PACK­ING SOME PUNCH

Torque is king when it comes to pickup trucks and the fuel ef­fi­cient Ecodiesel has plenty

Calgary Herald - - DRIVING - CLAY­TON SEAMS Driv­ing.ca

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.

PHO­TOS: CLAY­TON SEAMS

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.

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