2013 Ram 1500 Cool Tech: Deep Dive

Cool Lead

Ram created a laundry list of upgrades for the 2013 Ram half-ton and the truth is there are likely to be more we haven't seen yet. For now, here is a closer look at most of the most interesting technology and new features the new truck has brought us. Some we'll see pretty quick, while others may take a little longer. 


Engine Stop/Start

Cool Start-stop
Adding to the list of industry firsts is the application of a new stop-start system, another fuel-saving feature that will be available on select 2013 Ram 1500 models. This system is said to improve fuel economy by up to 3.3 percent, an increase of about 1 mpg in city driving, depending on driving habits, vehicle configuration, and duty cycles.

The system increases fuel efficiency by shutting off the engine when the truck comes to a complete stop. Accessories such as radio, gauges, heating and air conditioning continue to operate. The engine restarts automatically when the driver releases the brake, allowing for seamless acceleration.

The setup monitors brake pedal position and vehicle speed over time to determine the appropriate engine shutoff, preventing frequent on/off cycling in heavy stop-and-go traffic situations.

As you’d expect, the system does require a few upgrades. Because of the additional high-use and electrical load demands placed on the starter, alternator and battery, these specific components use heavy-duty operation on models equipped with the stop-start feature. The starter is housed in a stronger case, the flywheel teeth are stronger, and a more robust starter solenoid is needed.

We’re told that during testing, the new starter was subjected to durability cycles in excess of more than two-and-half times that of standard units – more than 300,000 on/off cycles. The new battery generates 800 amps with a sealed lead-acid battery (using Absorbed Glass Mat technology). An upgraded 220-amp alternator is included in the charging system.

The system’s voltage is continually monitored through a battery sensor. If the battery’s charge is reduced, the truck will discontinue stop-start until the battery is recharged to an acceptable level. Stop-start is activated automatically and requires no input from the driver. A switch to disable the feature is on the dash.

So far, Ram has not announced exactly how the package will be introduced, but we understand it will be offered in both V-6 and V-8 configurations and could easily be adapted into a more aggressively upgraded hybrid or electric-truck powertrain. We'll drive the system in several variations at an upcoming media drive event and will report on its real-world applications then.


Longer Wheelbase

Cool 149 WB
This doesn’t really fall under the “cool technology” banner, but it deserves to be included. And in an odd way, all the interesting changes and technology have led to this. The 2013 Ram half-ton will now be offered in a longer 149-inch wheelbase version. Astute Ram fans will know that Ram cleverly has squeezed three cab configurations and bed lengths out of just two wheelbases (the 140-inch Crew Cab with the 5-foot 7-inch RamBox shown above).

The new wheelbase is almost 10 inches longer, and it allows the creation of a crew cab Ram with two bed-length options: a 5-foot-7-inch bed and 6-foot-4-inch bed. When you combine this with the fact that a longer (6' 4") RamBox option was just introduced last year, this will allow Ram to offer both versions of the RamBox with the popular crew cab four-door. And when you combine that with the fact that the crew cab and 4x4 models can be ordered with the Pentastar V-6 and TorqueFlite 8 transmission, you can see why Ram guys are so optimistic about the 2013 truck becoming a hit with a much larger audience.

Expect the longer-wheelbase option to arrive late, by summer 2013.


Electric Steering

Cool electric steer
Another in a long list of firsts for the 2013 Ram 1500, electric power steering uses a relatively small, efficient motor to power the truck’s rack-and-pinion steering. Rather than constantly turning a hydraulic pump, even when not needed, the new fully electric system adds about 1.8 percent fuel efficiency, which can also directly translate into an extra 5 horsepower once the parasitic drag is removed. The new system eliminates the pump, hoses and cooling gear. The new electronic system constantly monitors a set of sensors to make many small or large compensating adjustments for improved comfort and safety.


Active Grille Shutters

Cool active shutters
The hidden active grille shutters or louvers are one of the coolest features on the 2013 Ram, and it’s the first pickup to use such technology. The system automatically closes airflow through the grille when cooling is not needed, as determined by the engine control unit.

When the active shutters are closed, airflow is redirected over and around the front of the truck, enhancing the smoothness of the wind and creating much less turbulence than would otherwise exist if the air were allowed to pass through. Engine coolant temperatures and vehicle speed determine the shutter angles.

The shutters remain closed when less engine cooling is required and aerodynamic drag is at its highest; the system will open the shutters when the truck’s cooling demands more airflow,  such as when the truck is pulling a heavy load up a steep hill.


Remote Central Locking

Cool Remote locking
An advantage of completely redesigning an entire pickup truck is that you can build in the capability for future upgrades. Not only did Ram engineers take full advantage of upgrading all the electrical lines and supporting connectors for future use, but they also included some unique features, such as the ability to lock and unlock more than just doors.

In fact, depending on the configuration, a new remote central locking system allows the driver to lock and unlock both the tailgate and RamBox (if equipped) with a simple push of the key fob. This could make your pickup practically theft proof and could be the answer to missing tools from construction sites or dark driveways. 


Heat Manager

Cool thermal manage 2
Simply put, the new transmission thermal management system is designed to raise engine and transmission fluid temperatures quickly. By raising fluid temperatures, parasitic losses resulting from low-viscosity engine oil and transmission fluid are reduced, improving fuel efficiency by 1.7 percent.

Unlike a mechanical thermostat, the new electronic thermostat constantly monitors engine temperature, allowing shorter warm-up time and maintaining the engine within the most efficient operating range. As the engine temperature increases to predetermined levels, warm engine coolant is circulated through a thermal exchange unit, which also contains dedicated pathways for transmission fluid and engine oil.

As the thermal exchange unit heats up, it also heats up the fluids. This action dramatically reduces warm-up time for the transmission, improving fuel economy, drivability and shift quality. In most powertrain configurations, the transmission heats up independently of the engine, delaying warm-up time and reducing efficiency over time.

The system will be standard on trucks with the TorqueFlite 8 and can also act as a kind of transmission cooler to help prevent the transmission from exceeding operating temperatures in situations when towing or hauling, improving durability and overall performance.


Fuel Shutoff

Cool fuel shutoff
And, finally, an interesting computer-controlled electronic fuel shutoff sensor determines when it is and isn't appropriate to shut down the fuel flow to the engine (5.7L Hemi shown above). Called the Interactive Deceleration Fuel Shutoff (iDFSO) feature, the system can turn off fuel to the engine during downhill or deceleration events. The system will likely only be offered in the Hemi (and most likely combined with the Start/Stop technology) to offer the most fuel efficient Hemi Ram option for those consumers who need a V-8 and better fuel economy, which should be a pretty large number of truck buyers. 


I did a project and presentation on a startup company called Continental ISAD (integrated starter/alternator/damper) while in business school at Auburn. Start/Stop and cylinder deactivation technology. Visited the company in Europe. That was 2001. It has taken a decade for this technology to find its way into production.

Well i know 3 Ram owners who switched to the 2012 Fx4 Ecoboost and a awesome 2012 Harley f150 this month ! they just fell in love with the way better Ford there is nothing in this updated Ram has that can beat Ford !!! I see it will be a fight for second place the Gm twins vs The Ram maybe the crappy 5.3L MIGHT BEAT the soft Hemi 5.7L it will be funny to see the turn out.

I guess it's safe to say that Fiat has this blog in their pocket.

the start/stop system worries me, would like to learn more on that, the idea behind it definately intriguing, but the wear and tear on the starter, flywheel etc is concerning even though they beefed them up. I was brought up with the idea that starting an engine is the worst thing you can do to it. Driving through the city your engine could be on and off a hundred times? rush hour traffic? . doesnt starting the engine cause a little more fuel to be required to start the engine? I'm not bashing it, just questions i would like to learn more about this system...I guess time will tell

There is a switch right on the center stack to turn the start/stop off if you don't want it on for whatever reason.

A lot of stuff there putting in this truck. I don't know about the auto shutoff but it's been working good in my moms civic so it's probably ok. Hope those grill shutters never get stuck in the closed position lol.

Anyone else getting the feeling that Fiat is paying off Pickuptrucks.com to try to make this new Ram look like its half way decent? The only thing that the new Ram offers that is interesting is the 8 speed transmission but that tranny comes from Fiat so I wouldn't put much trust into it.

This truck is not a game changer and will not hurt Ford and GM sales. Remember Rams HD update? They updated that truck after Ford and GM updated their HD's and it still doesn't compete with the top 2 and it will be the same story with this 1500.

Lots of new stuff here to ponder, and worry about, the what if this or that doesn't work.....

Some of the increases in efficiency seem so minor, but when totaled up seem to make a difference. I'm just not too sure I care for some of them, like start/stop or the heating devise for the oil/transmission (thinking if it leaks internally, could cost you a tranny).

Otherwise, the new engine and 8 speed tranny seem like something I'd like to check out.

@Josh The trans is a proven ZF design which has been used in high powered BMW's, Benz's, and Lexus. The way I understand it, the first trannys will come from ZF. A plant in Indiana is going on line in 2013 to start building them. I believe the trans has been out since 2007.

the thing about all this electronic stuff in the engine is the relaiblity, nowdays so many cars and now trucks are more electronic somthing could go wrong. I mean you never know when its going to just start malfunktion. Many old cars and trucks engines are simpler and thats why you still see them on the road. Many people wont be able to find what is wrong with there truck and fix it cause its so complecated

Starting a cold engine is hard on an engine. There's not much of an issue when the engine and oil are warm. Start/stop would only function when the engine is at operating temps.

One thing to look for is the recommended mileage between engine oil changes. Some hybrids were down to 3000miles between changes.

Fiat isn't paying anyone. It's all a matter of being the first to release info about future model years.

The start-stop option has been promoted by other car makers, so for Ram to do it isn't too surprising. However using the 1500 to showcase it is a surprise. I might have expected an LX car or a Grand Cherokee to use it first.

I am very happy to see the 149" wheelbase. I've thought that Ram should do away with the 5' 7" bed as well as the Quad cab & replace them with the Crew cab/6'4" model. However, the Crew cab should be renamed Quad Cab. There is a lot of marketing strategy with that name.

Don't pull that bias/paid off crap, I love my Ford trucks but Ram has really stepped up their game with this update. pickuptrucks.com is here to show truck lovers (and some idiots) about the latest and greatest on all trucks.

Ford was in the spotlight for tons of updates and people complained but now it's Rams turn. Someday we'll hopefully see a ton of coverage on GM improvements to counter.

I love competition, it just means that my next truck will be even better.

I'd have to agree with "the tone". Ram has brought their A game.

Harley f-150, if someone painted Harley-Davidson on the side of a turd I'd bet you would buy it....oh wait, you already did.

for the guy that commentedabout startingthe engine being the worst thing you can do. wel starting a cold engine yes not good but we all do it, start stop only functions when vehicle is at operating temp, also when i was growing up a oil change every 3k miles or every 3 months was noraml, now 10k miles and 1 year is a regular interval with most manufacturers, they dont even require a filter change some times????

From my experience with vehicles of all makes that I have owned; if you properly maintain your vehicle, anything can last a long time with minimal problems. I have owned a Dodge neon, Mustang, Chevy S-10 and soon I will own a ram and I can truthfully say all of the aforementioned vehicles have had over 200,000 miles on them and not one major problem. I can't help but attribute this "luck" to my near religious upkeep of my vehicles over the years. My answer to anyone that would ask which truck/car is best would be whichever one you take the best care of. Just my opinion.

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