2014 Ram 1500 Crew Cab EcoDiesel Track Test on Edmunds.com
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2014 Ram 1500 Crew Cab EcoDiesel: Track Tested

Is a 3.0-Liter Diesel V6 Enough for Modern Pickups?


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Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Edmunds Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

The half-ton pickup truck arms race is reaching epic proportions. And while other makers have been going bigger and bigger and bigger, the Ram brand takes a different approach: innovation.

First Ram took a look at driving dynamics and upended the pickup truck world by replacing the "it ain't broke, don't fix it" rear leaf springs with coil springs. This move was a runaway success and helped earn the 2013 Ram 1500 V6 a comparison test victory over the Ford F-150.

And now Ram is taking another leap, offering a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 in the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. The EcoDiesel adds $2,850 to the price of a Ram 1500 with the Hemi V8, and pumps out 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque compared to the Hemi's 395 hp and 410 lb-ft. In 4x2 configuration, the diesel can tow up to 9,200 pounds while the V8 pulls 10,450.

So it's a little more expensive and tows a little less than the V8. The upside, as you've guessed, is fuel economy. Though no official numbers are available, Ram is claiming the 3.0-liter diesel hooked to the eight-speed automatic will get better than 25 mpg on the highway. We witnessed 26.1 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds test loop and 23.2 mpg in combined driving.

But what happens to a 6,020-pound truck with a small V6 when you're not looking to save fuel? That's what we found out at the track.

Vehicle:
Odometer: 1,513
Date: 10/1/2013
Driver: Chris Walton

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front engine, four-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged V6, diesel
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,988/182
Redline (rpm): 4,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 3,600
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 420 @ 2,000
Brake Type (front): 13.2-inch ventilated rotors with two-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.8-inch solid rotors with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent double wishbones, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Live axle, coil springs, monotube dampers, four trailing links, panhard rod, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): P275/60R20 114S M+S
Tire Size (rear): P275/60R20 114S M+S
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Wrangler SR-A
Tire Type: All-season
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 6,020

Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 2.8 (3.4 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 5.5 (6.2 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 9.2 (9.8 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 8.8 (9.4 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 14.3 (14.9 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 16.6 @ 80.9 (17.1 @ 81.1 w/ TC on)

Braking
30-0 (ft): 34
60-0 (ft): 135

Handling
Slalom (mph): 56.1
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.72 (0.71 w/ ESC on)

RPM @ 70: 1,750

Comments:

Acceleration: There's quite a delay and stumble off the line after simply mashing the "gas" (shouldn't that be "diesel"?) from a stop. Disabling traction control in 2WD and raising the rpm allows some rear-wheel spin, but it doesn't last long. The best way to launch this truck is probably the least likely to happen in the real world — although it is easy: Auto 4WD, stand on both pedals until the revs reach 3,000 rpm, then release the brake. It's almost like a launch-control feature making the best use of the inherent torque. Regardless, upshifts are exceptionally smooth in either full-auto or manual-shift mode where it will hold a gear to redline and rev-match downshifts. Another notable feature: This is perhaps the quietest truck we've ever tested, and it's a diesel(!).

Braking: In normal driving, the pedal has a shallow but intuitive initial bite and in our emergency stops, it has medium-firm feel (always) and travels only part way to the floor. This isn't typical of most trucks and is better because of it. Good fade resistance without loss of feel or effectiveness and growing by only a few feet after repeated stops. Some odor while braking from 80 mph to 10 mph after five quarter-mile runs.

Handling:

Slalom: I ran this test in Auto 4WD to take advantage of the traction afforded by the front tires at wide-open throttle on the exit. Remarkably good steering including crisp turn-in without feeling overly boosted or numb, quick to change direction, good front grip and an obedient feel from the rear of the truck as well. This is just about as good a performance as one could ever want from a pickup truck. Even the electronic stability control (ESC) is well tuned/suited to the limit of grip afforded by the tires, quickly dabbing the brakes (and releasing at just the right time) without calling off the whole maneuver by throwing the proverbial boat anchor.

Skid Pad: Again, the ESC is well calibrated to the available grip without becoming a nuisance.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Comments

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Which brain donor specified 20" wheels on a truck? Holy inertia, Batman. Four-wheel drive vehicles don't use 60 profile tyres, either. I know Dodge like to push the envelope on the rules of truck building, but this time they've gone too far. When you test one with 70 or 75 series boots and no bigger than 18" wheels, get back to us.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    BTW, great mileage on your test loop.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    26mpg highway in a fullsize pickup is awesome. But are buyers going to look at the 9+ second 0-60 time and say it's too slow? How was the "seat of the pants" feel with the 0-30 time... was there enough of a low-end kick for drivers to feel the truck gets going quickly?

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    Wowsers, it's a bit slower than I would have thought and a lot slower than the gas V6. The fuel economy makes up for that, but then $3000 premium reminds me again that this is a slow expensive truck. It will be interesting to see how well these sell. This strikes me as a powertrain for people who actually need a truck for doing truck things.

  • shriker66 shriker66 Posts:

    pretty underwhelming numbers. 6000 lbs.....this does not sound so great . This thing BETTER get phenomenal gas mileage .....no other good thing about this diesel .

  • cynic783 cynic783 Posts:

    but it is so torque rich at low low RPM's who cares how slow the actual measured acceleration times are, it's got that awesome diesel torque!!!

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    A sub-10-second 0-60 really is good enough in today's driving environment. Buyers who want more power can always downgrade to the gas-powered engines. The real key here is the fuel economy, which would appear to be substantially greater than the V6's 20 mpg combined. (26 mpg on your test loop? Wow.) Combined with decent tow ratings. Still, if I was in the market for a pickup, I'd probably get the gas powered V6 and save a wad of cash.

  • This motor/transmission combo will be great in the Wrangler.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    I don't need a pickup truck, but if I did this would be the one I would get. Based on my driving I would get my money back on the diesel premium in 3-5 years. That's the minimum amount of time I would keep the truck so that's all fine. Also, I assume that I would use said pickup for actual pickup-y things, like pulling and carrying heavy stuff, where having the low low rpm torque of a turbo-diesel would trump the higher placed power of the 5.7L. I think that this would make it more enjoyable to use, as well as resulting in better real-world mpg when actually using and driving like I would. Lastly, this would indeed be fantastic in the Wrangler. Completely agree with you there desmolicious!

  • billc11 billc11 Posts:

    What they always fail to mention when they talk up these diesels and their gas mileage is that any gain in mileage is offset by the additional cost of diesel fuel at the pump. Not to mention the cost of ownership is traditionally higher with the light duty diesel than with the gas engine.

  • 500rwhp 500rwhp Posts:

    0-60 in 9+ seconds is pretty slow. Ouch. Compared to an ecoboost which is under 7, that's an eternity. I get it....you get 2-3 more mpg than the ecoboost. Still....a heck of a tradeoff.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @billc11: No, *some* gain is offset by the higher price, not all. In fact, feel free to head over to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report to find out that gasoline is cheaper than diesel by 14% nationally. This 3L diesel (using somewhat conservative numbers) is

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