2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, bed, RamBox. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Justin Pritchard
Thanks to consumer demands for ever-improving fuel efficiency and performance, as well as the recent trend of adding the “Eco” prefix to as much vehicular nomenclature as possible, “Eco” trucks are springing up everywhere, and they’re not going away.
The new GM pickups run a supercomputer-designed Ecotec combustion system under the hood. Ford launched EcoBoost a few years back, turbocharging a V6 engine as a gas-saving alternative to a V8. And now, from Ram, shoppers can specify the newly-available Ecodiesel powerplant.
Following last year’s inclusion of the Pentastar V6 engine under the hood of select Ram 1500 models, the now-available EcoDiesel provides shoppers yet another way to save at the pumps while enjoying all the manly-man benefits of driving the handsome Ram 1500.
The numbers? The Italian-built turbodiesel V6 displaces three litres, uses one variable-geometry turbocharger and makes 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. That’s more torque than the 5.7 litre HEMI V8, and without the giant fuel bill – since diesel fuel, by volume, has more energy than gasoline, which means engines that burn it can burn it more thriftily. You get the torque output of a big V8, the promise of a slashed fuel bill, and towing capacity exceeding 4,000 kg.
That, wrapped up in a package with all of the benefits of the latest Ram 1500. The refreshed cabin is nice to look at, handy in terms of storage space and media hookups and clever little bins and compartments and nooks for your stuff all over the place. The partially-digital instrument cluster, which can call up just about any info you like, is another delightful touch – as is the central command screen interface, which is the fastest-reacting, most easy-to-use and responsive unit you’ll find in a pickup today.
Handy touches abound, too. Lots of them.
Rear seats can flip and fold out of the way, and fold-out platforms beneath each can be erected to create a totally flat rear-seat load surface, if you like. Beneath the rear floor are two deep storage bins that can be removed and washed out, say, if your kids want to bring anything gross home from the swamp.
The Rambox lockable, drainable bins are handy as heck. They chew into bed space, but do offer added flexibility and convenience, depending on how owners use them. On a camping trip, your writer loved the ability to fill them with ice and beverages. They’d be handy for keeping tools or other supplies easily accessible for outdoor work, too
The tester’s air suspension could be set into its ‘access’ mode at the touch of a button from the keyfob, which lowers the body down low on its wheels and makes loading of people and gear easier. From on board, drivers can engage off-road height settings for reduced likelihood of a floor-versus-rock incident on the road less travelled, too. At highway speeds, that same air suspension hunkers the Ram’s body down closer to the road, further trimming fuel consumption via more slippery aerodynamics. Further, on the road and highway, Ram 1500 rides like it looks like it rides –big, heavy, tough and robust, though smooth-sailing on smooth surfaces, and with a jiggly but satisfying ruggedness on the rough stuff.
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel steering wheel, touchscreen, centre stack cluster. Click image to enlarge
The new dial shifter is not, conversely, satisfying or rugged. Years of evolution have primed men to hunt stuff, chase stuff, cook stuff with fire, and shift gears in pickup trucks using manly levers. That’s not the case here though, since there’s this little silver metal knob instead. It’s not unlike the kind your wife uses to activate her designer smoothie-blender. Relegating shifting duty to this little dial does, however result in more room for storage and armrests, and a tidier-looking cabin overall, if that’s your thing.
But the important question I was asked repeatedly in my truck-loving Northern locale was a frequent one by anyone who spotted the Ecodiesel badge: ‘how’s the diesel?’
The answer is simple. It’s fantastic – just what the sliver of new truck shoppers familiar with new diesel engines would expect of a modern diesel unit. Start it up, and you barely hear a peep. The Hemi is louder. In fact, the Ecodiesel doesn’t even have an exhaust note, and it’s free of stinky soot and smells clean and clear, too. Heck, even with 5,000 kilometres on the dial, the inside of the tester’s dual exhaust tips were still squeaky clean.