A diesel in a half-ton pickup? In a heavy-duty pickup, a 2500 or F-250 or so, sure. Nothing new there. But no one has put a diesel engine in a standard full-size pickup, at least recently, at least recently until now. Behold the 2015 Ram 1500 powered by the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine.
And we do mean powered. The three-liter diesel is rated at 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. And if we read the tow chart correctly—there’s a bewildering choice of cabs, beds, powertrains and trims—the Ram 1500 with the diesel has a tow rating up to 9,200 lbs. Our test 2014 Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4×4 Laramie Edition—if we’re reading the chart correctly—is rated at a max of 8,600 lbs. And that’s a lot of trailer. Just for comparison, tow rating with the 5.7-liter Hemi doesn’t go much beyond 10,000 lbs.
And there’s the other advantage of the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel: Fuel mileage. It’s in the twenties. But we’ll get to that later.
And remember, this is a full-size crew cab four-wheel drive pickup truck weighing 6,000 lbs.
And if it seems like we’re starting a lot of paragraphs with “and,” well, it’s that kind of truck. The superlatives just keep on coming. We’ll get back to the engine in a moment, but let’s talk overall. And that’s a vehicle that’s premium automobile, if not luxury.
The shape is now familiar, the latest iteration of the Ram nee Dodge pickup truck line, with the raised hood and lowered fender line. The crosshair grille also is well known, though in this case shiny as a Laramie Limited Edition’s grille should be. Our truck also had equally shiny 20-inch wheels, a body-color rear bumper with step pads, and big trailer-tow mirrors, plus a $1,295 option, the RamBox storage boxes atop each outer pickup bed wall, easily worth the money.
Inside, our test 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited had dual-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, Uconnect audio and navigation with a huge 8.4-inch display, all standard, plus optional, a full leather treatment with decorative stitching, including front and rear seats, steering wheel and even assist handles and “saddlebag” pouches on the backs of the front bucket seats. Also optional are a heated steering wheel—you want that in the winter—and ventilated front seats—ditto in the summer.
Our test pickup also had the optional automatic high beams, a nice option, but valuable for matrimonial harmony, air suspension. The latter not only smooths out the ride—bring on your best car—but also can lower two inches for entry/exit and rise one and two inches from the standard right height for Offroad 1 and Offroad 2. This up and down doesn’t sound like a lot but it makes a big difference.
The interior has more bins, cubbies and storage boxes of different sizes than anything we’ve been in lately, part of which is made possible by the rotary gear selector. Even shift levers are electronic now. There’s no linkage connecting to the transmission. So the Ram 1500 (along with the Chrysler 200) has a twist knob to do the job.
The width of the truck makes a tight squeeze in most parking lots and such, but also makes for extra room inside. The front buckets would better be called washtub seats they’re so big, and the center console wide. The wide center armrest opens on two levels, with a shallow tray over a deeper bin. That’s where you’ll find the optional CD player, a slot on one side of the bin. Yes, a CD player is a separate option. Your CD’s are almost as obsolete as your eight-track tapes.
The instrument panel, where to begin? In between the tachometer and speedometer is a high-resolution color screen with every shred of data and information a rational person could want. In the lower left corner of the instrument cluster, however, is an old-fashioned needle-and-dial gauge with a new-fashion function. It’s labeled “DEF” which stands for “Diesel Exhaust Fluid.”
Said Diesel Exhaust Fluid is a urea solution that’s sprayed into the exhaust to reduce NOx emissions. The Germans call it AdBlue and hide the filler somewhere only a trained professional can refill. For the Ram EcoDiesel engine, however, it’s under the fuel filler door, right next to the capless fuel filler, where every owner can get to. The DEF gauge simply tells how much of the stuff is left. A full tank will last about 10,000 miles, which if the right weight of oil is the proper oil change interval.
The EcoDiesel V-6, the point of the DEF, is the point of this review, the unique bit of this vehicle. It’s not a converted gas engine. It’s made by VM Motori, a Chrysler Group diesel engine supplier since 1992 (and now a 50/50 joint venture with GM).