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2013 Ram 1500

Ram pickup sales are up 20 per cent this year and it's not simply because Chrysler Canada is offering discounts of $7,000 or more, plus 2.99 per cent financing for three years. The Ram is a very good pickup, as well.

In fact, the Ram is Canada's second best-selling vehicle – period. Only the arch-rival Ford F-Series out-sells the Ram. And no car is even close to either when it comes to sales.

The point is, if you combine sales sweeteners with a good truck – voila, a popular buy. How good is the Ram?

Consumer Reports argues that the "freshened 2013 Ram 1500" is the best full-size pickup among those recently tested.

"The Ram 1500 is surprisingly luxurious and refined—but still fully capable of doing hard work when needed," says CR's head of testing, Jake Fisher. "Continued interior and power train improvements make the Ram a particularly well-rounded choice."

Later this year the Ram will one-up the competition, too. A diesel version is in the product pipeline. That will make the Ram the only light-duty pickup for sale in Canada with a diesel option. Those who tow or take long trips will be interested.

In the meantime, as CR points out, the 2013 Ram has benefited from a lighter, stiffer frame, a revised interior, a new infotainment system, and updated power trains. Among the engine offerings: a 5.7-litre Hemi V-8, which was the pickup CR tested – with four-wheel-drive and in a crew cab body style.

Power delivery was seamless, says CR, and the eight-speed automatic transmission proved very efficient. Fuel economy in real-world testing was quite reasonable, too. All that added up to a 78-point overall road test score. CR also recommends the Ram not just on the road test, but also because reliability has been good.

Trailing the Ram is Toyota's Tundra (69 points) and Ford F-150 (68). The Chevy Avalanche for 2013 has a higher score than the Ram, but it discontinued after 2013.

What's missing from this test is the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The first versions of both are just now arriving in dealer showrooms. This means CR has not tested either, yet. But I have and like CR, I believe the Silverado and Sierra are excellent rigs, well-rounded, refined, powerful, comfortable and fuel efficient. What's missing is a diesel option.

Even without a diesel, though, there is no question the Silverado and Sierra will score well and might even out-point the Ram. Moreover, Ford's F-150 is due for a remake for 2015 which means the ongoing and very heated truck competition will continue for years to come.

"The Ram delivers one of the best rides of any pickup, thanks to its unique coil spring rear suspension," notes CR. "It has a super-quiet, super-roomy crew cab, and the optional UConnect infotainment touch screen is one of the best in the business."

Alas, not all is perfect. The step-in to the Ram's cabin is very high, says CR, and the heavy tailgate is not damped for sprung. It's a load to drop down and lift up. Some things to fix in the next go-round and Ram headquarters.