts and Uconnect 5.0 touchscreen audio with Bluetooth and satellite radio.

Power Wagon models come in 2500 Crew Cab gas engine 4WD only and gets electric locking front and rear differentials, a front antiroll bar disconnect, specific suspension with Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires, a 12,000-lb Warn winch, skid plates, 4.56:1 gears, more lighting and two-tone paint and graphics. Three trim levels parallel the Tradesman, SLT and Laramie trim (and most options) of other HD Rams.

Ram Laramie adds more chrome, power adjustable pedals and heated mirrors on driver memory system, dual-zone climate control, 115-VAC outlet, universal door opener, 10-way/6-way power heated leather seats, heated leather steering wheel, nine-speaker DVD/HDD surround-sound audio, rear park sense, and security system. Laramie upgrades are generally limited to chrome packages, towing mirrors, skid plates, rear window defroster, heated/ventilated power bucket seats with floor console, moonroof, navigation, rearview camera and wheel and axle ratio choices.

Laramie Longhorn is the top-line and automatic only. Four-door cab only, it adds to a Laramie with filigree leather upholstery, leather on the dash and door panels, wood trim, Berber floor mats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, leather-wrapped shift knob, navigation with Sirius Travel Link, remote start, unique instrument graphics, polished aluminum wheels and spray in bed liner. Options are few: skidplates, axle ratio, limited-slip differential, smart beam headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, alternate wheel finishes and rear seat entertainment system.

Safety features on all HD Rams include dual front multi-stage airbags, side curtain airbags, front side airbags, adjustable height front belts, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear door locks, stability and trailer sway control, anti-lock brakes on all wheels, hill-start assist and tire-pressure monitors (2500 only).