By on October 7, 2019

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

The Environmental Protection Agency has gotten around to tinkering with Ram’s latest EcoDiesel V6, and its early findings should put a smile on the faces of the folks in Auburn Hills. However, the estimated fuel economy of the latest (and totally legal) 3.0-liter diesel comes with an asterisk.

While the oil-burning Ram 1500 does seem to beat out Ford’s 3.0-liter Power Stroke both in terms of power and efficiency, both Ford and Ram take a backseat to General Motors.

Boasting 260 horsepower, 480 lb-ft of torque, and an emissions-control system that shouldn’t lead to indictments and fines, the 2020 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel scores a much-needed victory over chief rival Ford. Recall that the Blue Oval’s new Super Duty line walked away with the torque, towing, and payload crowns in the HD field. On the EPA cycle, the Ram EcoDiesel is estimated at 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined.

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

That combined figure comes in at 3 mpg greater than the rear-drive, Pentastar-powered HFE model. In comparison, Ford’s 3.0-liter Power Stroke ⁠— rated at 250 hp and 440 lb-ft ⁠— comes in at 25 mpg combined in rear-drive guise.

Adding four-wheel drive should knock the Ram’s combined figure down to 24 mpg, matching Ford’s 4WD diesel efficiency.

Should the EPA’s final figures land in the same place, Ram can feel satisfied in having trounced Ford in the light-duty diesel game. GM, on the other hand, can feel pretty smug about the whole thing, as its new Duramax 3.0-liter inline-six bears an EPA rating of 27 mpg combined. 4WD models combine for a similarly segment-topping 25 mpg. On the highway, the 2WD diesel Silverado/Sierra’s 33 mpg tops Ram by 1 mpg and Ford by 3 mpg.

That said, the GM truck’s 460 lb-ft falls behind Ram’s torque output, giving Fiat Chrysler a segment win in that category. The horsepower crown remains in GM’s hands, with 277 ponies.

Clearly eager to offer a Ram for all potential buyers, FCA chose to make the EcoDiesel mill an option on all 1500 trims, not just loftier models. Going the diesel route will set buyers back $4,995. At Ford, buyers will first have to equip their truck with a $4,345 options package before springing for the Power Stroke. The automaker recently made the engine available in its volume XLT model, having relegated it only to snazzier trims for 2018.

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

[Images: Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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23 Comments on “With Fuel Economy Estimates in, Ram Scores a Light-duty Diesel Win Against Ford...”

  • avatar

    /Head gaskets explode.
    /SCR system nukes itself.
    /Injectors fail.

  • avatar

    It’s going to take at least 15 years of reliable service before I start trusting any diesels, it’s a lot of upfront money for an engine using much more expensive fuel. I believe last I checked gas was $2.24 a gallon, even at a very impressive 33MPG HWY the fear of high pressure fuel pump, turbo, injectors, DPF, and emission equipment repairs make this a very risky proposition. I’ll stick with the Hemi myself.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I agree. I don’t see why you’d pay through the nose for the diesel option, especially when the 5.7-liter with eTorque is available for probably less.

      I think the expense and complication of the modern diesel outside of the 3/4-ton truck class and above is rather pointless… and certainly in smaller cars like the Equinox, Terrain and CX-5.

      • 0 avatar

        “ I think the expense and complication of the modern diesel outside of the 3/4-ton truck class and above is rather pointless… and certainly in smaller cars like the Equinox, Terrain and CX-5.”

        With the current technology and complications surrounding diesels, I would agree. Not to say I wouldn’t like one, but it’s going to take a lot of convincing and importantly – time, to get me to drop the money.

        I do see a decent number of the Ram 1500 diesels on the road, so maybe someone knows something I don’t?

    • 0 avatar

      Speaking as a mechanic and a diesel fan, I agree: would need to see over a decade of reliability before trusting any *new* diesel.

      If you’re seeing a bunch of them, it’s for two reasons. The first is ignorance on the part of the buyer. The second is that many of the problems can be solved: EGR deletes (just about all of them), other bolt-on hardware (6.oh-no Powerstroke oil cooler), and software tuning (just about everything). Others would require an impractical total fuel system reengineering to fix fuel pump issues. Some appear be more reliable on biodiesel (5.9 Cummins 24V), some less (VW CDI). And a few can’t be fixed at all (VW PD).

      • 0 avatar

        “And a few can’t be fixed at all (VW PD).”

        I’m curious how VW managed to screw up a unit injector, considering they’ve been in use since at least the late 1930s (Detroit Diesel.)

  • avatar

    Never having owned a diesel vehicle, was wondering if they stink at all inside or just on the outside. I was behind a diesel (a Cummings Ram to be precise) today for about 30 seconds and pulled off to let it get farther down the road before I resumed my drive. I gotta assume its all on the outside or the driver would die from asphyxiation in minutes if the cab smelled at all like the tailpipe. Hope we get lots more of these on the road, seems totally reasonable. Guessing these in the article are far different from the the heavy duty diesels like the one I was behind, but unless you really need it for some reason, not sure why anyone would subject themselves, their families, their neighbors, etc to how noxious these things are to just be near them. I am willing to concede that it may not have been in the best state of tune, but my god.

    • 0 avatar

      It all stays on the outside, once a blue moon I might smell some exhaust on my HMCO with the top removed after sitting in traffic for a long period and the correct wind direction, but 98% of the time I don’t smell anything. And that’s on a convertible 6.5L TD.

      I’ve never smelled anything in the work duramax/power stroke trucks. But then again I’ve never allowed unburned fuel to be purposely pushed out the exhaust on any of my personal vehicles, and obviously they wouldn’t on company vehicles.

      But I agree, a poorly tuned diesel (or gas for that matter) that’s exhaust is filled with unburned fuel is pretty tough to be behind.

    • 0 avatar

      it depends. if you were behind an older Ram, or a newer one where the [email protected] owner pulled the emissions hardware off, then yes it’ll stink. But diesel trucks with the emissions hardware present don’t smell like much at all. the diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) takes care of that.

    • 0 avatar

      Even the new ones have the characteristic odor when you are following them, although it’s far more subtle than it used to be.

      Exhaust gets inside the passenger cabin of any vehicle if you are sitting for more than a minute or two, and diesels are no exception. If you have a sensitive nose you’ll smell it faintly at long lights or if you sit idling for some reason.

      (This is one reason I love my hybrid and BEV — the hybrid usually turns the engine off when you’re not moving and obviously the BEV has no exhaust.)

  • avatar

    “that shouldn’t lead to indictments and fines” Yes, I’m TOTALLY sure with their impeccable history we wont see any revisions or problems here.

  • avatar

    We’ve recently seen Nissan kick the 5L Cummins to the curb. I wonder what the future of the 3L diesels looks like?

    • 0 avatar

      Different case; these are all in-house engines. The 3.0 Powerstroke is from Ford of Europe, and VM Motori is part of FCA.

      AFAIK the problem with Nissan is that Cummins really couldn’t find any other takers for the ISV5.0 and the Titan XD’s piddly volumes weren’t worth it. I’d wager Cummins scuttled the deal, not Nissan.

  • avatar


    Only marginally better fuel economy than the lower-end gas engines.

    Still a (much lesser, but still noticeable) diesel odor.

    Clatter and noise (well, maybe for some that’s a plus).

    Questionable reliability and high maintenance costs.

    Probably fraudulent emissions controls.

    I just don’t get why people spend money for this.

    • 0 avatar

      “Clatter and noise (well, maybe for some that’s a plus).”

      FWIW, I drove a couple 3.0 F-150s, and from inside the cab I literally could not hear any clatter whatsoever.

    • 0 avatar

      It used to make more sense than it does. This is the Diesel Malaise Era, and the valid questions raised regarding their sensibility are largely echoes of the 70’s.

      For a *properly-tuned* (this bit is important) mechanical-injection diesel…

      Significantly better mileage than a gasser with comparable power, and a lot better than one with comparable torque. This is especially the case with turbodiesels.

      Yes, it does smell *a little*, no worse than many older gassers. Biodiesel exhaust smells at the same strength, but much more pleasant.

      Yes, clatter and noise, though it varies widely by car. Gasser Civic is louder than E300D and comparable to early TDI.

      Better internals reliability, less to go wrong overall. Depending on the injection pump, fuel systems are either slightly more delicate than a gasser, or will run on anything for decades.

      No emissions controls on older ones. Properly tuned (again, this is very important), there should be no smoke. Coal-rolling Brodozers give diesels a bad name.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      I live in Montana, and I’ll tell you why. In the middle of the country, people need trucks that are both capable and economical, and they drive them as long as possible. Up north, where they don’t salt the roads, trucks can last 300-500Kmi. I was looking for used trucks, both gas and diesel, and it was difficult to find anything with much less than 200K. Diesel makes a lot of sense around here.

      I don’t know much about the reliability and costs to maintain the new cleaner diesels. In Montana, most people remove those systems to increase hp/mph/reliability, but there’s no emissions testing here. If these things end up being problematic, then the case for gas gets stronger.

      I bought an older, pre-urea Cummins Ram 6MT. I know it’s polluting and irresponsible, but with a barely-muffled exhaust, it makes the a growl, whistle, and woosh that is really satisfying. Stupid fun.

      • 0 avatar

        With the current half-ton trucks described in this article, I bet the lowest TCO over a big number of miles in a reasonably capable truck would be a Hemi Ram. An F-150 with the first-gen 3.5 EcoBoost, which is incredibly stout, would also be a decent candidate.

        Maintenance on either of those engines is going to cost a lot less than the half-ton diesels.

  • avatar

    All three of those are, in the real world, so close to each other that nobody should even pretend the differences are significant.

    (But equally if I was buying, say, a Ford, I’d get the 3.5EB in any case.

    The diesel is not compelling there.

    Better fuel economy, at a significant up-front price, but 25 vs 30 isn’t that compelling to me?)

    • 0 avatar

      (And I say the above as someone who kinda likes diesels, and drove one for over a decade!

      The value proposition just isn’t compelling for people not doing Crazy Towing?)

  • avatar

    Despite its challenges, it appears that the GM Truck Group has not yet forgotten Rule #5 of Automotive Design:
    – When you have plenty of torque (and a transmission that knows how to downshift correctly), set the effective gearing such that you are turning relatively low RPM’s at highway speed.

  • avatar

    The difference in MPGs between competitors is probably the axle ratio or something equally insignificant.

    Diesels in half-ton trucks don’t make any sense to me. They don’t do well enough with fuel economy to make the price point worth it and they don’t tow/haul enough vs. the gassers to make it worth it either (you can just buy a 3/4-ton for that, and for less money).

    The small trucks and obviously the big trucks make sense for diesel. GM at least does it on the Canyonados; I’d like to see Ford and Toyota do it on their small trucks, too.

    • 0 avatar

      “ The small trucks and obviously the big trucks make sense for diesel. GM at least does it on the Canyonados;”

      GMs Colorado diesel gets worse fuel economy than this half ton Ram.

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