Across the Heavy Duty (HD) trucks, there's a choice between a 6.7L Cummins in-line 6-cylinder diesel engine and a 5.7L gasoline 'Hemi' V8. Both engines include a 6-speed automatic transmission, although a 6-speed manual transmission is offered with the diesel engine.
The Hemi V8 makes 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, but there are three versions of the Cummins turbo-diesel, in all. With the 6-speed manual, the Cummins is rated at 350 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm. Opt for the 6-speed automatic transmission and engine output jumps to 370 hp and 800 lb-ft. In Ram 3500 trucks with the top-duty Aisin automatic it makes 385 hp and 850 lb-ft. High-pressure common-rail fuel injection helps aid refinement and clean up emissions and it's B20 biodiesel-blend compatible.
Models with the diesel engine have a Ram Active Air intake system that draws more cool air from the front of the vehicle for more power when you're in hot temperatures or at high altitude. Also thanks to a variable-geometry turbocharger, there models have good responsiveness and drivability no matter what the load.
Throughout the model line, there's a choice between rear-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive. In 4-wheel drive models, a front-axle disconnect system can help improve fuel economy by up to a mile per gallon. The Ram 3500 has a new Hotchkiss leaf-spring rear suspension, while the steering is a new reciprocating-ball design.
Ram 3500 models get a structural support designed into the body to handle their typically heavier loads; there are also reinforced tie-down points. In addition, all Ram Heavy Duty models get a Powernet electrical architecture that allows commercial customers to manage various inputs and outputs
Extra attention has been paid to running costs and ownership costs, and all of these models have an extended maintenance cycle for oil changes and fuel filter replacement, while Ram claims the largest brakes in the segment, complemented by an engine exhaust brake.
Inside, the Ram offers a setup that borrows from the Ram light-duty truck yet is a little more businesslike and upright. A heated steering wheel, heated seats, and ventilated seats are all available, and a new console center stack has a 115-volt AC outlet and a new drawer. There's a choice between buckets and a 40/20/40 bench configuration, and in either case there's a new multi-media port in the center with USB, SD and auxiliary inputs, plus a USB port.
Tradesman, SLT and Laramie models each have a different set of interior appointments and offer a set of equipment that can fit basic work needs or provide a relatively luxurious cabin. Two different Uconnect systems with high-contrast touch screens are offered, with the top one offering Uconnect Access wireless Internet connectivity, as well as HD Radio and SiriusXM compatibility, plus in either case hands-free calling, texting, and media control.
Top Laramie models are suitable for a crew chief, with things like a power-sliding rear window, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone temperature control, an overhead console, a universal garage-door opener, and special in-floor storage. Available features include an Alpine 10-speaker premium audio system, rain-sensing wipers and SmartBeam headlamps.
For 2013, diesel models get a long list of improvements. All Ram Heavy Duty diesel models get a new cooling system that includes a high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers and a charge air cooler for 25 percent more heat-rejection capability and better durability. Diesel models also get a new Ram Active Air intake, as well as a larger exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) cooler plus selective catalyst reduction; and they get a new capless fuel filler.
Also for 2013, grille designs are new; the quad-headlight design has a new beam pattern and the premium headlamp system has a new bi-halogen projector-beam setup with LEDs for running lamps and turn signals.
Inside, the center console area and front seating configurations have been redesigned; there are all-new ventilation and A/C controls, and new Uconnect connectivity and entertainment systems have been added. For 2013 the remote central locking system now includes the RamBox cargo management system and tailgate locks. A new remote start system now allows starts from up to 300 feet away.