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Touring Nashville in a Powerful 2013 Ram 1500 Truck

What a thrill it was to tour the beautiful state of Tennessee last week, with special emphasis on spending several days in Nashville behind the wheel of the boldly beautiful new 2013 Ram 1500. While this rugged pickup is still a work in progress, it boasts an impressive array of features that may prove hard for competitors to match in 2013.

Before we drove the new trucks, we listened to presentations from President and CEO of Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico Fred Diaz; Ram Truck Brand Director Bob Hegbloom; Chief of Ram and Dodge Exterior Design Greg Howell; Head of Ram Truck Engineering Mike Cairns; Ram Powertrain Engineer Frank Fodale; Ram Product Planner Jon Coulter; and Manager of Ram Truck Marketing Dave Sowers.

Here are some interesting facts about the Ram 1500 we learned last week. The Ram offers best-in-class fuel economy with two engines: a new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with 42% more HP, and 13% more torque; and a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with fuel saver technology and variable-valve timing offering 395 HP, 407 lb-ft. of torque, and best-in-class fuel economy for V-8 trucks (actually even beating competitive turbo V-6 engines). Both engines offer 20% better fuel economy than last year’s models. Class-exclusive 8-speed automatic transmission with the 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar engine doubles the amount of gears from previous 4-speeds also greatly improving fuel economy, and the V-6 and TorqueFlite 8 transmission reduces weight by 76 pounds.

The new TorqueFlite 8 is operated by an innovative dash-mounted, rotary e-shift dial instead of electronic shifters used in other trucks. The new design allows quick blind-shift transitions from reverse to drive when towing or navigating out of mud, snow or busy sites. Another new class-exclusive feature is the air suspension (similar to the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s) that enhances fuel economy, improves ride control and off-road capability, and features automatic load leveling. When parking the truck, park mode lowers the vehicle two inches for easy exit and cargo loading.

Other features include new passive entry, keyless entry, rain sensing wipers, SmartBeam headlamps, power folding mirrors and sliding rear window with defrost; all-secure remote control locking system for RamBox cargo management system, tailgate and door locks; Powernet vehicle architecture system with additional controls and features; low-rolling resistance tires for improved efficiency; and new frame and aluminum hood that reduce weight. New front suspension combines redesigned upper control arms, lower control arms and returned geometry for improved handling.

After visiting with Fred Diaz, the President of Ram trucks and Chrysler Mexico, we learned more about the new Ram features for 2013.  The new front bumper design impresses with the saddled Ram grilled theme with vertically oriented fog lamps and an all-new premium headlamp lighting system with amber LEDs for side marker and taillamps as well. Polished stainless steel running boards have a sturdy box design. There’s a new 6’4” bed option available on Crew Cabs so buyers can combine the largest cab with the largest four door/bed combo. Five new shades are included in the 2013 Ram 1500 colors: Black Gold, Copperhead, Maximum Steel Metallic, Prairie and Western Brown (some available in a two-tone).

Upgraded interior features include standard and premium vehicle information center, steering wheel and controls, wood accents, updated door panels, instrument panel, interior colors and premium materials. New IP and center stack have individualized themes, colors and materials, with comfort controls using knobs or an 8.4” touch screen. Uconnect Access provides MAP with advanced text messaging and a 911 button on the rearview mirror plus an ASSIST button; voice-recognition technology, steering wheel controls, touch-screen displays and traditional controls give owners several ways to stay connected while the 7” color multi-view display monitors everything from temperatures to navigation.

My husband and I drove together, with him taking the first leg of the trip from Marathon Music Works to Leiper’s Fork in the 1500 3.6-Liter Pentastar V-6 model. We both remarked on how smooth and easy the ride was, and how comfortable and roomy our cabin was. Nothing like riding in the pickups I remember from high school days. After a break for lunch and an opportunity to drive off-road or try a little towing, we switched vehicles.

We drove back in the 1500 Crew Cab Laramie 4X4 with a 5.7-Liter HEMI v-8 and Torqueflite 8-speed automatic. Exterior color was mineral gray, with black diesel gray on the inside. Options included spray in bedliner, tow package, Uconnect Access and air suspension. Once again, this drive through the rolling green hills of Tennessee back to Music City and our headquarters at the elegant Hermitage Hotel was a delightful experience.

The MSRP for the 2013 Ram1500 will average just over 1% higher than 2012 prices. Starting price will be $23,585, including $995 destination charge. Ram will continue to be the best-value full-size pickup in America. The award-winning 3.6L Pentastar V6 with the class-exclusive 8-speed TorqueFlite 8 transmission – which combine to deliver a best-in-class 25 mpg — are a $1,000 option over the 4.7L V8 6-speed offered on Tradesman models. The Ram Active Level air suspension option will be priced at $1,595.

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