The return of the diesel in the 1500 |
Marking the return of the diesel engine to the light truck market, the Ram shares its powertrain with the sublime Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.
I’ve tested a couple of pickups here over the past little bit, but by no means do I consider myself a truck guy in any way. I definitely get that they serve a purpose and cater to a very specific clientele, and appreciate their existence every single time I have to move things around, but they just aren’t my cup of tea. When I was handed the keys to a 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, I was a bit apprehensive about my ability to enjoy it for what it’s meant for. Boy, was I in for a huge surprise…
The Ram EcoDiesel, marking the return of the diesel engine to the light truck market, shares its powertrain with the sublime Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel our editor tested back in the winter. It’s an Italian-made 3.0L V6 turbodiesel engine, and puts out 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. It definitely sounds like a modern diesel from the outside, but when you’re sitting in the Ram’s plush cabin, I guarantee you won’t hear any clatter or notice any funny smells. Straight line power is very good, and at no point does the EcoDiesel feel like it only has 240 horsepower. The torque is immense as the truck pulls like a freight train almost anywhere in the powerband, and the 8-speed automatic transmission is seamless in its operation.
If the ability to tow a ton of stuff is a necessity for you, the 850 lb-ft Ram 3500 might be up your alley. However, the EcoDiesel is able to tow more than 4,000kg, which is more than enough for the majority of buyers. Even with the bed empty though, the Ram is very smooth and incredibly serene. I had the opportunity to take it on a long highway run and was blown away at just how quiet and comfortable this thing is. I’m not even referring to the amenities or overall comfort of the cabin; the ride in this thing is excellent. My tester was equipped with 4-corner air suspension, and “Access Mode”, its lowest setting, makes getting in and out extremely easy. On the highway, the Ram’s suspension (much like the Grand Cherokee’s) actually lowers the truck for maximal aerodynamics.
Even though other than the badge on the side, there are no visual cues that make the EcoDiesel model stand out from regular Ram 1500s, but that didn’t stop truck guys from stopping me each time I parked the truck to ask me questions. By far, the most common one was with regards to fuel economy – just how efficient is the new V6 diesel offering from Mopar? Well, over my test, I averaged a beautiful 8.9L/100km. This is with an empty bed and full use of air-conditioning over 75/25% highway/city driving. The huge fuel tank means you can actually go over 1,000km without refueling the Ram – this is a huge advantage for tradespeople and others who actually use their truck for what it’s meant to be used for.
At $70,000 as-tested, the price on the Ram EcoDiesel is a bit steep. However, take one step into the interior on the truck and the price tag is immediately justifiable. The interior on my Laramie trim tester was just as plush as that in many luxury SUVs costing far more. Heated and ventilated seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, the full UConnect/Garmin infotainment suite, and an Alpine stereo are all on board, as well as great lighting and visibility throughout the cabin. There’s a power sunroof, all four windows go down, and the rear glass has a power sliding window built into it. The majority of EcoDiesel buyers will not be opting for this trim, and well-equipped models with this powertrain are available for just over $36,000.
Honestly, this truck has to be the single biggest surprise I’ve had this year, and that’s saying a lot considering I adored the Ram 1500 with the 3.6L Pentastar V6. The steering is a bit slower than I’d like, and slow speed parking lot maneuvers are still a bit of a challenge, but that’s typical for any large truck. The infotainment system in the Ram is easily one of the best in the automotive industry as a whole – other manufacturers should take note of Chrysler’s corporate system and implement similar software.
With the Dakota gone from the Mopar lineup, the Ram 1500 is currently the “smallest” truck they offer. I personally would love to have a regular cab, short box with a manual transmission and the R/T appearance package, coupled to the EcoDiesel powertrain. Unfortunately, this truck does not exist and is all but a dream. If I were an independent contractor or even a commercial real estate agent and had a $70,000 budget for a pickup truck, there’s not a doubt in my mind that the Ram 1500 Laramie would be my first choice.