Ram re-opens the diesel ½-ton door with 2014 Ram 1500s
By Bruce W. Smith
Fourteen years ago the last ½-ton diesel pickup rolled off the GM assembly line, closing the door on a factory option for light-duty pickups offered during a time when fuel efficiency weighed heavy on everyone’s minds. GM was the only ½-ton diesel player.
The 6.5Ls cost buyers an extra $1,500 and powered many a GM pickup and full-size SUV as well as every military Hummer.
The engines were woefully underpowered compared to the gas V8s of the time, making just 215hp and 440 lb-ft of torque when production for pickups stopped in 2000.
But the engines did achieve better mileage than the gas V8s of the time, and in the late ‘90s when diesel was selling for less than the price of gas, they were a good option for businessmen.
Fuel economy and fuel costs are again a major concern for businesses – and this time it’s Ram that has stepped into the ½-ton diesel pickup market.
Ram is coming in strong, too.
Early this summer Ram 1500 buyers will be able to order the 240hp 3.0L V-6 EcoDiesel with the eight-speed automatic – the same combo Jeep is offering in the 2014 Grand Cherokee.
As for the cost of the diesel option, Ram hasn’t said. But the 2014 Grand Cherokee diesel package adds $4,500 to the base price, so we’d expect the same for the Ram diesel.
THE DIESEL ADVANTAGE
Diesels are about 30-percent more fuel-efficient than a comparable gas engine, and that plays out with the mpg numbers.
The Grand Cherokee’s VM Motori-built diesel is rated at 21/30 (2WD) and 21/28 (4WD) in city/highway fuel economy, while the Hemi is 14/22 and 14/20 respectively.
The Ram is both heavier and less slippery aerodynamically than the Jeep, so expect the new diesel’s highway numbers to be 2-3mpg less, while city should be the same.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The $100M question: Is the timing right? Ram obviously thinks so.
“Truck owners have been emphatically asking for it [diesel], and Ram will be the only manufacturer to offer a diesel powertrain in the half-ton segment with the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel,” says Fred Diaz, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC.
“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,” Diaz continues.
“There’s no doubt that being the only truck manufacturer to offer this game changing technology will provide Ram with a competitive advantage.”
Greg Corey, head of Ram Truck Commercial powertrain, says the VM Motori 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel is among today’s most advanced diesel engines.
Corey says the biggest change from Ram’s diesels two years ago is the oil change interval is now at 15,000 miles instead of 3,000.
That’s because DPF regen is five times less frequent on the new diesels. So less oil dilution.
Less wasted fuel for regens, fewer oil changes, and advanced engine technology are all strong reasons Ram’s timing for the 2014 Ram 1500 looks perfect.