Ram gets new powertrain, fuel-saving technologies
Diaz: Minor refresh became major overhaul.
The 2013 Ram 1500 pickup will boast a new powertrain and other features to boost fuel economy.
The Ram, including heavy-duty versions, is Chrysler Group's best-selling vehicle.
The re-engineered Ram 1500, due in showrooms in the third quarter, will feature a 3.6-liter V-6 coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The base vehicle will deliver 305 hp and 269 pounds-feet of torque, a boost of 42 percent in horsepower and 13 percent in torque from the current 3.7-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic gearbox.
Later in the model year, Ram will combine the eight-speed transmission with the 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi engine on the 1500, the first such pairing.
Chrysler added other fuel-saving technologies:
-- A stop-start system that stops the engine when the vehicle stops.
-- A suspension that lowers the vehicle at cruising speed, in part to lower wind resistance.
-- Grille shutters that close to improve aerodynamics when air is not needed to cool the engine.
-- Parts that quickly raise oil and transmission fluid temperatures after the vehicle starts.
The sheet metal of the re-engineered pickup stays nearly the same, except for a new, optional 6-foot-4-inch bed for Crew Cab models.
Chrysler officials declined to reveal the mileage rating for the 2013 Ram, other than to say it would have "best-in-class" fuel economy. The current base Ram gets 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway with the V-6.
The two-wheel-drive 2012 Ford F-150 with a 3.7-liter V-6 has the highest fuel economy among full-sized pickups at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
Speaking at the 2013 Ram's introduction last week at the New York auto show, Fred Diaz, head of the Ram brand, said: "It was supposed to be a minor refresh," referring to the company's five-year product plan from 2009. It turned into "a major overhaul. It's virtually an all-new truck."
Chrysler has not announced what changes will be made to heavy-duty versions of the Ram.
Inside the 2013 Ram 1500, drivers will operate the transmission with a rotary dial. The cabin gets Chrysler's 8.4-inch center-stack infotainment system. A 7-inch color vehicle information screen also will be available in the Ram's instrument cluster.
Chrysler put automatic locks on its Rambox storage system and rear tailgate, allowing consumers to lock and unlock them with their key fobs.
Pricing will be available closer to launch.
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at email@example.com.