We're still getting up to speed with the 2013 Ram 1500 we'll be driving for most of May, and while we get familiar, we also wonder how we would have built our own personal truck if we'd stopped into a dealer and started picking and choosing for a variety of duties. What would it have it were the ultimate vehicle for towing? What if we needed an ultimate workhorse?
We'll get to those configurations later this month. For now, we're going to describe what we think would make the ultimate Ram 1500 for the road.
First off, it's important to realize the 2013 Ram starts out fairly stripped from $23,400. Across two handfuls of trim lines, it can be configured and optioned up to a base price not much below $50,000. That huge swath of pricing includes different body styles, bed lengths, and powertrains, before you get into the trim levels, luxury goods, infotainment features, and aftermarket accessories.
For this experiment--configuring for the ultimate on-road vehicle--we're assuming the Ram 1500 can get away with less bed. Four-door pickups are popular choices, stand-ins for sport-utility vehicles, which makes them a decent choice as a a primary vehicle for a family of four with a couple of middle-age kids in front and a couple of young-aged ones in back. For this truck, gas mileage is important, and so is year-round traction, but bed length isn't quite as important as the ability to make multiple trips to get the same kinds of stuff home--home improvement materials, gardening gear, or bulk-bought goods.
For the easiest tools, we turned to a few sources. Like most shoppers, we assume that reading vehicle reviews is a great place to start. So first, we take a look at The Car Connection's full review of the 2013 Ram 1500 for an overview of what the entire lineup of full-size trucks has to offer.
Next, we took a look at Ram's own home page, which offers very deep information on some of the pickup's latest features--everything from its UConnect smartphone and Bluetooth systems, to its aftermarket accessories available through Mopar. The official Ram 1500 build-and-price website offers a good breakdown of the distinctive models and which features they offer as standard equipment--and with which each body style, drivetrain, and bed length can be ordered.
We settled on a trim level equivalent to the one on our current test vehicle, to try to keep the base price low, and pick one offering a crew cab and Ram's new V-6/eight-speed automatic combination. We start with the 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4X4, with the 5'7" pickup bed, already ratches up the price to $37,300 before destination charges or any options, and rated at an EPA combined 19 mpg.
There's about $4,000 more to go. We think most of the features on our 30 Days truck are likely to be found on Rams that perform these kinds of duties. We opt for UConnect Access, which includes satellite radio, a big touchscreen, Bluetooth with voice commands, and app-store connectivity; the added-on 506-watt Alpine sound system; premium cloth seat with a fold-down center section and under-seat storage; a rearview camera; a no-fuss spray-in bedliner; chrome tubular side steps for easier access; and remote start. Our more affordable truck ends up as the equivalent of a little more pricey Lone Star or Big Horn pickup, according to Ram's web site.