At first glance, it’s difficult to tell how much has really changed on the 2013 Ram 1500, but don’t let first impressions fool you. Ram has done a full review of the entire truck’s look, inside and out. The Ram team looked at every inch of the truck and asked two questions: Can we make it nicer? Can we make it better?
Yes, the aerodynamics is vastly improved, but the biggest changes, from a design point of view, are seen in the interior.
Outside: Freshened Face, Better Airflow
Ram engineers and designers knew they wanted to keep the truck’s unique look consistent, but they also needed to squeeze out every ounce of improved airflow they could — not an easy task for the inherent disadvantages of the pickup truck shape.
The designers reshaped the crosshair grille, sculpting the bottom angles and making it taller by about an inch. Depending on which model you’re looking at, there will be four distinct grille designs. ST, SLT and R/T models have a new molded-in black “Hex-Link” design; Big Horn and Sport models get a “Billet-Perf” texture available in two different finishes; the Laramie features a “Hex-Perf” texture in chrome; and the Laramie Longhorn’s grille sports an upscale “Wave-Mesh” texture.
To get better aerodynamic efficiency, engineers made small changes to the front-end face, grille and hood to make sure the wind cuts and slips past body panels as quickly as possible with minimal turbulence. As a result, the bumper and air dam seams have been closed, and all the surfaces and openings for the fog light, tow hook and headlamps have been redone. The previous coefficient of drag for the Ram was 0.387 Cd; the coefficient for the 2013 Ram is 0.363 Cd, a number competes with some impressive sports cars.
The new headlights on premium models will have a bifunctional halogen projector lamp with 15 amber LEDs (think Audi or Chrysler 300). The standard quad headlamp design on lower-level packages has an improved spread pattern and better luminosity. In fact, the Ram design team went out of its way to create some visual entertainment with the headlights by including unique cut lines and angles, as well as placing the Ram logo right on the outer lens. The taillights are also redesigned, giving the new truck a sharper, flashier look.
Another small but notable change relates to the rearranged formatting of the side name badges. Previous badges were horizontally lined, running along the door, while the new model will have the names stacked. This will likely be good news to independent contractors and business owners who will now have more door real estate for magnetic signs or company graphics. Another new exterior feature we like is the new stainless-steel running board option that goes the entire length between the wheel wells. This is especially useful for quad and crew-cab models because it allows easier access into the forward portion of the truck bed as well as into the cab.
Inside: New Center Stack and More
The interior of the new Ram offers an all-new dash, gauge and center stack layout that not only looks more unified but also makes it easier to find all the important buttons and switches. Big improvements in fit and finish and material choices are obvious as well. Accent stitching and major surface materials are obvious places where money was spent, but we also like the soft-touch padding on the door and center console armrests. Knobs and switches are much larger and easier to see than before. The look and feel of the trim packages we saw at the New York International Auto Show (included in the media photos as well) are a huge improvements over the previous design.
Rear passengers get the many of the same benefits in quality, fit and finish as the driver. New premium materials, colors and designs now appear on all four doors, not just the front two. Soft-touch materials enhance armrests and upper bolsters. ST packages are available in Black/Diesel interior color trim. SLT is available in Canyon Brown/Light Frost or Black/Diesel, and the Sport model features all-Black materials. Stepping up to Laramie gives customers a choice of all-black or Canyon Brown/Light Frost. Laramie Longhorn has a new Cattle Tan/Black or a Canyon Brown/Light Frost option.
In the center stack, which can include the new 8.4-inch Uconnect screen on select models, the background screens can be customized to reflect many of the style and themes of the various trim levels. Each trim package has a different interior design that offers different materials and colors in the dash, doors and seats. We especially like the smart use of the new center stack layout with manual switches for the new air-conditioning unit immediately below the information touch-screen (where you can also control the air conditioning), with a number of switches underneath to control functions like the air suspension, stop/start, stability control, tow/haul and park sensors.
The newly relocated brake controller (if equipped) sits next to the two rows of feature controls. The new console center stack includes a 115-volt outlet and new drawer at the base of the stack, with a smooth, toolbox-like slide action. A 12-volt outlet is on either side of the drawer and an optional USB port is on the driver’s side.
As noted earlier, the new rotary dial that controls the eight-speed transmission sits on the driver’s side of the center console. The dial has two designs, with the four-wheel-drive push-button controls underneath the dial. The design on the ST, SLT and Sport features black rubber over mold with chrome surround; all Laramie models have a solid, spun-aluminum knob finished in silver. Electronic Range Select for the new eight-speed transmission is on the face of the steering wheel, right side, allowing individual gear selection and top-gear lockout.
New technology also moves to the gauge cluster. Previously available only on premium models, the 3.5-inch vehicle information center screen is now standard on the ST and SLT. The new 7-inch screen is now available on SLT and standard on Sport, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models. The 7-inch screen features fully customizable function and configurability. Similar to the 8.4-inch Uconnect system, select 7-inch cluster background screens are customized to specific Ram models, with designs that match the truck’s theme.
Two new steering wheels are offered, depending on trim package and transmission choice (V-8s only). Also, the center consoles for both the 40/20/40-split bench and bucket seats that have the eight-speed transmission are all-new and designed to optimize storage. The center consoles that will have the standard auto-stick six-speed transmission with either one of the two V-8s will look familiar but will have a new look and more efficient storage areas as well. The bench seat console continues to offer a hidden storage compartment in the seat as before, but the new one will offer more than double the capacity.
Finally, a cool feature that will give the half-ton pickup a more premium feel, regardless of trim package, is tons of Sapphire Blue LED lights on the switches and around the interior to provide a soothing ambient-lighting feel.
Overall, the small improvements the Ram design team has made add up to something much greater than the sum of its parts. All the changes to the exterior were made in the name of efficiency for better fuel economy or business use. However, the interior changes are a clear statement that Ram wants to take a bite out of both Ford and GM’s market share. At this point, Ram has all the right pieces in play, and we’re guessing much of the brand’s success will depend on how Ram Truck prices the 2013 model. Look for full model and option pricing near the end of the year.