2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: a winning combination
We can criticize Chrysler for not offering hybrid vehicles in their current product line-up, but their efforts made in reducing the fuel consumption of their trucks are commendable.
After all, about 80 per cent of the company’s overall sales are trucks, so the strategy of making them more fuel efficient is perfectly logical. In addition, the Ram pickup accounts for 30 per cent of Chrysler Canada’s national sales, so it’s crucial to constantly find ways to improve their most popular model, in order to remain competitive.
After adding the 3.6L V6 in the 2013 Ram 1500, a new turbodiesel 3.0L V6 is now available in the 2014 edition. It’s actually the same one that’s offered in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
A small diesel engine in a big pickup is a great idea. Why haven’t the domestic automakers thought of this before? They probably did, and a long time ago, but didn’t have such an en- gine available, or the ones they did have in the parts bin of their European subsidiaries couldn’t meet the stricter North-American emissions regulations. But now, the giant Fiat powertrain catalogue opens up for Chrysler, and they didn’t waste any time figuring out what they needed. Muscular, yet efficient The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel serves up 240 horsepower as well as 420 lb-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm. Chrysler has no trouble comparing their new turbodiesel motor to the Ford F-150’s EcoBoost V6; at least, in terms of fuel economy. While the official numbers have yet to be released in Canada, the company expects the Ram EcoDiesel to deliver about eight to 10 per cent lower consumption than the models equipped with the gas Pentastar V6. Attached to a four-wheel drivetrain, the latter boasts a highway average of 8.5 L/100km.
In both cases, the engine is matched to an eightspeed automatic transmission, whose mission is to figure out the best rev range according to driving conditions, in order to deliver the best possible fuel economy.
The diesel V6 notably trumps the gas V6 in the towing capacity department. The Ram EcoDiesel can pull up to 9,200 lbs. (or 4,173 kg), more or less halfway between the limits of the Pentastar V6 and the mighty 5.7L HEMI V8. By the way, Chrysler significantly increased the gas V6 engine’s tow ratings for the 2014 model year.
On the road, the diesel engine, sourced from Italian company VM Motori that’s owned by Fiat, doesn’t feel as lively during take-offs as the gas V6. However, we adore its prodigious low-rpm torque during reacceleration. In addition, it’s quiet and refined at speed and at idle. In short, it seems very well adapted for the Ram pickup. Other new stuff Chrysler brought a lot of improvements to the 2013 Ram 1500, which obviously soldier on for 2014. Among them is a four-corner air suspension, which can raise the truck for extra ground clearance, or lower it for easier ingress/egress. This optional suspension package also drops the height of the truck automatically at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics.
The cockpit notably ben- efits from an ever-improving quality finish, as well as the excellent Uconnect 8.4A touchscreen infotainment system, a must-have option. And for 2014, Ram added front sonar for making parking jobs easier.
The Rambox bedmounted storage cases are still offered, very practical for storing tools or dirty objects. Those bins now lock themselves at the same time as the doors when using the keyfob. On the other hand, the Rambox cases eat up the bed’s width, so be sure what you’re planning on hauling will fit before deciding. A good deal? According to Chrysler, the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is available starting from $36,395 in base ST trim, or about $4,500 more than a similarly equipped model with the gas-powered V6. It will also be available in more luxurious trims levels, such as the Laramie version that we drove. A few years of saving fuel will be required before recuperating the initial extra cost, but usually, vehicles equipped with diesel engines benefit from a stronger resale value.
So, it’s a marvel of a small engine that serves up low fuel consumption and high tow capacity. However, that diesel motor doesn’t come cheap. Yet it’s a unique product in its category, and an excellent solution for those who prefer the character and torque of a diesel, but that just don’t need a heavy-duty pickup such as the Ram 2500/3500.
Great towing capacity Low fuel consumption Quality cockpit finish
Diesel engine isn’t cheap
Not much more frugal than Pentastar V6
Rambox bins reduce bed width
Chrysler brought a lot of improvements to the 2013 Ram 1500.