Trucks at Work

Getting into the guts of the latest Ram

So I travelled down to Nashville several weeks back to get an in-depth look at the new 2013 Ram 1500 pickup rolled out by the Ram Trucks division of Chrysler back in April.

While part of that trip involved taking several of those new trucks out for a spin along some truly gorgeous stretches of Tennessee farm country, it also included a “deep dive” into what makes the new 2013 Ram 1500 a far more fuel efficient pickup than its previous iterations – while gaining more performance and power at the same time.

Mike Raymond, head of engineering for the Ram 1500 (seen above), talked about several of the technological developments behind this improvement in fuel economy – to the tune of achieving an 18 miles per gallon (mpg) average in city driving and 25 mpg average in highway driving, when equipped with Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine and 8-speed “TorqueFlite 8” transmission.

The first thing Raymond stressed is that while the new engine and transmission represent the major reasons behind the truck’s fuel economy gains, there are other components involved as well.

Take the truck’s new electric power steering (EPS) system, which uses electric motor to power the truck's rack and pinion steering system. This eliminates a hydraulic pump and related tubing and fluids, helping improve fuel efficiency up to 1.8% and adding five horsepower in the bargain.

Next are the five different ride height settings offered by the 2013 Ram’s new air suspension system – one of which is an “aero mode” that provides better aerodynamic performance at highway speeds.

The truck’s normal ride height (NRH) setting provides 8.7 inches of clearance, measured from the base of the door sill to the ground. But in “aero mode,” the suspension lowers the vehicle 1.1 inches, improving fuel efficiency by up to 1%. This setting can also be automatically triggered by vehicle speed, adjusting for optimal performance and fuel economy, Raymond pointed out.

Again, though, the big drivers behind better fuel economy and overall performance in the new 2013 Ram 1500 remains the combination of Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter V6 engine with its new 8-speed transmission.

That combination offers 42% more horsepower and 13% more torque yet at least 20% better fuel economy in comparison’s to the Ram 1500’s previous 3.7-liter V6 powertrain, Raymond noted.

Neat stuff for sure, but will it deliver on the roadways of the real world? That’s the subject of Monday’s post, which will detail the ride and drive portion of the 2013 Ram 1500 event. 

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