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The Ram 1500 gets a much needed heart transplant

Ford isn't the only company that can dish out full-size pickups with relatively decent fuel economy these days. Ford made headlines two year ago (and saw sales of V6 engines skyrocket) when it introduced an all-new 3.7-liter V6 engine and 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 for its best-selling F-150.
Not one to let Ford sit around and bask in the media and sales spotlight, Chrysler is giving its 2013 Ram 1500 a heart transplant as well. In this case, instead of the tired old 3.7-liter V6 that has soldiered on as the base engine in the Ram 1500 for far too long, it has been replaced by Chrysler's corporate V6: the 3.6-liter Pentastar.
Whereas the old 3.7-liter engine produced 215hp and 235 lb-ft of torque, the Pentastar V6 blows those numbers out of the water with 305hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. For comparison, Ford's based 3.7-liter V6 engine in the F-150 generates 300hp and 275 lb-ft of torque.

3.6-liter Pentastar V6
Despite the massive increase in power and torque, fuel economy has also gone up significantly with the new Pentastar V6. Fuel economy numbers increase from 14/20 (city/highway) with the old 3.7 to 18/25 with the new 3.6 in 4x2 trim (these figures are also ahead of the 3.7-liter V6 in the Ford F-150 which is rated at 17/23).
It also helps that the '13 Ram 1500 makes use of a new 8-speed automatic transmission to help boost fuel efficiency.
Even though the V6 doesn't have as much "grunt" as the Hemi V8 option, Inside Line says that the Ram 1500's new base engine is enough to propel the pickup to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds.

2013 Dodge Ram 1500
All of this newfangled technology doesn't come for free, however. The '13 Ram 1500 with the Pentastar V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission starts at $23,585 compared to $22,420 for the '12 Ram 1500 with the 3.7-liter V6 and 4-speed automatic transmission.
With both Ford and Chrysler stepping up to the plate with power and efficiency for the full-size pickups, all eyes should now be on General Motors and its Silverado 1500/Sierra 1500.

Sources: Chrysler, Inside Line

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Worth the extra $1165
By quiksilvr on 8/24/2012 10:36:58 AM , Rating: 5
Assuming $3.50 per gallon average, instead of 20 miles for $3.50 ($0.175 per mile) you get 25 miles for $3.50 ($0.14 per mile). You save over 3 cents per mile, which means after just 38,000-39,000 miles of driving, you save $1165. That's a pretty quick return on the investment.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Flunk on 8/24/2012 11:07:21 AM , Rating: 3
Very much so and that's disregarding the fact that this new V6 is much more powerful than the old one and is a better replacement for the smaller "magnum" V8 that they used to put in the Ram 1500.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Marlin1975 on 8/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Brandon Hill on 8/24/2012 11:30:51 AM , Rating: 2
Uhhh, they were using the 5-speed Mercedes trannie in some older Chrysler/Dodge models. The new 8-speed is from ZF.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Marlin1975 on 8/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Brandon Hill on 8/24/2012 12:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong yet again. Chrysler is using the ZF 8HP transmission (Chrysler calls it the 845RFE), so it's not a transmission used "mostly" by Chrysler. It is also used by:

Land Rover

You want to try again?

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Homerboy on 8/24/2012 12:57:20 PM , Rating: 2
LOL awesome.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By quiksilvr on 8/24/2012 1:01:26 PM , Rating: 3
*Flips desks and dives behind with eyes peeking out of the corner*

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By MadMan007 on 8/24/2012 1:04:38 PM , Rating: 5
All those makes are known for their low cost of repair, right?

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Marlin1975 on 8/24/2012 1:11:55 PM , Rating: 4
Not only low cost but also known for their long term reliability…


RE: Worth the extra $1165
By YashBudini on 8/24/2012 6:44:03 PM , Rating: 3

And superb reliability.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Marlin1975 on 8/24/2012 1:09:59 PM , Rating: 2
And maybe if you read past the headlines you would see they are not building the trans for Chrysler, they license the design and manufacturing rights to Chrysler. Chrysler has already said they are going to build on that design (i.e. customize it).

So no you can’t pull the ZF built trans from any of the lines you just posted and put it in the Chrysler and the other way as well.

“Some sources say it is a ZF design, while others say there has been Chrysler engineering; most likely it incorporate ideas from both companies.”

So yea it will still be a Chrysler only trans after they are done.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Marlin1975 on 8/24/2012 1:19:19 PM , Rating: 1
Should say they are not building the same trans design for Chrysler.

They will build Chrysler's custom design for the first year until Chrysler's Trans plant gets up to speed.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Brandon Hill on 8/24/2012 1:20:06 PM , Rating: 2
The internals are all the same. Software will be tuned to suit each engine/manufacturer. But the mechanical bits inside, the stuff that is most likely to break, is common among all manufacturers that use the ZF-8HP.

And I don't think any fool would think that you could take the actual 8-speed transmission from a Dodge Ram and hook it up to a 7-Series. It would be impossible. The mounting points alone wouldn't match up between the engines and the transmission.

That should be pretty easy to understand...

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Brandon Hill on 8/24/2012 1:22:52 PM , Rating: 3
And I should add, the specific version of the ZF-8HP that Chrysler has a license to produce here in the states is the 8HP45 -- BMW uses it in the 5-Series.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By YashBudini on 8/24/2012 11:37:58 PM , Rating: 3
If you do some research you'll discover that BMW has a rather cavalier attitude about automatic transmission reliability. Not very comforting when you spend over $50K for a car.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By semiconshawn on 8/24/2012 1:22:31 PM , Rating: 3
Is that a list of cars with horrible reliablilty?

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By JoJoman88 on 8/25/2012 9:10:11 AM , Rating: 2
Lol,that is what i thought when i saw this list! A mechanics dream team if i ever seen one.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Samus on 8/24/2012 3:10:35 PM , Rating: 4
The key to transmission longevity is really in the cooler. As with any truck, whether you plan to tow or not, get the tow package. The oversized coolers can double transmission fluid life, and lets face it, nobody flushes their transmissions.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By nedsand on 8/24/2012 5:25:44 PM , Rating: 2
I got the towing package on my 05 F150 for exactly this reason. However there are some tradeoffs and you can't lump everyone into one group. I use my truck as a truck regularly but I don't haul anything heavy. Between the fly-by-wire, the slow to downshift transmission and the 3.73 gears that you get with the tow package it just doesn't feel as nice to drive as my 01 F150 that had 3.31 gears. I also average 5mpg less in my 05 mostly due to the 05 being a 4x4 but I can't help but think the gears have an effect. While hauling your can feel the difference between the 3.31 and 3.73 but on the highway its the exact opposite. The F150 picked up a whole bunch of extra horse power and torque between 01 and 05. Driving home on the highway from the dealer the day I bought the truck I got stuck behind some old lady in the slow lane. I had a car coming up in the pass lane but I thought I had time. Mashed the pedal and between the time it took the FBW and tranny to downshift plus the slower acceleration I damn near got rear ended. I know my fault.. But that bummer feeling has never gone away. I'm not sure the tow package is something I feel like I need anymore.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Manch on 8/27/2012 1:07:53 PM , Rating: 3
I believe an SCT, or a dibalo tuner can help eliminate that lag a bit, adjust shift points, etc. Another trick is to openup the gas pedal box and bend down the contact brushes to eliminate the dead zone. or just shim the pedal at the top and that will take care of that for you.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By YashBudini on 8/24/2012 11:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
The key to transmission longevity is really in the cooler.

As opposed to the new Camry, where they added a transmission fluid heater.

and lets face it, nobody flushes their transmissions.

Mostly true, I've done about 6 and quit. The first one is by far the most important. New transmission bands do a lot shedding. After a while not so much. Transmissions also run a lot hotter than the old days, burnt fluid is more likely and bad for transmission health.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2012 12:25:26 AM , Rating: 1
My Tacoma has a "sealed" transmission supposedly its zero maintenance until over 100,000 or something. Still makes me nervous.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By YashBudini on 8/25/2012 11:31:03 AM , Rating: 1
It's hard to believe that a dipstick may end up becoming a consideration when buying a new vehicle.

I'm sure trans shops will eventually make a nice profit retrofitting transmissions with dipsticks, if it's possible at all.

I wonder where CVTs fit in this equation?

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Samus on 8/25/2012 1:38:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yash, companies are adding trans heaters for the same reason diesel block heaters have been around for decades: warm metal wears slower than cold metal.

The idea behind a transmission heater is simply to get it up to operating temperature quicker (ideal transmission temps are around 165f, but can vary quite widely by design and fluid type)

The heater will ideally reduce initial wear under cold-start conditions. Even notice a transmission in cold weather whines?

As far as "sealed for life" transmissions, the industry started doing this with differentials in the 90's and it has worked out with mixed results. Synthetic's have improved and definately shorten the neccessary change intervals, but no fluid lasts forever. Friction modifiers break down, and when they are depleated, the fluid doesn't transfer heat away from the components, causing solenoid malfunctions and band wear.

In differentials, this usually causes bearing wear, leaks, and even C-clip failure from too much slop which can be a disaster.

However, these fluids generally last 100,000 miles and after that most manufactures could care less because on average, vehicles are out of warranty after 30,000-50,000 miles, with only Korean manufactures actually warrantying bumper-to-bumper for 100,000 miles.

Nobody warranties driveline components beyond 100,000 miles, even Chrysler with their corporate suicidal "Limited Lifetime Drivetrain Warranty"

The aformentioned 6F transmission is a "sealed" unit, some implementations have no dipstick, and it has no "filter" just a mesh screen that can be cleaned. This is all a fine for saving costs, but not changing even the highest quality synthetic fluid or at least adding a treatment every 100,000 miles will be disasterous. It will inevitably fail, and it certainly wont have good performance or efficient power delivery when it's malfunctioning.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By YashBudini on 8/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Reclaimer77 on 8/25/2012 1:13:01 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah that's all true, but how is the heater implemented? If it's thermostatically controlled it's fine, but if it adds heat all the time it not.

I'm pretty sure the people designing these transmissions understand the primary cause of failed trans's is overheating. Being engineers and all. I seriously doubt they would design the heaters to just run all the time and wear out the transmission.

GM is known for their ongoing costs reductions.

Ironic given that it was the unions and pension plans bleeding the company dry, not vehicle costs. GM had become so wasteful on the administrative side of things they were essentially paying people NOT to work.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Bad-Karma on 8/25/2012 1:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
The key to transmission longevity is really in the cooler.

Actually is has far more to do with the the alternating friction material and clutch plates. The friction material is splined on the inside, where it locks to one of the gears. The steel plate is splined on the outside, where it locks to the clutch housing.

In an automatic transmission these alternating gears and friction plates is where all of your power is directly concentrated and it's on a much smaller surface area. The sun and planetary gears are generally beefier and share the load over several larger sets of gears.

In a truck the higher levels of torque,heavier weight and payload, wears down the friction material and main gears at a much higher rate than what most cars will ever experience.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Icopoli on 8/25/2012 9:21:13 AM , Rating: 2
They haven't used any MB parts since 2007/2008 when MB dropped them as a partner.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By retrospooty on 8/24/2012 11:31:53 AM , Rating: 5
Beyond cost, this is really impressive. 305hp and 269 lb-ft of torque at 18city / 25hwy is awesome.

I still cant believe I am using the words impressive and awesome to describe anything from Chrysler... But nice job.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By retrospooty on 8/24/2012 11:37:16 AM , Rating: 3
Even more impressive when compared to the Honda Ridgeline. Significantly more horsepower and torque with significantly better mileage.

HP: 305
Torque: 269
City: 18
Highway: 25

HP: 250
Torque: 247
City: 15
Highway: 21

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Silvio on 8/24/2012 12:06:14 PM , Rating: 2
The Ridgeline isn't a pickup. It's an SUV with a pickup bed, akin to the old Subaru Baja.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Brandon Hill on 8/24/2012 12:20:26 PM , Rating: 3
Which makes it even more pathetic. The Ridgeline/Pilot is based on a bastardized version of the Honda Accord's chassis and it still can't get decent gas mileage.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Apone on 8/24/2012 1:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
Well the Honda Ridgeline was a/an [insert your favorite adjective here] concept vehicle that Honda decided to put into production and was obviously their first commercial attempt at a mid-size pick up truck. Yeah I agree its car-based chassis is questionable from a truck/off-road performance perspective but I'm surprised it got multiple accolades upon its debut (such as Motor Trend 2006 Truck of the Year). If only Honda could shake its automotive complacency and throw some aggressive changes (ahem, a V-8 engine), the Ridgeline could be a mid-size competitor....

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Lord 666 on 8/24/2012 11:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
Why a V8 when the focus of this very article is a groundbreaking V6 from Chrysler? Proof that bigger isn't always better.

If anything, Honda missed the boat with diesels and/or hybrid diesels. Their UK spec diesels are quite good. They produced such mediocre hybrids, one has to wonder if they intentionally failed.

The only thing they have going on is the FCX and the technology around it.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2012 12:30:46 AM , Rating: 1
GM is sleeping again, but obviously Ford and Dodge are seeing the very real threat that high gas prices pose to some of their best selling vehicles. Unlike the sleeping GM they are coming up with solutions to try to keep selling trucks.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Samus on 8/24/2012 3:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
Man that is amazing. I didn't realize the Ridgeline/Pilot were jacked up Accord platforms.

At least when Ford/Mazda jacked up the 626 platform into the MK1/MK2 Escape (2001-2012) it had similar mileage to the 626 even though being substantially less aerodynamic.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By retrospooty on 8/24/2012 2:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
Doesnt matter. We are looking at the engine specs. The Chrysler is really impressive when you look at power vs efficiency.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By YashBudini on 8/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: Worth the extra $1165
By ExarKun333 on 8/25/2012 1:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
That was with generally weak torque and poor mileage. I loved my VQ engine years back, but it was anemic for gas mileage compared to these newer engines.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2012 12:26:58 AM , Rating: 2
I know, same with my Tacoma. The Japanese are sleeping.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By semiconshawn on 8/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Spuke on 8/24/2012 2:09:21 PM , Rating: 2
Revving to the moon and shifting a thousand times to compensate doesn't sound very impressive or desireable in a truck.
You do realize that over the road trucks have 10, 12 or more speeds, right? Easier to keep the engine in its sweet spot. I'd MUCH rather have an 8 speed in my diesel than the current 5. You can keep your old POS two speed powerglide.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By semiconshawn on 8/24/2012 2:59:36 PM , Rating: 1
Of course you would. Your deisel would shift probably a third as much as that v6 with the same tranny. and blow it apart (just saying). A commercial truck? Why is that relevant? A tank has tracks. Its a tool not a consumer vehicle. Point is the sweet spot of that v6 is small and high to have any go your always going to be shifting to get there and I have yet to be in a vehicle I wanted to feel shifting more often. Also these 25mpg numbers are because the transmission is in a big hurry for top gear. Real world will have you killing that number if you ever want to accelerate. Shifting a small motor a million times is not the answer in a consumer level truck. You want to argue that shifting a BIG motor a million times in a truck carrying/pulling 60,000 lbs.? That another argument.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Spuke on 8/24/2012 6:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
A commercial truck?
LOL! You're cracking me up dude. An engine is an engine and keeping an engine in its sweet spot is desirable across the board. That's part of how the automakers are getting better fuel economy for cars and trucks. There's no magic to this. Even if I had the gas V10 in my truck I'd STILL rather have an 8 speed tranny. If you notice, the newer pickups have 6 speeds (some have had them for a few years now) but more gears is desirable not less. You really think the engineers sit back and say, "well this engine is going in a consumer truck so less make it have less gears". LMAO! Like I said, more gears the easier to keep the engine in its powerband and the more it's in its powerband, the more efficient it runs. Why do you think hybrids have CVT's?

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By JediJeb on 8/27/2012 1:19:10 PM , Rating: 2
I can see needing more gears if you are pulling a heavy load most of the time, but in my F150 I usually only use 1,3,5 unless I am hauling something heavy. I can easily be in 5th gear by the time I hit 35mph, so why would I want to shift 6 or 8 times up to that point?

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By YashBudini on 8/24/2012 11:53:21 PM , Rating: 1
You do realize that over the road trucks have 10, 12 or more speeds, right? Easier to keep the engine in its sweet spot.

That has more to do with working with a very small power band, ie red-line is relatively low in large displacement diesels. And somehow I don't see the torque curve on such engines as being rather peaky.

You can keep your old POS two speed powerglide.
I've heard unconfirmed stories some racers loved them because the early ones were indestructible. Can't confirm. They were dogs on the street, and the more often you floored it the gear change would slowly creep up in RPM (voice of experience and 2 busted rocker arms talking here.)

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By retrospooty on 8/24/2012 2:22:53 PM , Rating: 2
"Yeah. Good mpg with no power. ...impressive. These aren't cars these are full size trucks. 269 ft/lbs of torque is anemic."

For hauling maybe, but most people dont haul, even with a truck. In any way you look at it that power with that efficiency in a pickup is really really good.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By semiconshawn on 8/24/2012 3:14:30 PM , Rating: 1
Hauling, towing you know truck stuff. What the hell is a truck for? I guess its just me but a car powertrain in a truck is not what I am looking for. I wouldn't buy a V6 Mustang either. My wife would. Different strokes.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By retrospooty on 8/24/2012 3:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
True, but that is a different conversation entirely. This model doesn't replace the V8. It replaces the old 3.7L V6, and it does it with more power and better mileage. You cant go wrong with that. And for what it is, it's very efficient.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By semiconshawn on 8/24/2012 5:57:05 PM , Rating: 3
It is an improvement over the current V6 powertrain. I can't argue that. I think it is going to phase out the 4.7L as well. More debatable but hardly a loss. My point is its not that great. Its a V6 with modest output mated to a beefed up 8 speed car transmission in a Heavy vehicle. Hwy rating is 25mpg. 2-3 better than an eco boost that has a 60hp and 120lb/ft advantage. 2-3 better than a 5.3L V8 Chevy that has more power as well. In the greater scheme of things its just not that great an option unless mpg is all you need...but then why are you buying a giant truck?

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2012 12:28:48 AM , Rating: 2
As you no doubt know with a heavy duty transmission with a lot of gears you can still tow a lot of weight, you just wont be go up the hills as fast.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By JediJeb on 8/24/2012 11:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder now if Ford will follow through with what has been going around in the Ford rumor mill lately about going all aluminum for their body panels? Claims are it would shave 700 pounds off the F150, that would make a stiff two way race with Ford and Dodge on new trucks.

If only Ford could bring the diesel it is putting into the Ranger overseas back to the US to put into the F150, or if Dodge could use the 4 cylinder Cummins (bread truck engine as it is known) in a 1500, I wonder how those would work out for fuel economy.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Motoman on 8/24/2012 11:56:15 AM , Rating: 2
Sure...if you want to price to go up another couple grand, have a less durable body (easier to dent) and get the potential to generate vibration cracks as time goes on - aluminum is especially susceptible to vibration cracks in thin gauges. Like body panel gauges.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Marlin1975 on 8/24/2012 1:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
The hoods have been made of aluminum for a while and have shown no issues like you describe.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Brandon Hill on 8/24/2012 1:24:36 PM , Rating: 2
The only other problem with aluminum (besides the extra $$$) is the costs/labor involved in repairing it once in an accident.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By semiconshawn on 8/24/2012 2:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
No doubt. Expensive and there's not really much wiggle room. If it doesn't fit it doesn't fit you don't "adjust it" with a hammer or bend it to fit (unless you want it to fail). Every thing that supports it or it mounts/bounds to better be lined up and the new part better be the same as the old part.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By JediJeb on 8/24/2012 3:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
Actually there is a whole thread dedicated to this over on the Ford Truck forums and most of the easy denting, expensive to repair, easy to crack ideas have been shown to be not as true as most believe. The only problems Ford has had since switching to Aluminum for the hoods on Explorers, F150, Expedition, and Mustangs has been paint.

Paint problems have been solved by improving the metal prep procedures prior to painting, since aluminum needs to be even cleaner than steel for it to take paint well.

Cost for the panel itself would most likely be quite a bit higher than for a steel panel, and as with even most steel panels today, anything more than a parking lot ding seems to require replacement of the panel, or so the body shops tell you. But depending on the alloy of aluminum they use, these panels could be even harder to dent than cheap steel ones.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2012 12:37:43 AM , Rating: 2
and how many hours of operation are put on airliners before the airframe wears out. I just don't get the anti aluminum people.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By semiconshawn on 8/24/2012 1:50:37 PM , Rating: 3
Easier to dent? I doubt it. I will be thicker guage than the stamped steel and not the same alloy as in your beer can. Cracks maybe but probably not from just driving its not an airframe, the panels arent stressed. Aluminum doesn't just crack from vibrating.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By MrBlastman on 8/24/2012 2:26:03 PM , Rating: 2
That'd take me 4 years. I guess I'm antisocial or something. :P

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2012 12:20:49 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, Ford and dodge have caught up to the mileage of my V6 prerunner Tacoma. That's pretty damn impressive, Toyota really needs to do some engineering tweeks to their 4.0L powertrain. I'm guessing swapping the port injection for direct injection would put it out in the lead again, its got a 1000lbs + weight advantage.

RE: Worth the extra $1165
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2012 12:22:14 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure that i'm sold on plastic intake manifolds, they crack with age.

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