Chrysler pulled a real coup in the light truck market after debuting the first V6 diesel in a half-ton pickup. Their 2014 Ram 1500 with V6 EcoDiesel generates 240 hp and a stump-pulling 420 lb.-ft. of torque at a low 2,000 rpm. It couples to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission for quick acceleration, both from a standing stop to highway merging speeds.
This is not a new engine, just improved. Chrysler has been using different variations of this Fiat-owned VM Motori V6 diesel since 1992 in products overseas. That’s more than 20 years of perfecting the clean oil burner.
EPA ratings are 20 mpg city, 28 highway, as posted by fueleconomy.gov. According to Chrysler, this is the best highway-cycle test result ever achieved by a full-size pickup.
Thanks to advanced emissions control technology, the diesel’s exhaust is ultra-clean, making the engine available in all 50 states.
Folks who are diesel-savvy will be glad to learn the EcoDiesel’s fuel pump was upgraded to accommodate the engine’s 2,000-bar (29,000 psi) high-pressure common-rail injection system. The engine, according to Chrysler, also benefits from Fiat’s MultiJet 2 technology that enables Injection Rate-Shaping (fuel injection modulated to mitigate noise and improve low-speed throttle response while reducing fuel consumption and emissions). Ram also included a diesel exhaust fluid gauge in the center gauge cluster to measure the contents of the 8-gallon DEF tank. According to Dave Elshoff, Ram media relations manager, one tank should last a normal oil change interval and is dependent upon whether the truck does a lot of towing.
By installing this new powertrain in the posh Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4X4 that was tested, the Ram becomes an unbeatable combination. Its standard equipment list reads like it came from a luxury sedan.
After a step-in of 14 inches to tubular rails or 23.5 inches to make it inside the cabin, you’ll be treated to Longhorn-emblazoned saddle tan, heavily padded, heated/ventilated, perforated leather seats fore and heated seats aft. Standard equipment includes such niceties as power adjustable pedals with memory, heated steering wheel, class IV receiver hitch, rearview camera (handy when hitching a trailer), saddle-bag type pockets behind the front seatbacks, XM/HD radio, keyless ignition, front and rear ParkSense (warnings), 10-way power driver’s seat, six-way passenger seat, a huge console box that can hold several boxes of shotshells, myriad game calls and much more. You may not need or want all these luxuries, but they’re sure nice to have.
The comfy rear seats can easily hold three adults with ample leg- and headroom, and while wearing heavy hunting clothing. The seats split and fold up against the bulkhead for a flat load floor enhanced by foldout, thick plastic panels that can hold cased firearms or gear. The platform also can serve as a platform for two hunting dogs.
A standard 8.4-inch LCD touch screen displays several functions including GPS nav, rearview camera and Chrysler’s Uconnect system for apps, Travel Link and Yelp. Plus, it’s WiFi hotspot capable.
Perhaps the most novel feature on the Ram is its dash-mounted rotary shift knob for gear selections of P, R, N, D. It’s different, but once you acclimate it’s quicker than a stick shifter and can be operated with gloves. Located there as well is the 4WD rotary gear selector of 2WD, 4AWD, 4WD Lock and 4WD Low gearing. The 4AWD is nice to have on rainy or light snow days to prevent wheel spin when starting off on an incline. An optional ($250) trailer brake controller is nicely integrated into the lower dash panel for fingertip adjustment.
When using the keyfob to lock the doors, the tailgate also locks. This prevents gate theft and secures bed contents if installing a hard tonneau cover or cap.
Ram’s optional air suspension system ($1,595), in conjunction with a rear coil spring suspension, gives the truck an uncanny, sedan-like ride. In fact the air system not only helps deliver a supple ride, but it’s adjustable. Via a dash switch, the chassis rises or drops 2 inches to ease breakover and step-in, while two off-road settings allow increases of 1.2 and 2 inches of lift for extra undercarriage clearance. At highway speeds, the suspension automatically drops .6 inch to increase aerodynamics and to save some fuel.
In the past, diesel-powered trucks were noisy and smelly. Not so with the Ram diesel. With the windows closed there’s neither perceptible diesel rattle nor any diesel exhaust odor.
The posh Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab is offered with a 5-foot-7-inch or 6-foot-4-inch bed, and comes standard with a factory sprayed bed liner and a larger (32-gallon) fuel tank. Ram also offers five other trim levels: Tradesman, HFE, SLT, Sport and Laramie.
The price for this all-inclusive, fully loaded (including soft tonneau cover) Longhorn Crew Cab pickup was $55,735 with delivery, after a base of $48,730. The diesel alone adds $2,850, but is recoverable within a few years based on expected fuel economy and a diesel’s traditional longevity. The Ram also scored impressively on the government’s five-star safety ratings by earning four overall stars—four for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for side crash and three for rollover. With 5/100k powertrain, 3/36k basic and 5/100k roadside assistance warranties, the EcoDiesel Ram 1500 is that much more competitive when considering a pickup. The Mossy Oak edition gives the truck a distinctive (American hunter) look.
Powertrain: 3.0L Ecodiesel V6 w/240 hp, 420 lb.-ft. torque @ 2,000 rpm, 20/28 mpg; 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission; 4AWD, 4WD Lock, 4WD Low