Rampage! The Test at Davis Dam

Pair of Rams Small
Photography by Matt Avery

Road Test Review: 2013 Ram 1500 3.6-Liter V-6 Eight-Speed

By Mark Williams

When the all-new, high-tech 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 was slated for the 2013 Ram 1500, many questioned whether the V-6 originally slated for cars, minivans, crossovers and SUVs would really work in a half-ton pickup truck.

We knew Ford had updated its base V-6 and was having great success with the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, so we knew we had to do something special to test Ram Trucks' smallest and newest entry-level power plant. Thankfully, we had a great template for extreme engine and truck testing.

For those who might recall, we drove two identically equipped 2011 Ford F-150 FX2 trucks when the EcoBoost engine was new. We attached a trailer to one, pushing it to its gross combined weight rating limits, and ran the other one empty. We drove those trucks from Southern California to the infamous high-altitude Eisenhower Tunnel grade outside of Denver and did further testing at the famous Davis Dam grade outside Laughlin, Nev. All totaled, we put close to 2,400 miles on both Fords and came back with some great data and impressions. (For the full 2011 F-150 EcoBoost story, click here.)

For this test, however, given our timing of mid-February, driving and testing on Interstate 70 out of Dillon, Colo., without snow chains (on the truck and trailer) was out of question, so we took our two Ram 1500s on the California-Arizona-Nevada portion of the test. This effectively cut our loop in half, but still gave us a chance to test our two trucks on level and steep grade roads to see how the little engines performed.

The Players

Pair of Rams 5 II

Both our 2013 Rams were two-wheel drive, had SLT trim packages and four full-size doors, rode on a 140.5-inch wheelbase chassis and used the all-aluminum Pentastar V-6 and TorqueFlite 8 transmission. However, instead of ordering both trucks with 3.21:1 gears and sacrificing towing capacity, or ordering both with 3.55:1 gears and sacrificing best achievable fuel economy, we opted to order one with the more fuel-friendly gearing to be driven empty (it came in True Blue Pearl) and the other V-6 with the gears that gave us the best towing capacity.

Our "tow" Ram 1500 (in Deep Cherry Red) came equipped with the air suspension package for better load leveling and rear-end control, as well as the Uconnect navigation system (with backup camera), RamBox storage bed, a 32-gallon gas tank and pivoting towing mirrors, all of which we thought would help during trailering duty. We should note those differences did create a slight weight difference between the two when we weighed them on CAT Scales (just more than 200 pounds) as well as a pretty good price difference. The final price for our blue Ram came to $37,490 while our red Ram with the air suspension, a few other towing essentials and RamBox was $43,630.

To see the window stickers and all the specific options on each truck, click here for the blue Ram or click here to see the trailer-tugging red Ram.

Drive Route

Blue Ram Road

Our route included diverse roadways with long stretches of freeway, quite a bit of city travel and cross-country two-lane highway cruising. We started our trip by taking the two Rams out of the Los Angeles basin and navigating through the Cajon Pass that cuts between the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges at L.A.'s northern border.

The 10-mile climb with L.A. at our back topped out at 4,000 feet but then had us driving the relatively flat Mojave Freeway on our way to Barstow, Calif. Once in Barstow, we made a quick stop at a Pilot CAT Scale to get our Rams and trailer weighed (we wanted to make sure we did not exceed our maximum gross vehicle weight rating), and then we were back on Interstate 15 to Las Vegas.

The total weight of our red Ram and trailer was 10,860 pounds; the factory gross combined weight rating for the V-6 Ram 1500 (when equipped with 3.55:1 gears) is 11,200 pounds. Yes, we know that's just a little more than 300 pounds of payload but we travel light. (Thankfully, our test truck was not loaded to maximum GVW because if we had hooked up our horse trailer to the truck at that point, we would have been 1,100 pounds over our maximum GCW rating.)

By the time we got fuel in Henderson, Nev., our red Ram was just below a quarter tank (with its 32-gallon capacity) and our blue Ram was still registering well above half a tank (with its standard 26-gallon capacity).

Drive Route Map Rams IIOur drive route started in Los Angeles (A) then headed east and north over a small mountain range to Barstow, Calif., (B) running up the Baker Grade (C), finally making it to Henderson, Nev., (D) for fuel. After quick stops in Boulder City, Nev., (E) and Kingman, Ariz., (F), we did our testing at Nevada's Davis Dam (G) and outside Ludlow, Calif. (H), finishing our route in Norco, Calif., (I) to drop off the weighted horse trailer. Not shown on this map are the extra miles north and south driven on Highway 95 for additional fuel economy testing.

The rest of our route took us past the Hoover Dam to Kingman, Ariz., and then headed to Laughlin, Nev., down Highway 68 past Davis Dam. Much of our time testing was spent on the Davis Dam hill climb on the Bullhead City, Ariz., side of the Colorado River. With our tests complete, we ran up and down Highway 95 to collect more mileage. We also spent time outside Ludlow, Calif., to conduct some level-ground testing before we finally completed our loop, heading back to Los Angeles.

As for our horse trailer, we went to our friends at All American Trailers Inc. in Norco, Calif. This smaller double-axle two-horse trailer was much shorter and only included 25 100-pound stall mats in the trailer, bringing the weight to 5,500 pounds, compared to the 9,000-pound trailer the Ford F-150 FX2 pulled.

We used a conventional 2 5/16-inch ball hitch without much drop and a standard seven-pin plug. Although we didn't measure the exact tongue weight, we're guessing it was a little on the high side. We found the load-leveling air bags wanting to give the trailer a small amount of front tilt to keep the truck riding level, but in doing so the front tires at times felt a little light. It would have been nice to have some kind of manual adjustment for the rear air bags to drop that rear end just a bit.

On the Road

Blue Ram Interior

While driving, most of our speeds were set by the Ram and trailer, usually running between 65 and 68 mph. We let the truck communicate to us what speed felt right. Given that we had a rather large slab-sided trailer behind us — with tendencies to push us around in crosswinds and when we passed semitrucks — we never felt the need to push to or past 70 mph. Thankfully, most of our weight was flat on the floor of the trailer, so stability was never an issue. We ran the whole tow test with the Tow/Haul setting engaged, which meant resetting the button each time we started the rig. We ran the blue Ram normally.

Both trucks were filled with 87-octane fuel, per the owner's manual. While behind the wheel of either truck, we liked the fact that both SLT-trimmed trucks gave us a good amount of engine information: transmission, crankcase and radiator temps as well as exact tire pressures and engine hours.

Because our red Ram tow truck had the Luxury preferred package (denoted as 22G on the sticker), we also got the 7-inch display screen that sits between the tachometer and speedometer in the gauge cluster. Included in this setup is a dedicated trailer/towing information screen that lets you keep track of how many miles you've been towing your trailer and exactly (in real time) how much brake pressure you are using through the integrated brake controller. We found this especially important when monitoring our speed on steeper downhill sections.

Red Ram Interior

Testing Event — Davis Dam

In order to test the two Ram 1500 V-6 engines to their fullest, we knew we had to take them to one of the longest and steepest, in fact, one of the most notorious hill climbs around: Davis Dam. This is the hill that the Society of Automotive Engineers' J2807 towing standards call out specifically. The section we chose averages between a 5 and 6 percent grade and allowed us to get a relatively straight and unobstructed run for more than a half mile.

We first tested the red Ram with the horse trailer and got our best time to 60 mph with 31.9 seconds. That doesn't sound impressive, but it's worth noting that almost half of that time was spent getting from 50 to 60. In fact, the zero-to-50 time for the Ram and 5,500-pound trailer was 17.7 seconds. We're guessing the eight-speed makes a shift either from 3rd to 4th, or 4th to 5th, right around 50 mph and drops quite a bit of the engine rpm.

In our quarter-mile timing on Davis Dam, the red Ram got its best time of 24.35 seconds at 55.5 mph, just a touch quicker (but slower) than the 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost we tested (pulling that 9,000-pound trailer) on the same section of road. The Ford managed a best time of 24.56 seconds at 58.47 mph.

Towing Chart Rams II
 

Quarter-Mile Towing Perfomance

Red Ram & Trailer -- 24.35 sec. @ 55.47 mph -- Davis Dam

F-150 EcoBoost & Trailer -- 24.56 sec. @ 58.47 mph -- Davis Dam

Red Ram & Trailer -- 21.11 sec. @ 66.47 mph -- Level Ground

F-150 EcoBoost & Trailer -- 21.02 sec. @ 67.21 mph -- Level Ground


Our blue Ram (with the 3.21:1 gears) got to 60 mph on the same section of the Davis Dam run in 9.71 seconds and did the quarter mile in 17.57 seconds at 79.4 mph. And since we had the red Ram anyway, we thought we'd run the truck without its trailer to see how it compared — 3.55:1 versus 3.21:1 (remember, the red Ram weighed 220 pounds more). The red Ram got to 60 mph in 9.74 seconds and covered the quarter mile on the Davis Dam section in 17.50 seconds at 79.87 mph, practically right on top of the 3.21:1-geared blue Ram. For reference, both Rams are at least 1.5 seconds slower than the Ford EcoBoost on the same road.

We should identify that our test numbers are not meant to be compared with other "best-time" outlets. We were not at sea level, some of our testing was done on public roads, there was wind and we don't consider ourselves to be fast drivers; however, all these tests were performed in exactly the same way each time, and on exactly the same portions of road upon which we've tested in the past. For that reason, these new Ram V-6 numbers are comparable to each other and to the Ford FX2 testing we did earlier.

Testing Event — Level Ground

Our level-ground testing was done near Ludlow, and our Ram and trailer combination pulled a zero-to-60 time of 16.77 seconds. Here again, the red Ram and 5,500-pound trailer pulled only slightly slower than the Ford F-150 FX2 EcoBoost with the heavier trailer over the same course. In the quarter mile on level ground, our red Ram pulled its load across the finish line in 21.11 seconds at 66.5 mph, again right on top of the Ford numbers of 21.02 seconds at 67.21 mph.

In comparison, the unencumbered blue Ram ran a zero-to-60 time in 7.83 seconds and did the quarter mile in 16.09 seconds at 88.4 mph. We ran the red Ram through the same test a second time without the trailer (with slightly drier and windier conditions) and found it to be just a touch slower than the blue Ram, running 16.13 seconds at 87.2 mph in the quarter mile. Again, as you might expect, both Rams were more than a second slower than the untrailered and more powerful EcoBoost Ford F-150, which ran the quarter mile on the same road in 15.37 seconds at 93.32 mph.

Unloaded Charts Rams 2a II

 

Quarter-Mile Unloaded Performance

Blue Ram Empty -- 17.57 sec. @ 79.35 mph -- Davis Dam

F-150 EcoBoost Empty -- 16.03 sec. @ 87.48 mph -- Davis Dam

Blue Ram Empty -- 16.09 sec. @ 8.39 mph -- Level Ground

F-150 EcoBoost Empty -- 15.37 sec. @ 93.32 mph -- Level Ground

 

Other Issues

The most significant feature in our Ram testing had to be the invisibility and performance of the all-new ZF eight-speed transmission. With so many close-ratio choices now at the engine's disposal, whether towing or running completely unloaded, the transmission feels more like a continuously variable transmission than a hard-hitting, shift-clunking automatic. When towing (and in Tow/Haul mode), we found the transmission to be perfectly comfortable holding the right gear long enough on steep hill climbs to deliver all the power we needed.

That said, it did take us some time to get comfortable with the engine buzzing in the 4,000-to-6,000 rpm range when climbing a steady, long grade. And no matter what the gear-changing circumstances (up or down), we can't remember ever being in a full-size pickup truck that so smoothly moved from one gear to the next. The TorqueFlite 8 doesn't so much shift gears as it transitions from one rpm rev range to the next. Our only peeve with the setup was that we couldn't find a way to monitor what gear we were in without going to the manual shift thumb button (another feature we're nonplussed about). Even if you shift manually, it only tells you what gear you last selected — even if the computer determines you need a down- or upshift "right now." We do like the fact that when you do shift manually, you can set a gear "ceiling" that the transmission won't shift past.

Red Ram Engine

As well as the new eight-speed did in performance testing and when highway cruising, we also think it's at least partly responsible for the fairly impressive fuel economy numbers we got during our test. Over the course of the entire trip, and including the sections where we did our "best number" testing, the average fuel economy for our blue Ram was 22.7 mpg. If you remove our truck testing at Davis Dam and level ground, the average is well above 23 mpg overall. During certain stretches of highway in the high deserts on the way to Las Vegas we were actually closer to 26 mpg.

Our trailering red Ram averaged a decent 10.7 mpg (all pieces of the drive and tests included), with a best fuel economy reading over 300 miles of 11.6 mpg. Likewise, if you removed the section of our test where we collected the Davis Dam and level track performance numbers, the real average mpg would likely be right in between those two.

One feature we appreciated in both trucks but that seemed especially aimed at helping us with our mileage performance was the small, green "Eco" light that comes on when you are driving efficiently or when the computer senses your vehicle is being efficient. After a time, we found ourselves trying to modify our normal driving habits to keep the light on as much as possible. And having our Tow/Haul button on the whole time did not seem to deter the Eco light from promoting better driving habits one bit. Although we have no way of knowing, we're guessing that little piece of motivation could have translated to as much as one additional mpg on our 1,400-mile tow test. Of course the same light worked in our empty blue Ram 1500, but the fact that we were running it at the same speeds as our fully loaded red Ram meant it was getting some good mileage numbers anyway. Still, we like the effort by Ram Trucks here.

Ram MPG Chart II
What is not noted on this average fuel economy (calculated at each fillup) mileage chart is that our Davis Dam testing was done near mile 400 and our level ground testing was done near mile 650. The dips in the mpg readouts for both Rams are a direct result of the wide-open-throttle runs. If those two testing sections were removed, average mpg gets better by one-half mpg.

We took our red Ram to the guys at K&N Engineering for a dyno run to see how strong the 24-valve DOHC 3.6-liter V-6 performed at the rear wheels. After a few experimental runs, and although the 6th gear offers a 1.00:1 gear ratio (traditionally the best gear for dyno pulls), we found our best numbers in 3rd gear, where the all-aluminum engine produced 257 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 220 pounds-feet of torque at 5,900 rpm. As you can see, this engine likes to rev, but when it does, it doesn't seem to use too much fuel even when pulling close to its maximum gross combined weight rating.

The Verdict

The new Pentastar V-6 for the Ram 1500, regardless of what other Chrysler cars have it under the hood, looks to be a pretty good entry-level engine for the half-ton truck. Throttle response is especially quick when empty but even when under a heavy load, the torque is managed so well that it's likely to make some drivers think that they're driving a small V-8 rather than a base engine option. We attribute much of that feeling to the quick and smart TorqueFlite 8 transmission and its tight gearing.

With the eight-speed's deep 4.71:1 1st gear (considered in the old days to be a granny low gear) and two overdrive gears (0.86:1 and 0.67:1), even a fairly short rear axle gear doesn't feel the slightest bit hesitant off the line or unresponsive when passing during highway cruising. We found the downshifts to be quick and solid, with more smoothness than we've seen in any other entry-level truck transmission; still, we would have felt better if we could have seen what gears we were in.

Additionally, we liked every one of the optional towing features on our red Ram and — from our point of view — they were worth every cent of the $6,000 difference between the two pickups.

Blue Ram ZF 8-spd

We have yet to see any fuel economy numbers or get any seat time in the Ram's Hemi/eight-speed combination (actually a heavier-duty ZF transmission), but if the results are anything like we've seen in this test, the addition of more gears and a smarter computer controller could unleash even more potential out of that stronger V-8 option. In fact, it even gets us thinking that if Ram can make a stronger TorqueFlite 8 transmission for the Hemi, maybe there's hope that all the Ram heavy-duty trucks could get more gears sometime soon as well.

For now, especially with the announcement of the 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel coming next year (which could make the Ram 1500 the first half-ton to grab the 30-mpg brass ring), Ram is looking good with its three-level engine-option strategy. How other truckmakers respond will be fun to watch.

Special thanks to K&N Engineering, American Horse Trailers and Racelogic.

Comments

@ trx4tom

look, there is zero reason for me to lie about my mpg's. my point is there has NEVER been a test on here that tested hwy mpg's on a tundra for long distances. thats why i asked mark williams to do so since noone ever has, the results would be very suprising to everyone. i know this from my own personal experiences and others around me who have the same and even better mpgs than myself as i'm not a laid back overly calm driver.

I do stand behind the idea that with only 5500lbs behind it and paying 43k for a v6 pickup the money is a complete waste. If i'm paying in the 40's for a pickup it had better be able to tow 5500 without breaking a sweat, and this truck clearly is slow at best and if you put a load on it its gonna get really thirsty. i will say that the hemi SHOULD produce some better numbers with this trans compared to the 5/6 spd they have now.

I truly do NOT believe that building small displacement force fed engines are the answer to the fuel economy wars, and furthermore i dont think the manufacturers should be allowed to perform their own epa mpg tests on their own as they can stretch the numbers as we all know some of the manufacturers do VERY regularly.

It'll be fun to see how the diesel compares to the the regular V8's since I think the capacities will all be about equal.

I hope there is another 1/2 ton shootout on the way with the new GM twins, the hemi-8 speed and diesel options from Ram, Ford ecoboost vs 6.2 and finally in with Tundra and Titan since they too will be new or revamped.

I'm having trouble posting in the Raptor Nurburgring article. But here is a YouTube video of Sabine going around Nurburgring in a Transit.

Here is a You tube copy of the actual Nurburgring drive with Sabine. You would want to marry her!

@Sandman4x4
Thanks, go video. My original link didn't do so well as Lou pointed out, but it was interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KiC03_wVjc

I'm having trouble posting in the Raptor Nurburgring article. But here is a YouTube video of Sabine going around Nurburgring in a Transit.

Here is a You tube copy of the actual Nurburgring drive with Sabine. You would want to marry her!

@Sandman4x4
Thanks, go video. My original link didn't do so well as Lou pointed out, but it was interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KiC03_wVjc

@BigAl: Jeep's biggest problem with the Wrangler is its very boxy shape; it is so square that the engine is almost literally pushing a brick through the air. Almost every other car or truck, including the Transit vans and equivalents, use a sloping nose and windshield which smooths the airflow. As such, the Wrangler as we know it will never get great gas mileage except at much slower speeds than most EPA tests calculate for. I can say my older non-Pentastar 3.8L can give me almost 25mpg--at 55mph or just under 100kph.

I can imagine many scenarios where measured gas mileage will vary--including speeds driven during testing and terrain over which the test travels. American EPA tests for average driving of roughly 75 to 80mph--which are the highest posted speed limits on our Interstate highways. Considering this, it's no surprise that driving a little slower will have the vehicle show better mileage while faster would show worse.

I will openly admit I don't know what Australian speed limits are but I do know that some stretches of European expressways permit 200kph or better (though I also know those high speed stretches are limited to very open country--of which there isn't that much.)

I will also acknowledge that I tend to push some speed limits because it is possible to load the engine the other way too--going too slow for the highest available gear which also starts to eat at gas mileage. With my Jeep, best economy seems to ride at 45mph in its top gear (6th on the Mercedes 6-speed mine carries) but in hilly country also means the engine rpm is far too low to have enough torque to handle those hills. Obviously, going so slow on an Interstate would do worse than merely annoy other drivers.

In other words, different testing environments will obviously deliver different fuel mileage readings. I've already proven more than once with many different vehicles that sensible driving can give better gas mileage than EPA or other government fuel mileage ratings. Problem is, not everybody drives sensibly.

@DWFields
What you are saying is true and I don't dispute it. But similar comments have been made also regarding the Pentastar Grand Cherokee.

I'm not saying the Pentastar isn't a good engine like the Eco Boost, but maybe they don't deliver the promised savings that the hype claims.

Why not have a cheaper alternative Pentastar Ram if the engine is that good. I understand the 8 speed.

You have a factory and development costs to pay off.

$44K for a 2x4 V6 pickup!? I paid $25.4K OTD for my 4x4, DC, 5.7L, Tundra in 2008.

I have to agree with Hemi Lol--the MPG of the Pentastar towing is not impressive. When I was actively towing my race car on an open trailer, I would get 13-14 MPG. Like this test, I did not typically drive over 70 MPH--but my main route included a decent amount of hills and even crossed the continental divide at around ~7500'.

I am leaving for Idaho and Oregon tomorrow (~3000 miles round trip) with my truck camper on back (~8000lbs GVW) and typically average a little over 13 MPG on such trips.

Glad to see the drivetrain loss in the 8hp is only ~20%. The loss for the 545/65RFE was ~28%.

An extra 8% (or so) more power reaching the road is always a good thing, not to mention the extra gear. The Hemi/8speed option is going to be a beast. The only other option I see coming close is the Ford 6.2, but the 6.2 is going to get killed in FE when comparing the two.

Glad to see the drivetrain loss in the 8hp is only ~20%. The loss for the 545/65RFE was ~28%.

An extra 8% (or so) more power reaching the road is always a good thing, not to mention the extra gear. The Hemi/8speed option is going to be a beast. The only other option I see coming close is the Ford 6.2, but the 6.2 is going to get killed in FE when comparing the two.

Second post, (first one isn't showing)

@ trx4tom

The kind of driving is key to this discussion. It takes torque to climb hills, pull loads and do real work. Coasting down the Interstate is ok for a few folks, but I lived in the Ozarks and I know that fuel economy suffers driving in the hills and hollows. Same with suburban stop/go driving--gotta have the extra torque. My wifes GMC SUV weighs about 5k pounds and has a 3.6 motor with a 6speed. It gets great mileage going 55 mph on flat ground, but in hilly country or in suburban driving the mileage really suffers. A 5500 pound truck pulling a trailer wants a V8.

What is so hard to understand about this article?

Is a larger engine going to get better FE then a smaller engine while working hard? Yes it is.

Is a s smaller engine going to get better FE then a larger engine when not working hard? Yes it is.

THIS engine is obviously the best option for people who rearly tow and need to their truck to get good FE. There are other options out there that will get better FE under load and suffer from poor FE when unloaded.

The way I looked at the article. Does the V6 get the FE that Ram claims? Yes it does.

Can the V6 tow medium loads when needed, for those who rearly tow? Yes it can.

There is no gas engine currently on the market that gets both great FE when unloaded, and great FE when loaded. But for those who want/need both, the 2014 Rams start in June with the new VM V6 diesel shortly after.

@turdra? lol
It seems they want torque and not gears.

A 6 speed would haved sufficed?

A 6 speed VM diesel?

A cheaper option?

@turdra? lol
It seems they want torque and not gears.

A 6 speed would haved sufficed?

A 6 speed VM diesel?

A cheaper option?

@turdra? lol
It seems they want torque and not gears.

A 6 speed would haved sufficed?

A 6 speed VM diesel?

A cheaper option?

Jeep's biggest problem with the Wrangler is its very boxy shape; it is so square that the engine is almost literally pushing a brick through the air


@DWFields, Look at the new Silverado, it's like a square brick. They took the 70's/80's square bodies and put them on a massive dose of steroids and made them gigantic. Dare I say their 1500 is as large or larger than my Super Duty. Particularly with the big front end and big square side flairs. I wonder how that will affect the Silverado numbers when they come out? Even with the wind turbulance around those tires with the big square openings. I just can't see it being positive in testing. They really should have stuck to that nice Avalanche truck they had and just made it the Silverado. It looked classier like our F-150 does and surely would get better numbers. The Wrangler at least has a smaller footprint on it's side. The last Silverado got pretty big and bloated but this new one is massive like a tank.

Nice trucks, but FORTY TWO GRAND for a lousy v6 2WD?!?!?!

WTF are they smokin' over in Italy...?

Fordtruck1: I believe the only reason for the "bigger" trucks, is a way around the EPA's crazy rules for size/mpg/foorprint equaition the idiots at the EPA use, and nothing else, but maybe it is also what the market wants to boot, and then we have to concider the fact that GM will be comming out with the mid-size Colorado/Canyon trucks, for the folks that have no need for a big truck, but do need a truck. But I do agree with you about the gigantic size we have gottin to. For me though, I love it! and I will be in the market for a new Chevy/GMC or Ram, sometime before the end of this yr., and I have givin the F-150 a try with the Eco-Bost engine, and have been towed to a dealer for my effort, and have no more faith in the truck, however I will conceed, that I should have bought the 5.0V-8, instead of the wizzbangg engine, but after all the hype and torture test Ford put a test engine through, I was a believer, but........... the truck is fine, and does quite well with a load, but........I have had very good luck over the yrs. with Chevy's, and Dodge trucks, and will continue to do so.

Bad on Pickuptrucks.com for not knowing what gear the transmission was in upshfiting circa 50mph. Thanks to the tall gearing, that was the 2-3 upshift, not 3-4 or the complete fantasy of 4-5.
http://media.caranddriver.com/files/2013-ram-1500-slt-v6-8at-test-review-car-and-driver2013-ram-1500-slt-v6-8-speed.pdf
Also bad on Pickuptrucks for the terrible graphs. Time is always the horizontal axis.

Chrysler has a twin-turbo direct injection 3.2 version [smaller cylinder bore] of the Pentastar in the works.
Couple that to the more efficient ZF 8hp45 instead of the 8hp70, and you have a winner.

Maybe the Cummins could use the ZF 8hp90...

George
I've read the 3.2 is a 3.6 block with thicker cylinder walls and is going to be supercharged (mechanical). I don't know what type of supercharger will be used, as efficiency counts.

The 3.0 twin turbo is in the Maserati with Fiat's multi air. The twin turbo is a modified and stregthened Pentastar engine.

I haven't heard of the 3.2 turbo, but if they are going to supercharge, why not have a turbo version.

It was an interesting test. They should of towed the same load with both trucks. That would answer a few questions:
1. Does the air ride make much of a difference?
2. Does gearing make much of a difference?
If one looks at empty times, there is less that 1% (actually 0.03%) difference between 3.55 and 3.21. If gearing mattered, we'd see a 10% difference (the spread between the 2 ratio's).

It is fare to compare to the EB3.5 since all of the trucks were at 95% GCVW ratings. The end results is that both the Ford EB 3.5 and Ram 3.6 are comparable for doing the work that they are rated to do.
The only factors that would be different between tests are traffic conditions, temperature, barometric pressure, and wind.

@DenverMike - interesting comment about the aftermarket splitter . Can they be installed in a 4x4 configuration? I haven't heard mention of A-boxes since the days of 3 speed autos/4 speed sticks.

Some have raised interesting points about availablilty. Ram may just be playing a PR war to get a jump on the competition. Guys will walk into the dealer wanting a V8 8 speed and once they find out they'll have to wait might chose to do so or hopefully buy a V8 5/6 speed. It looks like Ram buyers are chosing to wait.

George
I've read the 3.2 is a 3.6 block with thicker cylinder walls and is going to be supercharged (mechanical). I don't know what type of supercharger will be used, as efficiency counts.

The 3.0 twin turbo is in the Maserati with Fiat's multi air. The twin turbo is a modified and stregthened Pentastar engine.

I haven't heard of the 3.2 turbo, but if they are going to supercharge, why not have a turbo version.

George
I've read the 3.2 is a 3.6 block with thicker cylinder walls and is going to be supercharged (mechanical). I don't know what type of supercharger will be used, as efficiency counts.

The 3.0 twin turbo is in the Maserati with Fiat's multi air. The twin turbo is a modified and stregthened Pentastar engine.

I haven't heard of the 3.2 turbo, but if they are going to supercharge, why not have a turbo version.

Is it so hard to understand the context of this test? Nobody would expect it to perform like a much more powerful model but as others have pointed out it wasn't pulling the same weight as the Ecoboost truck.

The purpose of these tests is to put each truck near it's maximum to see how they perform in the context of what each is purposed for.

Pulling up the dam is not what most are doing but it clearly shows how they do in extreme conditions.

The diesel shootout was a perfect example of how this type of test can expose the good and the bad. Everyone can make up their own mind based on the data PUTC reports.

The information from this test is great for somebody who wants a more basic model without upgrading the driveline. If you're looking for a MPG option there's enough data here to see what works for you in your situation.

I assume the 4.3 GM will get the same run in time.

George
I've read the 3.2 is a 3.6 block with thicker cylinder walls and is going to be supercharged (mechanical). I don't know what type of supercharger will be used, as efficiency counts.

The 3.0 twin turbo is in the Maserati with Fiat's multi air. The twin turbo is a modified and stregthened Pentastar engine.

I haven't heard of the 3.2 turbo, but if they are going to supercharge, why not have a turbo version.

George
I've read the 3.2 is a 3.6 block with thicker cylinder walls and is going to be supercharged (mechanical). I don't know what type of supercharger will be used, as efficiency counts.

The 3.0 twin turbo is in the Maserati with Fiat's multi air. The twin turbo is a modified and stregthened Pentastar engine.

I haven't heard of the 3.2 turbo, but if they are going to supercharge, why not have a turbo version.

@Lou
I disagree with you I do not compare any pickups where one is designed for over 400lb ft and the other doesn't even have 300lb ft of torque. One was designed use it's over 400lb ft of torque to tow more than 10,000lbs the other was not even designed to tow more than 7,500lbs. Just because both vehicles were tested the same way does not mean they are anywhere near comparable.

Ecoboost: designed for best FE in a Max tow 1/2 Ton
Pentastar: designed for best FE in a Lightest Tow 1/2 Ton
It should be 3.6vs 3.7 not 3.6 vs 3.5 as they are designed for the same reason.

@Josh
The initial plan for the Phoenix engine series was to include a 4.0 litre version like you stated. That would give you over 5.0 litres in V8 form.

If it comes to fruition it should be quite a competitive engine.

The engine block is capable of accepting that size. The problem is can the heads be made to suit. That shouldn't be a problem as they can iron out the V6 heads when designing the V8 heads.

The 3.2 supercharged engine will be an intermediate engine between the 3.6 and the larger Pentastar V8/Hemi.

I read on the Fiat spa site that they will keep the V8 Hemi 6.4? for as long as possible, but it will eventually go.

That's what I've read anyway.

@Lou - The Gear Vendors spitter/overdrive can be installed on any 4X4, but I'd get the universal unit with the front and rear pinion yokes (input/output) vs the model specific, trans or transfer case mount. That way it's easy to remove and install on your next truck.

I heard the 2013 Ram 1500 crew cab will finally have a 6.5' bed option (or LWB), with late availability?

No one is going to make a V8 off a 60 degree V6 anymore.
60 degree V6 don't package well with positive displacement superchargers.
By reducing the bore by 5 mm, that means a thicker liner can be used in forced induction applications. The naturally aspirated version can use the same relative thickness liner that the 3.6 uses.
@ Lou
The shorter gearing does make a difference. It is incorrect to say one would see a 10% difference.
You do see a difference unloaded, where the 3.55 [red] is faster than the 3.21 [blue] and that even includes an extra upshift into 4th gear that doesn't happen with the 3.21. Also did PuTs lower the rear axle towing tire pressure for even traction between red/blue?
So 0.1 second quicker & 0.5mph faster is pretty good for something that weighs more, and has to have another upshift, and is likely traction deficient-either due to weight distribution, or tire pressure.
I still stand by my recommendation that the 4x2 3.6 V6 standard gearing be 3.55, with an optional 3.73; 4x4 3.6 V6 be 3.73 with optional 3.92.

@George
Sorry, you are possibly correct about the V8s. Fiat/Chrysler could be working on a smaller V8 based on the Hemi.

Here is the cut a paste.

"A 3.3 liter version was planned, but almost certainly dropped. A V8 was rumored early on, but it did not appear in the Five Year Plan; a 4.8 liter V8 still seems to be in the cards, though whether it's a mini-Hemi or a 3.6+2 cylinders is unclear. "

@AD - my point about the validity of comparison is the fact that the Ford and Ram were loaded to 95% of GCVW ratings. Even though the 3.6 Pentastar is smaller and towing less, it performs well within its performance envolope comparable to an EB3.5 working within its performance envelope.

It is a matter or "relative" versus "absolute" analysis.
In absolute terms, the EB 3.5 would kill the 3.6. That would be equally empty trucks or equally loaded trucks.

In relative terms, both vehicles loaded to 95% perform similarly.
We are comparing dissimilar vehicles. But the relative weighting of 95% makes it comparable in that context.

I suspect that PUCT did not intend to do a "relative" comparison, but that is basically what they've done.

I hope that clarifies my point of view.

@DenverMike - I heard the same thing. The Ram is not quite 6.5. I think it is 6.3 feet. The Ford and new GMC will be 6 feet 6 inches (6.5 ft) and the Ram 6 feet 4 inches (6.3 ft.).
For most, not much of a difference. It may hurt guys wanting to change brands but have slide in utility boxes, decks, camper units etc that barely fit their current 6.5 box.
One could remove the tailgate, but running on rough roads without a tailgate is murder on the box.

@George_C - you raise a valid point about rear end ratios.
Is a 200 lb difference going to make that big a difference? I thought I read 100 lb equals 1% change in performance.
The 10% lower geared truck will shift differently, and that is why I wasn't impressed with the fact that PUTC did not run both trucks loaded. That is where one would really notice any gearing advantage.

@Ford Trucks: Your argument about the Silverado vs the Jeep Wrangler falls flat because even the Silverado is more aerodynamic with a more sloping and curved windshield and curved lines on almost all front-end corners. As yet we don't know how the Silverado will perform with a V6, but I'd expect the truck to still get better mileage than the V6 Wrangler as far as its EPA rating is concerned.

I know my older 3.8 litre '08 Wrangler can just squeeze 22mpg average on the freeway if I hold it to 55mph, but the Silverado should be able to manage 24 or better at the same speed.

Obviously the new GM pickups with 4.3 V6 will return better mileage than the Jeep Wrangler.
The transmission has 40% more ratio spread, and the engine has better BSFC, especially when idling 2 of the 6 cylinders (2.9 liter 4 cylinder operation), and the trucks are more aerodynamic than the Jeep.
Curb weight is higher in the pickups though.

@GeorgeC: I don't think the gear ratio spread will be as much a benefit because the Jeep turns just at 2000rpm at 65mph which is still below the power band of the engine. It really starts pushing about 2300rpm and will accelerate the Wrangler through 80mph easily. I will admit that I've not tried to push the Wrangler Unlimited to its top end simply because the hood starts floating around 85 when using the stock hood latches on either side.

No, the difference between the Silverado and the Wrangler is almost purely aerodynamic as even the base weight of the two aren't all that different--a matter of 200-400 pounds probably as the Wrangler Unlimited comes in around 3800 pounds.

Gear ratios become worthless when you simply can't use a higher gear and maintain a steady road speed over even minor hills. The Wrangler is simply designed for a different driving environment than the average pickup truck. Even the Hummer H1 (and HMMMV) achieved rotten fuel mileage despite some really advanced drivetrain designs that let it go places and do things no 4x4 pickup could do even with pretty extreme mods. Pickup trucks and Jeeps are built for completely different purposes and there are still some places that a Jeep can go stock that a stock 4x4 pickup can't.

The Jeep Wrangler returns 17/21, I am thinking the 4.3 liter V6 4x4 should return 18/24.
GM could gear their trucks top gear to be 40mph/1K rpm. Especially with more powerful engines than the Chrysler 3.6 V6.
If GM's new 4.3 makes 270hp@5500, that is basically the same the Ram. [which is slightly better than the Wrangler]
So any engine speed under 5500rpm, GM's 4.3 can make more power.

The H1 Alpha [of ~10 years ago] never utilized the extra 6th gear of the Alison 1000 transmission. Kind of disappointing when you are dropping almost $100K.

More power is not enough, especially when you're running BELOW the power band which for most engines merely starts at 2200-2300 rpm. On the other hand, whatever engine can produce more torque at lower engine speeds will have enough excess power to maintain speed while still achieving higher fuel mileage. I strongly expect a 200hp diesel with 250 lb/ft or so would push the Wrangler through 25 mpg at highway speed while offering even better hill-climbing ability as long as you're not trying to race up the slope.

Essentially, gasoline engines offer quick launches and better throttle response, but diesel engines offer more pulling power at lower rpms; that's why 18-wheelers use diesels instead of huge gasoline engines. If you want really high horsepower, you have to go turbine--but that brings out an all new can of worms.

@DWFields
A guy at work has the 4cyl diesel Wrangler. He's using 9 litres per 100km or about 27mpg average.

Driving at the speed limit (85mph) he using a bit over 12 litres per 100km or about 24 mpg.

But they aren't designed for comfort or fuel economy. They are built to a price. They are capable off roaders for weekend stuff.

Off roading it is better than a guy who has the Pentastar one an uses half the fuel to do the same job.

George_C: I remember reading in a magazine story, about the newer Wrangler, and I seem to recall it weighed about 4800lbs? a 4dr hard top Rubicon? and if that is the case, I would bet the weight difference between a Chevy 1/2t 4X4 reg cab short bed, would be very near the same, but the drag would be higher in the Jeep, if the Chevy was to remain stock in hight, with the air dam still on, and in the owners manual I have on my 2011 Z-71, they tell me the air-dam is designed to be quickly removed when needing extra ground clearence, and it is true, I can remove it in one min. with just a flat-tip screw-driver, puting it back on is a bit more difficult though, but not to hard at all, and you do gain some clearence, expecialy with the 2" level kit, and air-bag suspension I have front to rear, (air-bags in the rear), and the ride is as good as stock, if not better, I would love to be able to put a longer travel suspension in at least the front, but it is fine for what I do now.

@Papa Jim: I totally agree, I wouldn't have the v-6 even if in 4x4 form with crew it was rated to tow 6,000. I would rather have a torquey engine and work it less. People on this site, like Oxi, think we just want to to go fast, not true. It takes torque here in northwest Arkansas, southwest Missouri, I would rather work a big engine lighter.

But then I plan to tow alot. Maybe somebody around here might tow lesser or not plan on it as often, and not at these speeds they are going. That might be ok for them. There is a reason I don't see too many V-6 non turbos towing anything very heavy up and down highway 65.

When I first bought my 2006 Chevy 4x4 ext cab 5.3 310 hp, I was pretty surprised how off the highway mpg rating it was. 19 MPG highway> Yeah, right. More like 17, in the hills. Now with a 2010 Hemi and more gear, it gets as good and better then the little engine.

Like the trucking company I was with, they turned engines down (and they weren't that high to start with) and all that did was abuse the engine, because it had to pull longer and it overheat. Meanwhile my friend was driving Peterbuilts with 150 hp more and didn't have to work them hard to haul turkeys.

@sandman4X4, you could be right on the EPA thing. I don't know that the specs are needed to overcome certain mandates. Of course, like you said it could be what they think people want. However, Ford has that strategy with the big Super Duty and even if that were considered their 1500, I'm not sure how many takers there would be. It's just so big. I like it myself but I see far more F-150's. When I first saw the new Silverado I though wow, that thing is huge! The 900 Silverado's were over exaggerated by those bulbous fenders that stuck out really far. They appeared larger than they probably should have been. You sit one next to a 400 or 800 Silverado and it looks huge. This next Silverado is going to look like a monster truck sitting next to the 400's and 800's. Even all of the Chevy trucks prior from the 50's, 60's and 70's. I just can't see many takers on a 1500 that looks like a 3500. Kind of like the Super Duty. So yes, they'd be essentially banking on huge Colorado sales but that truck doesn't look appealing at all. Not from the outside and certainly not from the inside. I don't know. I'm an ex Chevy guy who still hopes the best for them but it seems they keep swinging and missing the ball.

I have to agree that most guys would rather "overbuy" then live with a smaller engine or truck.
Anyone towing the max load of the V6 even on an intermittent basis would be better served by a V8. Virtually all of the guys I know don't max tow with any of their trucks. I was looking at camper trailers in the 5-6k range therefore I chose a 1/2 ton V8 over a V6 Tacoma. Everyone I know that pulls around the 10K mark are in 3/4 ton trucks. It makes more sense to work the engine less hard and have the reserve when you need it. You also end up with reserve capacity in the chassis and brakes.

I do think that all of the 1/2 tons will grow slightly. The next gen Chevy looks slightly bigger, the Atlas also was supposed to be bigger as well. I think that 1/2 tons will be more like 3/4 tons and the HD's will become light duty MDT's. Ram has sent that message with its 30K tow gorilla. All of the messages sent by GMC is that if you want 7/10 ths capacity and 11/10ths mpg, buy their Colorado. Problem is, it isn't going to show up for 2 more years.

A gas engine turbo is not the best for fuel saving,ford and dodge have the same gear ,tire size,etc,,,???

I don't see the tow hooks as installed on the Red Ram listed as protection package. I thought that was a 4x4 item only????

Hey, you guys think that you could compare the 3.7 Ford vs the new 4.3 Chevy and the 3.6 Ram and 4.0 Tundra this summer. I think that would be a valuable piece of info considering thats all that 50% of 1/2 buyers need these days, and they offer great MPG. I really like the Fords 3.7, its smooth, and sounds great, the low end isnt too bad either. I also think that the 2013 Ford is a solid truck, but id like to see how it stacks up against the others.

I'm really curious how the new GM 4.3 will fair. That engine always had some potential for low end torque. This was a very interesting article. I thoroughly enjoyed this article and I think there are many breakthroughs on the part of Ram.

I feel the need to go on record once more:

I FIND NOTHING AT ALL IMPRESSIVE ABOUT A 2WD 1/2 TON V6 GETTING 20-25 MPG WHEN MY 400HP 3/4 TON 4WD F250 TORQUE-MONSTER GETS 16-20 MPG.

I can't wait for the diesel Ram to show up. Kudos to those guys! Hopefully it convinces all the big-wigs with bow-ties and ovals to pull the same trigger...

Maybe if you drive your F-250 at the same speed and conditions Chris you might be lucky to see 18 mpg with that F-250.

Everybody has their "I can tow an Airstream at 60 mph in the flatlands and get 14 mpg" stories, instead of a direct comparo.



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