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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Quick Spin Review: Introduction
When I was a kid, I religiously watched a TV show called “B.J. and the Bear.” It was the typical network schlock of the day, and it only ran from 1979 to 1981, but to the likely horror of my parents, it got me hooked on the idea of driving truck for a living. By then, long cross-country road trips with my family had addicted me to the open road, and in this particular TV show, the lead character piled miles on the coolest-looking semi-truck of the day, a Kenworth Aerodyne painted not all that much different from the “Starsky & Hutch” Ford Gran Torino. The way I recall it, this dude named B.J. didn’t have any trouble with the ladies, either.
I never made it to truck driving school. But now that Ram has introduced its new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine in the 2014 RAM 1500 pickup truck, I can always borrow one and point its nose down some endless stretch of pavement toward a youthfully romanticized notion of freedom and exploration of parts unknown. For the full effect, though, I’ll need to lower the windows, because otherwise, you can’t hear the diesel clattering away from under the Ram’s contoured hood.
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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Quick Spin Review: Features and Options
As our own Benjamin Hunting explained in his 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel First Drive article, the new turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 engine generates 240 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm, and is offered as an option across a broad swath of Ram 1500 trim levels. It is B-20 biodiesel-compatible, and employs a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system that maintains full engine power when fluid levels are low. Ram estimates that the engine will require DEF replacement and oil changes at 10,000-mile intervals.
The least expensive way to obtain this new turbo-diesel engine is to buy a RAM 1500 Tradesman with a regular cab, a long cargo bed, and 2-wheel drive. In this model, the engine runs another $4,000, and requires the addition of a different 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that costs $500. That brings the window sticker to $30,180 including the $1,095 destination charge.
The most expensive way to obtain this new turbo-diesel engine is to install it in a loaded Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab with a regular cargo box and 4-wheel drive. In this model, the engine costs $2,850. Keep checking option boxes, and this version of the truck wears a window sticker of $58,065.
My brief drive in the new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was taken in the Laramie Crew Cab model, pictured on the previous page, equipped with 4-wheel-drive, a short cargo box, Bright Silver paint, and a Black interior. With the turbo-diesel engine, a 4-corner air suspension, all three option packages, front bucket seats, navigation, a power sunroof, remote engine starting, front and rear parking assist sensors, a tri-fold tonneau cover for the cargo bed, and more, my test truck came to $55,480.
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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Quick Spin Review: Design and Materials
It’s been 20 years since Dodge decided to get back into the full-size truck game with the game-changing 1994 Ram 1500. That icon’s big-rig styling theme persists today, softened and sanitized for your aerodynamic protection, but nevertheless in clear evidence. As is true of most full-size pickup trucks, the 2014 Ram 1500 can be optioned to satisfy a diverse number of aesthetic preferences, ranging from plain and simple to garishly grotesque. My Laramie Crew Cab 4WD test truck, to my eyes, looked exactly right.
Laramie models have a bold chrome cross-hair grille with inserts resembling drilled metal, and my test truck included both the company’s innovative RamBox illuminated storage bins on either side of bed, and the optional tri-fold cargo bed cover that helps smooth airflow for improved gas mileage. Around back, dual exhaust outlets are frenched into the rear bumper for a custom look. If this isn’t the best-looking full-size truck on the market today, after the insane Ford SVT F-150 Raptor, then I need to get my eyes examined.
Inside, the Ram 1500 Laramie exudes quality. I’m effusive because I had just gotten out of the new 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 before driving the Ram, and the new GM trucks are mighty impressive. But the Ram doesn’t take a backseat to either the Silverado or the Sierra, and in many instances demonstrates superiority in terms of quality, comfort, and controls.
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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Quick Spin Review: Comfort and Controls
Continuing on the quality, comfort and controls theme, in my Ram 1500 Laramie test truck, I sat tall on a 10-way power driver’s seat wrapped in soft, smooth leather, facing a thick-rimmed steering wheel and a symmetrically organized dashboard. The door panels are wide and soft on top, cut low to provide a perfect place for resting an arm while crossing miles and miles of flat ranch or farmland. A wide, soft center armrest sits atop an enormous center storage console that contains USB and SD card connections.
My truck also had Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect 8.4-inch color touchscreen infotainment system, one that I consider to be an industry standard in terms of size, graphics, responsiveness, and user-friendliness. A second 7-inch display screen is nestled in the gauge cluster, allowing the driver to configure information in a number of ways. I’m also a fan of the 8-speed automatic transmission’s rotary dial shifter, which takes up far less space than a conventional column- or console-mounted lever.
If you’re not riding in the Ram’s front seats, don’t fret. The Crew Cab’s rear quarters are massive, offering plenty of legroom and more than enough space for three brawny passengers.
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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Quick Spin Review: Driving Impressions
Motoring north on a nearly deserted stretch of desert road, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was almost preternaturally quiet. Diesel clatter? Absent. Road noise? Silence. Wind noise? Barely perceptible, and it was a windy day on the Mojave. This is a super-refined pickup truck, and honestly, I wanted something a little raw, an experience that would fulfill boyhood dreams of driving coast-to-coast in a Kenworth.
But I get it. If you actually drive a truck all day, every day, like many Ram owners do, you want to enjoy the silence. So bravo, Ram.
Unloaded, of both cargo and passengers, the Ram’s EcoDiesel supplies a steady and satisfying stream of power, effortlessly getting the truck up to cruising speed while the optional 4-corner air suspension automatically lowers the ride height to improve aerodynamics. My driving was limited to empty, flat, straight, smooth highways, and the Ram 1500 felt solid and secure, with resolute on-center steering feel. I didn’t tow anything. I didn’t haul anything. If you’re planning to use this truck with a trailer, know that the new EcoDiesel V-6 can handle up to 9,200 lbs., depending on configuration.
Final EPA fuel economy estimates have not been established as this review is written. Ram says the new EcoDiesel will deliver “best-in-class fuel efficiency of better than 25 mpg on the highway.” Before departing on my short 20-mile drive, I re-set the Ram’s trip computer. When I returned the truck, the display read 19.7 mpg. The Chrysler representative on hand was not happy about that number, even if I thought it was pretty good.
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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Quick Spin Review: Final Thoughts
Guess that goes to show you what I know. I’m not really a truck guy, but the guys who know trucks, namely the members of the Texas Auto Writers Association, just voted the Ram EcoDiesel as the Truck of Texas and gave the turbo-diesel engine Best Powertrain honors. If they say so, I’m good with that.
From the perspective of my personal experience, the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel impressed me. It looks terrific in Laramie Crew Cab 4WD format. It is capable, comfortable, and refined. And it demonstrates innovation and thoughtfulness in lots of the little ways that matter. If I needed to buy a truck, this one would make the short list.
The author attended a Motor Press Guild event to facilitate this review
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Laramie Crew Cab 4WD photos by Christian Wardlaw
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