2014 Ram EcoDiesel Review – Video
After a major redesign that earned Ram a number of automotive accolades that includes Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year in 2013, you’d think the company would leave the 1500 alone for a bit. Ram isn’t resting on its laurels, however, and for 2014 it will offer the 1500 in an entirely new motor – one that will be a first for the light-duty segment. Sure, the Hemi’s available. There’s also the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that provided a best-in-class 25 mpg highway rating last year. But the motor that will have people talking is a new 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine the company calls the EcoDiesel.
The 2014 Ram 1500, which dealers will begin taking orders for in the fourth quarter of this year, will look to redefine the half-ton full-size pickup class with its new small-displacement, turbocharged diesel engine. The new EcoDiesel produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. or torque. Although EPA testing will not be completed until closer to its availability date, Ram Truck representatives suggest the EcoDiesel will have a highway fuel rating in the high 20s. It will at least be higher than the 25-mpg rating of the Penstastar V6, but until Ram clarifies it later in the year they will only go as far as saying the EcoDiesel will have best-in-class torque and fuel economy.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
The EcoDiesel motor was developed and manufactured by Chrysler supplier VM Motori, a diesel engine manufacturer from Cento, Italy, that has been working with Chrysler since 1992. Technically the 3.0-liter diesel is actually a new-to-us motor in the U.S., as it has been used quite a bit by Fiat in Europe. Still, it’s quite a shift for the pickup market that has previously only seen diesel motors in heavy-duty options in spite of much of the rest of the world using smaller diesel motors to power trucks.
The new EcoDiesel and Pentastar V6 will come standard the TorqueFlite 8 (optional with the HEMI), an eight-speed automatic transmission that doubles the amount of gears compared to the outgoing four-speed transmission to help further improve fuel economy and “drivability.” The eight-speed trans is also another first in the half-ton class.
Ram Trucks tells us the EcoDiesel V6 achieves 50-state emission compliance thanks in part to the engine’s cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system. The Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system also helps reduce emissions, and the new motor features a unique Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system that will alert the driver to low DEF levels while still allowing the engine to maintain full power (we’re told a full DEF tank should last approximately 10,000 miles). The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is also B-20 biodiesel compatible.
Change is a Coming
Change has been a common theme with the Ram Truck division in recent years, but overall it’s been a positive one. The company moved out of the Dodge Ram moniker and over to just Ram in November of 2009. At that time, Ram Trucks represented 11.5 percent of the truck market; now, the company has grown its market share to 19.1 percent. Ram has experienced 40 months of growth, and the company plans to carry this momentum by offering a diesel option it feels will appeal to a broad audience. Head of Ram Truck Engineering Mike Cairns explained to us that Ram sees this truck appealing to both current truck owners and potentially new truck owners who’ve been waiting for something more fuel-efficient in the class.
“We think it’s going to make a really significant mark in the light-duty segment,” he explained, noting there are two main target groups Ram is eyeing with the EcoDiesel option. “There’s a group of people who maybe bought pickup trucks in the past but left the segment because of fuel economy. We’re taking that reason away now.”
There are also buyers who might be current truck owners who appreciate diesel engines but don’t need a heavy-duty truck.
“The other group we think are, of course, just diesel fans, and there’s a lot of them out there – folks who have maybe been buying heavy-duty trucks but don’t really need that payload and capability are going to look at this and go, 'Man, this is great. I’ve been waiting for a light-duty diesel. I love the durability reliability and fuel economy of a diesel engine.’”
If Ram is correct in its thinking, expect that 19.1 market share to continue to rise.