The redesigned 2013 Ram 1500 is powerful, sexy and cool. Even though it's not exactly a conventional family vehicle, it can work for your family and offer a lot of good times in the process.
A wise man once told me that he loathed it when people criticized pickup trucks for all that they're not, so I'm not going to do that. Since this is a family forum, I suppose I could go on about how the Ram 1500 is a gas guzzler compared to other family vehicles or how it's unrefined compared to those dainty family crossovers. I could even tell you that it's so high off the ground that your kids practically need an elevator to get in and out of it. But I'm not going to dwell on any of that. The fact is the Ram 1500 is not a crossover, and it hasn't been designed with families in mind (tsk, tsk!).
And to all of that I say: Who cares?!
My test truck, a Ram 1500 Express Quad Cab 4x4, had a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. It was kind of horrible on the fuel-efficiency front, but horribly fun as driving goes. I blew all kinds of crossovers off the road with this full-size pickup truck, and it felt good.
The 2013 Ram 1500 has a starting price of $23,895, including a $995 destination charge. My test truck started at $31,935, but with the addition of the preferred package ($2,340), a 40/20/40-split front seat ($535), Uconnect multimedia system ($665) and trailer brake control ($230), the as-tested price was $36,215.
If you're a regular consumer of Cars.com family reviews, it's likely that you have children and are familiar with the Disney classic movie "Beauty and the Beast." And if you're familiar with that tale, you'll know exactly what I mean when I compare the 2013 Ram 1500 to the character Gaston. It's a beefed-up specimen that embraces its girth and muscle with fervor.
Thanks to its redesign, the Ram 1500 has new grille styles, a new engine and transmission, and a spruced-up interior.
My test truck included neither running boards nor the new Ram Active Level air suspension feature, which switches between five height modes making entry and exit much easier along with improving off-roading and aerodynamics. Without these features, climbing in and out of this truck without help was next to impossible for my children. The doors are heavy, but this is a full-size truck, so there are some things you must accept.
It almost goes without saying that at least a month's worth of groceries along with some skis and bikes can fit in the truck bed with room to spare. Though absent from my test truck, the available RamBox system for the bed offers versatile, secure storage that can be conveniently locked with the key fob.
The Ram 1500 has a three engine choices: a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6; a 4.7-liter V-8 engine; and my test truck's 395-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine. It was paired with a six-speed automatic transmission; an eight-speed automatic is available. The 4x4 model I tested with this beast of an engine gets an EPA-estimated 13/19 mpg city/highway and uses regular unleaded gasoline.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The Ram's cabin is low-key and quite useful. As part of the redesign, the interior's materials have been upgraded, and it shows. Everything from the charcoal-colored cloth seats, which are optional, to the black knobs and controls look and feel good while remaining modest.
My test truck's center stack included a 5-inch touch-screen display and the Uconnect multimedia system that worked easily and look welcomingly underwhelming. A premium multimedia system is available and includes a larger screen and plenty of other bells and whistles that can turn the Ram's cabin into something that rivals any luxury sedan.
The truck is available with a regular cab that seats three; the Quad Cab, which I tested, seats six; or the crew cab that also seats six but includes extra legroom for rear passengers. Backseat legroom in the Quad Cab was livable for my children, but adults could have used a few extra inches. My test truck included a multipurpose 40/20/40-split front bench that gives the option of using the narrow middle section as a third seat or as a center console by folding down the seatback.
There are a variety of cubbies and storage areas throughout the cabin that proved quite useful for my daily life. I was able to fit some small toys in the tiny cubby beneath the center stack air vents, a school project in the cubby above the glove compartment, my rather large SLR camera in the center console, and a whole host of things like shoes and snow clothes under the rear bench seat. There are three cupholders in the front center console and two more on the floor of the rear cab. I admire that Ram included cupholders in the rear, but on the floor they didn't get much use. They were out of sight, out of mind.
While the new eight-speed transmission is controlled with a novel circular knob, the 5.7-liter model that I tested still had a traditional gearshift. It's so large that I knocked it with my hand every time I went to adjust the radio or climate controls. With that in mind, I would have welcomed the new rotary shift knob and hope that Ram considers adding it to all the transmissions, not just the eight-speed.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
The 2013 Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4x4 has received an overall safety rating of four stars of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in the side crash test, four stars in the frontal crash test and three stars in the rollover test. In crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2013 Ram 1500 gets the highest rating of Good in frontal moderate-overlap and rear-impact tests, but it gets the second-lowest Marginal rating in the roof-strength test.
The Ram 1500 Express Quad Cab 4x4 has standard four-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control and trailer sway control, and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. A backup camera with rear parking sensors is optional.
Child-safety seat installation is somewhat tricky in the Ram. The lower Latch anchors are easy to access, particularly with the cloth upholstery that my test truck featured. It's the top tethers that are more of a challenge. Here's the bottom line: You won't find the traditional metal tether anchor. Instead there's a fabric loop behind each second-row head restraint. To use them, you thread the top tether strap through the loop that's behind the forward-facing convertible and then hook the top tether strap onto the tether loop that's on the next seat. This is not an unusual setup in pickup trucks, but it could confuse families who are seeing it for the first time.
Get more safety information about the 2013 Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4x4.