Feb
14

2013 Ram 1500

The 2013 Ram 1500 won a slew of major honors, including a Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Award as the premier vehicle in the large pickup truck class. Yet Chrysler officials are refusing to rest on their laurels. Today, they announced that the 2014 Ram 1500 will become the first light-duty pickup truck in a generation with a diesel engine: the new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, which will be mated with the 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

“Truck owners have been emphatically asking for it,” stated Fred Diaz, president and chief executive officer of Ram Truck Brand. “We cannot rest on what we have accomplished, we must keep pushing.”

The 2014 Ram 1500 with the EcoDiesel engine will be available for purchase in the third quarter of 2013.

Ram is far and away Chrysler’s best-selling vehicle, with sales exceeding 293,000 in calendar 2012. Yet there’s plenty of room for growth in the large pickup class. In ’12, Ford sold 645,000 F-Series trucks (primarily the F-150) while General Motors peddled 418,000 Silverados. These were the two top-selling vehicles in the United States.

The Ram 1500 was showered with awards after receiving numerous enhancements for model-year 2013. They included a new frame, retrimmed interiors, available air suspension, a new Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine, and the new TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission. Consumer Guide stated, “The 3.6-liter V6 offers good power from a stop and has plenty of muscle for highway merging. The 8-speed automatic is very smooth.”

That powertrain delivered, according to the EPA, boasts the best fuel economy in the class: 17 mpg city, 25 highway. Chrysler claims that the “V-6 EcoDiesel [will] deliver best-in-class fuel economy,” and that it will also have the best range and torque rating in the large pickup field.

Chrysler did not make any statistical projections. However, if the EcoDiesel is going to lead the segment in torque, its rating will have to be at least 435 pound-feet. Currently, the three best torque ratings in the class are 1) Ford F-150 with its 6.2-liter V8 (434), 2) Ford F-150 with its 3.5-liter turbo V6, aka EcoBoost (420), and Ram 1500 with its 5.7-liter V8 (407).

As for fuel economy, a diesel engine can make a big difference. Take the case of two large SUVs. The 2013 Audi Q7 with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 is EPA rated at 19 city, 28 highway, compared to 16/22 for the Q7’s 3.0-liter supercharged V6. Meanwhile, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec, with its 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, is rated at 19/26, compared to 14/19 for a GL-Class with a 4.7-liter turbocharged V8.

Although Consumer Guide editors have not driven a turbodiesel Q7 or turbodiesel GL350, we have tested numerous turbodiesel cars. In many cases, our fuel economy has exceeded the EPA estimates—a feat we don’t usually accomplish with gas-powered vehicles.

The main downside of diesel fuel is that it is usually costlier than regular gasoline. On February 11, the average price of diesel fuel in the U.S. was $4.10 a gallon, compared to $3.61 for regular gas.

We undoubtedly will test drive an EcoDiesel Ram 1500 later in the year. Keep on eye out for a detailed report on cgauto.com.

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