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This Truck Works

2013 Ram 1500 Tradesman

Not that I’ve ever owned one, nor have I ever needed one. But I do recognize an honest-to-goodness work truck when I see one. And so did the group of other guys gathered around a rather plain-looking, refrigerator-white 2013 Ram 2WD short-bed pickup truck at this past February’s Buffalo Auto Show.

Was it because it was glitzy? A two-toned, pinstriped, chrome-bedazzled behemoth on 20-inch chrome rims? With cab space for you and the other five members of your family? No. No. And no. I think that me and those other guys liked the fact that here was a truck that didn’t pretend to be anything other than a truck. Oh sure, you could drive it up to the valet parking station at Salvatore’s, but be assured that the kid you toss the keys to is going to park it way out back. Yes, it’s that kind of truck.

And there’s the charm. Although the unit on the floor of the auto show was equipped with Chrysler’s Hemi 5.7-liter V-8 (a $1,310 option), standard fare under the hood is a 4.7-liter V-8, which is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. Going higher-tech with Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter V-8 will also get you their new eight-speed automatic transmission—that combination will set you back a grand. What to buy? Maybe these EPA gas mileage figures will help you decide: 5.7-liter, 14/20 city/highway; 4.7-liter, 14/20; and the 3.6-liter, 17/25. The EPA also estimates that the 3.6-liter will save you $700 or more per year in fuel costs over the standard 4.7 or the Hemi. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

The short, six-foor-four-inch bed on the Tradesman give it a different look from the optional eight-foot bed. That foot-and-a-half or so of space is a difference of $385. If you don’t really need it, why bother? It not only affects the looks, but the handling, parking, and most likely, with the added weight, the gas mileage.

Chrysler…er, Ram has announced that in the third quarter they’ll be offering a 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel, the only diesel offered in a light-duty pickup, which they expect will offer “an outstanding combination of best-in-class fuel efficiency, [and] best-in-class torque.” Sales will start with the 2014 model.

So pricing out a Tradesman truck on with no options whatsoever leaves you with an MSRP of $22,635 plus delivery. Switching up to the 3.6-liter and eight-speed tranny brings you to $23,685. These days, that’s not much for a full-sized pickup. Especially one that’s been winning awards left and right. (The Ram 1500 was named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year for 2013.) For comparison’s sake, let’s travel to the other end of the Ram 1500 spectrum. That would be the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4. Right there, with such a long name, you know you’re paying more. This thing starts—starts, mind you—at $46,715. I’ve thrown in a few options, and managed to bring the list price, before delivery, to $52,265. And you wonder why there are a total of two Tradesman work trucks on local lots, and a slew of high-priced crew cabs just waiting to be snapped up. I imagine the profit margins are huge.

I found the cab of the work truck to be plenty roomy. You certainly sit up high, and the view out is unimpeded. It’s a long reach to roll down the passenger side window, but, hey, what’s your hurry? You’re getting paid by the hour to drive this thing, right?

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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