By Patrick Rall
For years now, hardcore Ram lovers have been begging for a light duty diesel pickup and this morning, the Chrysler Group announced that a Ram 1500 EcoDiesel will be available in the third quarter of 2013 – most likely becoming the most powerful and most efficient truck in the segment. This will allow the Ram Truck brand the bragging rights of being the first automaker to sell a light duty diesel pickup in the US market and they will do so without compromising capability or efficiency.
The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel will be powered by the same 3.0liter V6 turbocharger diesel that was introduced last month for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Like the Jeep and the rest of the trucks in the Ram 1500 lineup, the EcoDiesel V6 will be mated to the 8-speed automatic transmission that helps make the half ton Ram lineup the most fuel efficient in the class. Unfortunately, no specs have been announced on the new 3.0L diesel Ram 1500 engine but we can take some guesses at what to expect based on information on the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.
“Truck owners have been emphatically asking for it, and Ram will be the only manufacturer to offer a diesel powertrain in the half-ton segment with the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO — Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC. “The half-ton truck market is incredibly competitive, and although we’re honored the Ram 1500 has received a number of prestigious awards, we cannot rest on what we have accomplished, we must keep pushing.”
First off, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel option packs 240 horsepower and 420lb-ft of torque.Should the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel offer the same output, the Ram diesel would be tied with the Ford F150 EcoBoost engine for the most torque in the half ton truck class. Chrysler expects that the EcoDiesel will make the 2014 Ram 1500 the most powerful truck in the class in terms of torque so perhaps the company will tune up the EcoDiesel a bit for use in the Ram to get the torque output a touch higher than the 420lb-ft offered by Ford. The EcoDiesel is at quite a disadvantage in horsepower compared to the Ford EcoBoost but there are plenty of big torque Cummins owners out there that will quickly show you why having gobs of torque is more important than having big horsepower numbers. In the Jeep, the EcoDiesel option offers the same 7,400lb towing capacity as the properly equipped 5.7L Hemi models but in the current Ram 1500 (again, when properly equipped with the towing package and 3.92 gears), the Hemi can pull 10,000lbs. It seems remarkable to consider such a small diesel mill pulling 10,000 pounds in stock form but when you couple the 3.0L V6 diesel engine with the technology already helping the Ram 1500 to tow 10,000lbs – this is not an unachievable goal.
“The Ram 1500 with 3.0-liter V-6 turbo EcoDiesel and TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission deliver on the demands of truckers by providing best-in-class torque, fuel economy and range” said Diaz. “There’s no doubt that being the only truck manufacturer to offer this game changing technology will provide Ram with a competitive advantage.”
One area where Chrysler expects the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to be the best in class is fuel economy – a title which is already held by the Ram 1500 with the Pentastar V6 and the 8-speed automatic transmission. To claim the title of being the most efficient half ton truck on the market, the EcoDiesel will have to do better than the Ram 1500 HFE 2WD that offers 18 miles per gallon around town and 25mpg on the open road. Luckily, the 3.0L diesel V6 in the new Grand Cherokee offers 22/30 mile per gallon in rear wheel drive form so it shouldn’t be too hard for that same engine to beat out the 18 and 25 offered by the Pentastar V6. When it comes to four wheel drive models, the Pentastar powered Ram 1500 SLT 4×4 is the most efficient package with figures of 16 around town and 23 on the highway. Again, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel offers vastly better numbers of 21 and 28 when fitted with a four wheel drive system so this same drivetrain swapped into the 2014 Ram 1500 should easily be the most efficient truck in the Ram lineup – and in the half ton truck class.
So the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel will offer more torque and vastly better fuel economy than any other half ton truck sold in the USA but at what cost? The EcoDiesel option pricing has been leaked online and that information revealed that Jeep buyers will pay between $4,500 and $5,000 for the mighty little oil burner. Provided that the EcoDiesel engine option is available in the low cost, work ready Ram 1500 Tradesman, a markup of $5,000 for the diesel V6 would bring the MSRP into the range of $27,640 (regular cab, 6’4″ bed, RWD). That is about a thousand dollars less than the least expensive Ford F150 with the EcoBoost V6 but considering that the EcoDiesel will offer comparable (if not more) torque, better towing abilities and vastly better fuel economy – this efficient diesel V6 could be a big hit in the US market with those who want a half ton pickup that is strong yet fuel friendly.
The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is expected to arrive in the third quarter of this year.