As soon as the eight-speed automatic was announced for the Ram 1500, we knew it could potentially have far-reaching implications for both Ram and the full-size truck market in general. Now that fuel economy figures have been released for a Hemi-powered Ram equipped with the eight-speed, Chrysler could soon decisively wrest the half-ton MPG crown from Ford in the mind of the truck buying public, if it hasn't already. The 2013 Ram 1500 Hemi 4x4 with the 8-speed has just been rated at 15 city, 21 highway in EPA testing, matching the fuel economy figures posted by a four-wheel-drive F-150 EcoBoost. Although the Hemi is down slightly on the EcoBoost in peak torque output (407 versus the F-150 EcoBoost's 420 lb-ft), it has 30 more horsepower, as well as having something the EcoBoost will never have, that distinctive V-8 sound.
Figures for the two-wheel-drive Hemi with the eight-speed were not yet posted on the EPA site, but if it achieves another 1 mpg in both city and highway figures, it will match the EcoBoost in both configurations, giving truck buyers a compelling and unique choice for powerful, efficient powertrains.
The mileage wars are not over yet, though. The Ram 1500 with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and the eight-speed already tops the base F-150 V-6 on the EPA test by 2 mpg. But the most powerful weapon in Ram's fuel economy arsenal will undoubtedly be the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which will also be equipped with the eight-speed, and could approach, if not meet, the vaunted 30 mpg highway bogey, a figure we projected as part of an in-depth tech feature we ran in August. At the time, Chrysler was non-committal about a half-ton diesel option, but has since confirmed its production intent.