[To view photos of the technical dissection of the 2013 Ram 1500, click here.]
The ride and drive took us east of Nashville out through the rolling terrain of Natchez Trace park, along all sorts of picturesque country roads, and eventually to wide open meadow partially converted into a off-road track so we could do some more “down and dirty” vehicle testing.
[Photos of the ride and drive can be viewing by clicking here.]Of course, the type of trucks most of us reporters got the keys to feature much more luxurious trim packages than the average fleet is going to spec. The 2013 Ram 1500 crew cab SLT 4x4 I piloted, for example, featured a fully-equipped onboard computer that could be used not only to locate the closest gasoline stations but detail the pump prices as well.
[To see some of the twists, turns, and bumps of the off road course, click here.]
More importantly for fleets, though, is that the Ram 1500 pickups like the one I drove – equipped with Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar engine and 8-speed “TorqueFlite 8”automatic transmission – seem to deliver on the posted fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
I myself averaged 22.4 mpg over 35 miles of winding roads across very hilly terrain – albeit with just two passengers, unloaded and equipped with a bed cover to help improve the pickup’s aerodynamic profile.
Still, those are pretty impressive fuel economy numbers for a crew cab pickup – and if they can be sustained in the real world in far more rough-and-tumble workday conditions, fleets will find their wallets in much better shape for certain.