I said on the air years ago “the first automaker that puts a diesel in a half-ton truck is going do really well.” Introducing the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. There hasn’t been a half-ton diesel since the late 1970’s when General Motors soured the entire country on diesels.
The Ram engine is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 made by Fiat. Many, including me, expected a Cummins diesel, but Chrysler could not get it to market quickly enough, so they built their own. Hooked to an 8-speed automatic, the EcoDiesel puts out 240-horses, which sounds light, but it also puts out an astounding 420 lb-ft of torque, which will get your load rolling in a hurry. Like all diesels, there is a slight lag upon heavy acceleration, but when the turbo kicks in, it’ll pin you to the seat.
When in the cab, you can barely hear the engine, it’s super quiet. Outside, it has that familiar diesel knock, and it sounds powerful from behind thanks to factory dual exhaust integrated into the rear bumper.
I know most of you are interested in the fuel economy and performance. As my listeners continually tell me, it does better than the EPA estimates. It is rated at 19 in town, actual mileage even in stop-and-go traffic is 22. The Ram is rated at 27 highway, but at 65-miles per hour, cruise control on, flat road, I am getting 30.5 consistently. Note that my tester has the 3:55 rear axle ratio, it is 4-wheel drive, and it is rated to tow 7750-pounds. If you upgrade the rear end to the 3:92, you will hurt your fuel economy, but can up your towing capacity to 8750-pounds.
I dearly love this engine and transmission combination, it’s awesome. For those who just want a diesel, it is wonderful, but I suggest you do some math before you pull the trigger. I looked at the EcoDiesel at 22-miles per gallon average, 15,000 miles per year, at today’s diesel fuel cost of $3.57 per gallon. Monthly fuel cost is $203 per month.
Then I looked at the Silverado with the 5.3-liter V8, also 4-wheel drive. With a 3:42 rear end, you get 355-horses and 9100-pounds of towing capacity. Using regular fuel at $3.21 per gallon, and at 18-miles per gallon, your monthly gas cost is $223. So you save $20 per month at the pump by getting the EcoDiesel which costs $4000. As you can see, the break-even time is long, but in fairness, there are other factors. A diesel engine should go twice as far as a gas engine, so that has to be considered. For people that drive substantially more than 15,000 miles per year, the savings are greater.
Let’s move on to the truck itself. I have the SLT Outdoorsman Crew Cab 1500, and again it is a 4×4 and it has a ton of options on it. Standard equipment includes keyless entry system, cruise control, trailer towing package, wiring harness, stability control, and electric shift-on-the-fly. Right now, including destination charges, MSRP on this truck is $39,860. Let’s look at the options and the cost of each.
*Preferred Package 28T costs $1545, and includes a trailer hitch, fog lamps, power driver seat, steering wheel controls, floor mats, remote start, tow hooks, 32-gallon tank, skid plates, and a few other fairly insignificant items.
*Comfort Group runs $395, which is heated front seats and heated steering wheel.
*Trailer towing mirrors and trailer brake control runs $330.
*Rear view camera and park assist front and rear sensors costs you $595.
*The EcoDiesel and 8-speed automatic run $4500.
*Uconnect system runs $500, you get navigation system, travel link for real-time traffic and weather, and a suite of apps. One of the apps will give everyone in the cab WiFi access, and it works great. Uconnect is one of the best systems I have ever experienced.
*9 amplified speakers with subwoofer is $300.
*Single disc CD player is $195.
*4-corner air suspension is $1695. Sounds like a lot, but it’s a pretty cool system. You can raise the truck from 8.7” ground clearance up to 9.9”, then on to 10.7” if needed. OR you go from 8.7” down to 6.6” for easy entrance/exit and for loading cargo. It is a pricey option, but I think it is worth the money.
*20” black aluminum wheels are $1400.
*RamBox costs $1295, this is integrated toolboxes built into both sides of the truck bed. They have a surprising amount of room, are lockable and waterproof.
*Spray-in bedliner is $475.
So we are at an MSRP of $53,085. As you know, I am one of the few auto reviewers who looks at value, not just the technical aspects of a vehicle. The price of this truck is giving me some heartburn. We are at $53,000 and it has cloth-not leather seats, no sunroof, manually-controlled air conditioning, no blind spot monitoring system, manual mirrors, and no sliding rear window, just to mention a few options I sort of expected, even with the price of the diesel engine.
With that said, there is a lot to like about this truck. It handles great, fuel economy is terrific, torque is great, and overall quality appears to be exceptional. The configurable gauges are super, the center console is massive and extremely useful. There are a ton of cup holders, and numerous places to plug-in devices like your computer. The WiFi inside the cab is amazing, and I love the central locking system. When you lock the doors with the keyless remote, it also locks the toolboxes and the tailgate. The 4-corner suspension is cutting edge.
Bottom line, for most people, a Silverado or F150 has more towing capacity, and with incentives, are going to run thousands less. As an example, a 2014 Ford F150 XLT Crew Cab 4×4 with the Ecoboost engine, has an MSRP of $40,905. There are $3250 in rebates minimally, which gets the Ford to $37,655 before the dealer discounts it. To be fair, that will not get you the navigation system or 4-corner air suspension, but that is a $15,430 difference to achieve $25 in fuel savings for the average driver.
I give the truck a 5 Star rating on technology, the engine, and performance, but overall I rate it at 3 Stars due to the pricing structure and value.
What I liked most: The engine performance and fuel economy.
What I would change: The pricing and overall value equation.
MSRP: Base price $38,665. As equipped $53,085.
Fuel Economy: 19 City/27 highway/22 combined, see review for actual.
Odometer reading when tested: 11,880 miles.
Weight: 5554 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height: 229” long/103.5” wide/75.9” High
Fuel Tank Capacity: 32 gallons.
Towing Capacity: 7750-pounds/1600-pound payload.
2014 Ram EcoDiesel in a few words: Love the EcoDiesel, hate the price.
Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage with roadside assistance.
Car Pro Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Manufacturer’s website: http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/ram_1500/#outdoorsman
Dealers: We have great Ram dealers in Austin, Beaumont, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Phoenix, and Sacramento. http://www.carprousa.com/car-pro-approved-dealers/
Photo Credit: Dodge Ram