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


No 6.4L?

I am glad to see they kept the optional 6-speed handshaker though. Wish Ford and GM would offer them too.

6.4L is 2014. I love where RAM trucks are heading. Simply awesome machines that are built to build this country. I see a Ram heavy duty in my near future.

No DEF on the "non-commercial" trucks?

Best in class tow/haul? But will it win a shootout ;)

Good looking truck.

First of all let me tell you, you have got a great blog. I am interested in looking for more of such topics and would like to have
further information. Hope to see the next blog soon.

The RAM 2500/3500 if sold at a reasonable price here would be on the Grey Nomad, wanted list.

Glad they are really making the Cummins the engine it can be. For far too many years it has been choked by Chrysler's trans' not being strong enough.

385 and 850 are truly amazing!

did I read that correctly? did he say that the Hemi will have either 650ftlbs or 750ftlbs? and only have 320hp-325hp? that has to be a missprint! I did read it 3 times.

@ sandman4x4 -- Sorry about that. Good catch. Should have read that the Cummins will have two different power outputs in the chassis cab models. Hemi only the base option with those commercial rigs.

"Coverage includes free towing to the nearest Ram dealer, if necessary."
One of many necessities needed or rather can't live without when owning a Fiat is towing company on speed dial.

I think the ford, and the duramax will still spank it. Even in the gas motors once the new updated 6.2, 6.0, or even 7.0L shows up in few months

***Breaking news***

Ford just upped towing ratings on the 3.7L V6 to beat the new Pentastar combo.

Will they do the same with the Superduty now that the Ram numbers are out?

toycrusher84 I don't know think the Superduty is maxed out right now since GM's can tow and haul more then a F350, almost as much as a Ford F450. Maybe when they update their frame, they got the motor if it holds together but the rest is lacking I think.

@Mark Williams - I believe the three-link front suspension is new, not a carryover.

Also, any word on the Powerwagon?

100% GUTS
100% GLORY


They say best in class towing I want a 28,000lbs not a 26,500lbs (ford f550 rated 26,400) so if dodge is going to have best in class I want tons not lbs tired of ford towing 22,400 and dodge 22750 I want one to pull away not just by a few inches Nd this new Hp rating could be like Chevy may look bad on the charts but it may kick a$$ well good luck to ram this season I will always stick with my first gen's I have 5 now all restored

I don't like how ford says hey we can tow 6,400 lbs then Ram comes out and says we can tow 6,500lbs then Ford comes back and says we can tow 6,700lbs........... That's how it will be with the Hd truck maybe Ram will wait till ford releases there info Orwell all this new stuff can't wait to see how much there sales come up after a remodeling and sales up 20%+ each month and now all this I do beleave all them kids that say Ram will pass Chevy in sales

As a fulltime rv'er towing a very large fifthwheel I've towed with Ford, Chevy and, for the past five years, Ram with Cummins. All were decent but this Ram is by far the best. It's not the fastest to the next stoplight. It's not the fastest up the hill. But it's plenty good on both. Where it excels is 1) longevity/reliability, 2) low rpm - not screaming up the long hills like the V8's in Ford and Chevy, and 3) it runs cool compared to the other two. Both the lower rpm and the lower running temperatures contribute to longevity and reliability. What I don't like about my 2007 Ram is the interior is not as nice as the Ford and it doesn't have as many bells and whistles available, even though mine is the top of the line MegaCab Laramie. Now that Ram is catching up on the interior, maybe I need to consider trading. But my 2007 has only a bit over 90,000 miles so it's just getting broken in.

Looks like GM will have to go back and make changes again after this article, just like they did when they saw the 2013 1500

Takes a lot for me to say anything about any vehicle, but that's a mighty fine truck.

Best in class tow/haul ON PAPER, not real world as we all know nobody has been able to put it to the ground like the Dmax/Allison combo.

Seems like Ram is serious about gaining some market share. Doin' some mighty fine work on building a massive, and useful hard working truck.

Sandman, you forget, new SAE rules are out there to help sort out the tow ratings. If all the OEM's hold to the SAE standards then the #'s should speak for themselves.

385/850... I want it!!!!

@JRT for some reason People who use Rams, Silverado's/F250-F450's for towing, like to chip them up for towing mainly Off Road Caravans, or 5vers. in Australia. One fellow mentioned he had 500hp from his. Do not ask me why but they like doing it.

I'm with you paul810. A manual transmission still needs to be a option and Ram still offers it. Shame on Ford & Chevy!
Diesels and manuals are like Sonny & Cher, they just go together.
Automatics should only be offered in PINK! LOL

I wonder why they're offering the 68RFE and the Aisin trans. Unless of course the Aisin gives them the torque edge but is too expensive to stay price competitive, too.

Another Hurt Locker Shootout is going to be needed when these trucks are available. Even if they are 3rd again which I don't think they will, these new improvements will make for one great towing vehicle. Who cares if you get beat to the top of the hill by a few seconds, the name of the game is durability. I just traded my 05 Ram 2500 with 5.9 diesel with 181000 miles and no problems. Original transmission works great. Bought another used 09 Ram 3500 with 6.7 Cummins. Works even better. Way to go Ram.

@ Mr Knowitall- I would assume it is to use up current stock of transmissions up.

@toycrusher84 -- Good catch. The five-link will stay on the 2500 models, including the Power Wagon, but the 3500 models get the new 3-link setup. We were told it's because of the size of the tie-rod needed with the angles of the springs and shocks. Also involved is the unique, one-inch wider, front section on the one-ton model, which is different than the 3/4-ton frames front sections. Hope that helps. Definitely think we'll need to get a good 3/4-ton and 1-ton shootout in the pipeline for 2013. More to come.

Looks like Firestone Transforce A/T tires to me. I believe that is an option 2012 didn't have? Now if the 2013 1500s could only have Firestone Destination A/Ts. The Wrangler A/T s tires are what I have, poor traction, decent with a load though.

They screwed the front suspension up. Otherwise, a nice truck.

"and the all-new Aisin six-speed automatic (AS69RC) will have 385/850."

So this means that regular 2500/3500 truck buyers can get into the Aisin Auto instead of having to buy a C&C truck....

That is the best news yet!

2014 for the BIG HEMI!!! Then the 5.7 will be stepped down for the 1500's only.

@TRX4 Tom Firestone Destination A/Ts suck. I had them tires 3 times before, and everytime I had the wires blow out of the sidewalls. Still had half the tread still on the tire to use.

RAM took what everyone has been asking for over the last 6-8 years and has made it happen!

KUDOS to RAM for paying attention to what WE the customer wants!

Love the new center stack and the new center console flip up lid with cup holders attached to the base! I had to buy a Geno's Garage Cup Smoothie for my 08.....


3500, CREW, 4X4, HEMI, LB, in 2014 will be my next truck!


Will the Aisin AS69RC be available in a 3500 pickup?

Big Bob:

The 68RFE is paired with the 370/800 motor and is the standard motor on the 2500 and the 3500.

The Aisin is paired with the 385/850 motor, which is an optional engine in the 3500.

I down loaded the information on the new RAM and they are going to best the towing margin by large amount...? HMMMMMM :) .. I like the sound of that! Largest Brakes, Best MPG's with the new DPF/Urea System .... The new 2013 RAM will be hard to beat.

Hoping the price will not go through the roof with all of the new standards that were options before. It is hard to swallow $40K on a new Pickup .... 50K is beyond sanity!

Impressive chassis, but I think the GM HD's still beat it. I seem to remember GM is using 60K psi steel.

Only one choice for me, the only one with a manual trans: Dodge Ram

@manual, it would be even better if the manual had 385/850! But yes, at least they offer one.

Some major changes going on! Not only more power, better mileage at the same time??!! After years of seeing them make other Dodges pass safety tests with flying colors thanks to the side air bag in the seat, they are now putting it in the trucks! Thats progress all around!

Bob, just curious what is it that you think the GM HD trucks have over the new Ram? I havent been able find any info pertaining to what KSI steel GM uses online.

I see they have built in a fifth wheel/ gooseneck trailer mount in the frame great!

Looks like a great truck! Really looking forward to trading off my turd duramax! After melting down 5 crap allisons I'm just glad GM has good warranty but enough is enough

6.4L is 2014. I love where RAM trucks are heading. Simply awesome machines that are built to build this country. I see a Ram heavy duty in my near future.


Seems like Ram is serious about gaining some market share. Doin' some mighty fine work on building a massive, and useful hard working truck.


Looks like GM will have to go back and make changes again after this article, just like they did when they saw the 2013 1500

-And THIS!

Chevy is DROPPING 'LIKE A ROCK' in sales! Ford KICKS their ASS, Dodge KICKS their ASS! DODGE is TAKING OVER the #2 SPOT! C-YA CHEVY. I even Like OLD Chevrolet Trucks and Cars but TIME IS UP! DOWN TO #3 YOU GO.

They screwed the front suspension up. Otherwise, a nice truck.

@Bob, you mean they DO THE SUSPENSION RIGHT! Just like CHEVY USED TO DO. Ford and Dodge aren't CHEAP. You IDIOTS BLOW MY MONEY on TWO TRUCKS! You COULD be spending the money on a REAL SUSPENSION for the Silverado! Torsion bars were a ONE SIZE FITS ALL approach by CHEAP GM in the early 1990's and it was Never Fixed. CHEAP THEN, CHEAP NOW!!! Torsion bars and Low Slung Frames SUCK. HD trucks DESERVE their OWN SUSPENSION like Ford and Dodge. Yanking the bars on the 1500 DOES NOT COUNT.

Check this out!

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