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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Autos

New Ram slims down for high mpg

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When it comes to full-size trucks, shedding weight usually means ditching the owner’s industrial-sized Craftsman toolkit, trolley jack, and the outboard motor from his buddy’s bass boat.

Things weren’t quite so easy for the folks at Dodge when it came to slimming down their new 2013 Ram 1500 pickup in a bid to boost fuel economy.

Using lots of high-strength steel and aluminum, plus a few Jenny Craig tactics, they disposed of close to 80 pounds in total.

But the key to the new Ram’s class-leading new fuel economy -- we’re talking 17 mpg city and an impressive 25 on the highway -- is what’s under the hood.

Check the options box for the new V-6 and your Ram 1500 will come with Chrysler’s fit-it-into-everything 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6.

On paper, V-6 power in a full-size pickup sounds about as exciting as cold grits. But couple it to a brand new eight-speed automatic and the engine is always kept on the boil, always delivering its full 305 horsepower and 269 pound-foot of torque.

Amazingly, this new Ram V-6 has the muscle to tow up to 5,900 pounds without breaking a sweat.

There are more surprises when you open the door and climb aboard. Like, where’s the shifter gone? As part of its makeover for 2013, the new Ram was given a funky rotary knob gear selector. Talk about a gutsy move. It’s down by the driver’s right knee and does take some getting used to.

But no one is going to complain about such cool features as the power-locking RamBox side storage bins and power-locking tailgate. Or the new available air suspension.

There’s also good news on pricing, with the base model stickering from $23,588. And, as before, there are choices of V-6 or Hemi V-8, regular, quad or crew cabs, 4x4, and no fewer than nine trim levels.

Here is one terrific new truck. No wonder it was voted 2013 North American Truck of the Year.

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