BARRINGTON HILLS, IL – Owners of ’13 Ram pickups won't have to walk around the truck to lock both sides of the Ram Box in the cargo-bed side walls.

The ability to lock and unlock the storage containers now requires simply pressing the icon on the key fob, says Michael Cairns, vehicle line executive for Ram trucks, at a mini-unveiling of the Chrysler vehicle lineup for Chicago media here.

As a bonus, the Ram Box now is offered on models with either 6-ft. or 6.5-ft. (1.8-m and 1.9-m) beds. The box on the longer bed not only will be able to hold more tools, but also accommodate 140 cans of pop on each side vs. 120 cans with the shorter bed, “or roughly an extra case of pop on each side,” Cairns boasts.

He also points out the 3.6L V-6 that replaces the 3.7L V-6 in the light-duty Ram 1500 is rated at 17/25 mpg (13.8-9.4 L/100 km) city/highway with its new 8-speed automatic transmission. That compares with 14/20 mpg (16.8-11.8 L/100 km) city/highway with the previous 3.7L and its 4-speed automatic.

It is able to tow up to 6,500 lbs. (2,950 kg), compared with 3,750 lbs. (1,700 kg) with the 3.7L.

The Hemi V-8 with 8-speed debuts in January in the Ram 1500. Cairns says the Hemi with the 8-speed and cylinder deactivation to shut off four cylinders when not needed promises to top the Ford EcoBoost V-6 in terms of class-leading mileage.

The Hemi hasn't been rated yet, but he vows it will better the EcoBoost’s 16/22 mpg (14.7-10.7 L/100 km) city/highway rating.

No diesel engine will be offered in the light-duty Ram 1500, Cairns says. "It would take about $1,500 in added cost to just meet federal emissions levels with a diesel. But Fiat has some diesels that we are looking at to see if we could do something in the future."

The Chrysler lineup unveiling includes a new engine option for the ’13 Dodge Dart.

The compact drew early criticism that its 2.0L 4-cyl. needed more off-the-line muscle; it develops 160 hp but only 148 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) of torque. Since August, Dart has offered an optional 1.4L 4-cyl. turbo with a 6-speed manual/automatic transmission that also generates 160 hp but kicks out 184 lb.-ft. (250 Nm) of torque.

The 1.4L turbo also offers better mileage – 27/39 mpg (8.7-6.0 L/100 km) with manual, 27/37 mpg (8.7-6.4 L/100 km) with automatic, compared with the naturally aspirated 2.0L’s 25/35 mpg (9.4-6.7 L/100 km) with manual and 24/34 mpg (9.8-6.9 L/100 km) with the automatic, says Peter Milo, Dart development manager.

 While the turbo gets better mileage and off-the-line power, Milo says Dodge offers the 2.0L as a price leader for those who are more concerned with affordability. The 1.4L with automatic, for example, starts at about $2,400 more than the 2.0L version.