2020 Ram 1500 First Look

More Powerful EcoDiesel V6 Beefs Up Towing Capacity

The 2020 Ram 1500 is a full-size pickup truck that was fully redesigned just last year. It debuted to much fanfare, but the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 option sold in prior years was absent from the lineup. This year a much-improved 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 returns, and it generates more power and torque and can support higher tow ratings than before. What's more, Ram is adding the Rebel off-road model to the list of models that can be equipped with the diesel option. Pricing and fuel economy are not scheduled to be released until this fall.

2020 Ram 1500

What Is It?

The only notable change for the 2020 Ram 1500 is the addition of a newly redesigned diesel engine. At first glance, not much has changed: The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is still a turbocharged V6 diesel engine that will come paired with a proven eight-speed automatic transmission. But nearly every component of the engine has been rethought.

The end result is 260 horsepower and a class-leading 480 pound-feet of torque. These represent significant gains over the engine it replaces, which made 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Torque hasn't only increased by 14 percent, it also occurs 400 rpm lower in the rev range, where its effects will be even more useful when towing or hauling.

These significant gains in engine output add up to a big increase in the EcoDiesel's maximum tow rating. Last time around, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel couldn't manage even 10,000 pounds, but the new 2020 engine will be rated to pull as much 12,560 pounds, the highest diesel tow rating in the class.

2020 Ram 1500

Why Does It Matter?

Diesel engines are hugely popular in the 2500 and 3500 HD end of the pickup spectrum despite their sometimes significant price premiums. For a time the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel had the half-ton diesel pickup market to itself, but then it was pulled from the market because of emissions certification problems. Consumers can once again opt for this impressive and desirable powertrain, and it's even stronger than before.

Despite their higher upfront buy-in cost, diesel engines appeal to truck buyers for simple reasons: They offer better fuel economy and overall range, and their abundant torque makes towing and hauling feel more effortless. Diesels are particularly good at doing both at once by providing respectable fuel economy and range while towing a trailer. No hard fuel economy numbers for this second-generation EcoDiesel engine are available, but the previous one delivered significant gains compared to the gasoline-powered truck. There's every reason to expect the same here, especially since the new engine makes even more torque than before.

2020 Ram 1500

What Does It Compete With?

The Ford F-150 is available with a 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V6 engine that's backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. But its ratings of 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque are less impressive than the Ram's. Rated fuel economy in mixed driving is 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway) for two-wheel-drive models and 22 mpg combined (20 city/25 highway) for four-wheel-drive versions. The upgrade costs $4,000 in a Lariat that comes standard with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and $3,000 in a King Ranch that starts with a 5.0-liter V8. Ford does not offer the diesel engine in its popular XLT or any of the lower-priced models aimed at the work-truck end of the market.

General Motors will soon offer a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel in the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks, and it will arrive in showrooms at nearly the same time as the Ram. The Duramax differs in that it is a straight-six engine instead of a V6, and it remains to be seen if this will be an advantage. It has a higher power rating of 277 hp, but its torque rating of 460 lb-ft is a bit lower. Like the Ford, it comes with a 10-speed transmission. No pricing, fuel economy or availability details have yet been released.

2020 Ram 1500

Edmunds Says We're glad to see a diesel engine back in the Ram lineup for 2020. The new Ram 1500 is an excellent truck, and we're believers in the EcoDiesel engine. We put 50,000 miles on our long-term 2014 Ram EcoDiesel, and we were impressed with its smooth driving and strong fuel economy. It'll be hard to beat an improved version of this engine under the hood of a pickup truck we really respect.

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