Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013 Ram 1500 SLT 4X4 V6 test drive review. Better than I wanted it to be

I’m a diehard Chevy truck guy.  Always have been.  So when the nice folks at Chrysler delivered this 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4X4 to let me try out for a week, I really didn’t want to like it.  But dammit, this truck was too good not to like.  Why did they have to go and mess with everything I believe in?

This was sort of an oddly equipped rig.  It had the 3.6-liter V6 and eight-speed transmission, but then it also had the full trailer towing package and Active-Level air suspension system. It had the Uconnect system with an 8.5-inch touch screen, satellite radio, and backup camera, but no navigation system.  It had chrome running boards and a sunroof, but the small 17-inch wheels.  It had the Luxury Package, but no leather interior.  This combination brought the sticker price to $47,035.  It probably isn’t the way I would have ordered it for myself, but it does give us the chance to dissect a variety of different features.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is good for 305-hp and 269-lb/ft of torque.  Now this is a truck, and a big one at that, so you can really use a lot of power here.  And for the most part, it delivered.  Around town, this setup drug the 5,600-lb truck around with ease.  That eight-speed transmission was smooth and nearly imperceptible, and the whole thing felt more like a car than the big truck that it is.  The only time you wanted for more power was when using the cruise control on the highway, as it tended to lose as much as five miles-per-hour going up hills.  If you tried to give it a little throttle, it would overcompensate on the downshift and wind up harder than I would have liked.  Small niggles in an otherwise amazing powertrain.

But what’s more amazing is the ride.  My dad and I took this truck to the Leadsled Spectacular in Salina, and I will just flat-out say that this is the best riding truck I have ever driven.  Ever.  You cannot buy a car off the Cadillac showroom that absorbs the miles like this pickup.  Light-duty Rams already ride nice due to their five-link coil spring setup, but when you replace the springs with airbags like on this truck, the ride is simply sublime.  The seat and driving position were spot-on comfortable, and I just can’t imagine a more serene environment in which to embark on a long road trip.  Why would anyone want a car when they can have a roomy, comfortable ride like this?

Well, the obvious answer to that question is fuel mileage.  When you’re talking about any pickup, the size and weight is going to kick you at the pump.  This one is not as bad as you might think though, with a manufacturer’s estimate of 15/city, 23/highway, 19/combined.  That’s very respectable for something as large as a small house. 

The interior is as roomy as it looks like it should be, with ample space for everyone both in front and back.  There are also lots of consoles, glove boxes, and cubby holes to store all your stuff.  We especially liked the deep compartments hidden under the rear floor mat.  They kind of reminded me of the smuggling bays in the floor of the Millennium Falcon.  And although this truck didn’t have them, the optional RamBox gives you even more lockable space to hide things in the bed sides.

If I were going to buy my own Ram 1500, I’d consider leaving the air suspension and sunroof off the list and replacing them with a Hemi V8 and 20-inch wheels.  I realize the V8 will use more fuel, but I think you’d appreciate it if you used this to pull a trailer.  Besides, you know me—I’ll always go for a V8 in anything.

Parked next to my old ’63 Chevy in the driveway, you realize how much bigger and better trucks have become in the past 50 years.  This new Ram was a real surprise.  As a Chevrolet nut, it is much better than I wanted it to be.  Pictures in the slideshow below, and a better version of the slideshow at this link.


  1. Good stuff, as usual. I've been looking for a new truck. Thanks for the review.

  2. I'm going to need a new truck soon. Wasn't sure about the Ram, but I keep reading these reports about how good the new ones ride and handle. I've never owned a Dodge before, but I think I'll at least take a look.