2014 Ram EcoDiesel Review – Video

Oct. 02, 2013 By Josh Burns, Photos by Josh Burns and Courtesy of Ram Trucks

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

There are a number of trim level options for the Ram 1500. This Laramie models is equipped with the company’s U-Connect voice-command system that allows for calling up to 1000 paired phone contacts and searching for nearby fuel prices via voice command.

Along with the EcoDiesel option, Ram will still offer the 1500 with its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, which boasts a 25-mpg highway rating and provides 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. The 1500 will also be available with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, which produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. The 1500 comes standard with the Pentastar V6. The upgrade for the HEMI is $1650 more, while the upgrade for the EcoDiesel will be $4500 more than the Pentastar.

Although the EcoDiesel-equipped 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 we tested was on the pricey side at $55,375, Ram Trucks tells us that a 4x2 Tradesman with an 8-foot bed is the cheapest EcoDiesel option at $29,270, so there’s a wide range of trim options available with the new motor. 

Ride Impressions
Ram invited us out to see the new 1500 first-hand just outside of LA in Westlake Village. We ventured from our hotel up into the Malibu hills, looped down onto PCH and eventually ended up at a ranch outside of town.

On the road, the EcoDiesel drives smooth and effortlessly thanks in part to its eight-speed transmission, which we never felt was hunting through its gear set at any time. Loads of torque is the tagline for this smaller diesel engine, and lots of torque it has. The turbo certainly aids in the low-end and midrange acceleration, and it has plenty of power to confidentially pass vehicles on the freeway. The EcoDiesel does not accelerate at an alarming rate; the power delivery is smooth and steady. If you’re looking for more zip, the Pentastar V6 is surprisingly peppy, and the HEMI has plenty of power on demand for those who crave that instant gratification. The EcoDiesel, however, rolls its power on smoothly and won’t be winning any stop-light drag races.

We didn’t get to really test the 4x4 ability of the EcoDiesel 1500, but we did get to kick up some dirt on some fire roads at our test site.

Ram representatives told us the 3.0-liter diesel is only about 50 pounds heavier than the HEMI, so our EcoDiesel-equipped 1500 didn’t have the heft and weight that a heavy-duty 2500 with a Cummins would around bends. While driving in the more stop-and-go residential areas, the truck had an average mpg according to the in-vehicle system of just over 20, while our section of mostly highway driving produced a 27.5-mpg figure. Since roughly this same motor is already in production on the Grand Cherokee (Ram engineers say there were adjustment to torque curves and such for the 1500) and has official EPA ratings of 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, we feel our figures are probably in the ballpark of what to expect.

The 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel will produce a class-leading 420 lb.-ft. of torque in the half-ton light-duty segment.

During our testing, Ram did have towing options available. We hopped in a 1500 equipped with the EcoDiesel and pulled a moderately sized 20-foot-or-so boat. With a max tow rating of 9200 pounds, we felt the EcoDiesel performed just fine with our medium-sized load. We were unable to get the boat weight, but we’re guessing with trailer we were in the 4,000-5,000-pound range. We only covered a little over 20 miles during our towing, most of which was residential with a decent number of stoplights, and we ended up with an average mpg of 13.4, though on a more typical trip with highway time this number would increase considerably.

We had the chance to get the 1500 in the dirt but it wasn’t anything challenging – mainly fire roads scattered with a few weather bumps. The 1500 comes standard with suspension that features twin-tube shock absorbers and coil springs, or there’s the option to upgrade ($1695 more) to the air suspension system Ram launched last year. For the off-road crowd, the traditional coil spring system offers easier options for upgrades in the aftermarket later on, but for some the air suspension might help take the trouble out of finding additional lift in the aftermarket. The air suspension system on the 1500 features four settings: Entry/Exit, Normal Ride Height, Off Road 1 and Off Road 2. As an example, for a Crew Cab 4x4 Outdoorsman (with a skid plate), at rest for entry and exit, the 1500 will lower to a ground clearance of 6.6 inches. The normal ride height level provides 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Off Road 1 will increase clearance a little more than an inch over normal to 9.9 inches, while Off Road 2 will provide a full two inches more than normal at 10.7 inches of ground clearance.

While driving in Off Road 2 through the hilly fire roads, the 1500 felt confident and stable. The eight-speed transmission never fumbled for gears, the half-ton truck didn’t feel overly bulky or bloated around turns or accelerating up hills, and the added ground clearance kept us clear of weathered bumps and ruts on the fire road. We didn’t really get the chance to put its 4x4 capability to the test in muddy condition or crawling up light obstacles, but we did get to kick up some dust. The 1500 EcoDiesel still offers plenty of get-up-and-go to have fun off the pavement as well.

The 2014 EcoDiesel Ram 1500 finally answers a question we’ve been pondering for a few years: When will someone produce a light-duty diesel truck? It’s a great option and one that will probably bring in, or back, buyers into the light-duty market. But unfortunately all “green” technologies comes at a steep price, and the EcoDiesel is not a slam dunk decision for some with its added $4500 price tag. Without knowing the fuel economy data, it’s hard to say exactly how many years it will take to recoup that cost, but given the higher resale value of diesel engines the truck should retain its value better than its gasoline counterparts. It also manages to provide more torque with less displacement, which, coupled with a newly refined interior and chassis, makes for an appealing truck. The 2014 Ram EcoDiesel might cost a little more up front, but it offers everything you’d want from a truck in capability, durability and smooth power delivery, along with significantly improved fuel economy. It’s a versatile truck that makes a major mark in a segment that needed to be shaken up. Our interest is more than piqued.

3.0-Liter DOHC EcoDiesel V-6
Type: 60-degree V-type, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 182 cu. in.
Bore x Stroke: 83mm x 92mm
Valve System: Chain-driven DOHC, 24 valves
Fuel Injection: Common-rail, 200 bar, Solenoid Injectors
Construction: Cast-iron block, aluminum alloy heads
Compression Ratio: 15.5:1
Power (SAE net): 240 hp (179kW) at 3,600 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 420 lb.-ft. at 2,000 rpm
Max. Engine Speed: 4,800 rpm (electronically limited)
Fuel Requirement: Ultra low-sulfur diesel
Oil Capacity: 8.2 qt. (7.8 liter)
Coolant Capacity: 12 qt. (11.4 liter)
Emissions Controls: Cooled EGR, oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filter, SCR w/urea injection
EPA Fuel Economy mpg: TBA

3.6-liter 24-valve DOHC V-6 E85
Type: 60-degree V-type, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 220 cu. in.
Bore x Stroke: 96mm x 83mm
Valve System: Chain-driven DOHC, 24 valves and hydraulic end-pivot roller rockers
Fuel Injection: Sequential, multiport, electronics, returnless
Construction: Aluminum deep-skirt block, aluminum alloy heads
Compression Ratio: 10.2:1
Power (SAE net): 305 hp (224kW) at 6,400 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 269 lb.-ft. at 4,175 rpm
Max. Engine Speed: 6,400 rpm (electronically limited)
Fuel Requirement: Unleaded regular, 87-octane, E85 compatible
Oil Capacity: 6.0 qt. (5.7 liter)
Coolant Capacity: 14 qt. (13.25 liter)
Emissions Controls: Dual three-way catalytic converters, heated oxygen sensors
EPA Fuel Economy mpg (city/hwy): 18/25

5.7-Liter HEMI 16-Vavle V-8
Type: 90-degree V-8, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 345 cu. in.
Bore x Stroke: 99.5mm x 90.9mm
Valve System: Variable-cam timing, pushrod-operated overhead valves, 16 valves, hydraulic lifters with roller followers
Fuel Injection: Sequential, multiport, electronics, returnless
Construction: Deep-skirt cast-iron block with corss-bolted main bearing caps, aluminum alloy heads with hemispherical combustion chambers
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Power (SAE net): 395 hp (291kW) at 5,600 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 410 lb.-ft. at 3,950 rpm
Max. Engine Speed: 5,800 rpm
Fuel Requirement: Unleaded mid-grade, 89 ocatane (recommended), unleaded regular, 87-octane (acceptable)
Oil Capacity: 7.0 qt. (6.6 liter)
Coolant Capacity: 14 qt. (13.33 liter)
Emissions Controls: Three-way catalytic converters, heated oxygen sensors and internal engine features
8-Speed EPA Fuel Economy mpg (city/hwy): 15/22
6-Speed EPA Fuel Economy mpg (city/hwy): 14/20

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