2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: First drive review
Power and economy in the same enjoyable package.
Other than EcoDiesel badging, there is little to identify the diesel-powered Ram 1500 from its gas-drinking siblings. Only at idle does the muted diesel patter reveal what's under the hood.
Fewer combinations have been as eagerly anticipated as a diesel engine in a half-ton pickup truck. Now Ram — the truck formerly known as Dodge — has beaten the competition to market with a modern 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It's resetting the bar for pickup performance and fuel economy because it combines better than 25 mpg highway fuel economy with 9,200 pounds of trailer-towing muscle in a refined package.
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A premium engine, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is optional primarily in the higher trim levels of Ram's extensive 1500 model line. For working applications the diesel is listed as an option for the vinyl-floormatted Tradesman, but skips the basic personal-use Express and HFE trims.
The diesel reappears as an option in the well-equipped personal-use Big Horn and Lone Star trucks, as well as the similar Outdoorsman. It's also optional in the loaded, near-luxury Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited trims.
Regular folks intent on diesel power should consider the Big Horn and Lone Star models where midlevel finishes such as carpeting and premium cloth seats (either bucket or split bench) are standard. The Laramie trims are where power leather bucket seats are the starting point, rising to heated and ventilated seats, along with real wood, heated steering wheels and other luxuries as you climb the option ladder. The higher-level Ram trucks are truly posh inside and priced accordingly.
Under the hood
Ram, which is part of Chrysler and thus part of FIAT, has been able to tap the immense diesel-building expertise of VM Motori in Italy. They designed and built the 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel, which uses an iron block, aluminum cylinder heads, dual overhead cams and 24 valves.
Turbocharged and intercooled, and meeting emissions regulations in all 50 states, the diesel is rated at 240 horsepower at 3600 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm. It carries a 5-year/100,000-mile warranty. The sole transmission choice is the 8-speed automatic.
Ram has long had one of the best, most sophisticated chassis in the half-ton segment. It uses an A-arm front suspension and a 5-link, coil-spring rear suspension. An air suspension is optional, and Ram has added front park assist for 2014.
Ram 1500 interiors range from the vinyl-floormatted Tradesman to the silver-saddled Laramie Limited. There is generous room for adults in the standard and more common Quad and Crew Cabs.
The Ram feels and drives bigger inside than it appears from the outside. The ride heights are tall in 4x2 and 4x4 variants, with a large hood and cowl limiting visibility close ahead.
Getting comfortable is not a problem, but a lack of a telescoping steering column might be noticed by long-legged drivers, although adjustable foot pedals are available. Storage is very good — there are two glove boxes and numerous cubbies — plus power outlets and other connectivity options.
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I bought a left over 2500 4x4 with the Cummins 850 ft/lbs and for under 40k... it is the Tradesman but had several comfort upgrades and is a true beast... so far in 1000 miles I have been getting over 20mpg highway and around 15 all around driving the 6 speed auto is a great tranny.
MY 95' Ram 1500 Laramie small 8 cyl. gets 16mpg...147k and runs like a deer.
I would prefer the gas costs to just come down from their artificially inflated prices.
I can't see what makes this truck so great . I own a 2005 3/4 ton short bed 4x4 5.9 cummins that gets 22.2 locally and 24.5 on trips, typically at 65 to 75 mph some times 80. When I was pulling my 14,000 lb gooseneck horse trailer I still got 16.5 mpg. I paid $34,600 out the door and haven't had a payment for over 3 years.
So tell me again why I would want to buy a new one.????????????????? Looks to me like an over priced downgrade.