By on December 2, 2013

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-005

There’s just something about a diesel pickup truck that makes grown men regress into Tonka-loving children. Even my Prius-driving environmentalist friends in Berkeley admit they secretly want a diesel pickup. The problem of course is that diesel pickups are expensive (the cheapest diesel Ram 2500 is $36,975 and it doesn’t have an automatic transmission, the cheapest oil-burning F-250 is $38,250) and, for the majority of us, the high payload and towing capacities are overkill. While economical in a specific sense, the large diesel trucks aren’t “fuel-efficient” either. Until now. Mark your calendars folks, The 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel is the half-ton truck in America sporting a small diesel engine.

 YouTube Preview Image

Exterior

Although new in 2010 and refreshed for the 2013, the 1500 is undeniably a Ram. That’s because Chrysler prefers evolutionary rather than revolutionary styling when it comes to their volume truck. That’s not a bad thing, since the 1994 style cues that have lived on were sexy back then, and still attractive today. The big-rig  front end still captures my attention, but despite my family’s Ram addiction, I find the 2014 Silverado’s nose to be the better looker. As with most redesigns, the front end got bigger, brasher and has more chrome than ever before.

As you’d expect from Chrysler’s best-selling vehicle, you can get your Ram in a bevy of configurations. There are 9 trim levels, three cabs and three bed sizes available. Mix and match them and you can drive for miles without seeing an identical Ram. Of course two of those 9 trim levels cannot be injected with some diesel love. Thankfully however the trims are excluded are the Sport and Express, meaning the base Tradesman trim is diesel eligible, bringing the diesel pickup entry point down to $28,465, $8,150 less than the cheapest diesel truck in 2013. Interestingly, nothing outside calls attention to the engine under the hood aside from the EcoDiesel badging on the front quarter panels. Out back, we get twin chrome exhaust tips, just like the V8 model and the engine idles so quietly most people assumed a gasoline V6 was under the hood. More on that later.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-002

Interior

As I said in my Silverado review last week, I was surprised that GM didn’t delay the Silverado launch to spend some time polishing up the interior. Despite the re-tweaked 2013 Ram being on the market a year before GM’s truck launched (and the basis for that interior landing in 2010) the Ram still has the best interior in the segment. Your level of interior refinement varies by trim level with the entry-level Tradesman model using plenty of hard plastics while the top-end Ram coats in the interior in stitched leather and real wood trim. In an interesting move, SLT and Laramie models can be optioned to have the same two-ton dash as the top-end Long Horn edition although the real wood and a few other niceties are skipped. Regardless of the trim, controls are conveniently located and easy to operate. While certain models keep a traditional column shifter, most Ram 1500s will be equipped with Dodge and Ram’s Jaguar-like rotary-knob shifter. While I agree that it saves console space vs a console mounted unit, it strikes me as “gimmickier”. I found it tricky to use at first but did become used to it after a week.

Front seat comfort in the Ram is excellent, but a hair behind the Silverado. That’s thanks largely to someone at Chrysler’s ergonomics department that has a concave posterior. All of Chrysler’s latest seat designs have a pronounced (and firm) bottom cushion that feels like you’re sitting on an exercise ball. Although less of a problem in the Ram than in the Chrysler 200, the problem is still present. Despite this I had no issues driving the Ram for 2 hours at a time and I still found it a better place to spend my time than an F-150. Rear seats are lower to the floor than in Chevy’s new truck and slightly less comfortable as well.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-005

Infotainment

Things start off with uConnect 3.0 which is a basic head unit with a 4-line monochromatic display. Similar to Ford’s basic SYNC system, uConnect 3.0 offers full MP3/iDevice integration for media without the fancy graphics. Next we have uConnect 5.0. While this middle tier system may look like the uConnect system we have seen before, it’s actually unrelated. Running on a Microsoft embedded OS and not QNX (a UNIX variant), the unit is more sluggish than the 8.4-inch system but offers many of the same features excluding navigation. While other Chrysler and Fiat models will have the option to add TomTom navigation later, that doesn’t appear to apply to the Ram.

Our Laramie model was equipped with the second generation uConnect 8.4 system. The second generation system adds smartphone app integration, emergency crash notification and 911 assist (along the lines of OnStar). The big deal here is the inclusion of a dedicated Sprint cellular modem integrated into the system. This allows the head unit to function similarly to OnStar in that you don’t have to have a paired Bluetooth cell phone to get emergency services (like you do with Ford’s MyFord Touch). uConnect can also act as a 3G WiFi hot spot if you pay for the right subscription. Software updates can be downloaded over the air and the user can buy/download apps via the integrated app store, just like a smartphone. The standard 6-speaker sound system is not much to write home about, but the seven or nine speaker Alipne system that comes standard with the 8.4-inch touchscreen on most models has a balanced and natural sound.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine-001Drivetrain

Base models still have a 305 horsepower 3.6L V6 borrowed from Chrysler’s passenger cars, good for 269 lb-ft of torque. That’s about the same as Ford’s 3.7L V6 but well below GM’s truck-only 4.3L engine. Shoppers can still get some HEMI-love by checking the box for the second generation 5.7L V8 making 395 ponies and a healthy 410 lb-ft of torque. But gasoline engines aren’t what’s new, it’s the diesel burning 3.0L V6 that we’re all here to talk about. But first we need to walk back in time.

In 2007 GM purchased 50% of the Italian engine maker VM Motori. The logic was that GM needed a smooth Euro compliant diesel engine for the Cadillac CTS (and other models) in order to compete with the Germans. Sadly, GM declared bankruptcy between the engine being designed and the engine actually being used so it sat on a shelf. In 2011 Fiat bought the other half of VM Motori and found the engine gathering dust. Fiat had some quick tweaks done to the engine to make it more suitable for their use and the EcoDiesel V6 was born. While there was much talk about GM getting their hands on this same engine for Silverado duty, Fiat recently snapped up the other half of VM Motri making this a Fiat/Chrysler engine in every way that matters.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine

The high revving single turbo aluminum-block V6 engine produces 240 horsepower and a stout 420 lb-ft of torque. If those numbers sound impressive, consider this. The first 5.9L Cummins engine Chrysler used in the 2500 and 3500 series RAM trucks produced 94 fewer ponies and 20 fewer twists. In the biggest statement of progress I have seen in a while, that Cummins also delivered its power via five fewer gears.

Like the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup (except for one model with a 5.7L HEMI), all 1/2 ton Rams now use ZF’s 8-speed automatic transmission. If you’re worried it’s just a passenger car transmission that’s not up to the task, ZF’s 8-speed transmissions are also found behind the insane twin-turbo V12s that the Germans love so much.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior

Towing & Payload

The 2014 Silverado’s 1,875 to 2,100 pound payload easily bests the Ram’s 1,340-1,620 pound range and even the F-150′s 1,510-2,090 is superior depending on how you align the trim level comparisons. (Ford still offers a “Heavy Duty” package on the F-150 which gives it a stronger frame comparable to the F-250 but Ram and GM have killed similar packages on their models.) Likewise the Ram Eco Diesel’s 9,200lb tow rating pales in comparison with the Silverado’s 12,000lb towing rating. Until you actually tow or haul that is.

Drive

Unless you need those extra pounds of payload capacity (a valid point to be sure), most shoppers will be better off with the Ram. Why? Because of how it tows and hauls. Let’s start with the 8-speed automatic. Even if you don’t choose the diesel engine, the 8-speed automatic’s greater ratio spread and faster gear changes more than bridge the 30-36 lb-ft divide between the Silverado and the Ram V6 and V8. That ratio spread and the high 4,800 RPM redline of the small diesel engine combine to make the Ram drive more like a gasoline V8 truck around town. With my 7,500lb trailer (loaded) attached, the 1500 Eco Diesel pulled effortlessly up steep grades with the transmission cranking out shifts like a Gatling gun. The small diesel and tall final gear allowed the 5,800lb pickup truck to average an impressive 24.2 MPG during my week with the truck which included out towing, hauling and 0-60 tests. On the open highway it had no trouble averaging 29 MPG at 70 MPH.

This is going to sound nuts to some, but I’m actually disappointed with the way the engine sounds. Chrysler fitted an ultra quiet exhaust system and more foam padding than a teenager’s bra to the 3.0L V6. This means that aside from a glow-plug icon on the dash that flashes for a millisecond, you’d be hard pressed to know a diesel is under the hood. After the engine has been started you get a brief moment of diesel clatter before it settles down to a quiet idle. When pressed, the engine clatters a hair more but it never sounds like a 3/4 ton diesel. Pity.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-010

Ram raised eyebrows when they announced that their half ton truck would use coil rather than leaf springs in the rear suspension. The change has been lauded by some and vilified by the folks with Calvin-peeing-on-Ram stickers on their trucks. The truth is of course somewhere in the middle. Coil springs are more complicated to design because the spring doesn’t locate the rear axle, making trailing arms and other links necessary. Coils also handle overloading poorly when compared to a more traditional leaf setup. On the flip side, coils weigh less, provide a better ride, greater articulation and help in reducing wheel hop when the bed is empty. The simple truth is that the vast majority of pickup trucks spend their time with an empty bed. The spring rate chosen is an obvious trade off to deliver the RAM’s class leading road manners but it does result in payload capacity being about 400lbs lower than the Silverado at a maximum. Thankfully Chrysler’s 5-link suspension design, adapted from the previous generations of Grand Cherokee, maintains its poise when fully loaded (unlike GM’s 1960s attempt at coils.)

The bigger benefit of using a four-corner coil suspension is that it was relatively easy for Chrysler to adapt the Grand Cherokee’s height-adjustable air suspension system to the 1/2 ton truck. The $1,695 system is available on all quad cab and crew cab models, in all trims and in every driveline and engine configuration. In my opinion, the air suspension and $230 integrated trailer brake controller are worth every penny. Yes, the suspension allows you to vary the RAM’s ride height from 6.7 inches to 10.7 inches, but the real reason I’d pay money for it is that it also load levels. Keeping the suspension at the middle of its travel results in a better ride and more effective damping whether your truck is loaded or not.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-009

The Eco Diesel is listed as a $4,000 option over the V6, but there are a few “hidden” costs. The only model that can’t get the 3.0L wonder is the short bed, short cab Tradesman meaning you’ll have to pay $385 for the 8-foot bed to be eligible. You’ll also have to pay $500 extra for the heavy-duty version of the 8-speed automatic bringing the total up to $28,465. That means the true premium is $4,885 at the Tradesman level. Versus the 5.7L HEMI, you’ll pay $3,350 more. When you run the numbers, the diesel won’t save you much over the 3.6L V6 but the V8 is a different matter. Even at the high fuel costs in California (and considering the cost of urea) the diesel would save nearly $750 a year in fuel resulting in a possible payback in under 5 years at 15,000 miles a year.

Even without the Eco Diesel, the Ram is the first choice in the half ton market unless you needed the maximum towing or payload capacities delivered by the 2014 Silverado. It doesn’t hurt that the Ram is slightly cheaper than the Ford or Chevy when comparably equipped. Toss in the first small diesel, the only 8-speed automatic, a load leveling air suspension system and you have quite simply the best tow vehicle in the half-ton segment. Considering that the Ram Eco Diesel is only $2,720 more than a V8 F-150 and $2,560 more than a V8 Silverado, your pay back window is even shorter than compared to Ram’s own HEMI. Or for folks like my dad who are looking to replace their 15 year old RAM 2500 Cummins but are suffering from modern 3/4 ton sticker shock, the 1500 diesel makes an interesting proposition. Compared to that generation of Ram 2500, this Ram 1500 is more capable in nearly every way. Thanks to GM needing a European market diesel Caddy and Chrysler’s bankruptcy and resurrection by Fiat, we have quite simply the most exciting vehicle I have driven this year.

 

Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of diesel for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.38 Seconds

0-60: 7.75 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.03 Seconds @ 84 MPH

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 67 dB

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 24.2 MPG over 765 miles

 

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103 Comments on “Review: 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    jz78817

    I too lament how quiet diesels have become. For car purposes, it’s fine, but IMO a truck should have a little of that diesel nattering.

    I drove a Honda Amaze a few weeks ago with the 1.5l oil-burner, and under power that engine was pleasingly noisy ;)

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I’ve known a couple of guys who have had diesel pickups partly because they like the sound, but I’m sure that there are at least as many who don’t want to be mistaken for a bread van when they come up the driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I guess the question is really how quiet this thing is and what Alex considers nice sounding?
      I think it is the very same in the diesel Grand Cherokee…but when I test drove one a few weeks back I was terribly dissapointed by the clatter.
      It was supposed to be nice sounding but I found it bothersome for a 45 grand SUV.
      Same MFR…so I think the same engine.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        > While economical in a specific sense, the large diesel trucks aren’t “fuel-efficient” either. Until now. Mark your calendars folks, The 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel is the half-ton truck in America sporting a small diesel engine.

        This truck IS economical – when compared to a Diesel-Electric locmotive..

      • 0 avatar
        Reicher

        The grand cherokee doesn’t have the same motor

    • 0 avatar
      parim

      I agree, the amaze seemed pretty loud for a modern diesels. The vento and the polo also have horrible clutter from their TDI engines.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I have to disagree – but with selfish motivation.

      Nothing I hate more than being snug as a bug in a rug at a campsite and someone pulls in with a Cummins diesel at 1 AM towing a 5th wheel.

      EVERYONE knows.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    The diesel engine payback metric that you included means zilch to somebody who is going to buy a truck like this.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    “The only half-ton diesel pickup truck sold in America”? Looks like someone is forgetting about the late-70′s/early 80′s Chevy/GMC half-tons with either the infamous 5.7 Oldsmobile diesel or the 6.2 Detroit Diesel. Just because they were slow sellers doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. Or did you mean “the only half-ton diesel pickup truck sold in America today”?

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “Or did you mean “the only half-ton diesel pickup truck sold in America today”?”

      I think it’s pretty clear that’s what he meant.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Maybe so, but the very first thing Mr. Dykes says about the vehicle is that it’s “the biggest thing to happen to the half-ton pickup truck market in living memory.”

        I’m not trying to say that it’s not a huge thing. This is going to change the half-ton pickup truck (I hope). But just because it didn’t happen in my living memory or Mr. Dykes’s living memory, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen in everybody’s living memory.

  • avatar
    NN

    so a leather lined, quad cab, 4×4 V6 diesel costs what??? If after all discounts people can buy these at $35k or so, then with that kind of mileage you all of a sudden are selling a massively capable vehicle close to the mid-sized sedan price range, with mileage that rivals some mid-sized sedans. That could bring a lot of new truck buyers in to the fold when they realize they don’t have to live with 13mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      I did some pricing on RAM’s website and to have it decently equipped, but not with all the bells and whistles, or the special trims, ( Laramie, Long Horn) you probably are looking at 39-44K. I know, 39K is not that bad of a price for something that displaces so much air, weighs 6000lbs and gets 29-30 mpg hwy, but it isn’t exactly peanuts either. I also have a feeling that these diesel trucks won’t have the $7,000 cash back deals that most of the full size truck buyers are accustomed to. I actually could see some dealers have mark-ups from the MSRP for this truck. Great vehicle nonetheless. I could see this truck being number one on my list if I needed a pick-up.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Assuming that by “quad cab” you mean Ram’s actual Quad Cab (which is about the same size as Ford’s SuperCab and Toyota/GM’s rear-opening Double Cab) and not the uneducated name for a true crew cab (which, prior to the 2009 model, Dodge had not built since 1985): It’ll run you at least 45K. The cheapest you could get leather would be on a $38K 4×2 Sport model, which isn’t available with the diesel anyway.

      But yes, considering that in some cases you can get $10K off sticker price on any full-size pickup, as well as all the capabilities you’re paying for (regardless if they’ll ever be used), it’s not that bad of a deal.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    A 6,000 lbs 1500 pickup and a 10,000 trailer? You really don’t know what that does to a 1/2 ton rear axle. It’s all fun and games until an axle shaft leaves the truck. Yes modern 1/2 tons are doing the job of older 3/4 tons, but the axles are still the same. You really need a 3/4 ton if you’re going to max out a 1/2 ton on a regular basis. And I don’t want to be around when it comes time to rebuild an 8-speed tranny.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “And I don’t want to be around when it comes time to rebuild an 8-speed tranny.”

      Will it be significantly more expensive than rebuilding/replacing a 6-speed tranny as currently found in an F-150 or a GM full-size pickup?

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        By all appearances the ZF 8-speed should command about $200-$300 more than Chrysler’s 66RFE transmission when it comes time to replace it. It’s not as bad as I had feared. It will of course take a few years for us to be sure that these prices are real and there is a huge variation from one area to another.

    • 0 avatar
      LeadHead

      The axles are not the same. A ’96 F-150 had the Ford 8.8″ axle, the new F-150s use the much larger, much stronger 9.75″ axle.

      Also, automatic transmissions are not like manual transmissions. 50% more gears doesn’t mean 50% more parts. For example, a Ford E4OD has 3 planetary gear-sets, 6 clutches and one holding band. The Chrysler 8 speed has 4 planetary gear-sets, just 5 clutches and no bands.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        No one thinks about the longevity of the latest tech, especially when a lot is asked of it, and frequently pushed to the limit. That’s when I’ll take simple and proven, over anything else. Well I’ll take that anytime, actually.

        But its not just about the # of moving parts, but price of hard parts, torque converter and rebuild kit of a tranny that’s new to the industry. Not to mention the learning curve.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          By the time it is out of warranty and thus your problem, it won’t be new any more.

          Unless you are using the truck commercially and loading it to the gunwales 25-30K miles a year, in which case you should have bought the 3/4 ton anyway. For suburban warrior usage, these things are swatting flies with hand grenades.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Krhodes1 – When ever the 1st wave hits the tranny industry, it’ll be a new to them. But I don’t think it’ll take heavy industrial abuse to break it. Maybe light but frequent consumer abuse. Regardless, my advise comes from learning the hard way. I’d do it different if I could go back. Do what you want, but just try to keep it safe out there.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It’s not just about the size if the ring & pinion. Were the bearings improved? Isn’t there still only one small bearing at the each end of the axle, vs 2 big bearings at each load bearing end of a 3/4 ton axle? And are the inner axles of 1/2 ton still held in by tiny C clips, vs having them bolted to the rotor assembly on a 3/4 ton?

        You get what you pay for and a 3/4 ton is just a few $100 more. I’ll admit my 1/2 ton is more eye candy than hard worker, but I’m maximizing my money by not breaking or wearing out equipment. I’ve got work trucks that I underutilize too.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @DiM/Pch101
          So your previous philosophy is a gas Detroit built V8 1/2 ton is acceptable to tow these weights??

          Now we are talking about an imported diesel from the UAWs arch enemy…….Sergio (Italy), and it is no good an you should buy a Detroit manufactured diesel. What a joke.

          So what does the UAW think of the diesel Colorado if the diesel is built in the US by UAW labour?

          You are very inconsistent with your arguments.

          The VM V6 diesel is the better option for towing than a gas V8, it will have superior FE.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAF0 – I’ve always said towing 10K lbs is too much for a 1/2 ton. Toyota, Chevy, Ram, Ford, no matter. Just like towing 7K lbs is crazy for a small truck, regardless of where you are and who signed off on what. Pay attention. Save your conspiracy theories for truthers that’ll listen and Small Pickup Mafia meetings. Otherwise, keep on trolling…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      What do you consider “a regular basis”?

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        There’s no hard rules, but if you look around and folks hauling similar loads to you in your 1/2 ton are running 3/4 tons, maybe they bought too much truck. Maybe they learned something the hard way.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          This is a first, Denvermike is right. A 3/4 ton would be the go in the US for such a payload. The US 1/2 tons are not that safe with a load like that. Global Pickups Yes and they do have 5 star safety ratings that is not the case with US 1/2 tons.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @RobertRyan – We’re not talking rollover protection or knee airbags here. I’ll get back to you on that one. Just safety of not breaking vital parts in traffic or simply losing control. I’ve seen too many tails wagging the dog. Or the Dodge. And the after-affects. Never mind repair costs, out of warranty. Assuming no one was injured. You have to keep it real and use your better judgement. Make more trips or get a bigger truck, regardless of what OEMs claim. And what small trucks are rated for in OZ is completely laughable! They’re still small trucks with small brakes, mechanicals, axles/spline, bearings, tie rods, ball joints, U-joints, etc, etc. Don’t fool yourself. Use the right tool for the job.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Denvermike,
            I am talking about both as to ignore one criteria would be foolhardy.
            US 1/2 tons have overall ratings that are fairly low as regards “crashworthiness”. Yes a manufacturer may claim a 5/5 , but that is only one aspect of the design. 2/5 and 3/5 is more common for other aspects. Global Pickups are getting overall scores of 4/5 and 5/5 (except the Chinese).
            Overloading the limited capacity of a 1/2 ton only degrades the safety aspect even more.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            RobertRyan – We’re talking about the same thing, but the point is not to crash in the 1st place. And how you crash may have a different affect on separate classes of trucks. And crash ratings differ for different markets, so we’re really just talking in circles. But I don’t see a clear advantage of crashing a small truck. So it’ll agree it’s best not to overload anything. OK that’s my new stance. Thank you.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “So it’ll agree it’s best not to overload anything. OK that’s my new stance. Thank you.”

            Could not agree more. Keep the payload and towing weights within the manufacturers recommended limits.To exceed these could be deadly.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Very interesting review. Wow, impressive MPG from this truck. My only concern is the payback time. For what ever reason diesel fuel in my area seems to stay about 80 cents to $1.00 a gallon higher than gas. Then again I would think, (barring any issues) resale might/would be better over the Hemi.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Nice video review, but I was disappointed that there was no video of the engine bay with it running to hear the clatter (or lack of).

    Dare I say it, but this will probably be an actual “game changer” for the truck market, along with the upcoming GM pickup that will feature a diesel option. Not horribly priced either. About comparable to a loaded Jetta TDI wagon for the Tradesman version.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It’ll sell, but I think the biggest thing this will show people is the difference between 18 mpg and 26 mpg isn’t that great.

    Although its a bit disenginuous to say 2500 diesels aren’t fuel efficient, before 06 mid to low 20s were easy to avg on a duramax. And although I can’t confirm with experience, I’ve heard more than a few people average around 30 with a 5.9 cummins.

    • 0 avatar
      That guy

      Diesels trucks from that era had much less stringent emissions rules to comply with. I’d guess that this engine (or any of the new D3 HD diesels) would be more efficient than the 2005/06 diesels if they had to meet the same standard.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The difference between 18 mpg and 26 mpg would save around $1,000 per year assuming 15,000 miles per year and $4.20 per gallon of diesel (current Bay Area prices).

      I don’t think anyone is going to suddenly find themselves flush with cash and change their lifestyle based on those savings, but I think it is a worthwhile improvement.

      Passenger cars on the other hand have certainly hit the point of diminishing returns as they all strive for 40 mpg.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    As a GM fan, I absolutely think that a lot of GM’s recent launches have been botched by lack-of-forethought and uncompetitive specs and prices, the worst of which was undoubtedly and irrevocably the Malibu. The new Silverado and Sierra absolutely should have been withheld until GM could find a better transmission, especially since they went to all the trouble of doing new engines. The GM trucks may have slightly-more-stylish exteriors, but I would regard the RAM as being superior. What’s more, GM did not seem to consider what the next F-150 will bring to the table.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Agreed, it seems like GM attacked the old competitors rather than set a standard to which Ford and Ram had to strive to accomplish with upcoming trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Another issue is the fact that the new GM trucks are almost indistinguishable from their predecessors, to the layperson. Even if the F-150 and F-250 have been reusing the same bodies for a while, there are signature differences between old and new (like virtually everything apart from the shape of the body). Meanwhile, I’m very *very* good at identifying cars—even pre and post-facelift distinctions—but my current method for identifying the new GM trucks from the back is to look at the bumpers and to see if they have those corner-steps…

  • avatar
    That guy

    Another factor in the cost equation is resale value, diesels have historically held their price premium over gas models after a few years of ownership.

    If you’re one of those guys who keeps cars/trucks forever, then revel in the fact that you will eventually be paid back in lower running costs and diesels do tend to last a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s very true of the E70 X5 that I’m researching. You can find very nicely-equipped -35i or even a -50i model. But if you find a diesel within that price range, it’s likely to be one with the smaller wheels, non-Comfort-Seats, non-Comfort-Access, and *maybe* navigation…

      I also think that BMW quietly introduced the new F15 X5—so quiet, in fact, that I just saw my first one this morning—in order to keep resale values of used E70′s up and move the remaining new E70′s without massive discounts.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Looking at this truck practically, the mileage is nice but not nice enough to pay $5-6,000 over the gas V6 up front. That’ll break even right around the time the emissions system breaks with a $2,000+ repair bill.

    Impractically, a 240 horse motor in a 6000 pound truck is a slug. That implausible 7.8 seconds Alex claimed was more like 10 flat when Edmunds tested one with non amateur equipment. I’m not paying $35,000 for a truck that isn’t fun.

    Ford got it right with the Ecoboost. Making their non traditional motor the most powerful and satisfying in the lineup turned it into a right brain purchase and muted any hesitation to be a guinea pig.

    This needs another 100 horses.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      There’s a difference this in daily life will avg ~ 25 mpg, hook up a trailer, about 24.
      The ecoboost will avg ~ 20 in daily life and ~ 13 with a trailer.

      240 HP is low, but its definately not suicide inspiring Yugo material. The torque is what counts and it has it in spades.

      The new 6.2 GM is close enough in fuel economy to the ecoboost that the fuel argument is nearly pointless.
      Obviously GM and Ram already have engines with better mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      AMC_CJ

      160hp doesn’t sound like a lot for my 4,400lb Liberty, but that 300lb-tq at 1,800 more then makes up for it. Kind of like the engines of old; maybe not fast, but never feels strained.

      This and the new Colorado makes things interesting. I still wish somebody would put either engine in a proper SUV that didn’t cost over $30k…. I think the Colorado is going to be a good bit cheaper when you option the Ram up the same (4×4, Quad-cab, etc.) and still offer all the utility I need.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        There’s not much difference in price, materials, and labor to build a Colorado over a full-size vehicle. The full-sizes have an advantage in their volume. The costs are amortized over a larger volume, making the unit cost cheaper.

        So, I don’t think there will be a huge difference in price, if any.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I’m not sure what you mean about amateur equipment. We use a 10Hz VBox GPS accelerometer just like Edmunds and everyone else. The more likely factor is the final drive ratio and as I recall ours has the 3.92 and Edmunds tested the 3.55. That and track conditions have a big impact.

      • 0 avatar
        dts187

        I was going to comment the same thing when I read Dan’s comment, “I bet Alex had the 3.92″.

        The axle ratio can have a pretty significant impact on the acceleration and fuel economy of a pickup. In future truck reviews, it’d be nice if you mentioned what the truck you drove was equipped with. When I bought my Ram Express, there was a world of difference in acceleration between the 3.92 and the 3.21. I settled on the “best of both worlds” 3.55 so I’m not giving up too fuel economy and too much jump off off the line.

        I don’t have the pro equipment you guys use, but my phone app has shown 0-60 between 6.6 and 7.3 seconds. It really depends on how much traction the road is willing to give me.

        For the record, I have a ’13 Ram Express 4×4 RCSB with the hemi.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Is there any reasonable basis to get an idea of reliability on this power-train? I’m wondering if this engine or a variant close enough to approximate has been on sale in European market Chrysler products and if so, what the experiences have been?

  • avatar
    ajla

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that the diesel is going to be excluded from many of the huge incentives RAM buyers enjoy. That purchase price difference versus the V8 could easily double.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I completely agree. I can’t see RAM throwing $4000 on the hood of a diesel.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Guess it depends on how it sells, but since about half the point of the inflated prices is to make it seem like a great bargain by the time they get to the price they actually want to sell at, I think the incentives will come back once the first adopters are done.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    If this diesel becomes a sales success, it will actually be good for the 5.7L, because dealers will want to dump those. The Hemi is really the “Cool” engine to have.

  • avatar
    340-4

    29 at 70?

    Impressive. They’ll sell every one.

    Now let’s get this into the 300C pronto!

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      You can get a VM Motori Diesel in Australia in a 300c
      “The new Chrysler 300 has a choice of powerplants, delivering unrivalled power, efficiency and control. Cruise in style with the 3.6L Pentastar® V6 with 8-speed automatic, which delivers an impressive 210kW of power and 340 Nm of torque, yet maintains exceptional fuel economy.

      The 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine combines 550 Nm of torque with fuel-saving economy. A Variable Geometry Turbocharger and integrated dispel particulate filter help to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions”

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Why does return on investment come up automatically when one talks diesel engine price premiums?
    This engine is comparable to any of the higher end gas engines. Price out a 6.2 Ford – it is more pricy than this and isn’t going to save you a dime on mpg.
    There was a TTAC story on a reseach study on DI engines (like the Ecoboost V6) and it was found that they produce more fine particulate than current diesel engines. There will be zero benefit to a DI gasser if they are legislated to meet the same emission requirements as diesels.
    I would not bring the GMC 6.2 into the equation since it is held back by a transmission with a poor “under load” shifting map. Google “Fast Lane Truck Ike Gauntlet 2″ to see what I mean. My brother has had 3 separate 6.0 HD’s plagued with similar shift problems pulling 10k trailers in the mountains.
    The reason why many are calling this a “game changer” is because diesel engines in anything other than HD pickups or Industrial Equipment has been a hard sell to Americans accustomed to cheep gasoline and big V8′s. The current drop in price of gasoline may make this engine a hard sell but I suspect many will buy it for the engine characteristics. If it seems to perform more like a V8 as the author has eluded to, that will help sales since most tend to drive like the “go pedal” is a light switch – all on or all off.

    I do find it odd that none of the journalists who test the Ecodiesel mention that these engines are being held back in Italy due to some “unconfirmed” problem. Allpar mentioned emissions noncompliance and/or some sort of ECU reflash. (It does appear that Fiat North America has been plagued by software programming gremlins).
    This engine is rumoured to show up some time next spring in the Ram pickup.

    I would consider this engine in a few years time once gremlins are worked out of the system. The author loves the air ride but I will pass on that one. There have been reports of suspension overheat warning lights on trucks ridden hard off-road. One off-road magazine did manage to generate such a warning. I don’t like the thought of “limp home” mode occuring 200 km out in the middle of no where or in -40C weather.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      What TÜV found out in DI motors is that the burining on fuel jet and the combustion air interface may(!) Occasionally be incomplete. In other words, the engine does not reach the point of the so-called stoichiometric actual air-fuel ratio, which is 14,7:1 (14,7 kg of air per kg of fuel), and required oxygen may be in short supply so particles will be created. That occasional(!) problem is well-known to car manufacturers and there’s already solutions. For example, Audi has models that have both direct fuel injection into the combustion chamber, as well to the traditional intake manifold, balanced according to engine load situation. Or they will add particle traps if this occasional problem will become too important for the Greens in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Manic – thanks for the explanation BUT it does show that DI is not the “end all be all”. Ford touted the EB3.5 as a diesel replacement. That may ironically turn out to be true if it has to comply to diesel standards. Greens will most likely push for tighter emission controls.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the air ride suspension; commercial trucks have been using air ride almost exclusively for the past two decades. The systems work fine for 1,000,000+ miles with few problems under far more duress (20k dynamic loads per axle); no pickup will see anything close to this kind of service.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        These pickups also don’t have the robust air systems as OTR truck.
        Small compressor plates on these trucks are complicated and mostly unserviceable.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “no pickup will see anything close to this kind of service.”

        True, but I also doubt that the RAM air suspension will be the same as what you get on a commercial truck.

        When Jeep started offering the air suspension, Truedelta claimed it was fairly unreliable. I don’t know if that’s been taken care of or if it will apply to the RAM as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Toad – there isn’t a real comparison other that a basic similarity of components. That is where it ends. The entire system on a commercial tractor trailer unit is much larger. A minor air leak isn’t a big deal with large air tanks and air compressor. One does get air bag failures on commercial trucks.
        How does the Ram system deal with entrained moisture? or dust and dirt?

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          A minor air leak is a big deal on a commercial truck because every time they go through a weigh station/scale house they are subject to a DOT inspection; ANY air leaks will get the truck shut down on the spot.

          The Ram and commercial trucks systems are the same except for the compressor. If the compressor is well deigned the rest of the system should be fine.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Toad – a large commercial rig can at least limp by with a minor airbag leak because the system is large enough to compensate. Commercial units are also subject to maintenance and inspection routines and logs. Personal vehicles are not subject to inspection routines.
            An “overheat” and limp home mode in a Ram is fine if you live in a large urban setting but I’m not about to take that chance in the cold or remote parts of the world.
            Chrysler/Dodge has never had a good reputation for reliability. That would make me more cautious with this system.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Why does return on investment come up automatically when one talks diesel engine price premiums?”

    Because I don’t know why else you would buy one over the gas V8 or V6.

    This 3.0L does have a torque advantage over the RAM V8, but it is not like the 5.7L is torque-deficient in the first place. I personally don’t think that the Ecodiesel’s stouter power band is worth $3350 in this case. Maybe it is for some folks.

    Plus, the V8 sounds better, is rated to tow about 1000lbs more, has a proven track record, and doesn’t have a bunch of diesel emission stuff strapped on it.

    On the other side, if you aren’t towing, why not just save the cash and get the Pentastar?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well, again everyone is talking about the additional cost of the diesel.

    So, what is the average price do you guys in the US pay for a pickup?

    When I’m in the States I generally see a mid to high spec, dual cab 2WD with one driver. The bed is empty and bed has no scratches.

    So, this everyone buys a base model pickup is pure crap. The same goes here in Australia if I told everyone that base model pickups are the most common. Here over 70% are mid to high spec 4×4 dual cabs.

    I would think the ratios for the level of trim in the US wouldn’t be substantially different.

    As for the cost of the entry level 8′ bed Tradesman. How much cheaper would it be if it had a 6 speed manual?

    Also, how much is that 8spd, variable suspension, shuttered, 6′ bed Ram that can’t carry a decent load (even by American standards) and can tow very little?

    They are going to be about $27 000. The diesel Tradesman is a far better truck. It also get better FE.

    This Ram is the future of US full size trucks. More costs due to CAFE and other regulations.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      How do you know it’s a better truck? It’s an unknown engine vs a tried and true engine.
      The V8 gets good gas mileage, maybe not equal to the 3.0 estimates, but still really good.
      Also a manual would cost more, they can’t put an outdated 5 speed, they would have to develope a new transmission to handle the power. And then deal with a 1% take rate.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Excellent video, as always, Alex. This truck will be a game-changer. I am already envisioning one of these 1500 diesels with an aluminum flatbed. Great fuel economy and utility = winner.

    I have a long history with the appeal of a lighter duty diesel pickup. I almost ordered a 1/2-ton diesel GMC in 1993, but Dodge’s preliminary PR on their upcoming ’94 Ram convinced me to hold my purchase for a real inline-6 diesel. I was never sorry about my decision. I’m just surprised that it took so long for a 1/2-ton diesel option to return…thanks EPA.

  • avatar
    wmba

    ” Fiat had some quick tweaks done to the engine to make it more suitable for their use and the EcoDiesel V6 was born.”

    What, quick tweaks like completely new cylinder heads for Fiat’s Multijet II system?

    Gale Banks soups up truck diesels. He is gaga over this engine, and is adapting it for US military use.

    I don’t drive a Prius and have absolutely zero interest in these lumbering beasts called pickup trucks. Not even guilty dreams. But I think Dykes’ reviews of trucks and vans is class leading – he’s into them, so I read these posts because of that.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    For a $4,000ish premium, the consumer has the privilege of buying a diesel that is considerably slower and provides only marginally better fuel economy than the V6 gas truck. Not exactly a game changer.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      140 more lb-ft of torque and the diesel torque curve make a huge difference when towing or hauling vs the gasoline V6.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The majority of pickup owners never or only occasionally use their trucks for towing. And many of the rest would prefer a V8 gas motor.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Which only matters if you are regularly towing or hauling heavy stuff a lot. In which case the 2500 might be a better fit anyway.

        If I had a 5500lb camper (for three trips a year) and occasionally hauled rose bushes or car parts, I’d get the Pentastar and pocket some up front cash.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          “Which only matters if you are regularly towing or hauling heavy stuff a lot.”

          I see nothing wrong with having a choice. Owners can choose whatever fits their usage.

          That’s a good thing right?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I agree. More choice is good.

            If your needs match up good with what this offers, or you just want a diesel for fun, then this is a great truck. I’m just tempering some of the “game-changer” talk because I don’t see the broad appeal.

            I expect RAM will easily sell every example they build, I just don’t expect them to build that many.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      If the diesel premium that other used cars and trucks get holds for the Dodge diesel 1/2 ton the new truck buyers may get every penny of the upfront diesel purchase premium back when they sell it.

      The first owners may essentially get the diesel benefits for free.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        It’s a consideration to be sure, but I’d rather have $4000 now for sure than maybe $4000 eight+ years from now.

      • 0 avatar
        EquipmentJunkie

        You are correct, Toad. My ’98 diesel Ram with 190K on it returned me twice the price of a similar gasser…well over the cost of admission. I fully expect this will be the same for the Ram 1500. Diesel buyers are a very loyal bunch.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Completely depends how reliable the mill turns out to be. Cummins trucks of the generation you had carried a bulletproof reputation, so buyers will pay.

          Other diesel engines in competitor’s trucks didn’t fare so well. While they will still fetch some premium over gas models because of “diesel noises!”, it’s only when they run right with detailed maintenance history and don’t have major repair issues which are horrendously expensive to fix do they fetch the big bucks.

          Clean 7.3L Powertstroke trucks often trade for more than newer 6.0L trucks because the difference in reliability is well known.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I don’t know why the haterade over the coil over suspension. The Avalanche IIRC was coil over in the 1/2 ton configuration its whole production run – “incompetent” with load or as a tow vehicle would not be a word to describe. This solution sounds even better with load leveling.

    Ya, the limits are lower but for most of the buyers above the tradesmen configuration, they aren’t going to ever get close to those limits.

  • avatar
    MK

    Wow I can’t believe all the negativity towards this truck! Lol, that actually bodes very well for its market success. (No kidding)

    First off it looks great, im not a big fan of the big screens in trucks but they’re here to stay. The only other gripe is the rear floor fold-down junk, that looks messy and ill take the flat rear floor of the f150 any day of the week.

    If this vehicle is even halfway reliable….which might be a feat give the rams reputation….it will be a big hit in the market. I’m a current fan of the F150 but if I could’ve found a small diesel without paying the premium to jump to the 2500/250 class I would’ve done it. All the torque advantages without the price premium should be excellent for the majority of halfton owners.

    My truck has a high tow rating and integrated brake controller and six speeds ,etc but its not as much fun to drag a car hauler behind it as with a diesel.

    Reliability will be the key,if they’ve fixed the traditional weak spots of the brand without introducing new ones,,,, watch out serge.

    Very cool news ! Can’t wait to see how it performs in the marketplace.

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    Love diesels, but the complexity of urea systems (and their ability to force you into limp / no start mode) worries me — particularly post-warranty when “intermittent” problems start to pop up — especially from the UAW manufacturers.

    More concerning are DPF systems, which appear to be problematic from day one, from all manufacturers (and will probably only get worse once these are post-warranty).

    Speaking of DPF, does anyone know if Chrysler took the high road and has the fuel injected directly into the exhaust stream? Or did it take the cheap route injecting fuel into the exhaust valve (causing fuel to get into the oil, diluting it, and consequently shortening engine life).

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      DEF is injected in the exhaust stream on the EcoDiesel.

      Also the engine does run at full power when the DEF is empty, BUT it will give you plenty of warning that the engine will not restart until at least 2 gallons is put into the tank. It counts down the miles until empty.

      • 0 avatar
        Good ole dayz

        DEF (urea) is a different animal. I was referring to the DPF (diesel particulate filter). Raw fuel is periodically injected in them to burn inside the DPF and raise the temperature to dissolve /burn the particulates. (The idea of a super hot canister under the vehicle when, e.g., parking over grass is a little concerning. But I digress.)

        Some manufacturers inject the raw fuel into the exhaust valve during the exhaust stroke (presumably using the existing injector), intending for it to go down the manifold and thus into the DPF. Problem is, some of that fuel ends up in the engine oil, diluting it. That has to reduce engine life.

        Some other manufacturers are kind enough to provide a separate / dedicated injector downstream of the cylinders so as to avoid the oil contamination issue (though not the other problems with DPF).

        THAT is what I was referring to.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Dodge has a winner here. A truck that could easily tow my 25′ SeaRay(weighs just under 4 tons) and deliver close to 30 MPG non towing highway fuel economy. Sign me up. There isn’t a gas powered 1/2 ton on the market today that touch the performance of this truck. Boaters, RV owners, snowmobilers, ect. will be lining up to buy one of these I suspect. If this truck doesn’t meet/exceed its sales goals I’ll be surprised.

  • avatar
    th009

    Fiat didn’t “snap up” VM Motori — GM exercised the option to force them to buy the remaining 50%.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Great review, as always. Damn, the RAM is the Kate Upton of the pickup truck world. That is one fine looking truck. And there’s brains with all that beauty with the EcoDiesel powertrain. How can mere mortal men resist this combo?

  • avatar
    Spartan

    The diesel in a Mercedes ML is a $1,500 option. Why does it cost $4,000 in a 1/2 ton?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Looks like a winner to me .

    A 1/2 T. , four door crew cab long bed base or tradesman model would be snapped up by both my brothers , they like ‘em like this , for private use , light hauling and almost never towing .

    The coil springs are not really a problem if you’re able to act responsibly and _slow_ down when you load it up ~ it’s a _truck_not a sports car .

    My daily driver light duty GM pickup is an old 1960′s with the coil springs , I like them because it rides nice (to me , others claim it’s too stiff with the minor suspension upgrades) , the optional Dodge air ride system sounds like just the thing to make it better .

    Me , I am empty 99 % of the time and when loaded it’s usually heavy crap like old cast iron engines etc. so I simply _drive_slower_ ~ it’s not rocket science guys .

    I’ve even towed a two axle toybox trailer that was considerably larger & heavier than my whole truck is , no worries , I just chose a low traffic route and day then drove at prudent speeds .

    I hope this new Dodge Diesel is a success and it gets picked up by Govt. & Military .

    Basic crew cabs with long service beds , automatic & AC are a wonderful thing if you actually _work_ with your truck .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I do think that Ram will do well with this truck as long as it turns out to be reliable.
    I’ve known too many guys that swear by the Cummins engine but felt that the rest of the truck was crap.
    I’ve heard countless truck guys say this – a Cummins engine backed by an Allison transmission in a Ford chassis would be the perfect truck.

  • avatar
    cRaCk hEaD aLLeY

    Ram Eco Diesel : How is it possible this name actually passed the oxymoron filter at Chrysler without anyone saying anything?

  • avatar
    BrandonHarlow

    this truck might have pushed ford to reveal a diesel option in the next few weeks. if they could get 420lbft out of the 3.2 5cyl duratorque motor reliably that would be a great option. I would buy that over this if the power was the same. this v6 is very powerful for its size and the 8 speed really makes it fast for what it is.


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