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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