by Patrick Rall
The Ram 1500 pickup is the bestselling model from the Ram Truck brand. Since before being spun off from the Dodge brand, the Dodge Ram 1500 has long been one of the Chrysler Group’s bestselling models. The modern Ram 1500 offers a variety of powerful engines, including the 5.7L Hemi V8. Even so, Mopar faithful have long pondered why the Cummins diesel engine is not offered in the half ton truck. We recently had a chance to speak with a handful of Ram Brand personnel that included brand CEO Fred Diaz and we asked the powers that be why there hasn’t been a diesel Ram 1500 and if we might see one in the future.
The key reason that we have not seen the mighty Cummins Turbo Diesel
under the hood of the half-ton Ram 1500 is the weight and the size. The
6.7L Cummins diesel that produces 350 horsepower and a punishing
800lb-ft of torque uses an inline 6-cylinder configuration that
distributes the weight in the engine bay differently than a V8. The Cummins
also weighs a great deal more than the 5.7L Hemi (which churns out 390
horsepower and 407lb-ft of torque). This means that the front
suspension of the Ram 1500 would be stressed too much by the added
weight of the Cummins.
Even if the front suspension was beefed up to
handle the mass of the Cummins drivetrain, that extra weight up front
would heavily alter the handling capacities of the Ram 1500. This means
that in order to offer the current Ram 1500 with a Cummins diesel would
require a vast overhaul of the chassis and suspension of the truck.
When you figure that amount of cost and effort required to make this
happen – it becomes a little clearer why we don’t get to select the
mighty Cummins in the Ram 1500.
However, there might be good news on the horizon for those who want a
diesel-burning Ram 1500. The growing popularity of “clean diesel”
technology in the US has spurred many brands to look into offering
small, fuel efficient diesel engines in America.
We have seen smaller
diesel options for a variety of US-sold Jeep models, and comments by
folks from the Ram Truck brand lead us to believe that seeing a smaller
common rail diesel in an upcoming Ram 1500 is not entirely out of the
The issue is balancing fuel economy (diesel is as expensive
as premium grade gasoline) with enough power to do “truck stuff”. The
diesel engines used in the older Jeep models simply wouldn’t be enough
to allow the Ram 1500 to perform as an American truck should, but it
should be kept in mind that Fiat has a large lineup of small, successful
diesel engines in use overseas. Depending on the price of fuel in
the US and the rate of demand for diesel engines (in vehicles other than
heavy duty trucks), we could soon see a Ram 1500 packing diesel power –
but don’t expect it to wear the Cummins badge.Would a diesel Ram 1500 be welcome, even if it weren’t a Cummins? Shout off in the Forums!