2013 New Truck Buyer's Guide

Here’s a look at what’s new for 2013 in the work truck market.


Let’s face the facts: Today’s pickups are the best ever built. They haul more, tow more, need less maintenance, get better fuel economy, last longer and are more reliable than they have ever been.

Even so, as good as modern work trucks are they don’t last forever, especially when used hard in contracting or landscaping.

If the truck(s) in your fleet have started down the money slide of upkeep and repair and/or are getting long in the tooth mileage wise, it may be time to consider replacing them.

There are numerous great deals available (such as buying a new Silverado for up to $10K below invoice, according to MSN Autos), and certain tax advantages may be going away next year, so your accountant could soon be urging you to buy a new pickup.


What’s New For 2013

For this new model year, manufacturers plan a continuation of current models with a series of improvements in fuel economy, hauling ability, driveability and practicality.

Manufacturers will introduce new models in the 2014-2016 model years, so big changes aren’t in the offing for this year. Still, that doesn’t mean the new models aren’t worth looking at.

Between huge buyer incentives and improvements in performance, economy and ability, there’s plenty to consider in the new truck market. Following is an overview of changes and improvements that will be of interest to contracting/landscaping ­professionals:


2013 GMC Sierra SLE Extended Cab


The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 are the standard work-oriented pickups in GM’s lineup and are available in several trim packages, Work Truck, SL (crew cab and extended cab), XFE SLE and SLT, as well as in 2WD and 4WD configurations (XFE is 2WD only).

The range of body styles and configurations includes three cab styles – regular, extended and crew cab – and three cargo box lengths: 5 feet, 8 inches (short); 6 feet, 6 inches (standard); and 8 feet (long).

Power options include the base 4.3L V-6 as well as a range of V-8 engines (4.8L, 5.3L, 6.2L) with variable valve timing standard on all V-8s and cylinder-deactivating Active Fuel Management incorporated on standard 5.3L engines optimizes performance and efficiency. (2014s get a new engine.)

In fact, GM’s powertrains, backed by fuel-saving, 6-speed automatic transmissions, help deliver a fuel economy rating of up to 22 mpg highway for the XFE and as much as 23 mpg highway with the Silverado/Sierra Hybrid.


New for 2013 is powertrain grade braking in the normal transmission mode.

It was previously incorporated only when the Tow/Haul mode was activated. It uses engine torque to help slow the vehicle on descents, which helps reduce brake wear and is featured with the 5.3L and 6.2L engines paired with 6-speed automatic transmissions.

Although the following features are carryover, they may be of interest to fleet owners who have not purchased a new truck recently.

Work Truck, SL and SLE trim levels feature larger controls and door handles that are easier to use with work gloves. A large-capacity, double glove box is part of the instrument panel.

Denali and SLT models also feature a huge center console offering 20.1L of storage room.

Extended cab models feature a stadium-style rear seat with a 60/40-split design that can be easily folded up with one hand, without using a release handle, to provide an uninterrupted load floor.

Alternatively, either section of the split seat can be stowed independently, allowing room for both cargo and a rear-seat passenger.

Rear access doors on the extended cab open 170 degrees for easy entry to the rear seat/storage area of extended cab models. Power-operated rear side windows lower completely into the 170-degree access doors, providing 100-percent openness on SLE and SLT models.

On Silverado/Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD Trucks, bi-fuel compressed natural gas fuel system and 6.0L V-8 bi-fuel engine are now available on extended cab versions as is powertrain grade braking in normal transmission mode (6.0L V-8).


2013 Ford SuperDuty Platinum

The ever popular F-150 receives a front end restyle and all-new HID headlamps for improved visibility at night, along with rain-sensing windshield wipers, as well as optional power-telescoping and power-folding trailer-tow side view mirrors – a great option for use when pulling trailers in tight job site work spaces.

Standard this year is Hill Descent Control for FX4 models.

Inside, driver command is enhanced with new MyFord 4.2-inch multifunction LCD screen that allows voice control for mobile phones, music players, 911 Assist, Vehicle Health Report and on-screen displays that include caller ID, as well as optional navigation and traffic information.

Larger knobs and buttons for audio and climate controls accommodate operators wearing work gloves.

Engine choices include the standard 3.7L V6 (17 mpg city/23 hwy-2WD), 5.0L V8 (15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy-2WD), 6.2L V8 (13 mpg city18 hwy-2WD) and 3.5L EcoBoost (22 mpg hwy-2WD). Ford’s fuel-saving 6R80 6-speed automatic is the transmission.

Additionally, Ford is still supplying the F-150 in standard, extra cab and crew cab versions, with long/short cargo boxes and with a choice between 2WD or 4WD.

The heavy-duty F-Series Super Duty gets a major luxury upgrade with the new Platinum model, but this truck is also made for work with cargo box tie-downs, running boards to make ingress/egress easier and increases in towing/hauling capacities.

Conventional towing is up to 18,500 pounds, fifth-wheel towing is increased to 24,700 and payload capability is now rated at 7,260 pounds – all best in class for their segment.

Super Duty also gets improved brakes with a rotor swept area that’s increased by 16.4 percent in front and 14.5 percent in the rear. Brake pad size and material have been upgraded and a retuned booster provides improved pedal brake feel.

The brake upgrades also support a 700-pound increase in GVWR to a maximum of 14,000 pounds.


Titan remains visually unchanged for 2013 and receives only minor upgrades throughoutSince its introduction into the full-size truck market a few years ago, 

Titan is available in a range of body, bed and drivetrain configurations to fit a variety of needs, including King Cab and Crew Cab body styles, a choice of 2WD or 4WD, two wheelbases (138.8 inches and 159.5 inches), three bed lengths and four trim levels – S, SV, PRO-4X and SL.

Titan has become a reliable and rugged choice for commercial users. The 2013 model year Titan has a number of minor enhancements including a new tailgate design with aerodynamic rear spoiler and additions and enhancements for the various models and equipment packages. 

Titan PRO-4X receives a refreshed exterior appearance with revised graphics, lower radiator skid plate – along with a new interior appearance. Step rails are now standard on SV and SL models, and a 120V outlet has been added to the truck bed on SL models, as well as mudguards.

Also, a Display Audio/USB/Satellite radio (Sirius XM subscription sold separately) is now standard on PRO-4X (also available in SV Value Truck Package), with NissanConnect and Navigation/USB standard on SL (optional on the PRO-4X Luxury Package).

Titan is also available as a Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) designed to run on E85 Ethanol.

The only engine offered is Nissan’s all-aluminum (with cast iron cylinder sleeves) 5.6 L, DOHC Endurance V8 rated at 317 hp and 385 pound-foot torque mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission and is rated at 13 mpg city/18 hwy.

Maximum towing capacity is 9,500 pounds for King Cab and 9,400 pounds for Crew Cab. An Active Brake Limited-Slip Differential (2-wheel or 4-wheel) is standard on both 4Ă—2 and 4Ă—4 models.

Work truck features offered include optional spray-on cargo box liner (standard on SL), unique Utili-Track cargo tie-down system with removable heavy-duty utility cleats (rated at 200 pounds), standard 28-gallon fuel tank, 168-degree opening rear doors (King Cab) and lockable bedside storage compartment (SV, PRO-4X and SL).

The bedside storage bin is designed to hold common utility items such as work gloves, chains, rope, road flares, first aid kit or a hitch ball. The compartment is double-sealed to help prevent the intrusion of water and dust and uses the Titan ignition key for unlocking. 


Dual Axle and a Cummins diesel allow the RAM 3500 a towing ­capacity of up to 17,500 pounds when equipped with towing package.

Over the past few years the 2013 RAM 1500 and RAM Heavy Duty pickups have become known as solid, reliable work trucks, and the changes to the 2013 models only improve this stalwart reputation.

In fact, the 2013 RAM 1500 was recently awarded the 2013 Motor Trend Truck of the Year and it is one of the finalists for the 2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year to be awarded at the North American International Auto Show in mid-January 2013.

With accolades such as these, the 2013 RAM has a lot to offer the 1/2-ton pickup buyer. Immediately noticeable is the refreshed exterior with improved quad projection headlamps and LED turn signals and brake lights – all of which are improvements for nighttime operation and everyday safety.

The new front bumper design houses new vertically-oriented fog lamps for improved light spread and distance and more lumens. On 4Ă—4 models, larger openings around the front tow hooks allow for easy access to the hooks.

Crew Cab models are also now available with a 6-foot, 4-inch bed option, allowing customers the ability to combine the largest available cab with the largest four-door/bed combination.

All models now offer a new, remote central-locking RamBox cargo management system and tailgate combined with door locks, as well as rain sensing wipers, power folding mirrors and power sliding rear window with defrost.

Under the skin, RAM 1500 receives an all-new chassis with better longitudinal stiffness to increase stability and handling precision and a decrease in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) up to 30 percent.

Additionally, new body mounts further improve NVH for a more comfortable interior. Responsiveness and handling are improved thanks to redesigned upper control arms, aluminum lower control arms and retuned geometry with coil springs.

An optional new air suspension system featuring five load leveling height settings that are controlled automatically or manually is now available.

RAM’s base 3.7L V-6 engine has been replaced by a 3.6L Pentastar V-6 (Ward’s 10 Best Engines Award two years in a row) with variable-valve timing (VVT) and delivers 305 hp, 269 pound-feet of torque – which is 42 percent more horsepower, 13 percent more torque and at least 20 percent better fuel economy over the previous V-6.

Additionally, the new V-6 delivers best-in-class towing – 6,500 pounds, thanks to the addition of the new 8-speed TorqueFlite 8 automatic transmission. The new 8-speed tranny is also available with the 5.7L HEMI V-8 – the company’s first application with a V-8.

RAM Heavy Duty models also feature new frames built with high-strength 50 KSI steel, including eight separate cross-members, hydroformed main rails and fully boxed rear rails.

Wider front frame rails enable front suspension springs to be positioned slightly outboard, for a more positive roll stiffness and a new front suspension cross member is now a two-piece welded component between the front axle and oil pan.

Center frame rail sections are roll-formed, and the rear features fully boxed rear rails and a factory-installed rear axle cross member with provisions for 5th wheel and gooseneck hitches.

A new conventional trailer hitch system is upgraded to Class 5 with a 17,000-pound load capability and 1,800 pounds of tongue weight for use with 2-inch or 2.5-inch receiver hitches.

A new suspension system greatly improves overall roll stiffness and an advanced three-link front suspension on the Ram 3500 is used for the vehicle’s higher GVWR, as well as for use with heavy front loads, including snow plows.

Powerplant changes for the line include the use of RAM’s 5.7L HEMI V-8 in Ram Heavy Duty pickups as standard. The engine produces 383 hp at 5,600 rpm and 400 pound-feet of torque at 3,950 rpm and is mated to a 66RFE six-speed automatic transmission, making for solid towing/hauling ability in both the 2500 and 3500 pickups.

The workhorse 6.7L Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel I-6 is now available in three versions.

The first version is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, which features a wear-compensating clutch for lifetime like-new performance and delivers 350 hp at 2,800 rpm and 660 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm – a significant boost from the 2012 model-year maximum of 600 pound-feet.

Version two matches the Cummins to the 68RFE 6-speed automatic transmission for 370 hp at 2,800 rpm and 800 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm.

In version three, the 6.7L Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel I-6 (for Ram 3500) is paired with a new Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission (AS69RC), to deliver 385 hp at 2,800 rpm, the most powerful Cummins generates best-in-class torque of 850 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm.

All HD diesel models get a new cooling system featuring a high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers and charge air cooler that has 25 percent more heat-rejection capacity, improving performance and durability and lowering operating costs.

The Cummins engines also benefit from a larger exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) cooler, which complements the debut of selective catalytic reduction (SCR), reducing soot production and fuel dilution of the oil, thereby increasing oil change intervals to 15,000 miles.


Tundra CrewMax 4-door.

The Tundra holds the honor of being the first full-size truck offering from a Japanese manufacturer, but apart from the name, it is all-American.

Designed and built in the United States, the Tundra has been making inroads into GM and Ford pickup truck markets and is mostly carryover for 2013 (2014 will see the new model), receiving only minor upgrades and refinements.

The most notable of which is that the Platinum Package now becomes a full model grade and Display Navigation with Entune multimedia package becomes a regular option for all Tundra models – standard cab, CrewMax and DolubleCab.

Base engine for the Tundra lineup is a 4.0L dual overhead cam (DOHC) V-6 is standard in Tundra Regular and Double Cab models and produces 270 hp and 278 pound-feet of peak torque. 

It is paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission that has uphill/downhill shift logic. The available 4.6L DOHC i-Force V-8 puts out 310 hp and 327 pound-feet of peak torque, with the 5.7L DOHC i-Force V8 delivering 381 hp and 401 pound-feet of peak torque. 

Both i-Force V8 engines are matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and both meet Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV II) emissions certification requirements.

Tundra is available in both 2WD and 4WD and comes with 4-wheel disc brakes; V-8 models offer a comprehensive tow package that increases towing ability up to 10,400 pounds.