REVIEW: 2014 RAM 1500 ECODIESEL
Diesel could spark new direction for trucks
2014 RAM 1500 ECODIESEL
PRICE:?$37,195, $68,295 as tested
ENGINE:?3.0-L V6 turbodiesel
POWER/TORQUE:?240 hp/420 lb. ft.
FUEL CONSUMPTION:?10. 6 city, 7.4 hwy
COMPETITION:?No one else has a light-duty diesel . . . yet
WHAT?S BEST:?Great engine performance, smooth-shifting transmission.
WHAT?S WORST:?Cheesy fold-out cargo floor.
WHAT?S INTERESTING:?The engine?s also available in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Chrysler?s more fuel-efficient option should set off a new wave of truck wars
In the world of trucks, diesel?s the big dog and the power of choice in most heavy-duty trucks. But for 2014, Chrysler has one in its half-ton Ram 1500, offering buyers a more fuel-efficient option that will no doubt set off a whole new series of truck wars with the competition.
The 3.6-L V6 and 5.7-L Hemi V8 engines are still available alongside this new 3.0-L V6 turbodiesel. Its 240 horsepower is the lowest of the three, but torque is the important number, and the diesel?s 420 lb.-ft. edges the 410 churned out by the V8. With great power comes great fuel economy: In official combined-driving figures for a 4×4 truck, the diesel comes in at 9.1 L/100 km, versus 10.9 for the gasoline V6, and 12.4 for the Hemi.
That said, you?ll need to be a high-miler to really see a payback. Depending on the trim line, the diesel option runs between $4,500 and $5,500. As with most trucks, you can get seriously high end if you start slathering on the options, and my Laramie 4×4 tester ? with such extra charge items as air suspension, sunroof, parking sensors, spray-in bedliner, navigation and more ? came to $68,295 before freight and taxes.
While the heavy-duty Ram 2500 and 3500 models use a Cummins diesel engine, the 1500?s diesel comes from Italian engine manufacturer VM Motori, which Fiat owns.
Dubbed the EcoDiesel, the 3.0-L took a coveted spot on the 2014 Ward?s 10 Best Engines list, and rightly so. It?s very quiet for an oil-burner (and you hardly hear it inside the well-insulated cabin), it?s smooth and responsive, and acceleration is quick and linear. It?s mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which you shift via a console-mounted dial that?s easy to use and leaves the centre console open for a couple of large storage cubbies.
As do other diesels, it requires diesel exhaust fluid, which is automatically spritzed into the exhaust system to reduce pollutants. I like that Ram uses an honest-to-goodness gauge in the instrument cluster to indicate how much is left in the DEF tank.
The diesel?s towing capacity tops out at 9,200 lbs. That?s a decent capacity, although its V8-equipped sibling can go as high as 10,450 lbs., since the diesel has a higher curb weight.
The weight of the optional $1,595 four-corner air suspension cuts into the truck?s payload, but if you can take the hit on capability and wallet, it?s a great system. It automatically levels the suspension when the truck?s weighed down, and can be manually raised for extra off-road clearance. You can even lower it via the key fob for easier access, which is a nice touch because, like all full-size pickups today, the Ram is ridiculously oversized.
Lowering it is also helpful when accessing the box, which isn?t very easy to do in the first place. Chevy gives you a marvelously simple integrated bumper step, and Ford offers a liftgate pull-out step and handle, but there?s just a sliver of bumper for your toe when climbing into the Ram when the gate?s down.
My truck was also optioned with the RamBox, a $1,195 addition that puts two drainable, locking, and lighted storage boxes into the bed sides. Adding them reduces the bed?s width, and you can?t put a cap on the back, but they?re great if you need to securely store tools, fishing gear, or other items. The RamBoxes and tailgate now lock with the key fob or inside lock button, too.
The Ram?s cabin is seriously nice, especially in my high-level Laramie trim level and with my tester?s optional leather bucket seats, heated second-row seats, and full-length console. Chrysler?s Uconnect infotainment and navigation system is one of the industry?s best, as well: it?s very intuitive and the icons are big and easy to use.
But the truck loses points for its rear floor, which has a high hump to accommodate the driveshaft. To make it easier to slide cargo in, there?s a fold-out platform that requires several steps, and looks and feels cheap. C?mon, guys: Ford?s F-150 has a completely flat rear floor, so we know it can be done.
Everyone fights hard in the truck segment, and this diesel will probably spark a new direction for most. Nissan has one promised for its full-size Titan, and GM has a small diesel coming in its all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks. If you?re a truck fan, these are interesting times indeed.
The vehicle tested by freelance writer Jil McIntosh was provided by the manufacturer. Email: email@example.com