For some time, Ford and Chevy both hinted at coming out with a small diesel for their half-ton pickup trucks, but nothing ever came to fruition. So Chrysler pulled a real coup in the light truck market after debuting the first V6 diesel in their Ram 1500 half-ton pickup.
Your first thoughts may be that it’s a new engine and as the old saying goes, never buy the first new model year because it takes at least a year to work out the bugs. Well that’s not true for the new Ram diesel.
Chrysler has been using different variations of the V6 diesel in products overseas since 1992. The tried and true engine comes from Fiat-owned VM Motori, or, Chrysler’s new owner. That’s more than 20 years of perfecting the oil burner. And if you recall, Chrysler offered a diesel version a few years back in their Grand Cherokee SUV. But it was discontinued because of newly enacted and more stringent emissions standards.
Ram’s newly minted, Tier 2/Bin 5 compliant 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 generates 240-hp at 3,600 rpm and produces a stump pulling 420 lb/ft of torque at a low 2,000 rpm. From a standing stop to highway merging, the diesel produces quick acceleration. It sends this potent power to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. At press time the diesel/transmission combination has not been EPA rated, but Chrysler says it will be best in class with highway mileage expect to achieve around 28 mpg.
While the diesel powered truck is now coming into dealers’ showrooms, Drew Winter, WardsAuto says, “ Ram’s EcoDiesel is quiet, strong and as smooth as the diesels we’ve been testing in luxury cars. It works in perfect harmony with the 8-speed transmission that delivers an unbeatable combination of power and efficiency. And thanks to advanced emissions control technology, its exhaust is ultra-clean making the engine available in all 50 states.”
(Motor Trend liked the diesel-equipped Ram so much they awarded it their prestigious “Truck of the Year” award)
For truck buyers who are diesel savvy, the EcoDiesel’s fuel pump was upgraded to accommodate the engines’ 2,000-bar (29,000 psi) high-pressure common-rail injection system. The engine, says Chrysler, also benefits from Fiat’s MultiJet 2 technology, which enables Injection Rate-Shaping (fuel injection that is modulated to mitigate noise and improve low-speed throttle response, while reducing fuel consumption and emissions). They’ve also included a diesel exhaust fluid gauge in the center gauge cluster, which measures the contents in the truck’s 8-gallon DEF tank. According to Dave Elshoff, Ram media relation’s 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 tested, the Ram becomes an unbeatable combination. The standard equipment list reads like it came from a luxury sedan.
After a step-in of 14 inches to the tubular rails and 23.5 inside the cabin, you’ll be treated to saddle tan, heavily padded heated/ventilated, perforated leather seats fore and heated seats aft. Standard equipment includes such niceties as rain sensing wipers, saddle-bag type pockets behind the front seatbacks, Longhorn badging, XM radio, keyless ignition, front and rear ParkSense (warnings) and more.
The comfy rear seats can easily hold three adults or four tweens with gobs of leg and headroom. The seats split and fold up against the bulkhead for a flat load floor atop nifty foldout panels.
A large 6.5x5-inch LCD screen displays a myriad of functions including GPS nav, rearview camera and Chrysler’s Uconnect system for audio, apps, Travel Link, Yelp plus you can add your own favorites list and it’s WiFi hotspot capable.
And like some luxury sedans, the Longhorn had adjustable pedals plus heated steering wheel.
Perhaps the most novel feature on the Ram is its rotary shift knob for gear selections of P, R, N, D. It’s different, but once you acclimate to it, it’s quicker than a stick shifter and can be operated with gloves on. Located there as well is the 4WD rotary gear selector of 2WD, 4AWD, 4WD Lock and 4WD Low.
When using the keyfob to lock the doors, the tailgate also locks, which prevents gate theft and secures bed contents if installing a hard tonneau cover or cap.
The optional air suspension system ($1,595) in conjunction with a rear coil spring suspension, gives the Ram a sedan-like ride. In fact the air system not only helps deliver a supple ride, but it’s adjustable. With a dash switch, the chassis can drop 2 inches to ease leftover and step-in, while 2 off-road settings allow increases of 1.2 and 2 inches of lift for extra undercarriage clearance. At highway speeds, the suspension automatically drops 0.6-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.
Diesel powered trucks make great tow vehicles because of their high torque. And the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is rated for 9,200 pounds. In comparison, the Ram with 5.7L V8 can tow up to 10,450 pounds.
Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab is offered with either a 5’7” or 6’4” bed with factory sprayed liner.
The price for this all-inclusive, fully loaded (including soft tonneau cover) pickup is $55,735 with delivery after a base of $48,730. The diesel alone adds $2,850, but it’s recoverable within a few years based on expected fuel economy and a diesels’ traditional longevity.
The Ram also scored impressively on the governments 5-star safety ratings by earning four overall stars, four for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for side crash and three for rollover. And with a 5/100K powertrain, 3/36K basic and 5/100K roadside assistance warranties, the Ram is that much more competitive.
To check out a Ram diesel, stop by Rothrock Motors on 15th Street and Route 22 in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.