Ram 1500 Adds Fuel-Saving Features

New engine, aerodynamic improvements and lighter components help improve fuel economy.

With improving fuel economy for the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup at the top of its to-do list, Chrysler Group LLC, Auburn Hills, Mich., did everything from installing a new drivetrain and smoothing out design features to cutting weight and lowering the truck’s stance to meet the goal. The result is a truck that returns 25 mpg on the highway while refusing to sacrifice its workday capabilities.

Representatives from Chrysler’s Ram Truck division spotlighted the changes and gave journalists a chance to sample the updated 2013 model during an August test drive around a test track and through rain-soaked back roads in and around Nashville, Tenn.

The 2013 Ram 1500 gets Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine as its new base power plant. The engine already is available across the Chrysler lineup but is making its debut in this truck.

While slightly smaller than the 3.7-liter V-6 it replaces, the Pentastar produces 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, improvements of 42% and 13%, respectively, over the old engine, said Rick Deneau, head of brands, sales and marketing at Chrysler.

The Pentastar also includes pulse-width modulation, a new fuel-saving technology that reduces unwanted parasitic electrical load, Chrysler said. The PWM system has a sensor at the fuel rails that handles fuel-pressure needs, allowing the primary fuel pump to be controlled “like a light dimmer switch,” modulating fuel delivery and improving the longevity of the pump, the company said.

The PWM technology also lets the radiator’s high-current electric cooling fan run at different speeds, by monitoring engine temperature and adjusting fan speed to compensate for changes in temperature.

Other changes aimed at saving fuel include variable valve timing, engine stop-start systems and an interactive deceleration fuel shut-off.

Even the electric power steering system saves fuel, Chrysler said, thanks to an electric motor that powers the rack-and-pinion steering system. The electric motor produces a 1.8% fuel economy improvement over a traditional hydraulic pump while producing 5% more horsepower, the company said.

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