By on June 8, 2014

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Little known Bark M. fact: Although I have been most likely to be seen behind the wheel of a rear-wheel drive car with at least a mild sporting intent in the last ten years or so, I spent my youth sitting huddled in the folded-down, side-facing seats of a 1985 Nissan 4X4 King Cab pickup truck. My mom, in what was certainly one of the more selfless moves seen since Simon of Cyrene, traded in her Brown Car Appreciation Society approved Ford LTD on the Nissan so that she could more easily transport our BMX bikes back and forth to the tracks of the Midwest.

I am also the only resident of my street in God’s Country, Kentucky, to NOT own a truck. The assortment of F-150s, Silverados, and RAMs in my subdivision often strike a chord of envy within. When it’s time for the Boss to be permanently retired to Sunday Driver status, it will likely be replaced with a full-sized truck, mainly just so my neighbors don’t suspect me to be some sort of Communist.

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Therefore, I was overjoyed like Stevie Wonder when a Reader Ride Review suggestion came in from the DFW Metroplex. Doug had just purchased a 2014 RAM 1500—and, most intriguingly to me, it was outfitted with Chyrsler’s excellent V6 Pentastar. This is the sort of thing that makes Reader Rides so much more compelling to me than OEM-approved junkets. They almost always bring the top trim levels with the biggest engines. And, of course, because Doug lives in Texas, he got the Lone Star edition (don’t tell anybody in Texas, but it’s exactly the same as the Big Horn edition), which includes a Class IV receiver hitch, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and (most importantly) a full-sized Uconnect screen.

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I met Doug at the Hotel Palomar in North Dallas, where due to our limited mutual availability, I had to make the sacrifice of skipping wine hour to take a drive around the campus area of Southern Methodist University. Doug is an incredibly busy stay-at-home dad, with two kids aged 8 and 13, and also with several years of honorable military service behind him. As such, he was able to leverage his USAA member status to get a pre-negotiated deal under $30K on the much-needed Quad Cab version.

The RAM 1500 is, simply put, a masculine truck. Resplendent in True Blue, which is the one color in the CDJR palette that works on everything, Doug’s ride looked much more high-dollar than it actually was. Among the Maseratis and Benzes parked conspicuously in the Palomar’s valet area, the RAM fit in, secure in its role as Texas royalty.

“I came from the land of three-row SUVs, and I really wanted to get away from that,” said Doug as we pulled out of the parking lot onto Mockingbird Lane toward SMU. “I wanted a pickup next, but I wanted a newer design, which ruled out the F-150. It was really a toss-up between the RAM and the Silverado. The Silverado was probably the better truck, but the RAM was the better car. This is going to be a fifteen-year truck for me, with several coast-to-coast drives included, so I didn’t want to feel like I was cooped up in a Chevy Sonic or something.” Easy there, Caroline. He didn’t mean it.

I began to see what he meant about the drivability of the RAM as we cruised at low speeds along the tree-lined main drag of the campus. While certainly not as luxurious as the Laramie editions, the Lone Star cloth eight-way adjustable seats were supportive and comfortable. At 5’9″ on a good day, I sometimes find the seating in full-sized trucks to feel too…full-szed. This one didn’t, at all. Visibility, both forward and rear, was spectacularly good. Even in rush hour traffic, the RAM was surprisingly facile in its ability to make quick lane changes.

Bumpy roads were another issue altogether. If the RAM felt like a cruiser on smooth pavement, it quickly reclaimed its trucking identity over the broken stuff. As we moved slowly through a construction zone, every bump and crack in the road was communicated directly to the driver’s seat.

Another interesting feature of the RAM is the dial selector on the dash used in place of a standard column shifter. Seeing a knob with “PRND” on it was a real jamais vu mind screwer. While it freed up a significant amount of room around the hands for driving, Doug says that he often forgets to shift back to “P” when he goes to turn off the motor. I did, as well, when I was done with the test.
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Although the natural beauty of the campus (both arboreal and human) made it tough to leave, I wanted to test the RAM’s abilities on the twisted arteries of Dallas’ highways. Having driven both Chargers and Challengers equipped with the Pentastar, I was expecting a bit more grunt from the RAM than I got when I put my foot down to enter the on ramp. The 8-speed transmission was nearly rippleless in its gear selection as I accelerated down the slope toward the merging point on 75 south, yet the delivery of power was lacking. There’s just no easy way to get around it—the V6 RAM is slower than you’d want it to be, and perhaps not as strong as it needs to be. While fine for most applications, I would be concerned about trying to merge when towing anything bigger than a jet ski.

Dallas traffic is no joke, and especially not at 5:30 PM on a Tuesday. The RAM had little trouble sliding around in it, though, and even with somebody like me who’s used to driving a much smaller vehicle, spots just seemed to appear for me when I wanted to change lanes. Undoubtedly, the chrome bumpers and the horns on the grill must have inspired fellow commuters to make way. We made our way downtown, then turned back around to head north to return to the Palomar where, unfortunately, our drive time had to end.

When I asked Doug why he chose the V6 over the Hemi, he replied that it really came down to two things: cost and fuel economy. While the four grand difference in sticker price is certainly significant, the observed fuel economy over the twelve hundred miles that the truck had experienced in its life was 16.7, according the truck’s computer. Doug said that he’s actually getting about 17 and a half. However, both are considerably lower than EPA estimates.

Doug’s RAM seems to fit his life perfectly. When I asked him if he had any regrets after a month of ownership, he said, “None.” While he hasn’t done any serious “truck work” with it, it has seen duty as a mulch hauler and as a household project assistant.

For my money, I’d have to consider—do I really want a truck? Doug did, which made this choice easy. He’s over the whole third-row CUV thing. Plus, it’s Texas, where owning a truck is essentially a birthright and owning a minivan is grounds for deportation.

If I did, I think that I’d have to step up to the Hemi, fuel economy be damned. After all, how much worse could it really get? If not, I’d get exactly what I did get in real life for the same money—a Ford Flex SE. Better fuel economy, bigger interior, and just as capable for the vehicle’s intended use. In fact, I just used it to haul some mulch and fill dirt today. Of course, now I have to vacuum it.

Thanks again to Doug for volunteering his gorgeous new truck for our Reader Ride Review. TTAC is coming to your town soon—don’t forget to let us know if you’d like us to review your ride!

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86 Comments on “Reader Ride Review: 2014 RAM 1500 V6 LoneStar Edition...”


  • avatar
    LALoser

    Good stuff!

  • avatar

    With regard to 16.7 mpg fuel economy, it certainly can get much worse. See miles per gallon versus gallons per mile discussions. Numerically small changes in this range make a comparatively huge difference as to those seen when one exceeds, say, 25 or 30 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      For example, assuming $4/gallon gas and 15000 miles/year.

      The EPA 19 combined would be: $3150/yr

      The observerd 16.7 wolud be: $3592/yr.

      If you dropped to 14 MPG: $4285/yr.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    God, what a handsome regular-cab truck that would be.
    SO much better looking than GM’s We-Only-Use-Right-Angles dork wagons.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      IMHO, the hood is too big and bulbous to look ideal on a regular cab. Also, that much hood to hold a pentastar doesn’t jive with my form follows function sentiments.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The article was an interesting read. The Ram with the V6 should be acceptable, even though Bark M. inferred at the lack of power of the Pentastar in that size vehicle.

    But, as the owner stated he didn’t want a Suburban or some other 3 row SUV.

    So, how would the Ram handle 4 adults and a smallish load?

    If the owner is going to use the Ram to traverse the States on several occasions I would expect the vehicle to carry his family would weigh at least 600lbs in total.

    Add the weight of the ‘stuff’ families require on such a jaunt, with a full load of fuel etc.

    What will the FE be in the truck then?

    How well will the Ram manage the additional weight?

    To have a carlike ride something had to give. That is the utility of the pickup, which is a utility. Sort of takes away from the concept of a pickup.

    Maybe Ram will rectify this in up and coming models.

    I’m actually amazed at the low FE figures. But to accelerate the Ram does take a significant amount of energy.

    This highlights the accuracy of the EPA’s system of testing FE as well.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The ride gets much more carlike with 800 lbs in the back. The coil springs are more forgiving than leafs when unloaded, but are still tuned to stiff for ideal comfort unloaded.

      The V6/8speed driveline is noticeably smoother and better behaved in every situation than the driveline of the brand new Mercedes E350. I’m in no way exaggerating. Drove both back to back over the weekend. The Ram doesn’t lurch, shifts as fast and smoother everywhere, and manages downshifts when slowing down for a stoplight with much greater smoothness than the Benz. Switch the Ram into tow mode, and it’s virtually ideal for around town and hilly terrain. In regular mode, it eats freeway, giving 20+mpg in the process. The Benz is better mpg wise, but worse driveline dynamic wise everywhere. The A8 “may” be slightly better, but the 4.0 engine is so much more powerful everywhere than the Pentastar that it’s hard to compare directly.

      While “something has to give” tuning wise is true, the sweet spot/area can be made larger with coil springs than leafs. For anything other than constant hard/heavy use, the Ram is just better suspended all around than its direct competitors. Ridgeline excepted, but that one really does compromise on traditional truck utility.

    • 0 avatar
      Speedygreg7

      I have the same truck at work with 4500 miles. According to the computer, I am achieving 16.9 mpg avg in mostly suburban stop & go driving with the air conditioning on and 23 mpg in highway 60-65 mph traffic. I am very satisfied with these results. The 2005 Dodge Dakota that this truck replaced averaged 11 mpg in the same suburban driving conditions with far less power, performance and interior and bed space.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    When it comes to trucks, I’d probably get the Sierra due to my comfort with GM products, but one thing that I dislike about both GM and RAM trucks is that their extended cab models have jettisoned the traditional, reverse-hinged, handleless rear doors for shortened versions of crew/quad-cab rear doors. In my opinion, it makes them look like impostors. Meanwhile, Ford has continued with the traditional B-pillarless, reverse-hinged rear doors for crew cab models, and I think it makes Ford extended-cab trucks look much better.

    • 0 avatar
      93w250

      kyree,

      Ford uses the same setup for crew cab as RAM and GM do – full pillar, front hinged.

      Douglas

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      True the pillarless “suicide” rear doors keep the Super cab looking sports car/muscle car clean.

      Since extra cabs are more for throwing groceries in the back, tools, backpacks, or loading dogs and small kids, than adult passengers,
      the rear hinges are perfect.

      And I can do a change of clothes on location, while standing in front of the pillarless door opening with both door swung open. Perfect cover, parked between SUVs. Or not. Or for roadside “relief”…

      But I’ve seen full-size crew cabs converted to rear suicide doors. Probably using some of Super cab hardware.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The biggest reason (I think) that Dodge switched to a rear-opening Quad Cab in ’03 was to make people think they were offering a true crew cab (which they hadn’t since the mid-80’s).
      The biggest reason Toyota and later GM switched to rear-opening was probably because they discovered it was easier to strengthen the body for crash/rollover protection by adding a B-pillar. I’m glad that Ford found a way to keep the front-opening doors that it’s had since 1997.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I’d have to say that Doug sums up the whole FCA Ram 1500 strategy, “The Silverado was probably the better truck, but the RAM was the better car.”

    I read a Ram 1500 test where the tester stated that if car companies continued making BOF cars the Ram 1500 would be the best.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Lou_BC
      The Ram 1500 with it’s hike in sales is showing what direction the US pickup market is heading in.

      It appears more people want a SUV with a balcony and not a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Completely agree.

      Of all the pet phrases I inflict upon my friends, they’re weariest of:

      “You breed ‘em, you feed ‘em.”

      and

      “Pickups are the new family sedans.”

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Unintended side effect of CAFE?

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          How so?
          Do you really think people are saying “Gee, I was about to buy a Camry, but then I thought about how the Federal government has rules that increase fuel economy of new vehicles, and that those rules differ by whether the vehicle is defined as a truck or car And then I bought an F-150.

          I’m not buying it. The only unintended side effect of CAFE that I see is a higher propensity for people to whine about government.

          • 0 avatar
            cdotson

            VoGo:

            No it’s more like “I want a real full-size car with room for three adults (or three child car seats) across the back and room to stretch out front and lots of room to pack things for a trip.” CAFE has caused mainstream automakers to severely neuter their “full size” offerings for the most part. The Taurus has not an inch of usable room more than the Fusion, not sure if the same is true of Malibu/Impala but probably is since they shrunk the Impala and widened the ‘bu. Only Chrysler has “large” cars anymore (and the cops complain about it lacking hip room compared to the Panthers). Everyone else wanting a large car buys a crew cab truck, minivan, or full-size BOF SUV.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            Amen, VoGo!

            Dotson, the Taurus example isn’t a good one. Did Ford make a smaller Taurus for CAFE compliance? Hardly. The Taurus has only grown with every generation, and the current generation is positively MAMMOTH. If it lacks interior room, that’s poor packaging, not lack of size.

            You want a full-size station wagon with fatass-friendly front seats, three-across rear seating, and yet another row behind that? One that, unlike a BOF SUV or Taurus, actually is well packaged? Ford will be happy to sell you a Flex. Great car, though its ride is more trucklike than necessary. (Now if only they’d stop raising the price, and bring back the cool white-roof option…)

  • avatar
    ajla

    I haven’t been a big cheerleader for the 3.0L diesel in the past, but if the Pentastar doesn’t really meet fuel economy or acceleration expectations then springing for the oil burner starts to make a lot more sense to me.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Most people I talk to have been able to better epa estimates on the highway, around town not so much.

    Performance is like small block V8’s used to be and the handling is quite good with this short engine making the truck technically mid engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      In my book, a vehicle isn’t mid-engine unless all components of the engine are completely behind the front axle. So…I guess those old 30-foot Bugattis, Duesenbergs, Stutz Bearcats, etc., are mid-engine?

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Beautiful truck.

    It’s amazing how far Ram has come in the last few years.

  • avatar
    93w250

    It was my ride that was reviewed. I feel obligated to note this is, by far, the swiftest vehicle I have ever owned. Bark’s background has a lot more experience in speed and quickness than my driving past does, so his perspective might vary.

    I personally was very impressed by the acceleration. I will also note, that in ten years when this gen of truck is passed from urban cowboy to real work, like the tradesman do, I’m sure I’ll see a lot of V6 RAMS pulling fully loaded lawnscaping trailers with four or five guys sitting in the cab, just like the 2004 vintage trucks do I see today.

    I also should mention, for clarity, if I had to regularly pull, say, a hefty boat or trailer a lot, the HEMI is the choice I would have made. Now, that engine goes fast and hard, no quibbling there.

    Douglas

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Question on your driving pattern. Is it more city than highway or more highway than city? How hard are you on the brakes/how much do you anticipate traffic?

      I’m trying to understand if the significantly worse (to the tune of $400+/yr in gas) between the EPA’s 19 combined and what you see due to how you drive or the vehicle itself.

      • 0 avatar
        93w250

        Driving has been to this point, almost 85% city, stop and go. As mentioned, I’m at home so there’s no commuting on the freeway to work, etc.

        I do have some all highway miles trips planned this summer, will be interesting to see what the MPG is on those trips.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Douglas/93w250
    What would have made you consider the VM diesel powered Ram as opposed to the Hemi?

    Did you look closely at what loads you will carry in the Ram?

    How do you drive, ie, do you have a heavy right foot and ‘race at the lights’?

    • 0 avatar
      93w250

      light foot for sure.

      I have had a full load of fencing supplies in it, likely over 1400 lbs including posts, wood and concrete. No issues handing it. Sagged a bit, but still the most powerful, responsive truck I’ve had.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    V6 trucks of this size are sluggish when empty. Load them up, hook something up to the hitch, and you really realize how much power they’re lacking (similar things happen at altitudes of 7000 feet and above).

    You will NEVER convince me that a full size truck works with anything but a V8 (unless it’s a large displacement commercial diesel).

    I know I’ll get some shrill crying from the ladyboys with their turbo F150s, but my position still stands: if you use your truck, you will not like it with anything but a big engine.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      7.5 to 60 with a 3.55 axle ratio isn’t something I’d call “sluggish” honestly.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        It’s a Jeep Wrangler/Minivan engine in a vehicle with a much higher GVWR.

        Having owned a handful of fleet/farm trucks, the only people that seem to be willing to tell me how “great” the V6 versions of any 1500 series truck are usually dealers who have 20-30 of them rotting out back.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Wait, so a 1500 that’s considerably faster than the V8 Mustangs we grew up with…is slow? Why would anybody need more power in a truck that hauls only teenagers and mulch?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “…my better half told me that whenever she sees a Hemi badge on a 1500, loud pipes on a Harley, or a lift kit on a Wrangler, she thinks the same thing: penile shortcomings. ;-)”

            Sounds like she’s done some “research”…

            The rest of us can only wonder. And ponder…

            But I know for a fact it’s not true. I have absolutely zero interest in sky lifting my pickup, shod with monster tires and adding loud pipes. And I have a tiny penis!!!

            Go figure…

            Back to the drawing board!

            But there’s more to it than just 0-60. With any big A$$ vehicle, a V8 just works. And of course that 0-60 didn’t happen with the family on board with all their gear for a day of camping.

            And no one talks about the longevity of a V8 vs V6. Or resale value, down the road.

            Me, I go with what’s worked since I’ve been driving. You can’t kill a V8 unless you do something real stup!d. V6s will eat head gaskets for the slightest thing. Like a hot day with the AC cranked, the family on board, with a mild grade and following an RV too close.

            Keep your V6s. I’ll take mine with a V8

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        This demonstrates how spoiled we’ve become. I drove a V6 crew Ram for a bit late last year and I found the power to be adequate. Towing the car trailer reminded me of towing with a 4.6L F150. It gets the job done, but not rapidly. The tradeoff was that I managed about 2-3 mpg better mileage than what I usually do with a Hemi.

        All that being said, because it is available, I’d go for the Hemi. But someone who just wants a no-nonsene hauler with decent fuel consumption should look at the V6.

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      “I know I’ll get some shrill crying from the ladyboys with their turbo F150s”

      Want to know how I know you are a jackass?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “You will NEVER convince me that a full size truck works with anything but a V8.”

      The Ford Straight-Sixes, Chrysler Slant-Sixes, and Chevy I6s wish to have a word with you.

      We’ve had a Ford 200 out of a Falcon powering our Owatonna swather for the past 40 years, and I can assure that thing’s done more work than 60% of all full-size trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Just tested a 2014 Silverado 4X4 with 4.3 285 HP V6 and 3.42 rear axle tied to the 6 speed auto and that sucker did 0-60 in 6.5 seconds. It was if anything quicker than many V8’s of the past!

  • avatar
    matador

    No replacement for displacement.

    I’ve towed with five trucks- two Fords (300 and 351), two Chevrolet’s (305 and 350), and a 1992 Dodge Dakota (3.9L).

    The Dakota had a very high gear ratio- it was a perfect truck.

    Both the 305 Chevrolet and the 300 Ford will pull anything… at 50 MPH.

    The 350 and the 351 feel like they’re in a world all their own. And, they’re still small blocks.

    My 305 Chevrolet is cheaper than gas than my 350 by a little, but I don’t think that it’s worth it.

    I’d love to hear from someone who’s driven both the Hemi and the Pentastar. I may be wrong, but the Pentastar just seems too small for a truck carrying any serious load.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      When a friend of mine was truck shopping, he took 2 Rams out for test drives, both pretty much identical, except one had the Hemi, the other had the Pentastar. I took advantage of the opportunity and drove them both. I have had a couple of very slow trucks in the past, a 1977 Dodge Power Wagon, 360 2 barrel with a claimed 165 HP(I doubt it), and a 1982 K-5 Blazer with a claimed 135 HP 305. Both were annoyingly slow, to the point I could barely tolerate them. I never modded the Blazer, but the PW’s 360 got a cam, intake, 4 barrel carb, headers, ported heads, etc, and eventually was able to run an E.T of about 14.75 at Irwindale. Compared to both of these, when stock, the new Ram with a Pentastar is much, much better. Is it good enough to “satisfy”? No way. With 400 pounds of dogs in the back, and he and I in the front seats, merges were uncomfortable. Not scary like my old 1985 Caravan was, but still tension filled. A lot of downshifts, and the engine revving away without doing a whole lot. The Hemi was another story. Merges were easy, no drama. To me, and my friend, it was a no brainer, he bought the Hemi. The Pentastar works fine in his Grand Cherokee, hauling the same 4 dogs, his wife and him, but the extra weight of the Ram puts it into the “not quite enough” zone. I would take a Ecoboost F150 over the Pentastar Ram, only because of the engine, I like the Ram better in almost every other way.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    In some situations I wonder how well the 4.7L would have fared with the 8 speed instead of just offering the Pentastar.

    • 0 avatar
      Speedygreg7

      It would probably be slightly less gutless while guzzling slightly less gas than it did with the 5 speed trans. The upgrade from my 05 Dakota with 4.7/5speed to 3.6/8speed is dramatic. That said, the only reason the 3.6 can move the 1500 Crew Cab is the 8spd. With a 5 or 6 speed trans, the 3.6 just simply could not do it.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Remember that in 2008 the 4.7L was upgraded to 310hp and 325lb-ft.

        Car and Driver tested a ’09 Commander 4.7L with a 16.2 quarter mile @85 while a ’11 Grand Cherokee 3.6L 5-speed recorded 16.5 @88. So fairly close.

        My guess is that a hypothetical 4.7L with 8-speed would maybe be a tenth faster than the 3.6L while getting the same fuel economy as the 5.7L.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “That said, the only reason the 3.6 can move the 1500 Crew Cab is the 8spd. With a 5 or 6 speed trans, the 3.6 just simply could not do it.”

        True. After driving a Grand Cherokee with the 3.6L and 5 speed, then the 8 speed, the difference is night and day. The V6 and 8 speed feels like it performs similarly to the V8 and 5 speed combo.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          The 5 speed Grand Cherokee wasn’t so bad because it was a 5 speed, it was bad because Chrysler paired it with a 3.09 rear end to keep the EPA happy.

          To illustrate how absurdly tall that gearing was, Chrysler put the same rear end behind the same motor and transmission in the 1000+ lb lighter Wrangler and most retail grade V6 Chargers. You could upgrade the Wrangler to a 3.73 for another $50 for the first couple years, which has now been hiked to $500 to keep demand down, again to keep the California greenbean delegation happy.

          5 speeds are plenty if they’re the right ones. With a suitable axle around 3.9-4.1 it would have done just fine.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Dan, I own a 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4X4 with the Pentastar as my wife’s daily driver and it does just fine in mountain country, even with the tall gearing.

            It is the heaviest of the Grand Cherokees, because of the trim, and even heavier than most SRT8 GCs.

            It does OK with only 5-speeds, 6-cyls and and 290hp.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            By the point they equip a V6 with a 4.10, they might as well just offer the V8 with a 2.73 or something.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            The five speed puts its best foot forward on rural roads, when you’re already moving you can’t call for the low gear that it doesn’t have – literally, its 1st gear works out to be taller than the 2014 8 speed’s 2nd. So I can understand your satisfaction with it.

            It falls on its face in stop and go, and I’d want to use 4-low to get a boat moving up the ramp with it.

            Updated reply: 4.10s don’t seem at all out of line to me with a transmission deficit like that the make up. The torquier and 300 lb lighter 4Runner has 3.73s. The 8 speed Touareg (sp?) has the same. The 7 speed ML350 has 3.90s.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Dan, were you aware that the Grand Cherokee can be bought with either the QuadraDrive I or II, or the SelecTrac I or II?

            For your needs, even with the 8-speed, I recommend either Selectrac with the Hi/Lo transfer case, the Beefy rear axles, Air suspension and factory tow package.

            That’s what we have, the Selectrac II with a nifty little twist-dial selector for terrain and Hi/Lo transfer case options.

            (BTW, save yourself some bucks and skip the NAV system. My Garmin 42 does better and I can take it with me in my pocket, which I do)

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          danio3834, my wife’s three sisters each bought a 2014 Grand Cherokee in March/April of 2013 when they first came out.

          Her sisters each traded the American-made Highlanders they owned after each had a disastrous ownership experience with them. Toyota lost three customers right there.

          And you are right. The difference is night and day between the 5-speed and 8-speed JGC when it is coupled behind the 290hp Pentastar V6.

          However, IMO, the better combo is the 5.7 and the 8-speed. The V6 has to spin up to higher rpms to match the responsiveness of the 5.7, all things remaining equal.

          I like the grunt of the 5.7 at 3000rpm a lot better than the turbine-like whine of the 3.6 at 5400rpm.

          My point: you have more pedal left to stretch the envelope with the 5.7 than you do with the 3.6, before you hit the rev limiter.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    You wouldn’t suck your beer thru a straw. Eat your pizza with a fork and knife. Take your Labrador to the lake just to chain him to a post.

    A big healthy luxo truck deserves a thumpin’ V8.

  • avatar
    Dan

    “While the four grand difference in sticker price is certainly significant …”

    The V8 / 8 speed invoices all of $1,400 over the V6.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    The small engine = better fuel economy thing might work in smaller cars, but once we’re into 4,000 lb + territory I’ve never personally found it to be true. If you drive it with an exceptionally light foot you can get slightly better gas mileage. Every heavy vehicle with a smaller motor that I’ve driven normally has ended up returning mileage figures that are almost identical to what I got in vehicles with the larger engines. I had a friend with a V6 Charger, for example, and when driving his on a trip I got a whopping .5 MPG less than I got from my V8 Charger R/T.

    Given the choice I’ll bump to the bigger motor, especially for something like a truck. I just don’t think the mileage argument is really there for most smaller engines inside bigger vehicle applications.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The heavy A$$ Sport Trac with the 4.0 V6 got just 1 mpg more than the 4.6 V8 equipped Sport Trac. Real world, the 4.0 likely got worse mpg than the V8.

      After 4,500 lbs, a V8 is essentially required. With a conservative tune and final-drive gears is fine. With anything else, you’re just fooling yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I’ll agree with you on a heavy un-aerodynamic truck, but my parents 2013 pentastar/8-speed Chrysler 300 returned 31 mpg on a recent road trip. No way can the hemi in the same car deliver the same mileage. City mileage may be more comparable from V-6 to V-8 in the LX platform cars, but not on the highway.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Quite a bit a sheet metal for the Pentastar. I drive a similar 3.7L Ford in regular cab and its more than adequate. I have little doubt but that it would tow 3500 pound landscaping trailer all day every day just fine. So would a Ram, no doubt. 21.3 mpg on 1200 mile highway trip with rush hour highway traffic two days in a row. No one would accuse the Ford of handling like a car, though.

    That said, there’s really little difference in mileage between 5.0 -8 and 3.7L and I expect the same of the Hemi, especially under load.

    The $4,000 price premium for the Hemi seems excessive. For the 5.0 Ford V-8, its only $1,000 or so.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    I drove a RAM Big Horn Edition with the Hemi a couple weeks ago. I observed similar fuel economy to the Pentastar. I enjoyed the novelty of daily driving a non-work truck for a week, but I was happy to have my C-Max back. Getting a child out of a rear facing car seat in a RAM crew cab is a PITA. It also doesn’t fit as well as it would in a compact CUV. Who am I to argue with Enterprise when the RAM and Yaris are the same price though?

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    “a Ford Flex SE….. In fact, I just used it to haul some mulch and fill dirt today. Of course, now I have to vacuum it.”

    And that’s why they make utility trailers. I got a kit from Harbor Freight for around $200, put it together, then go down and get some wood for the floor and sides, about another $100 if you go thick and treated. Add in another $50 tags/title and you’ll never have to vacuum out your flex again. In fact, with it’s flat surface, and much lower load height, it’s far more useable than a truck ever is.

    Or you could be a sissy and just buy a nice one for around a grand.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Mulch and fill dirt are best delivered by the seller, who has an appropriate truck. Anything that’s measured by the cubic yard is too heavy for a daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        A few 2 cu ft bags of mulch from Home Depot is one thing, but I agree with you about everything else. The $30 cost for a landscaping supply company to deliver egg rock to my driveway is well worth it. The Home Depot and Lowe’s near me will deliver bagged mulch on pallets, and then pick the pallets up when I’m done.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    It’s all about torque, gearing and curb weight. Asking 273 LBS FT of torque to do the same as 400 plus should be a good start. Lets also consider that a 4 door 4×4 Ram is going to weight considerably more than the basic reg cab 2×2 model with it’s 18/25 mileage rating so mileage will go down accordingly. I would therefore have no trouble owning a reg cab basic model with the V6 but would for sure get the Hemi in the loaded 4 door 4×4 trucks.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    This article is missing a lot of what I’d like to hear. Despite the author’s ramblings taking up more than 50% of the article, how was the road noise? How was the radio? Any unscheduled service? Tire wear?

    I do agree the handling is unpleasant on anything less than a smooth road surface. My 2009 was the same way.

    • 0 avatar

      The truck is a month old. No service stops or tire wear to report.

      • 0 avatar
        canddmeyer

        Thanks for the update. Glad to hear your average mpg is decent. Mine was 14.7 with a Hemi, but since I don’t drive often the mpg was acceptable. Amazingly, it would get 18.5 mpg @ 65mph, but city mpg was 11 at best.

        Enjoy your ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Speedygreg7

      I have 4500 miles on the same truck. So far, it has been great. I have the base Uconnect 3.0 system and find it to be very good, especially considering this is a work truck. There is no standard CD player, but these days with aux input, USB and Sirius radio, you don’t need it.

      The truck is very quiet and smooth. It does not feel or ride “like a truck”. I credit the light V6 engine and the coil sprung rear end. The doors have thick, tight seals. I disagree that the handling is unpleasant on rough roads. Here on Long Island, one giant pothole would be the best way to describe the roads and the truck handles it well so far.

  • avatar
    AmericanDadd

    I’m going to weigh in here since I have almost the exact same truck: 2014 Crew Cab V6, 4×4, even True Blue. I special ordered mine with the Big Horn package but not the 8.4″ uconnect screen (I got the 5-incher; my only regret). This is my first Dodge/Ram product so I’m no fanboy, I just wanted a nice truck and didn’t want to spend too much. I won’t bore you with how great the truck is, but here’s some observations over 5,000 miles:

    1. I average about 18.7 mpg during the workweek (75% city) with the a/c always on (I’m in Phoenix)
    2. On the highway I get 25 mpg at 75 mph. Speed it up to 85 mph and I’m at about 20 mpg.
    3. Overall, I’m looking at around 20 mpg combined, real world. I’d say I drive normal to slightly aggressive.
    4. A couple months ago we went on a camping trip. Me, the wife and two tweens plus a completely stuffed bed (including bed extender). We cruised the highway and up the mountain no problem. Even did an hour long 4×4 trip the next day up to the fire lookout, still carrying all that stuff. I wish I could post some pictures, it was a neat trip.

    I guess what I’m saying is it’s fast enough and powerful enough that I didn’t think the Hemi was worth the extra clams, but of course that’s just me. Without the 8-speed tranny I would likely feel differently, it makes up for a lot in the power department.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @American Dad
      Your FE seems a little suspect.

      I would knock of at least 2-3mpg at a minimum off your figure.

      Or more since you state you drive slightly aggressively.

      Remember many others also drive what you have or similar.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think I should just throw out that if you only have a small boat or utility trailer or something, every Volvo car/wagon is rated to tow 3300-3500 pounds standard.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Well, remember, they are just now getting to SAE tow numbers. Unless its SAE, take any tow “rating” with a large grain of salt (i.e. multiply by 0.65).

    I can sort of believe American Daddy’s mpg numbers. There’s a considerable break-in period on these trucks that hasn’t taken place with the test vehicle. In my case it was 18,000 city miles. The trucks do best at say, 55-60 mpg. My best tank on my trip was on 65 mph two lane roads. Worst was 80-82 mph on freeway against prevailing wind.The barn-door aerodynamics of these vehicles hurts them a lot. Also, there’s considerable variance between read out and hand measured. My truck fairly consistently understates mpg.

  • avatar
    dts187

    I’m a little disappointed by the V6 + 8 speed fuel economy. I have a ’13 RCSB with the 5.7 + 6 speed w/3.55 rear end. I drive on a steady mix of highway, city, and dirt/gravel roads. The computer tells me I average 18.6 MPG but my math shows closer to 17.5 to 19.2 depending on the week. I do a lot of hauling due to a home renovation and that definitely hurts the fuel economy.

    I guess it could be the difference in weight between a regular cab and crew cab that causes the disparity. Another benefit to the DINK life, I suppose.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I just drove one of these last night, but with the V8. I’m still in shock at the complete absence of steering feel. Especially at low speeds, where it felt like I was a grade school child piloting the SS Wooden Playground Apparatus. It made the Cummins-equipped ’06 Ram 2500 that it’s replacing (only as a requirement for work) feel like an overgrown Mazda, in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “SS Wooden Playground Apparatus”

      Heh.. nice.

      And that’s pretty much how I want a car to behave.. no road-imparted physical sensations at all, just get me there and don’t restrict my vision while doing so.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I just don’t feel entirely comfortable if I can’t feel what’s going on between the tires and the road through the steering wheel, especially during the winter months.

        The steering is also unusually slow and the steering wheel is unusually large in diameter. I figured it should be easy enough for any fit male to drive it without power steering and yanked the EPS ECU fuse this afternoon. But the computers would not allow the engine to start or even remain running in this condition. It was raining and we didn’t feel like shuffling vehicles to get it into the garage so I’ll have to find a more direct way to cut the EPS power some other time.


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