PACKING SOME PUNCH
Torque is king when it comes to pickup trucks and the fuel efficient Ecodiesel has plenty
Which engine is best under the hood of a Ram 1500?
The Ram in question is the halfton Rebel. Our tester is a 4x4 Crew Cab with a laundry list of options. The Rebel costs the same as the Laramie, both starting at $60,945. It’s a mid-level trim, and above that you’ll find the $68,145 Longhorn and the $72,545 Limited.
It’s best to think of the Rebel as Ford Raptor Lite, with its white-letter all-terrain tires, a locking rear differential, and a great looking blacked-out grill reminiscent of a Fu Manchu moustache. Frankly, it looks cool.
And it’s a cool place to sit inside, too. The front seats have embroidered Rebel logos and are supremely comfortable and supportive. The back seats aren’t so spacious, though, and you wouldn’t want to ride back there for more than an hour. Still, the rear seats fold up easily and the area can be used as a large and handy storage space.
On the other hand, the dashboard trim is “piano black” plastic, and for those working the controls with work gloves or grubby hands, this area will get dirty quickly. Although it looks really nice when clean, it won’t stay nice if you use the Rebel like an actual truck.
Far more practical is the centre console arrangement. It’s a master class in usable space: the overall volume is huge, and it’s able to swallow bags, cameras, drinks, and notebooks with ease. It also has a sliding tray in the middle to hold cups and change, but what really sets it apart is the super cool phone holders. Up front, there are two spots to hold a smartphone with accommodation for a charging cord, as well. It securely wedges your phone in place and allows you to plug into one of four USB ports at the front. There are another four ports at the back for a total of eight, of which four are USB-C.
Blurring the line between feature and gimmick, our tester was also equipped with a dual-action tailgate. Basically, it can open down and toward you like a conventional tailgate, or it can open vertically in the middle, like a pair of barn doors — or saloon doors, if you prefer. I found myself using the feature more often than expected, because you don’t have to lift heavy objects across the tailgate when loading them in the bed. That said, it’s a rather complicated piece of equipment and I wonder about the longevity of the sensors and servos that make it work, considering a tailgate is rudely slammed shut pretty much every time it’s used. And at $1,095, it’s not a small cost consideration, either.
Our tester featured an incredible $16,500 in options. They included the $3,590 Sound and Leather Group that includes the aforementioned fancy seats, an Alpine sound system, a 12-inch touch screen, plus a 4G LTE Wi-fi hot spot.
Then there’s the $2,215 Level 2 Equipment Group that includes dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming mirror, front/rear park assist, and some other goodies.
Also in the mix is $650 for a trifold tonneau cover, $1,425 for a power sunroof, $700 for side steps, and $375 for trailer-brake control.
But the most expensive option on our truck was the $3,900 Ecodiesel engine. It’s a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V-6 making 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. Ironically, in terms of horsepower, it makes less than even the base V-6, but torque is king in a pickup and the Ecodiesel has plenty. Paired exclusively to FCA’S eight-speed automatic, it’s a reasonably smooth drivetrain, though not as smooth as the Duramax in-line six you would find in the Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra.
Conversely, the 5.7-litre Hemi V-8 makes a comforting muscle car rumble, along with 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. That’s 135 more horsepower than the diesel, but 70 fewer pound-feet of torque. It also makes both those numbers at a higher r.p.m. than the diesel.
The Ecodiesel does, however, offer impressive fuel efficiency, with an official rating of 11.1 L/100 kilometres in the city and 8.0 on the highway, for a 4x4 model. By comparison, the Hemi V-8 in 4x4 trim is rated at 15.7 L in the city and 11.1 on the highway. So, there’s a fuel economy price to be paid.
All things considered, unless you regularly tow heavy trailers or you just love the rattle of a diesel, we would go with the gasoline V-8.
With its white-letter all-terrain tires and a great looking blacked-out grill reminiscent of a Fu Manchu moustache, the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel just looks cool.
The 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel comes equipped with a dual-action tailgate.