Pickups are more than transportation. They are economic machines – powering America's future. This country was built out of the bed of a pickup, and it's going to require four-wheel drive and 32-inch Super Swampers to get this nation out of the economic mud-pit we find ourselves parked. Chrysler Group LLC appears to be doing its patriotic part. What's good for Ram – the truck lost its Dodge moniker four years ago – is good for the country. Seriously, it is. In past years, the Ram was Chrysler's best-selling vehicle, and its bread and butter. It's beefy profit paid the bills while Chrysler pumped out nameplates like Sebring and Crossfire with little success. Now the Ram is poised to return to that position while Chrysler Group is also offering far better cars and crossovers under new owner Fiat-- such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Chrysler 300. Simply put, the 2013 Ram 1500 redefines pickups, challenging perennial front-runners Ford and Chevrolet with a stellar interior, solid performance and the best highway gas mileage--25 mpg-- in the segment. (Cue the flag waving.) The Ram is so good, President Obama should take credit for it and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney should say it was his idea. VP Joe Biden should drive one from Washington DC to Delaware every day to help garner the blue collar votes. This pickup provides political bounce for anyone, though you'll never feel it because of the all-new air suspension. The list of improvements and pickup firsts is nearly as long as the 100 different versions of Ram 1500s available. A finely tuned machine The Ram's overhaul is truly a multigenerational campaign. It started with the previous generation Ram in 2009. That brought a smooth rear coil-spring ride and the new front face of Ram, the handy RamBox storage bins in the side rails of the bed, and a vastly improved interior. But there were still some rough edges in performance and interior appointments. Its potential, though, smelled of luxurious leather. For this generation, we see the introduction of a the Pentastar V6 engine, the power plant that has nearly single-handedly powered Chrysler's recovery, an eight-speed automatic transmission and more fine tuning than a political message. Every point, piece and part feels improved, retuned or redone--all for the betterment of this new Ram. I've been watching this Ram since it was first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January. In August, I finally got the chance to get behind its thick steering wheel and put some miles on it. This Ram is a contender. A powerful stance Like any vehicle, the Ram's exterior makes a statement about its owner. The new Ram, with a bigger grille, chiseled hood, massive bumper and elegant long lines says, "Get out of my way!" more than any other pickup I have driven. The Ford F-150 may offer a more sophisticated exterior, the Chevrolet Silverado may be more timeless and the Toyota Tundra may provide the best caricature of a …
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