DC Ram Drivers #1 Priority….Fuel Economy?
2013 Ram: Setting Trends for the Competition
As reported in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, the new battleground for the heart of the pickup market is fuel economy – forget horsepower and torque, typical priorities in past design.
Chrysler Group LLC is aware of their Ram customers’ interests and have recently revealed that three trim lines of its new Ram 1500 pickup will get up to 25 mpg on the highway, setting a new standard for gas-sipping stuff haulers.
The 2013 Ram is all-new for this year and Chrysler says that their new truck, when geared up with an 8-speed transmission, active grille shutters, and automatic start-stop system, will crush the competition for fuel efficiency, getting a combined 21 mpg on the highway, namely Ford Motor Co. and the F-150.
In redesigning the Ram, Bob Hegbloom, who runs the Ram brand for Chrysler, said “the number one priority was fuel economy because the consumers were asking for it.” Really? Not towing? Not torque or horsepower?
The Road to 25 Miles Per Gallon
Chrysler recognized that the 2013 Ram needed to have the dual power of Fuel Efficiency and Capabiity. Let’s take a look at how Chrysler built the new 2013 Ram to bring a best-in-class 25 mpg to DC Ram Drivers and more capability than ever:
A Closer Look at the 2013 Ram
Ram CEO Fred Diaz said that the 2013 Ram was meant to be a mild refresh: new grille and headlights, interior tweaks, and the like.
The eight-speed automatic jettisons both column and console shift in favor of a dial, the first in pickups, but old news in heavy duty trucks (Class 6-8). It replaces the transfer case shift knob, and rotates from Park through Reverse and Neutral to Drive; it allows quick shifting for operators wearing gloves and for blind-shift transitions between “Drive” and “Reverse.”
ST, SLT and Sport models get a black rubber over mold with chrome surround, while all Laramie models include a solid, spun-aluminum knob finished in silver.
The knob has strong detents and feels like a mechanical control, not an electronic one. You can quickly twist it all the way to the right to get into Drive; it will stop when it reaches Drive or, on the other side, Park. The spatial relationship of the shifter to the positions remains constant, making “blind” operation easy.
Low gear is handled by the buttons on the steering wheel — not the big paddles from the Charger, but little buttons that are smaller than the cruise control, and have a similar feel. The transfer case retains is operated with push buttons. Trucks with the six speed automatic (early Hemis and the 4.7) still get a floor or column shifter.
The 2013 Ram 1500 has an optional air suspension system which optimizes ride and aerodynamics, while adding load-leveling. Air pressure increases until the vehicle reaches normal ride height, leveling the truck and improving the loaded ride. It has five height settings that operate automatically or via console or key fob controls:
- Normal Ride Height (NRH): 8.7 inches of clearance (from the base of the door sill) is the default, load-leveled ride height
- Aero: Lowers the Ram by 1.1 inches, increasing gas mileage by up to 1%. It is activated by speed.
- Off-road 1 and 2: Lifts the vehicle 1.2 and 2 inches, respectively, to clear obstacles
- Park: Lowers the truck by 2 inches from NRH for easy entry/exit and cargo loading
The air suspension system adds up to 4 inches of lift span (KC in Wisconsin pointed out this included Park mode), for best-in-class step-in height of 21 inches, best-in-class ground clearance of 10.7 inches, best-in-class departure angle of 27.8°, and best-in-class breakover angle of 24.2°.
It is supported by four-corner air springs that provide a cushioned, premium ride and has different spring rates depending on the ride height. In Off-Road 2, the rate is firmer, while in Aero mode, the rate is softened. A separate button on the key fob gives the operator the ability to manually lower the truck, allowing for ease of passenger entry and bed loading.
Despite a bolder and more aggressive front end, the Ram 1500 boasts best-in-class aerodynamics and, with active aerodynamics, a 6% aerodynamic improvement on the new truck (cD is now 0.363, vs 0.386 in the 2012, for regular cab / 4×2). The front air dam was extended downward to create a 0.6% improvement in fuel economy, while a new thermo-plastic material is more malleable, preventing breakage.
A new wheel-to-wheel tubular side-step adds 0.5% to fuel efficiency (vs the 2012 one) by allowing air to pass around the truck more smoothly, while easing access to the forward portion of the bed.
Select 2013 Ram 1500s have a standard, segment-exclusive locking tri-fold tonneau cover. It both protects bed storage and increases fuel economy by 0.8%. Owners can use one, two, or all sections of the cover by folding the system on top of itself.
The Ram 1500 is the first truck to use an active grille shutter system (similar to the one on Dart), closing airflow through the grille when cooling is not needed. It increases gas mileage by 0.5%, cuts drag roughly 4%, and cuts warm-up time/defrost time. The computer closes the shutters when cooling is not needed.
Dave Sowers pointed out that the active shutters was normally either fully open or fully closed. When closed, air pressure quickly builds up in front of the slats, deflecting oncoming air over the truck, which has the lowest drag coefficient of any pickup on the market. At all times, there’s airflow over the radiator from other openings. The idea was to avoid drag from radiator capacity which is seldom needed, while still being able to cool the engine under any reasonable conditions. (He also said that riding with the tailgate down increases drag, while a tonneau cover makes the truck much more aerodynamic.)
2013 Chassis and Frame
The 2013 Ram 1500’s frame was redesigned with greater stiffness to increase stability and handling while cutting noise and vibration up to 30%. Front rails have 20% higher yield strength due to high-strength steel. The new frame design has new powertrain, air suspension, and body mounting technology.
Portions of the frame are hydroformed for dimensional accuracy (hydroforming reduces the amount of welding that leads to distortion), and side rails are fully boxed. The front frame section has high-strength steel that maintains strength and durability while saving around 30 pounds. Larger body mounts are on the front frame rails and at the C-pillar. Two frame lengths are available: 120-inch and 140-inch.
In 2009, the Ram 1500 introduced an exclusive multi-link, coil-spring rear suspension, standard on all except Ram 1500 Tradesman HD; it improves ride and handling with no loss of capability. A coil-spring design centralizes and absorbs bumps and impacts, while reducing the amount of friction in the spring system. This design weighs 40 pounds less than a leaf-spring configuration. For 2013, more robust ball joints on the front suspension yield greater durability and have improved sealing methods.
Other Engineering Features
The 2013 Ram 1500 uses electric power steering (EPS) — the hydraulic pump is replaced by an electric motor, improving fuel efficiency up to 1.8% and adding 5 horsepower. EPS reduces complexity, eliminating the hydraulic pump, hoses, and cooling apparatus. In addition, each Ram 1500 model can be calibrated to optimize steering effort and precision, regardless of body or powertrain; it also senses constant input from the driver, for example a crown in the road, and compensates for improved comfort. EPS will be needed if a hybrid version is produced in the future.
New box floor cross-members in the bed cut 7 pounds, and a new front bumper removes 4 pounds, in addition to up to 30 pounds in weight savings from the new frame. Aluminum upper and lower control arms in the front suspension cut more weight, also improving handling, while an aluminum hood saves 26 pounds. Underneath the hood, the V6 model powertrain is 76 pounds lighter, while the eight-speed used with the Hemi is 30 pounds lighter.
The 2013 Ram 1500 has low-rolling resistance tires to minimize wasted energy; the new brakes have a relocated ABS pump for reduced vibration, and has shorter brake pedal travel. A new hydraulic-boost compensation unit enhances brake pedal feel and performance during emergency stops.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all 2013 Ram 1500 trucks. Front rotors measure 13.2 inches (336 mm) in diameter and are clamped with dual-piston calipers, while rear rotors are 13.8 inches (352 mm) and utilize single-piston calipers.
New features include power folding mirrors, a power rear-sliding window with defrost, and a six-foot-four-inch bed option on the Crew Cab. The central locking system now includes the RamBox® cargo management system and tailgate power locks. Auto rain-sensing wipers and SmartBeam® are also available.
DC Ram Lovers: Visit us to take a closer look for yourself, at the new 2013 Ram 1500 Trucks. Prepare to be Impressed.
Ford and GM: Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid.
Your DC Ram Dealer
5202 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg VA
540 898 7200 / 888 544 8122