Yes, we're only six months into 2011, but automakers are already starting to spill the beans on what's in store for 2012. As a result, Chrysler's let loose on a few things on what we can expect from its Ram Trucks brand in the 2012 model year.
Fun fact: mechanically speaking, the five-speed 545RFE automatic previously used in the Ram actually featured six forward gears, seeing as "second gear" actually consisted of two gears -- one accessed during upshifting, and another used during downshifts. The "new" 65RFE transmission is virtually identical to the 545RFE, but a new Electronic Range Select function allows the driver to not only limit what gears the transmission accesses, but potentially manually shift both of those "second gears" as individual gears. A revised torque converter is also bundled with the transmission, which allegedly helps improve fuel economy.
Other revisions for 2012 include a new steering wheel designs, and a handful of new paint colors, including Black Clear Coat, Deep Cherry Red, Deep Molten Red, Sagebrush, True Blue Pearl, and Tequilla Sunrise. Although we've heard rumblings the Ram 1500 may receive Chrysler's new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 in the very near future, for the time being, the only six-cylinder option available on 2012 Ram 1500 models remains the 3.7-liter V-6.
Ram 2500, 3500:
Previously, the only way to get a six-speed automatic on heavy-duty Rams was to order the 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel I-6. For 2012, that's no longer the case. A new 66RFE six-speed transmission is available on Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 models built with the company's 5.7-liter V-8, although it's hardly a clean-sheet design. In a nutshell, it essentially consists of the innards of the diesel's six-speed (68RFE) transmission packed into the case of the Ram 1500's 65RFE -- a smart move, considering that case already has a bellhousing that can bolt up to the Hemi.
Like the 1500, other new additions for 2012 include a revised steering wheel design, while base-level ST models receive a slightly new look comprised of a black grille, front bumper, and rear bumper. Although photos of a Ram 2500 prototype with RamBox storage compartments have surfaced, Chrysler isn't commenting on if or when such a feature will appear on the HD range.
As previously reported, the cargo version of Dodge's Grand Caravan is now lumped into Ram's portfolio, allowing the brand to, as it so tidily states in its press release, "expands Ram's reach into the Class 1 segment" and "delivers a total package" to fleet and commerical clients. Power comes courtesy of Chrysler's 283-hp, 3.6-liter V-6, which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. C/V models receive a larger radiator and transmission cooler than passenger models, and also receive heavier-duty rear springs. As a result, the C/V offers a GCWR of 8750 pounds, an 1800-pound payload, and a maximum tow rating of 3800 pounds.