WHAT IT IS: Rolling out between now and the end of the year, all 1500 series Ram trucks will be able to be equipped with the next-generation EcoDiesel 3.0-liter V6. The diesel engine has gotten a power upgrade over previous iterations and now produces 260 horsepower and a stump-pulling 480 lb-ft of torque (at 1,600 RPM as well). The biggest selling point of the EcoDiesel is the fuel economy, with 2WD trucks being rated at a borderline incredible 32 MPG on the highway and 22 MPG city. The V6 eTorque 2WD gets 25 highway and the Hemi V8 2WD gets 23, so there is a healthy improvement with the EcoDiesel engine. When comparing combined ratings, the EcoDiesel gets 26 MPG and the Hemi eTorque gets 19, so roughly a 50% improvement.
The EcoDiesel engine is a $4,995 upgrade over the V6 or $3,500 over the Hemi V8, and with diesel costing about 20% more than gasoline, you’ll have to be driving some serious miles for it to make sense on a purely fiscal basis. The tow ratings between the EcoDiesel and the Hemi are effectively identical, although you can expect a significant increase in MPG while towing with the EcoDiesel.
The choices basically work down to this: If you rarely tow, go with the eTorque V6. If you need to tow heavier items and drive a lot, then go with the EcoDiesel. If you want the fastest truck available and gas mileage is not a concern, then go with the Hemi V8. With some rough math and comparing the combined fuel economies, if gasoline is $2/gallon and diesel is $2.40/gallon, then you’d have to drive 271,000 miles to break even. Comparing highway mileage, it’s still 220,000 miles. Ouch. There are other potential benefits, such as slightly lower maintenance costs, but those are likely offset with the EcoDiesel requiring infrequent diesel exhaust fluid to keep emissions down.
One tangible benefit is the unbelievable range available with the EcoDiesel. The optional 33-gallon fuel tank combined with 32 MPG highway offers a staggering 1,056 miles of range. You can drive all of the way from Houston to Chicago on one tank of diesel, which is pretty incredible.
I was also really impressed with how quiet the diesel engine is. Inside the cabin, 99% of passengers would never even know that something was different. This is certainly not your grandfather’s 1970s Mercedes diesel. They’ve spent a lot of effort on sound deadening in all of the Ram models and when you pair that with an engine that has also gotten the silent treatment, you can barely hear it at all.
WRAP-UP: Ram is going to be making the EcoDiesel available across all trim levels and with no minimum equipment required, which is wonderful. That means that you’ll be able to get a diesel-powered pickup for under $37,000. It’s available with both 2WD and 4WD, and it’ll be even be available in the off-road focused Rebel trim, which is a first. The EcoDiesel is smooth, powerful, great on gas mileage and can tow 12,500 pounds. All of that is great, but it’ll be left up to consumers if it’s worth splashing the cash to upgrade.