April 30, 2014
With the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado nearing its one-year anniversary in our long-term test fleet, we knew it was time to start shopping around for a replacement. We love the Silverado's comfort and do-anything utility, so whatever came next had to fill some pretty big shoes.
Enter the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Last year, the Ram received a healthy refresh to its exterior and interior styling, and the frame was strengthened and lightened. These changes allowed the Ram to sprint away with an "A" Edmunds rating, while its competitors from Chevy, Ford, GMC and Toyota all hung behind with "B" grades.
Not only is the Ram our favorite half-ton, but it also received a brand-new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine option for 2014, making it the only pickup in the half-ton class to offer diesel power. Good for 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, it's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends the power to either the rear or all four wheels.
We wanted to be one of the first owners of a Ram with the new diesel, so we searched far and wide to find a truck that worked for us. We finally found one in Laramie trim, and traveled to Newark, California, near Silicon Valley to pick it up.
What We Bought
Light-duty full-size trucks are sold in a seemingly endless list of configurations to match any need an owner may have. The Ram is no different, with nine trim levels (with an additional two for the top-end Laramie version), three bed sizes, three axle ratios, three cab configurations, three engines and two transmission choices. All trims are available with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive except the High Fuel Efficiency model, which is rear-drive only.
The EcoDiesel is available on six of the nine Ram trims. There aren't many out there just yet, so we had to go with what was available. That turned out to be a big, bad top trim Laramie with four-wheel drive. Stepping up from the Outdoorsman to Laramie adds a bevy of appearance and luxury upgrades to the 1500. The Laramie trim also makes the truck highly reflective, with 20-inch aluminum chrome wheels, chrome-accented headlamps, chrome door handles, chrome mirrors and chromelike grille and front and rear bumpers.
According to the window sticker, our Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 carries a base price of $45,525. Adding the EcoDiesel engine increases that by $2,850. With the standard axle ratio of 3.55 our truck has a maximum payload capacity of 1,064 pounds and a towing capacity of 7,550 pounds. For buyers who need even more towing capacity, an optional 3.92 ratio is available for $50.
Our new truck is also equipped with the Protection Group ($150 — tow hooks and skid plates for the front suspension and transfer case), Convenience Group ($495 — keyless entry, rain-sensitive windshield wipers and automatic high beams) and leather-trimmed bucket seats that also added a fixed front console and heated second-row seating ($500).
Individual options include running boards ($600), satellite navigation ($500), a remote single-disc CD player ($195), parking assist ($395), remote start ($200), a trailer brake control ($230) and white letter tires ($175).
Total MSRP, including the $1,195 destination charge, came out to $53,010. A customer cash incentive knocked the price down $2,500, and it was the only break we got on this truck. The EcoDiesel is very much in demand, and the dealer didn't budge from $50,510.
We agreed on the price and had an editor pick it up at Fremont Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. Roger Jauregui was our salesman and he had the truck ready and waiting when we arrived.
Why We Bought It
The idea of a diesel engine in a light-duty full-size pickup has been kicked around for years now, so when Ram announced it was finally going to make it a reality we figured it was a good time to give its latest 1500 a try.
Couple that with the fact that the latest Ram is our highest-rated light-duty pickup and it only made sense to see if it will live up to that rating over the long term. Well, that and we want to see if the new EcoDiesel engine is really worth its added cost.
Our Silverado does the lion's share of hauling our gear around, but its 5.3-liter V8 is thirsty, with an average fuel economy of 17.4 mpg. We previously tested a 2014 Ram 1500 with the diesel, and its average fuel economy beat the EPA rating for combined city/highway driving. We'll see what numbers our long-term Ram will do when the bed is loaded with furniture and motorcycles.
Check our Long-Term Road Test Page often for new updates as we put the 2014 Ram 1500 Diesel through its paces over the next 12 months and 20,000 miles.
Best MPG: 25.3
Worst MPG: 21.4
Average MPG over 1,565 miles: 22.9
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.