Ram tops Consumer Reports' pickup ratings for first time
Ram beats Tundra, F-150; Silverado tests underway
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Congrats, Ram!The re-engineered 2013 Ram 1500 has topped Consumer Reports' ranking of full-sized pickups, the first time that a Chrysler-made pickup has done so.
The Chrysler Group half-ton pickup scored a 78 in the magazine's road testing, nine points above the second-place Toyota Tundra and 10 points higher than the Ford F-150.
Consumer Reports said it is still testing the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and will release results this summer.
The Ram scored two points lower than the 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche, but because General Motors no longer produces the Avalanche, the Ram 1500 received the top ranking.
"Continued interior and powertrain improvements make the Ram a particularly well-rounded choice," said Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Conn.
The magazine's recommendations and rankings are widely used by consumers when choosing vehicles. Among large sedans, the 2013 Chrysler 300 tied the Nissan Maxima atop Consumer Reports' road test scores.
The review of the Ram comes amid a surge in sales of large pickups in the United States as the housing and construction sectors rebound. In addition to revamped 2014 large pickups from Chevrolet and GMC, Ford is planning an overhaul of the top-selling F-150 for 2015.
Consumer Reports tested a 2013 Ram with the 5.7-liter Hemi engine and the automaker's eight-speed automatic transmission, which returned 15 mpg in testing, the highest among vehicles tested.
Earlier, the previous-generation Ram 1500, also tested with the 5.7-liter Hemi, received a score of 67 points from Consumer Reports.
The re-engineered Ram 1500, in addition to topping the rankings in the pickup segment, earned its first "recommended" badge from the magazine because previous versions of the pickup have been reliable.
A spokesman for the magazine said that 1,600 of its readers have responded to surveys about Ram 1500s that they bought in the 2010, 2011, and 2012 model years. Consumer Reports requires at least 100 respondents to publish data on a vehicle's reliability.
The magazine praised the Ram's coil spring rear suspension, which the automaker migrated over to its heavy-duty lineup for the 2014 model year, for delivering a superior ride.
It also complimented Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system as "one of the best in the business," but criticized the pickup for having a high step-in height and a heavy tailgate.
Chrysler and its dealers are prohibited from using Consumer Reports findings in any advertising or marketing, so the impact of the Ram 1500's segment victory will be limited to consumers who find the data on their own.
Proof of revival
Ram marketing director Bob Hegbloom said the magazine's recommended rating and its review of the Ram 1500 are proof of Chrysler's revival.
"I feel pretty proud about it because we've come so far over the last 10 years. We know we've got an incredible truck, and we'll put it up against everything in the marketplace," Hegbloom said. "This is just one more enabler that we have that will bring people in to look at our vehicle."
Chrysler Group's half-ton pickup received an extensive re-engineering for the 2013 model year with the introduction of an eight-speed transmission as well as an available 3.6-liter V-6 engine.
The combination allowed the Ram 1500 to be rated at an EPA estimated 25 mpg highway, the highest in the segment. For the 2014 model year, Ram is offering an optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine that is likely to top its gasoline-powered highway mpg, but it won't be available until late 2013.
In addition to the powertrain upgrades, Ram updated the 2013 Ram 1500's interior and electronics.
Large pickup buyers are among the auto industry's most loyal customers, and because truck sales produce hefty profits, the Detroit 3 routinely wage fierce marketing battles for market share.
The improvements have helped the 2014 Ram gain a full point of market share in the full-sized pickup segment through the first half of this year, from 15.3 percent to 16.3 percent.
U.S. sales of the Ram pickup have increased 23 percent through June to 170,319.