First Look: 2013 Ram 2500/3500 HD

  Ram HD lead II

By Mark Williams, photos from the manufacturer

Not long after the debut of the all-new 2013 Ram 1500, Ram Truck is revealing several significant improvements to the larger 2500 and 3500 models.

The last refresh of the Ram HD was in 2010, and we haven’t been quiet about where we felt the Ram HDs fell a touch behind (and in some areas, quite a bit) compared with the Ford Super Duty, Chevy Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD.

In our now-famous Hurt Locker towing Shootout, the Ram finished in third place in just about every one of our categories, with the exception of the exhaust brake test during our Davis Dam runs.

This is our first look at the 2013 Ram HDs, which were revealed today at the 2012 State Fair of Texas. Rather than give you a long, gigantic story, we’ve chosen to hit just the highlights and give you an opportunity to download a more detailed look at all the changes at the end of each of the sections below. They are broken into seven categories and include all the exact same information given to the journalists who attended the Ram Truck backgrounder and State Fair press conference.

It’s worth noting that the Ram Truck strategy has remained consistent. Several years ago, a new Ram team was quite clear about seeing the truck market break into two distinct directions. First, half-ton buyers seemed to be getting more and more interested in fuel economy. Second, buyers interested in heavier-duty trucks seemed to be all about capability and more traditional work-duty issues.

The result is a new Ram 1500 with a huge emphasis on fuel-economy improvements, and a new HD that’s all about better towing, power, strength and durability. And both are coming out in the same model year.  

We’ll have more to report when we get some of the new trucks in our possession and compare them with an older model and the current-gen, similarly equipped Super Duty or Silverado/Sierra HD. For now, here’s what we know.  

Engineering: A Bigger, Stronger Frame

Ram HD frame II
Although Ram is not telling us exactly what the new front and rear axle ratings are for the 2013 HDs, they guarantee that it will have class-leading towing capability and gross combined weight ratings. The biggest change to accomplish this goal, as you might imagine, was making big improvements to an all-new frame. The bigger, stronger frame has a one-inch wider front section and fully boxed rear sections to accommodate an improved suspension. The front will continue to use the three-link live-axle strategy, but the new setup is said to offer better roll stiffness under load. The heavier-duty front axle will have higher GAWR numbers to accommodate heavier snowplows or other construction applications. The rear suspension and solid axle are stronger and improved, too.

Other improvements include an extra fifth-wheel cross-member to strengthen the rear section, as well as a seven-pin plug inside the bed and optional fifth-wheel type tailgate, similar to what the concept Ram 5500 Long Hauler used.

Also, new Ram HDs will get an improved steering setup, power folding mirrors and a completely new electrical architecture (similar to the Ram 1500 improvements) that should make any future upgrades, whether for commercial or dealership upgrades, much easier and safer.

For the full press release on all the engineering upgrades, download 2013 Ram HD Engineering.

Powertrain: Monster Torque Numbers

Ram HD engine IIThe new Ram HDs will continue to use both the 5.7-liter Hemi and 6.7-liter Cummins, but they now have a wider range of availability. The Hemi will be offered in the 3500 HD configuration (single-rear-wheel trucks only), while the Cummins will have three distinct power outputs, each matched with a different transmission option. The manual six-speed transmission will have a 350/660 horsepower and torque peak; the 68RFE automatic transmission will have 370/800; and the all-new Aisin six-speed automatic (AS69RC) will have 385/850.

To accommodate the higher torque numbers, the Cummins has quite a few cooling and intake improvements that allow the engine to produce monster torque numbers and do it efficiently. One cool feature is a new dual intake controller that determines the best place where air should be sucked into the engine: from the front of the grille or inside the engine area.  Improvements at almost every point along the drivetrain are involved here. Additionally, Ram HDs are now using the more common DEF strategy to exhaust emission control and have included several other details to keep overall operating costs as low as possible.

Within the four-wheel-drive system, Ram HDs now offer a new electronically controlled front axle disconnect system within the transfer case controller. It can automatically disconnect select drivetrain components to improve fuel economy as much as 1 mpg.

The 2013 Ram HD is backed with a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty that covers the cost of all parts and labor needed to repair a covered powertrain component – engine, transmission and drive system. Coverage includes free towing to the nearest Ram dealer, if necessary. The warranty also is transferable, allowing customers who sell their truck during the warranty period to pass the coverage onto the new owner. The standard three-year/36,000-mile basic limited warranty provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for the Ram HDs, including everything from the body to the electrical system.

For the full press release on all the powertrain upgrades, download 2013 Ram HD Powertrain.

Design: Newer Inside, Similar Outside

Ram HD interior II

Don’t expect the 2013 Ram HDs to have the same exterior styling as the new Ram 1500s. Two years ago, Ram decided to offer a clear visual distinction between the light- and heavy-duty models, and Ram designers want to keep that going. Much of the pronounced hood bulge and size is directly connected to the needed cooling for the Cummins turbo-diesel. Likewise, the grille will stay as large as possible to allow as much air as possible into the engine. However, whereas the exterior design is noticeably different, interior design will look more similar.

Inside the cabin of the new Ram HDs, you can expect to see an all-new gauge cluster, information center with the new 7-inch screen, and a completely redesigned center stack that incorporates the new 8.4-inch screen we saw on the new 1500s. Also, you can expect many of the same trim package upgrades and details to the interior doors and color schemes.

For the full press release on all the design changes and upgrades, download 2013 Ram HD Design.

Safety and Security: Keyless Entry & Remote Start

Ram HD projector II

The new 2500 and 3500 Ram HDs, as well as the 3500/4500/5500 chassis cab models, offer more than 45 unique safety and security features, not the least of which are smart multistage front and midbody airbags and a new electronic stability control with hill start assist (very good for towing).

Other cool features include keyless entry and remote start technology that allow you to get into your truck and start the engine without touching your key fob. Also, just like the Ram 1500, Ram HDs get the remote central locking feature, which lets you lock your truck’s tailgate, RamBox latches and all the doors with one click. 

For the full press release on safety and security, download 2013 Ram HD_Safety & Security.

Uconnect: Stay Connected

Ram HD Uconnect II

Ram is offering the new Uconnect entertainment and information system for both regular Ram HDs and commercial chassis cabs. The Chrysler-exclusive system uses a wireless network connection (partnered with Sprint) that can allow you to check email, contact emergency services, organize information about their favorite sports teams, get real-time weather reports or stay informed about the whereabouts of your favorite bands. You can give voice commands and make hands-free phone calls as well. The system can even act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple users. Drivers interact with Uconnect via the new 8.4-inch touch-screen, but almost every command has a backup manual option (and voice command) as well. The system does carry a premium price, but those details are pending.

For the full press release on the facts and features of Uconnect, download 2013 Ram HD Uconnect.

Chassis Cabs, 3500, 4500, 5500

Ram HD dump truck II

Ram is carrying over many of the improvements and features from the 2013 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD models to the work-duty chassis cab models, but there are some unique highlights. The frames are designed a little differently to deal with the up-fitter market, as well as offering a heavier-duty front and rear suspension to deal with the heavier load requirements. Also, extra care and engineering effort went into improving the chassis-cab steering setup for added strength and durability. Likewise, the engine and powertrain design is tuned for long-term toughness and reduced cost of ownership.

For the first time, the 3500 workhorse will have the Hemi as the base engine, with a segment-exclusive two-level, turbodiesel engine output and transmission option. The first Cummins version is rated at 320 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque with the segment-exclusive six-speed manual, and the other with the Aisin six-speed automatic rated at 325 horsepower 750 pounds-feet of torque.

Other huge improvements and cost savers include much longer oil-change intervals, a smart DEF system and a completely new and more refined interior setup similar to the non-chassis-cab models.

These Class 3/4/5 models include standard electronic stability control, which also hosts other exclusive technologies in this category such as all-speed traction control, trailer-sway control, hill start assist, and multichannel antilock brakes.

For the full press release of all the new tech and features in the various chassis cab models, download 2013 Ram CC Overview.


Ram HD dually II
Pricing has not been released yet, and we wouldn’t expect that info until we get much closer to the date these trucks start rolling off the line. Tentatively, they’re telling us these models will go on sale in the first or second quarter of 2013; we’d also guess that pricing would continue to be competitive with Ram’s existing lineup. Ram is getting aggressive with its new products, so we’d expect pricing to follow the same path. 

If you want to see more images of the different technologies and upgrades, go to the Facebook page, Like us, and take a look at all the cool images.

Ram HD ghost II


Check this out!

the 13's come with eurea .. C&C's are having trouble with the eurea leaving a gell substance in the tank cloging the system causing trips to the dealer.. I bought a 12 because the emitions are easier to delete.

Great article ...Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next pos

Thats all great but we need to work on getting them built in the good ol USA!!

I also wish the HO motor was available in the 4500-5500 series trucks.

If it wasn't for the fact that the Ram HD's are made in Mexico, I would consider buying one.

I have an '11 Chevy and the hp/torque wars should be over. I will be lucky to get 35k on my Michelins with a light throttle foot. Until Ford and Dodge can manage the power to the ground like the GM's they will not get my vote.

The Dodges are pretty damn good looking though.

I have been a gm guy my whole life,that is till I bought a 2012 Laramie Longhorn 3500 cummins and by far the best engine on the planet.and I tow my 5 th wheel which is 2400 lbs on the hitch weight, gm or ford can't compare and guess what , no urea!!!

only ford now have a soft frame,,maybe they need to change the name super duty,for light duty.look strong but is not the case...

ford have no good frame and bad trany..problem to keep traction on pavement bad suspension design and soft twist frame..

Too bad it's still made in Mexico.

Glad to see one manufacturer who has kept the manual transmission in their lineup. Ford and GM build nice trucks, too, but there is NO WAY I am buying an automatic, so Ram gets my business by default.

Creativity and Art design...state of the art machine...LOVELY!

This would be my first choice of any vehicle to own, and I don't need a truck with this capacity. I think most people feel the same.

the upgrades are cool an all my dad has a 2012 2500, i have a 1996 3500 and a 64 d200, i enjoy the simplicity of my 64. i think they need to build a bare bones truck that is affordable, just raw truck like the old days something that wont be over 20 grand

After owning a 08' and '12 3500 ram with a 6.7 auto I will never buy another ford. People dont realize there getting all this power with only 6 cylinders not 8 like the duramax, and powerstroke. Think about it, only 1 head not two, 6 injectors, not 8. less moving parts less chance of a break down. Plus how long has cummins been making engines? forever. Also take a peak under the hood, you can still work on it if need be. Unlike the the v8's, where you have to remove the truck from the motor to repair it, the ram will let you sit in it to change anything. Good job ram, thanks for dependability, and comfort.

Just hope they don't break down. My '10 CTD 6-speed is running lousy and 3 dealers have no idea what is wrong with it because there is no check engine light. Towing last night just under 7000# and it got 6.8 MPG and would not go over 65 MPH! Sadly, after 7 Ram CTD trucks, this is going to be my last one thanks to the RAM customer assistance cservice, or lack thereof.

Glad to see they kept the manual transmission. hsmae they havent mastered a manual tranny and dual disc clutch to up the torque to 800 or 850 hopefully they will.

very glad to see the aisin added to the 2500/3500 line up

would still like to see manual locking hubs brought back as 2wd low range backing is very useful for trailers

alot of other user suggestions have been integrated.

Again the biggie i hope they step up with in another year or so is a good clutch and better manual transmission capible to handling the same torque as the aisin or at least teh 800 ft/lbs

I have read in the main Diesel Magazine about all that they have changed . I see they were not clear on certain things ... 1 is the mega cab ... and the bed ....are they going to go with a 8' box like the test truck they also may come out with that is a 5500 ... 2 I see that with the 5500 they did use the long frame and had to add a extra 2' of a custom made fuel tank ... and with all 3 tanks they are running 177 gals of fuel ... now with the 3500 camper/rv truck will they have a option of a extra tank? ... 3 will they also be putting in a factory spray in liner ..... much better than the aftermarket spray liner...... 4 also they show that they have the cut down tailgate ... will they have the option to have both ... so one can put a cover over the bed when not towing and when towing to use the cut down gate .... also do you know when the date ppl will be able to buy the new RAM? ... I know it is DEC and only the 1500 can be ordered
I did see they went with the super transmission and not go with a the Alison one like they have in other trucks like the RV ... but did wish they had gone with the 8 speed and not kept with the 6 speed ... a 8 speed is much better than anything out there and better for travel
But as a truck goes it looks like RAM did just jump ahead of the others and it may take another 2-3 years for the other 2 to come even close to the 2013 version .... by that time the new engs and trans for RAM will be out and unless F$#d or G@ get some engineers to working big time and not just copy what RAM has done to catch up ... to get off there butt's and redo there trucks so they will be able to catch up ..... so I was right to have not bought the 2012 truck and waited for the 2013 .... good move on my part .. a 2012 decked out was to cost me about $61,000 ... if you can get the right dealer you can get a fully equipped one for about the same price


The 2013 Ram 3500 WILL be useing DEF(urea). We have ordered one today for our fleet Ram 3500 Cummins crew cab Longhorn. Won't be here till at least April 2013. If it is close to being as good as our 2011 Dmax we will be happy. 398,000 miles and runs like new, and has by far the strongest platform for hauling equipment ( wich is what our business is all about. I doubt it will pull as well as the duramax. Our 2012 Cummins will not come close to the duramax in towing or fuel economy or braking, so we will try a 2013 Ram to see if it will get the power to the ground. Our 2012 Powerstroke is doing better than i expected, but lacks in the heavy haul department, frame flexes too much and transmission is nothing like the Allison in the duramax.

i haves the worst 2012 ram 3500 ,dealer wont do anything about it it seen the dealer more than the street,, recalls flywheele spring freezing up its a junk

Wait for a 2013, or buy the 2012 now with the good incentives??? How much better is the quality of the 2013 vs 2012???

Sure would like to know what the payload will be on the 1 ton signal axel.. Ford and Chevy are 4300, hope dodge makes a big just for the camper enthusiast...

Why less horsepower with the manual trans.

question. is the aisin and 385/850 available with the srw 3500?

Nice to be here and see your post!


nice look & good attitude vichle


dam thats nice

Dodge is way better they have a way more reliable engine, you don't see a duramax in a peterbilt or a fire truck, niether do you see a power stroke in a kenworth. You know why because people want a truck to work not to look like a fancy Bitch-Mobile. Over the years has anyone heard of a Triton winning drag races nope. Its always better to stock with what has always worked. But don't get me wrong Chevy is good to the older ones. Ford is just to woman-fied..

Post a Comment

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
  • Your email will not be shown.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2017 | Privacy Statement | Contact Us