2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel as our editors live with this car for a year.
What do you want to know about?
- A Hotter Truck Than a Ford Raptor?
- I Love This Truck
- Fuel Economy Update for April
- Tiny Manual-Shift Buttons
- Versatile Backseat
- An Unfamiliar but Important Gauge
- Enabling Uconnect Functions
- Built-in Wi-Fi Hotspot
- Capless Fuel Filler
- Glad It Has a Sliding Rear Window
- Pedal Placement
- A Ventilated Seat With a Brain
- Behind-the-Scenes Conversation
- Fuel Economy Update for May
- Motorcycle Transport
- Underfloor Storage
- Broken Interior Light
- Should We Lose the Step Bars?
- You Write the Caption
- Not Sure About the Shifter
- Our Favorite Caption
- Small but Useful Storage Space
- Fuel Economy Update for June
- DEFinitely Low
- Adding Diesel Exhaust Fluid
- Tire Rub
- Adjustable Peda
- A Well-Lit Entry
- Needs a Bumper Step
- Makeshift Bike Rack
- Will the iPad Fit?
- Two Glove Boxes
- Performance Testing
- Driving Impressions From the Road
- Photos From the Road
- Navigation System Nugget
- Photos From the Road Part 2
- Fuel Economy Update for July
- Busy First Service
- More Road Trip Fuel Economy
- Cupholders. Big Ones.
- Short-Bed Problems
- Audio Review
- Good-Looking Gauges
- Broken Interior Light. Still Broken
- Fuel Economy Update for August
- Plug-In Power
- Parksense Foibles
- Removing the Step Bars
- Rowher Flats Off-Roading
- Towing Trip
- Towing Trip Fuel Economy
- Power Folding Mirror Feature
- Fuel Economy Update for September
- Dog Report
- Everyone Needs It
- There Should Be an Uber Truck Service
- Effective Seat Coolers
- Moving Assistant
- Picking a City Truck
- Navigation Fail
- A Good But Not Great Cruise Control System
- Northern California Road Trip Part 1
- 15,000 Miles
- Northern California Road Trip Part 2
- Adding (and tracking) DEF
- Northern California Road Trip Part 3
- Fuel Economy Update for October
- Soggy Moto Track Day
- Tire Rub, Revisited
- Laguna Seca Track Day, Part 1
- Driver Seat Wear
- Laguna Seca Track Day, Part 2
- Last-Minute Oil Change
- 20,000 Miles in 7.5 Months
- Fuel Economy Update for November
- Xmas Tree Duty
- Oregon Road Trip, The Coast
- Oregon Road Trip, Colder Weather in Bend
- Oregon Road Trip, Towing Home
- Towing a Volkswagen eGolf
- Door Handle Stuck
- Rubber Trim Issue
- Confident When Wet
- No Need for Fake Wood
- DEF Jam IV
- Fuel Economy Update for December
- Easy Towing
- Slow Navigation Traffic Reporting
- Tire Wear OK at 24,000 Miles
- Fuel Economy Update for January
- Misaligned Trim Panel
- Comfortable Junk Hauler
- Abrupt Stall While Moving
- The Ride, It's Not Just for People
- Back in Service
- Fuel Economy Update for February
- Suspension Articulation and Ramp Travel Index
- Finally Drove It and It Was Worth the Wait
- Restoring the Bed With a Line-X Spray-on Bedliner
- Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat Fits Well
- A Calming Influence
- Inconsistent Horn
- Carefree Trip to IKEA Thanks to the Bedliner
- Sporadic Clicking Noise
- DEF Jam V: Running It To Empty
- Fuel Economy Update for March
- Chrome In the Cabin: Why?!
- 30,000 Miles
- Smart Storage Feature
- Oil Service, Phantom Sounds and More About the Stall Problem
- Overriding The Transmission for Emergency Towing
- Fuel Economy Update for April 2105
- Potential Range from Here to Texas
- Five Reasons Why UConnect Rocks
- Real Talk From Real Ram Diesel Buyers
- There's Storage Everywhere You Look
- I Almost Want One
- Seats Still Look Good
- Fuel Economy Update for May - Still Popular, Still Improving Combined MPG
- Retains Accessory Power For Up To 10 Minutes After Engine Shutdown
- Staying a Little Longer - What Do You Want to See?
- Which One Could I Afford?
- Hauling Mopar Crate Axles for a Jeep
- Protecting Our Truck From Hackers
- Begging for a Truck With Beer and BBQ
- New Tires Before A Road Trip
- July Fuel Economy Yields Worst Tank Yet
- Towing 5,000 Pounds for 5,000 Miles — Part 1
- Towing 5,000 Pounds for 5,000 Miles — Part 2
- Towing 5,000 Pounds for 5,000 Miles - Part 3
- Adding DEF, Breaking Down the Cost
- 40,000 Miles and Running Strong
- A Pilgrimage to the Tail of the Dragon
- Even the Door Pockets Are Full-Size
- Sub-Par Washer Fluid Capacity?
- DIY Door Seal Fix
- Road Tripping to a Ghost Town
- Due for Service at 40,000 Miles
- Breezes Through 40,000-Mile Service and Recalls
- The Right Choice for Full Loads
- Needs More Tie-Downs
- Too Much Truck for Me
- Low Pressure on All Four Tires
- City Life Requires Parking Helpers
- Fuel Economy Update for October — First Drop Below EPA Combined Rating
- Perfect Vehicle for Muddy Passengers
- Culprit for Slow Leak Revealed
- Bike Fits in the Cab, All Wheels On
- Finally Something That Doesn't Fit
- Short Bed Won't Fit a Door, But That's Okay
- Another Holiday Road Trip With Zero Complaints
- Makes a Good Dump Truck
- I Want to Go Up There
- End of the Line
- Fuel Economy Update — More MPG, More DEF
- Slow and Steady
- A Queen-Size Bed Almost Fits
- Best-in-Class Cabin
- Putting the Step Bars Back On
- 50,000 Miles Makes It the Second-Most Loved
- Sold to CarMax
- Fuel Economy Update for February — How'd We Do After 50,000 Miles?
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.
We're often in the market to buy cars just as they are hitting dealer lots, or even slightly before. As you might expect, this makes the cars harder to find and harder to get deals, too.
We wanted to get a 2014 Ram 1500 crew cab with an EcoDiesel V6 for our long-term fleet. There are V8-powered Ram 1500s all over the place but the new diesel engine is another story.
The few trucks I found locally were in transit and spoken for. It was time to call in some backup. I contacted our friends at AutoNation Direct who have helped us locate hard-to-find long-termers such as the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer.
Dealers are treating the 2014 Ram 1500 with an EcoDiesel V6 as "hot inventory," much like the Ford Raptor, said our contact at AutoNation "This is not an easy car to find right now," he told us.
He searched the entire AutoNation dealer network, and to his credit, he located a couple of trucks for us. Unfortunately, all of them had light-color interiors. This was a deal-breaker for us. Those interiors don't age well.
My colleague Phil Reed and I ran our own search and eventually found a pair of trucks that met our requirements at Fremont CDJR in Newark, Calif. The sales manager had ordered one for himself. Luckily, the other truck was on its way to the dealership and was unspoken for. Now it was time to talk numbers.
The sticker price on this truck was $53,010. There was a customer cash incentive for $2,500, which brought the price down to $50,510.
We knew this truck was in demand so we asked for a $515 discount, which would get the price to under $50,000. It seemed reasonable enough to us. The dealership said no, however, and didn't counteroffer. Fremont CDJR was holding the line at MSRP and told us we had four days to make a decision.
"Any time after that we will post a MARK UP of $3,490," Roger Jauregi, Internet manager from Fremont CDJR, wrote in an e-mail (emphasis his).
Since we wanted to be one of the first to get this truck, we had no leverage. So we reluctantly agreed to pay sticker price. If this particular engine had been on the market for a few months, we would have been able to get a significantly better deal. But this is the price you pay for being first, and that situation isn't exclusive to vehicle sales. Want one of those new 4K TVs? Expect to pay MSRP on those until months after launch.
We were able to get a $3,300 discount for the Ford Raptor when we bought it way back in 2010. For now, though, it appears that the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a hotter truck than the Raptor.
What can I say, I absolutely love our 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 Ecodiesel.
Three main reasons:
1) The ride. Simply put, it's the best in the pickup business. You can thank its coil-spring rear suspension for that.
2) The interior. Not only is it a nice-looking cabin, but the controls and infotainment system are easy to use.
3) The Ecodiesel. Sure, it doesn't have 800 pound-feet of torque (only 420 lb-ft) like the Big Daddy trucks, but man is this thing smooth and quiet.
Our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel promises to deliver stout fuel economy without compromising on trucky capability. We've only got a hair over 2,000 miles on our brand-new steed (sheep?), so it's too early to deliver any kind of verdict on the fuel economy front, natch.
In any case, we've put three fills into it so far, and it's running close to its EPA combined estimate of 23 mpg. Remember, this is a half-ton, crew cab pickup truck that weighs as much as Nassau Coliseum.
Worst Fill MPG: 21.4
Best Fill MPG: 25.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.9
EPA MPG Rating: 23 Combined (20 City/28 Highway)
Best Range: 600.0 miles
Current Odometer: 2,016 miles
Note: Cars are sometimes refueled before their fuel tanks are nearly empty. As such, "best" and "worst" fuel economy entries above are not necessarily the result of an entire tank's worth of driving.
The buttons to manually shift the eight-speed automatic transmission on the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel are super small. They're the least manly thing in what is otherwise a pretty ballsy truck.
And they are the most surprising aspect of the Ram's well-thought-out interior.
The buttons work all right when you press them, but because they are so small and grouped tightly with the cruise control functions, they can be hard to find quickly if you want to downshift for some engine braking.
Not to mention if you're wearing bulky work or winter gloves.
Our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has one flexible backseat. Check this out.
When you flip up the bottom cushion (one hand operation; no latch or lever to pull), here's what you see:
Those two plastic doohickeys swing upward on hinges to become legs, and then you can flip the platform over like this:
Now you've got a pretty good sized flat surface to stash, say, a tall box. It's a fairly light-duty platform, so don't go heaving an engine block onto it.
If you want to use the seat, too, you can flip the seat bottom back into place with the platform still deployed:
You can also store, uh, stuff underneath the folded-up platform:
All in all, a very handy backseat. Well done, Ram.
This unfamiliar gauge in our new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is an important one. Much like the diesel fuel gauge, if the DEF goes to 0% the truck won't start. So what is it?
DEF stands for Diesel Exhaust Fluid. It's injected into the exhaust stream to help this truck pass emissions requirements. Without it, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine is illegal to run.
Thankfully, it doesn't run out nearly as quickly as diesel fuel. We have nearly 2,500 miles on the truck and it's not even to 50%. Top it off at each oil change and you would probably be fine.
According to the owner's manual, there are a series of warning lights that come on to remind you that the truck won't start if the DEF reaches zero. That should be enough to get even the biggest procrastinator to the dealer on time.
Everyone around here heaps praise on the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen navigation system in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. They say that Bluetooth pairings for phone and streaming audio are ridiculously easy to establish and manage. And the iPod integration is very polished and easy to control through logical and attractive touchscreen menus.
But we haven't yet scratched the surface. Several advanced Uconnect features have thus far been unavailable because we hadn't yet registered a Uconnect account for our truck.
So I did.
And it was easy. There were two options: Register by phone or register online via computer. I chose the phone option since I was sitting in the truck anyway.
A live operator answered after only a couple of rings and zero time on hold. I explained that I wanted to register my truck's Uconnect service. She let me know up front that it might take as much as 15 minutes and I'd need to leave the vehicle running the whole time. Was that going to be OK?
Sure, why not? Besides, it was 97 degrees outside. I needed the A/C.
Because I'd called via the truck's own Uconnect touchscreen, she already knew I was sitting in a 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. She knew the VIN. I'd have had to enter those details myself if I'd registered online.
She knew when the truck was sold, too, which means she knew the anniversary dates of the trial periods of the Uconnect services I was enabling. The Uconnect Advantage Package would be free for one year (from date of purchase) and the Uconnect Via Mobile service would cost nothing for five years.
All I needed to do was select a password, devise a PIN and choose a security question and corresponding answer. And verbally agree to the Terms of Service, of course. The entire process was over in 10 minutes, much of which was me trying to decide what I wanted for my password and security question.
Our newly activated Uconnect Advantage service includes hot buttons for 911 and roadside assistance. It enables stolen vehicle tracking and will notify us via text message if our Ram's theft alarm is ever triggered.
Stuff we're likely to use more regularly includes Yelp searches, which can be initiated on-screen or though voice commands. Selected Yelp POIs can now be called via a paired phone or set as a destination in our navigation system. In theory we can now send and receive text messages via voice commands, though we're not yet certain which phones have the necessary Bluetooth protocol to support it.
And we can now remotely lock and unlock doors, start or stop the engine, honk the horn or flash the lights. These commands can be called in, sent from any internet-linked desktop computer or...
...triggered by a smartphone app. I downloaded it to my iPhone, logged in, sent a test "unlock" command and received a confirmation "doors unlocked" e-mail on my phone in a matter of minutes.
Remote engine start has a variety of uses that are well known and appreciated by many, but this way you don't even have to have line-of-sight to the vehicle. And the remote lock feature is nice if you're the type that is never quite sure you remembered to lock the car after you walked away and boarded the airport shuttle for your flight to Borogravia.
Uconnect Via Mobile supports fully integrated access to apps from Pandora, Aha, Slacker Radio and iHeartRadio via (hence the name) your connected smartphone. But you must first log in to your Uconnect account on a home computer or laptop and link your various Pandora/Slacker/etc. accounts to Uconnect.
I tried it with my Pandora account. My stations then appeared on the Uconnect screen alongside the familiar thumb up, thumb down and pause buttons. And the sound quality was impressive, much better than I expected.
Via Mobile apps still depend on a paired smartphone to work, so your phone will still consume part of its data plan the same as it would if you were listening to these services with headphones. This way you get a more sophisticated interface and a much better set of speakers, is all.
We look forward to checking out these features in more detail in the coming weeks and months. One such feature is the Wi-Fi hotspot, a pay-only upgrade to the Uconnect Advantage package. I set that up, too, but I'm saving that write-up for next time.
As we saw in our last episode, the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen system in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel expands to support many additional features by simply registering for an account and enabling Uconnect Access Advantage. It's all free for a one-year trial period ($14.99/mo thereafter) except for one particular item: the Wi-Fi hotspot that provides internet access right there in the truck.
Our Ram is now like a Starbucks without the coffee. I can sit in the cab with my laptop or my low-dollar iPad (the one without 3G) and do useful work or whatever.
Uconnect Wi-Fi costs extra because it's essentially a stand-alone 3G service provided by Sprint. You can buy access by the day ($9.99), week ($19.99) or month ($34.99).
Before you can do that, however, you have to log in to your Uconnect online account at www.moparownerconnect.com via a device that's hooked to an established internet connection so you can set up a payment account with a credit card and select a PIN number. Once that's done you make Wi-Fi data purchases from that online portal or from inside the truck using the touchscreen and your PIN.
I went for the full month, but I can see the appeal of daily or weekly access for those who only need it for specific tasks or road trips. It's not a recurring payment, so I won't have to cancel at the end of the month if I don't like it. It'll simply shut down until I re-up.
Using the touchscreen, I quickly renamed the hotspot from the dry alphanumeric default to "Ram Remote" so others in the office will recognize it when they search for Wi-Fi from their phones or other devices.
I also chose a more memorable password, though I have the option of turning password protection off altogether with a single touch on the truck's touchscreen. I would never do that at home, but it seems safe enough here because a vehicle is almost always moving when it's switched on. It's hard to imagine a local internet opportunist staying in range long enough to hop on and make a connection.
How fast? I'm still working that out. The answer depends on where the truck is parked and the strength of the local service. So far my e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts work well enough in my local neighborhood, and my iPad can run Gaia GPS, a particular topographic map app I'm fond of, too.
But it's only 3G, so I don't expect much in the way of streaming video performance.
Time will tell, I suppose. And if I need coffee while I sit parked in this mobile office I can always drive through someplace that doesn't insist on using the word "tall" to describe their smallest cup of Joe.
Our new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has a capless fuel filler, but you'd never know it from the picture above. The little green insert may look like the worlds lamest fuel cap, but in reality it's a throwaway piece the dealer was supposed to remove and toss aside as part of the pre-delivery inspection.
What's it for? It's part of the fuel tank sub-assembly, which arrives at the assembly plant with the filler neck in place. This little cap is there to prevent material from going down the neck and into the tank during shipping, handling and final assembly at the plant.
This explanation came over dinner during a conversation I recently had with Mike Cairns, who heads Ram Trucks Engineering. He assured me this little cover is no longer necessary once the truck is screwed together and shipped out of the plant. They run all of their durability tests without this piece, in fact. In regular use the little trap door and rubber gasket on the inside of the filler door conspire to provide all of the necessary dirt, dust and moisture sealing that's required.
Indeed I've not seen this little hunk of green plastic on any of the numerous 2014 Ram 1500 and 2500 diesel trucks I've borrowed from the press fleet or examined at events. The sight of it here on our new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was a surprise to me, quite frankly.
But he also said it's not hurting anything. We don't, strictly speaking, have to throw it away and run without. Then again, why wear a cap if you don't have to?
The sliding rear window on pickups is an often forgotten piece of utility. Most people think that having a truck bed means always having more than enough room to haul things. But that's not always the case, especially with the shorter beds that are so common on extended cab and crew cab trucks.
Buy a decently sized piece of lumber or even just a long length of sprinkler pipe and you're going to have to lash them to the roof without a sliding rear window. Thankfully, our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel had that option so when I recently picked up a 16-foot piece of baseboard it was easy to slide into the cab and hold onto it. Couldn't have done that in our Silverado as we forgot to check that option when we bought it. Don't make that same mistake if you can help it.
I'm having a difficult time finding a comfortable seating position in our new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. First of all, there is no telescoping steering wheel, which is common in pickups, but our Silverado has one. As it is, the tilt-only wheel is too far away, requiring an uncomfortable arms-straight-out position.
Ah, but there are adjustable pedals! That's what everyone says when I bring this up, but quite frankly, adjustable pedals don't do anything for tall people like me. Their furthest forward position is basically the standard, non-adjustable position and then from there, move backward towards a shorter driver. In this way, adjustable pedals are a fantastic feature. My tiny wife drove our Silverado back in October and she never would've been able to do it without them. They just don't do anything for someone my height.
Finally, the pedals themselves are placed too far apart. I fully understand that trucks are driven by people who wear big boots and for that it makes sense for the pedals to be placed far apart on a lateral plain. Nobody needs to be accidentally heal-toeing a Ram. I just don't understand why they need to be so far apart longitudinally, as in the brake pedal is far closer to you than the accelerator.
If I set my seat for the accelerator, none of the above is an issue at all. However, since using the brake is fairly important and I'd rather not constantly contort my ankle to reach it, I have to set my seat for it instead.
Our new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has heated and ventilated front seats. I've never been one to automatically stab at the seat heater or seat ventilator buttons when I sit down, so I was a bit surprised when cool air spontaneously blew up through my seat as soon as I fired the Ram's engine.
Was this some sort of driver preference set up by a previous Edmunds staffer?
It was a particularly hot day, so I didn't mind so much. But was it supposed to do that? And could I keep it from doing that if I wasn't a fan?
The answers are "Yes" and "Yes."
Our truck has this "Auto-On Comfort" feature because it is equipped with the 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen and heated and ventilated front seats.
It turns out the driver's seat ventilator automatically comes on at engine start if the outside temperature is greater than 80 degrees. Conversely, the driver's seat heater (and heated steering wheel) will automatically activate when the engine comes to life if the surroundings are chillier than 40 degrees.
Both systems are enabled by checking the box labeled "Auto Heated Seats" on the "Auto-On Comfort & Remote Start" menu page in the settings menu. It's an all-or-nothing selection, though. The heating and cooling functions can't be checked or unchecked separately and the threshold temperatures are not adjustable.
And the front passenger seat's heater and ventilator are left out of the bargain, of course, because that seat is never occupied 100 percent of the time.
It was 95 degrees outside on the day I discovered all of this, so the seat ventilation was welcome once I knew nothing was amiss. I'm not sure I'll be as much of a fan when it's only 81 degrees outside, though. Time will tell.
Then again, 81 degrees outside probably equates to 90-something inside the truck. I'm sure the Ram engineers did their homework when they selected these thresholds.
If it turns out to be too breezy, I don't have to disable the function altogether. Any time I feel too cool I can simply press the seat ventilator button as usual to toggle it off.
However it works out, it's a pretty cool idea. Someone out there will dig it. And those that don't can always uncheck "Auto Heated Seats" in the settings menu.
The following is an actual reenactment of a conversation between me and EIC Scott Oldham in the hallway of Edmunds world headquarters. As both of these guys are somewhat gruff, former east-coasters, it works better if you read it with a slight Jersey accent.
Me: "Hey Scott, how you doin'?"
Scott: "Don't wreck my truck."
Me: "Excuse me?"
Scott: "You're taking the Ram this weekend, right?"
Scott: "You're gettin' the Ram. So don't wreck it."
Now I have no idea if Scott was trying to say he bought this truck for our long-term test with his own money. Or he plans on buying it when the test is over. Or he just really likes it and therefore it's his (I'm going out on a limb and guessing the last).
The point is, this is bad news for me. After all, I was the first one to profess my undying love for our awesome new long-term Ram EcoDiesel. Not that anyone is counting, and not that it's a competition.
But it means now I have even more people limiting my access to it. And you know what happens when you go up against the boss, right?
In May we clocked about 2,000 miles on our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. At the 4,000-mile mark the Ram's lifetime mpg was sitting dead-on the EPA combined estimate of 23 mpg despite many highway miles. We're currently at about 4,411 miles but haven't filled the truck in June.
Here's how it breaks down:
Worst Fill MPG: 21.4
Best Fill MPG: 25.4
Average Lifetime MPG: 23.0
EPA MPG Rating: 23 Combined (20 City/28 Highway)
Best Range: 600
Current Odometer: 4,411
I used the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to haul my motorcycle to a track day at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada recently. I've said before how much I enjoy driving this truck, with its almost ridiculously smooth ride, sweet diesel engine and comfy cabin.
But, as with our long-term 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, I wish our Ram's bed was longer.
This time I actually have a legitimate reason for it. It even involves some Harley-Davidson-riding dirtbags, just to make the story more interesting.
As usual with dumb old Monticello, time got away from me on Saturday while prepping my bike for the Sunday track event, and I started the four-hour trip to Pahrump much later than originally planned. When I rolled into the local Best Western hotel at 1:00 a.m., all I wanted was to hit the sack.
I pulled around the hotel to find a parking spot near my room and noticed the lot was strewn with Harleys. Which wouldn't bother me in the least, except that these idiots were still wide awake and chugging beers outside their rooms in the parking lot.
As I looked for a spot, one of the Harley dudes started urgently motioning to me. Stupidly, I drove over to him and rolled down my window. "Hey, you want to give $20 bucks to our club," he asked?
"Um, no, sorry."
"So you're saying you aren't going to give our club any money?"
"No, I can't, man."
"Well then I can't guarantee your stuff won't get stolen overnight."
"Are you kidding me? Are you seriously threatening me right now?"
At this point one of his biker friends started calling the guy away from me, and he wandered back, leaving me alone.
How serious was he about damaging my bike, or breaking into the Ram? Not sure, but it's hard to judge what a bunch of guys will do when drunk.
I didn't want anything to happen to my bike, but the Ram's tiny little bed forces the tailgate to be down when the moto is in the back. Then I remembered the Ram's tailgate locks along with the door locks. If I could just angle the bike into the bed motocross-bike-style, then I could lock the tailgate and at least make it much harder for anyone to mess with it.
So I undid the tie-downs and repositioned the motorcycle. Eventually, I got the bike fully into the bed, tailgate up, tie-downs back on, doors locked. Now it's like 1:30 in the morning, and as I walked back to my room a younger Harley drinker approached me. "Hey, you wanna buy one of our club t-shirts?"
"No, I don't want to buy one of your shirts, thanks."
So then I started thinking. Even with the Ram's tailgate up and locked, it would only take like three of these guys to pick up my Honda CBR600RR and throw it out of the truck and do whatever it is guys like this do to things and people they don't like.
Not taking any chances, I figured I would just drive the Ram back to the well-lit front of the hotel for safekeeping. What I forgot in my sleep-deprived state was that my quick tie-down job was meant to be temporary, and as I drove the Ram slowly over a speed bump, the bike fell over. I think the front tire wasn't flush with the bed.
Luckily there wasn't much room for it to fall, and the only damage was a minor fairing scrape from one of the tie-downs. Of course it was totally my fault, but this wouldn't have been an issue if our Ram had a man's-sized bed to begin with.
How did the night end? With me trying to drown out the belligerent bikers via my room's A/C and earplugs. They were up partying until 3:00 a.m., F-bombs flowing like the cheap canned beer they were swilling.
On the bright side, the Ram and my bike were left untouched overnight. And the track day at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch's new bike track was fantastic.
Previous-generation Dodge Ram pickups had this feature so it's not a huge surprise to find these bins built into the rear floor of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
Not much to report here other than the fact that these aren't obvious from above (they're covered by the rear floor mat) and they can probably hold a six pack without too much hassle. There's one bin on each side in the second row.
This hole once housed an LED interior light in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. It's located in the rear driver's side seat bottom cushion. When the seat bottom is flipped vertically to carry cargo instead of people, the light illuminates the cargo area, or at least it would if it were still located in this hole.
Instead, it's been pushed from its mount and is floating around in the seat bottom, visible when it's turned on through the carpeting on the bottom of the cushion.
I'm unsure how long it's been out of place, but retrieving it is no easy task since it has fallen deep into the seat. We'll let the dealer sort this one out.
Meanwhile, here's what the light on the other side looks like. It's still located where it should be.
The soundtrack to this 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel update is the song "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" by The Clash. That's what it comes down to really. Should those massive chrome side step bars stay or should they go?
You know how it is. You want to buy a vehicle but you're unwilling to encumber yourself with the six to eight-week wait that comes with having one built to order. So you buy off the lot (or off a nearby lot via a dealer trade) and wind up something close to what you wanted, but not an exact match.
That's how we ended up with these $600 chrome step bars. We didn't go looking for them, but EcoDiesel Ram 1500 trucks were (and still are) in short supply. It was a take-what-you-can-get situation. And even at that we had to travel 500 miles to get this one out of northern California.
The case for removing them? Their sheer chrome massiveness is more than a bit ugly. They don't seem necessary because this 4x4 isn't particularly tall. They stick way out, and our drivers tend to step past them, not on them. If they've got mud on them, presto, you've got mud on your jeans. And they hang way down where they're certain to drag and snag when driven off road as they thumb their nose at the concept of a breakover angle.
The case for keeping them? Well, we did pay $600 bucks. And some people will never take their 4x4 off-road; it's more of a snow traction thing. Apart from that, I guess the answer is contained within the title of a Randy Newman song.
Maybe I'll take one of them off and see if anyone notices. And once they do I'll do some back-to-back testing with staffers of all sizes. Take a poll, kind of thing. Find the over-under of the usefulness of this rather pricey and possibly counterproductive bolt-on accessory.
Now that we have our new commenting system is place, let's test it out with a caption contest.
Mark Takahashi sent me this picture of our long-term Ram EcoDiesel in a burnout contest with the Silverado. What's your caption?
I'll dig up some prizes and choose a winner on Monday.
I've always liked the idea of alternative shifters for cars. Rather than have a giant lever taking up all that space on the console, why not make it a switch like everything else so you can put it anywhere that's convenient? Sure it takes some getting used to, but eventually you're glad to have the extra space.
I'm not so sure it works as well for trucks.
For one, it seems too fragile even though it's probably not any less robust than a lever sticking out of the steering column.
More importantly, it just doesn't feel like it belongs in a truck. Try jamming the transmission from gear to gear when you're making a quick three-point turn, it's not the same. Not that I make a habit of doing that, but sometimes the need arises and that knob doesn't feel right doing it.
Turning the knob probably doesn't actually take any longer. In fact, it might even be faster. But it's easier to grab a handle and yank without looking while the knob requires you to glance down at the dash to find the right gear. Maybe I'll get used it, I usually do, but this might be an instance of technology taken too far.
Grand champion ergsum strikes again with this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that made us chuckle:
Where there's smoke there's tire. (stever)
Close range anxiety (stpawyfrmdonut)
You might be a redneck if... (snipenet)
Truck Yeah! (nomercy346)
Burnouts are a waste of time; you're just spinning your wheels. (dashammer)
Truck Wrestlin' (ergsum)
Edmunds demonstrates how our two party system works in Washington. (ergsum)
Both trucks feature Active Sumo Control (stpawyfrmdonut)
RAMMING SPEED! (hybris)
Nothing says "Eco" liking burning fuel and tires! (dashammer)
Hello, Edmunds? Yeah, we'll never send you another test vehicle again. (joner800)
What was your favorite?
Do you want us to do more of these? We gave them a rest for a while, but we can start them up again. Let me know in the comments.
This compartment in the center console of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is not large. As you can see, it's barely deep enough to accommodate a box of delicious orange Tic Tacs.
Some might see this as a major oversight, since everything in a full-size truck must be full-sized right? Not so.
This compartment is actually quite useful since you can put smaller items that you need quickly right at the top of the otherwise giant center console. If there was nothing but a giant black hole of space I would probably just put that stuff in one of the cupholders.
Instead I can have my wallet, keys and plenty of Tic Tacs at the ready without leaving them out in the open. It's a nicely thought out piece of design that goes against the usual "bigger is better" mantra that typically rules truck design.
In the month of June, our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel spun an additional near-1,200 miles onto its odometer and consumed 56 gallons of diesel fuel. That equates to 20.8 miles per gallon for the month.
One particularly thirsty fill resulted in the Ram's worst single result to date, 17.4 mpg. This was instrumental in dragging its running lifetime average down to 22.5 mpg. Despite this, it's only a bit shy of its EPA combined mpg of 23 mpg.
Twenty-plus mpg in real-world mixed driving of a full-size crew cab pickup. Pretty solid.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.4 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 25.4 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.5 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 23 Combined (20 City/28 Highway)
Best Range: 600 miles
Current Odometer: 5,189 miles
Note: Cars are sometimes refueled before their fuel tanks are nearly empty. As such, "best" and "worst" fuel economy entries above are not necessarily the result of an entire tank's worth of driving.
That's the DEF gauge, and as you can see, we're running low on the stuff. DEF is an acronym for Diesel Exhaust Fluid, which broadly, is used to help reduce emissions for the diesel power plant in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
At eight gallons, the DEF tank is plenty big and while DEF usage is dependent on the duty cycle, the average time between refills should be around 10,000 miles. With a tick over five thousand miles on our Ram, I'm wondering if the tank was full when we bought it.
Either way, it's DEFinitely something we need to look into. I don't think we can DEFer topping it off until the next service. That would be a DEFinite mistake.
I'm DEFinitely done.
As Kurt pointed out the other day, our 2014 Ram 1500 is in need of diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF. It's the stuff that's sprayed into the exhaust to help clean up the emissions.
With the DEF gauge firmly in the red zone, I figured I would fill it up a little since I was driving it all weekend. I opened the manual to see how much DEF I'd need to add. I've never done it before so I don't have a reference point to start from. Are DEF tanks big? Small? I have no idea.
Unlike much of the most helpful manual, the part about the 3.0-liter's DEF tank is not quite complete. Not sure if this was an early run manual and the info wasn't available at the time, but I had nothing to go on. Still, I wanted to add something to get the gauge out of the red zone.
I wasn't sure where to buy DEF, so I went to a local AutoZone and asked. Sure enough, there was a shelf stocked with various bottles of the stuff. I grabbed a gallon figuring that would be enough to assure I wouldn't run out before the end of the weekend.
Adding it was easy. Just pop the cap open and pour it in. It's two thirds water, so it doesn't take long. After putting the whole gallon in I checked the gauge again and it was out of the red, but not by much. Clearly, the DEF tank in our Ram is fairly big.
According to Kurt, a press release from Chrysler says it's 8 gallons which would make sense. We'll double check and get it topped off soon enough. By the way, a gallon of DEF is around $8.
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's tires rub the wheel wells. It only happens in certain situations, at full steering lock when passing over a bump. In other words, it happens every time I pull out of my driveway, which doesn't have an aggressive transition.
Possibly this is a product of our truck's 20-inch wheels and tires which come as part of the Laramie trim. Even so, a factory-supplied wheel/tire combo shouldn't have interference problems under any circumstances.
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has adjustable pedals. They can be moved fore and aft using this switch on the side of the steering column.
Next week I'm driving the Ram from Southern California to Wyoming. I've used adjustable pedals in the past to subtly change my driving position on long road trips to improve comfort so I look forward to having this option available again.
Also, this truck was remarkably comfortable before I discovered the adjustable pedals.
This is a shot of the courtesy lights on our 2014 Ram 1500. They come on when you unlock the doors and as you can see they do a pretty nice job of lighting up the area around the truck.
After initially showing up on high-end luxury cars, courtesy lights are starting to become a regular feature on mainstream cars and trucks. I think it's one of the more useful lighting features to come along in some time.
It not only helps you see what you're doing as you approach, it also makes it less likely that someone else might try to approach your truck alongside you at night. Between the courtesy lights along the sides and the headlights up front, unlocking the doors of this Ram brightens up even the darkest of parking lots at night.
What's missing in this shot of our Ram's bumper?
It occurred to me this morning as I climbed in the bed of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel for the fifth time that this is no easy task. I'm not 25 anymore. And even if I were I think I'd appreciate an easier way.
Chevy and Ford provide easier ways.
Because I'm driving the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to Wyoming next week and taking bikes I needed something similar. Problem is, the Ram's 5.5-foot bed isn't long enough to accommodate bikes using the one slot it offers for holding a 2x6 board vertically. That slot is between the wheel wells and the tailgate so the bikes would need to face backwards, and they're too long for that.
What's more, the existing board isn't wide enough for the Ram's bed which is a few inches wider than the Silverado's. Solution? Lay it down at the front of the bed. It just happens to fit perfectly and it gets locked in place between the leading edge of the wheel wells and the front of the bed. And it's wide enough to be amply stable. Put three bikes on it and it's not going anywhere, especially when they're locked to the bed.
Should be a clean solution.
Here's what it looks like without bikes.
Though it won't work for me this time, here's a shot of the slot located between the wheel wells and the tailgate.
This is an iPad Air and it won't lie flat in the center console's upper bin. The lid will still close even when it's propped up like this, however. There are a few different options, but neither of them satisfies my need for things to fit together perfectly.
Alternatively, there's plenty of room in the console's lower bin to stand it up vertically. I'll make do.
Since we took delivery of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel back in April, it's hauled the typical cargo, a variety of two-wheeled vehicles, and made a summer vacation trek to and from Wyoming (posts forthcoming). In that time, The Ram has also secured its place as our favorite pickup for its styling, features and compliant suspension.
This diesel truck is also no slouch when it comes to performance, so we ran it through our usual battery of tests to confirm this.
The following performance numbers were obtained shortly after the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel joined our long-term fleet.
Driver: Mike Monticello
Drive Type: Front engine, Four-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 8-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 one-piece ventilated with two-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.8-inch one-piece ventilated with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, twin-tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Solid axle, multi-link with track bar, coil springs, stabilizer bar, twin-tube shock absorbers
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, low rolling resistance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 5,877
Acceleration 0-30 (sec): 2.6 (w/TC on 3.2)
0-45 (sec): 5.2 (w/TC on 5.9)
0-60 (sec): 8.7 (w/TC on 9.5)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 8.4 (w/TC on 9.1)
0-75 (sec): 13.8 (w/TC on 14.5)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 16.4 @ 81.1 (w/TC on 16.9 @ 81.0)
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 128
Slalom (mph): 58.2 w/ESC on
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.76 (0.76 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 1,800
Acceleration comments: The Ecodiesel Ram gets off the line well, with little-to-no lag and then it's just a smooth affair on down the drag strip. Shifts are on the slow side, but nice and supple. Upshifts occur at 4,000 rpm. Overlapping throttle and brake prior to launch to spool up the turbo improves the acceleration time. Our quickest run came using that method, plus the 4WD Auto mode, which gives perfect traction. Manual shifting is possible via tiny buttons on the front of the steering wheel, but doing so proved slower. It will hold gears to the 4,500-rpm rev limiter in manual mode, but it does not blip the throttle on manual downshifts.
Braking comments: As you'd expect there's a decent amount of nosedive with this Ram, but it's not bad and the stops stay well-controlled. Brake pedal travel and feel are moderate, or, just about right. Overall the distances remained consistent, with the first stop the shortest at 128 feet, the third stop the longest at 134 feet and the fifth and final stop at 131 feet. Although there was significant brake odor from the first stop on, we noticed no pedal fade.
Slalom: This is one of the best-handling full-size pickup trucks ever. You can thank the coil-spring rear suspension (versus the traditional leaf spring in the rear) along with reasonably intuitive and precise-for-a-pickup steering. Also helping here is a stability control system that isn't overly intrusive at adding brakes to the equation when the truck gets to its limits. The best slalom run came while using 4WD Auto mode, which helps to keep the rear in line, especially when accelerating around the final cone.
Skidpad: Again, this is a pretty remarkable grip number for a big pickup. Here the stability control was pretty involved, but well-deserved, as we couldn't achieve a better number with traction control turned off. The feedback through the steering wheel that lets you know what the front tires are up to as you drive through a corner is rare, but certainly welcome.
Last week I returned from a 3,000-plus-mile road trip in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. The route took us north from southern California through Nevada, through a little corner of Arizona, a large swath of Utah and into Wyoming. We spent a few days in Idaho's Teton Valley on the west side of the Tetons.
It was epic. But the driving conditions weren't ideal. With temps in the 90s — minimum — nearly every day, it wasn't easy going on the Ram's powertrain. We topped out at 8,431 feet on Teton Pass west of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Hundreds of miles were spent pounding across the desert in 100-plus-degree temps. Wyoming was windy and provided 25-mph head and crosswinds.
In other words, I got a good sampling of conditions. Following are a few observations.
It wasn't many years ago I would have shied away from a pickup on a road trip like this, but the Ram has changed my thinking. It's quiet, smooth riding, offers superb infotainment (WiFi hotspot, satellite radio, navigation) and its diesel engine is well suited to long highway hauls. Also, there's plenty of room for people, drinks and gear.
And nobody has more gear than my family.
With four people, three bikes and bags filling nearly every square inch of the remaining bed space, we don't pack light. But nothing we did changed the Ram's ability to slide over hundreds of miles of freeway without troubling its occupants. As we've discovered in previous comparison tests, its coil-sprung rear axle provides the best ride in the half-ton truck business. Sure, an experienced driver will still be aware there's an axle back there, but this is as good as truck ride quality gets. And it's amply comfortable for road tripping.
Also, the drivability of the 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine is appropriate for this kind of use. I adjusted to the mill's lazy power delivery quickly and even began to appreciate the swell of torque when I'd resume the Ram's cruise control. The transmission is invisible and glides seamlessly between gears unless a multi-gear downshift is required. It's not fast, but it's deceptively capable at freeway speeds. Fuel economy was impressive given the conditions. More on that in a separate post.
Possibly the best thing about the Ram is what you don't notice: noise. Road, wind, tire and engine noise are all minimal. I did several 850-mile solo days in the Ram and could have gone longer. The Alpine audio system doesn't hurt, either.
Last week our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was in Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. We were appreciating the great vastness and stunning beauty of the American West. We rode bikes, fished and rafted.
Here are a few shots of the Ram along the way. And other good stuff.
Those are the Tetons from the Wyoming side. This shot was taken from the Snake River Overlook off of U.S. Route 191. Google's street view also does it some serious justice.
If I had any idea what to do with a fly fishing rod I'd probably have included a shot of myself. But I don't. So here's a shot of my wife. Also, for no particular reason, I like the below shot of fishing gear in the Ram's bed. Maybe it just looks and feels like this is how a truck should be used. It certainly seems more appropriate than the L.A. traffic this truck sees too often.
Also, this old place has looked essentially the same since I was a kid traveling this highway. It's always good for a fun shot with a long-term car.
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is fraught with tech features. Among those is this little nugget I discovered in the truck's navigation system last week. This road trip had us crossing the Continental Divide at relatively low altitude several times in Wyoming. This isn't one of those times, but it is at some significant altitude along I-80 in Southwestern Wyoming.
Also, it's worth noting that I never noticed a significant reduction in the Ram's power anywhere on this trip, which included extended cruising above 5,000 feet and multiple 7,500-foot-plus passes.
I'm still sitting on a few decent shots of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel from last week's trip. There's no point in letting these rot in my digital archive when they can flourish here on the web. So, without further ado, here you go.
Thanks to a long road trip our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel racked up 3,795 miles in July and consumed almost 173 gallons of diesel fuel. That works out to 22.2 mpg, slightly below the truck's 23 mpg combined rating. We also added diesel exhaust fluid on multiple occasions.
We made incremental improvements by increasing the Ram's best range from 600 to 607 miles and improving its best fill from 25.4 mpg to 25.5 mpg. Small gains, which is surprising given the 3,000-mile road trip the truck endured last month.
The road trip, which began in Southern California and headed north into Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, covered few miles that we would consider ideal for fuel economy. Across the Nevada and Arizona deserts temps were above 100 degrees and continued that high into Northern Utah. Plus, that leg of the trip includes thousands of vertical feet of climbing. Once we hit Wyoming we encountered 20 to 40 mph head and crosswinds.
It wasn't until the next tank through Eastern Idaho and back to central Wyoming when we finally encountered conditions enabling the fuel economy the truck promises. Milder temps and flat roads let us witness a few hundred miles of fuel economy beyond 30 mpg. Even so, those conditions were short lived and drug the tank average down to 25.5 mpg, which is still our best yet. Also, both Wyoming and Utah include hundreds of miles of 80-mph freeway. Overall fuel economy for the trip, which was almost exclusively highway miles, was 23.2 mpg.
It's worth noting that at about 9,000 miles the truck has consumed about 11.5 gallons of diesel exhaust fluid, slightly more than the amount of fluid Chrysler claims the engine will consume during "normal" (8 gallons/10,000 miles) use. We've purchased the fluid from auto parts stores as well as from the dealer with prices ranging between $6/gallon and $9.75/gallon (including the cost to dump it in the tank).
Worst Fill MPG: 17.4
Best Fill MPG: 25.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.6
EPA MPG Rating: 23 Combined (20 City/28 Highway)
Best Range: 607.3
Current Odometer: 8,984
I took our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in early for its first service. With the odometer reading approximately 9,000, the service came about 1,000 miles before Chrysler recommends, but I was about to leave on a 1,000-plus mile trip and there were other more pressing reasons to see the dealer.
Including a check-engine light.
I dropped in to Tuttle-Click's Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Tustin, California at about 8:15 on Monday morning with no appointment. Assistant service manager Tony Scalero received the Ram, and I informed him about the check-engine light, asked for an oil change and requested they fill the DEF tank. Tony mentioned there was a recall pending to reprogram the Ram's radio frequency hub module and said they'd handle that, too.
Tony called me that afternoon to say they likely wouldn't get to our truck that day and asked if they could keep it overnight. We needed the work done more than we needed the truck so we left it. The next morning Tony called about 11:00 to say they'd get to our truck by 1:00. A few hours later he called with an update.
The check-engine light was caused by a catalyst temperature sensor circuit. However, nothing was actually wrong with the sensor or the exhaust system. Turns out there's a TSB to address this particular code. The engine controller required a flash update to prevent the light triggering, which they performed. They also performed the update to the radio.
I also asked them to repair the broken interior light, which had disappeared into the bottom of the rear seat. That required ordering a part which, naturally, was on back order, but they fished the light back into a functional position in the meantime. Ours probably isn't the first truck to have this problem.
We picked the truck up at 5:00 and paid $250.38 for the service. Here's how that breaks down:
Oil: $101.20 (11 quarts @ $9.20/quart)
Disposal fee: $3.00
Diesel exhaust fluid: $58.50 (6 gallons @ $9.75/gallon)
Shortly after the Wyoming road trip I took the Ram to Northern California. Though the driving conditions weren't ideal, they were better than what we experienced on our way to the Tetons.
The trek to Northern California is slower going than across Utah and Wyoming. The speed limit is lower (75 vs. 80) and the traffic is more dense so average speed is lower. The temperature was also milder, in the 80s most of the time, creeping into the low 90s on occasion. Even so, this trip had its share of two-lane mountain road driving at altitude. We topped out at 7,100 feet on Packer Saddle in the northern Sierra Nevada.
Over the 1,200 miles the truck recorded 27.1 mpg, slightly below its 28 mpg EPA highway rating. We've found the onboard fuel economy to be reasonably accurate, but haven't calculated to actual mpg for this trip yet. I'll let you know if it varies significantly from the below.
Look, I'm with you guys. I don't get short-bed pickup trucks. But when I needed to transport a motorcycle and our 2014 Ram EcoDiesel was the only thing available, I wasn't going to complain. Until now.
Weird proportions of a crew cab, short-bed truck aside, not being able to close the tailgate of a full-sized pickup truck behind a normal-sized motorcycle is kind of...sad. It's also a little nerve wracking, especially when you're bombing down one of L.A.'s dismal freeways only to look in the mirror and see nothing more than four ratchet straps keeping your motorcycle from sitting in the passenger seat of the Prius behind you.
But I digress.
There's another issue with having to drop the tailgate to haul some stuff. That super-handy backup camera gets decidedly less handy right when you need it most. Say, for instance, when you're backing up into a parking lot full of California Highway Patrol cruisers in a truck that's nearly two feet longer than it was twenty minutes ago and you're hauling a sketchy motorcycle that needs the approval of the aforementioned California Highway Patrol to be street legal.
Yeah, just give me a regular cab with a normal-sized bed, please.
The sound system in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is awesome. The 8.4-inch touchscreen display and the 10-speaker stereo are standard on all Laramie's. There's plenty of bass to fill the cabin, and the touchscreen interface is one of the easiest to use on the market today. On top of all of that, this thing catalogs and indexes my music at lightning speed.
There are 5,064 songs, 26 podcasts and three audiobooks currently on my iPhone and the Ram can sort through all of them, immediately. As soon as I plug in, whatever I want is ready to go. The graphics are clear and easy to read, and any adjustments to the sound that need to be made are easy to find.
Basically, it's a super-fast infotainment interface paired with some great speakers, and if you're buying any Ram, you should put them both on your "must-have" list.
Of the Big Truck Trio, the Silverado gauges have a cool and techy design touch, with the large speedometer and tach buttressing a bridge of four octagonal secondary gauges. Nice modern theme, with a splash of Corvette. The new F-150 forgoes analog secondary gauges altogether for a full-blown customizable 8-inch digital display anchoring speedo and tach and lightsaber-like needles.
But I think I prefer our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel gauges for the cleaner, classic look and the real estate afforded the 7-inch multifunction display. The fuel and diesel exhaust fluid inset gauges are a cool touch, and the scrolling menu icons that determine the center display content make nice use of otherwise dead space above the 1500's 4,800-rpm redline.
The hashes remind me of the Dart though, which is unfortunate.
Possibly you remember the broken interior light in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Last month when I took the truck in for its first service the dealer ordered the part. A few weeks later I received a notice that the part, a small bezel to locate the lamp in the seat bottom, had arrived and that it would be held until this week.
What? Held until this week? What if we couldn't get the truck there by then?
Human nature took over and I didn't call the dealer until the day before the part was to disappear into the great unknown. Truth is, the notice doesn't say what would happen to it should it not be picked by the stated date, but I assumed it would be returned to a Giant Warehouse filled with Dodge Ram parts.
However, this wasn't the case. I called to see if they would simply give me the part for a DIY install, but apparently a warranty repair — any warranty repair — has to be performed by the dealer. But they will hold the bezel until we can get the truck there. It's a logical policy, but an annoying one in a case like this where the install is probably a 30-second job. Whatever.
Here's what the problem looked like before the first service:
Here's what the currently still-functioning light on the other side looks like. Presumably it's this bezel that we'll be receiving.
I'll make an appointment soon.
During the month of August, we put 2,272 miles on the odometer of our long-term 2014 Ram 1500, which required just over 100 gallons of diesel fuel. Those miles included the tail end of a road trip where the Ram was busy hauling lots of people and gear, as well as plenty of city miles in stop-and-go traffic.
The truck’s combined fuel-economy seems to be leveling out though, as our lifetime mileage remains the same at 22.6 mpg, just shy of its EPA combined rating of 23 mpg.
Here's the full breakdown of the Ram's mileage.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.4
Best Fill MPG: 25.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.6
EPA MPG Rating: 23 Combined (20 City/28 Highway)
Best Range: 607.3
Current Odometer: 11,256
This simple outlet in our 2014 Ram 1500 is often one of its most useful features, at least for people who need to randomly fire up a laptop on the road.
Sure, there are plenty of travel adapters that allow you to power a laptop from a 12V "cigarette lighter" outlet. The problem is, that's not really what they're designed for, so if your laptop of choice is a power sucking electron hog, it won't always last long on such a setup.
This 115V outlet is different. It delivers up to 150 watts of total power, which is plenty for most laptops. In fact, it's enough for anything short of a power drill or a blow dryer. And really, if you're trying to run a blow dryer in the cab or your Ram truck you have other issues that need attention.
Of course, the engineers at Ram were smart enough to guard against those who are that foolish. This outlet has overload protection that will shut it down if its capacity is exceeded. Just unplug your Conair and the outlet will reset itself automatically.
Our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 is a Laramie, so it comes standard with a rearview camera, but front and rear parking sensors (Parksense as Ram calls them) are a $395 option.
Since I live in a crowded city and I parallel park quite a bit (yes, I've parallel parked the Ram about a dozen times over the last week) parking sensors are a bumper-saving piece of equipment that I'd opt for, but this particular system has a few issues.
The first problem, as detailed in the picture above, is parking poles. At the front of the parking spot are two large poles, meant to protect the railing and keep me from parking to close to the building. The Ram's parking sensors couldn't make sense of these when parked, first beeping an alert then omitting the "You're too close! Stop!" chime and turning all red.
It didn't seem like I had pulled far enough forward to warrant this response, but I trusted the tech, turned off the truck and got out to discover a 2-foot gap. Not even close. This was a tandem parking spot, so I got back in to move closer.
This time, the truck seemed to adjust a bit and the parking sensors went back to the yellow beeping tone. I inched forward, waiting for the chime to become solid and the sensor icon to turn red.
Again, I put the truck in park, engaged the parking brake and got out to investigate. The truck's bumper was still over a foot away.
At home, I tried the same procedure up against a parking wall. While I was able to get closer, it wasn't by much. So, against my better judgment I broke out the manual, which gave me more details on the Parksense system:
"The sensors can detect obstacles from approximately 12 in (30 cm) up to 47 in (120 cm) from the front fascia/bumper in the horizontal direction, depending on the location, type and orientation of the obstacle."
So apparently, you can't get closer than 12 inches without the truck telling you to stop.
In tight spaces though, with a truck this size, having an extra foot is like a mile having an extra mile. Sadly, none of the instructions I read had details on how to adjust the systems sensitivity, so it looks like we'll be parking with a foot-long buffer zone.
So this weekend, to prepare for a bit of light off-roading, I removed the rails. It would give me more clearance along dirt roads. And I think they make our truck look a bit clunky. Plus, I'm always looking for an excuse to get my hands dirty. Cue the workshop music.
Each side rail was held on by a series of eight bolts: four 10mm bolts and four larger 3/8" bolts which hold most of the weight. I always find it a bit strange and annoying when a company uses both metric and standard bolts on the same vehicle, especially in such close vicinity to each other.
The smaller bolts were in a tight spot so removing them was a bit tedious, but the entire process of finding the right tools, taking off the rails and putting it all away took less than 30 minutes.
These little holes along the lower trim are the only signs that the rails are missing. Strangely, there's a third set of phantom-holes located near the center of the truck, where nothing was attached.
To my eye, this makes the truck look much less retirement home friendly and much more big-and-capable.
Now that's done, it's time to engage four-wheel drive and climb up some mountains. Stay tuned for more on that soon.
Earlier this week, I took the side rails off our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I knew I'd be doing some light off-roading over the weekend and the side rails were a minor liability. At approximately 9:42 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I headed north of Los Angeles to the closest OHV (off-highway vehicle) area, a place called Rowher Flats.
Rowher Flats has lots of staging areas and smaller courses (with varying degrees of difficulty) for dirt bikes, ATVs and short-wheelbase Jeeps, but the big, bulky Ram is better suited for the wide trail up the mountain. The Ram also has a low hanging front bumper which greatly impacts its angle of approach, so I made sure to avoid steep inclines and pointy obstacles in the center of the road. So how did the full-size pickup do?
The mountain was child's play for the Ram. Even with standard all-season tires, I was able to leave the truck in two-wheel drive mode most of the time and there was never a steep enough grade to require use of the locking differential. The truck felt positively massive, but entirely manageable. Bumps and undulations were exaggerated in the 5,877-pound Ram, but I never felt intimidated or overwhelmed by the trucks sheer size.
A few stops along the way allowed me to take pictures, admire the scenery and kick down the tailgate for some lunch.
Despite the bumpy mountain road, things on the inside of the Ram were quiet, with no squeaks or rattles to speak of. Uphill in the morning and back down in the afternoon, with exterior temperatures in the high 90s, the engine temperature gauge never budged.
Since we're about halfway through our year-long test of the Ram 1500, we've decided to leave the side rails off for now. I'll gauge their necessity by any lodging complaints from other editors or passengers along the way.
On the way down the mountain, the truck was just as capable and composed, even when an eager dirt bike rider blasted around a corner, the Ram's brakes were plenty capable of stopping me short of running him off the road. Our old (highly modified) long-term Jeep Wrangler was certainly more suited to this kind of weekend fun, but the journey home in the Ram was much more comfortable and certainly much quieter.
I'm pretty sure this is the first time we've towed with our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I'm usually the guy around here using our long-term trucks for towing, and if I haven't used the Ram for towing yet then its likely nobody has. Dan, maybe.
This time I towed a motorcycle engine-swapped Toyota MR2 on a steel trailer from Los Angeles to Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California, and back. It was, roughly, a 1,000-mile round trip.
How'd it go? Hit the jump.
Our trip was an ironman trip. I ran each way in one push, only stopping for meals and fuel, and even those were hustled. We had a deadline on each leg which meant long hours in the saddle.
In short, the Ram made a very positive impression for this job. Admittedly, it was not towing a huge load as towing burdens go. The MR2 plus trailer rings at less than 4,000 pounds. It did, however, have its bed crammed full of spares and hefty equipment to boot. It was quite the Tetris exercise putting all the bits back there.
The Ram's diesel has a good slug of midrange torque that made towing a breeze. In fact, loaded in this way, the diesel was actually more responsive than when unladen. This is because the extra load keeps the turbo spooled up and primed for action. Dip into the right pedal at a cruise and the torque is always right there. Nice.
The ability of our rig to accelerate was always ample, never lacking. In fact, now that I think about it, I employed full whack maybe twice the entire trip. Part-"throttle" was all it required; such is the engine's torqueful disposition.
Mainly, what made the Ram so pleasant on this trip was its civility. It rides quite well. The usual tiresome trucky ride is largely not present when unladen, and the extra weight just makes it better. The cabin is blissfully quiet as trucks go, both in terms of road noise and wind noise, a very important characteristic when towing long distances since it really reduces fatigue. Dynamically the Ram never put a wheel wrong, though I think I do prefer the Silverado's slightly sharper steering overall.
My passenger and I each started to squirm a bit in the Ram's first seats after about three hours since its seat padding is on the firm side. A bit more plushness here would be welcome.
Its range is crazy. This, too, is terrific when you're towing. Actually, it's great all the time. Who doesn't like range?
I'll have more impressions to share once I've shaken off the lack of sleep.
Hit the jump.
As mentioned, this was an ironman trip and we were trying to meet a deadline at both ends. Thus, the pace was kept as high as possible. The photo above was taken at an exit off of Highway 99 during one of the very few stops we made. Spot the Ram among the big trucks.
Other fuel economy-related factors included the following:
Traffic was light overall. We were driving from Los Angeles to Willows, California, and back which doesn't involve much climbing other than the very long Grapevine grade. Tow/haul mode was switched on when towing. And the weather? Hot.
The return leg saw a higher average speed (kept pace with traffic) than the out leg, which ate into fuel economy. Overall, for the roughly 1,000-mile trip (97% of which were towing), the Ram EcoDiesel averaged 18.9 mpg.
Part of my towing trip with our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel entailed parking the truck in the paddock at Thunderhill Raceway. This wasn't your typical parking lot with defined spaces. It was a haphazard clusterpark of street cars, beat-down hoopty race cars, RVs, trailers, giant bro-dozers, minibikes, strollers and lots and lots of pickups.
It was there that I availed myself of the Ram's folding mirror feature.
Certainly the Ram isn't the first or only vehicle to have power folding mirrors. So for those rolling their eyes that I'd dare mention such a minor thing, yeah, you are sooo right. But this is one of those features that sounds frilly for a truck...but in practice makes even more sense for trucks than for cars (example: heated steering wheel). Truck mirrors are large, and so are trucks. Thus, their mirrors are simply much more likely to be in the way.
So it was with the Ram when crammed in the paddock. We needed to economize our limited paddock space as much as possible, plus walk past the truck frequently, plus use the truck for fuel runs and such. Its mirrors got folded and deployed many, many times over the weekend. Doing this manually would have gotten really old really fast.
Just press the center button and the mirrors tuck neatly against the doors. The folding function works whether or not the engine is running (unlike some other cars that offer this feature).
In the month of September, our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel added 2,400 miles onto its odometer and drank nearly 120 gallons of diesel fuel. That equates to 20 miles per gallon for the month.
Last month the Ram not only did a long road trip with me but it towed a racecar and even did some light off-roading. For my road trip from L.A. to Sacramento, I got 25.2 mpg with mostly highway miles on a mix of the Grapevine and leveled freeway, the A/C on, and hauling just my luggage and dog. Only stopped once in that nearly 400-mile trip and that was just for a bathroom break.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.4 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 25.4 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.3 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 23 Combined 20 City/28 Highway)
Best Range: 607.3 miles
Current Odometer: 13,439 miles
After 35 years, my parents are moving out of their home and needed some help so naturally I asked if I could borrow our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. So for the next week and a half, I'll be blogging about how much of a lifesaver this truck is. First here's how it did with hauling a dog.
Mya liked the truck on the nearly 400-mile trip from L.A. to Sacramento. She never zonked out completely, but she seemed cozy back there with plenty of room to spread out.
The backseat was perfect for dog hauling, what with the seatbelts that protruded from the seat making it easy to buckle her harness in and the rear-seat vents to keep her cool.
I don't think Mya appreciated the Ram's impressive fuel range, however. I only stopped once on the way up; not even to gas up but just to grab some lunch and give her a potty break. Since I was determined to get to Sacramento ASAP and the Ram didn't need a refill, I felt she could wait four hours after. And she did.
The only issue Mya and I encountered with the Ram is its height. Although she proved herself spry with our 2010 Ford Raptor, age seems to have hampered her jumping ability quite a bit.
That Raptor from ground to the seat was about 3 feet high. The Ram's seat is a bit higher off the ground by 7 inches. And yet Mya couldn't do it. Poor puppy.
Jumping out of the truck was even trickier. She could do it here.
But after a long walk she had more trouble. Even when jumping down from the footwell she basically landed on her face. Looked like an albatross landing.
When I'm up here I still plan to take Mya out and about but looks like I'll have to lift her into the truck, which she hates.
I hadn't been in Sacramento 24 hours when it started. My uncle asked if I could haul some random items for him in the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. His daily driver is a Corolla so he was in dire need of something that could carry the two pieces of plywood, two tables, a bird fountain, and a potted plant that my parents gave him. That I gladly did. But then the next day, he asked if I could also do him a solid and help him pick up some plywood from Home Depot for a shed he was building. And then I wondered if this was just going to lead to more favors asked.
I've never owned a truck before so this is new to me but where does one draw the line when it comes to helping out your friends and family? Does one draw a line or do you start a reservation line for your truck?
Got any excuses I can borrow?
If someone hasn't already created one, there should be a ride-sharing app for pickup trucks so you can just call one up on your smartphone when you need one! My uncle has wanted to work on his backyard shed for a long time but could never find a way to get the construction material to his home. Obviously his daily driver Corolla wasn't going to cut it and Home Depot won't deliver for such a small order.
So when I helped him with his Home Depot trip he was ever so grateful. And he had the biggest smile on his face when I pulled up to the home improvement store in the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. His eyes widened and brightened like it was a superhero coming to save the day.
The Ram carried the large pieces of wood, heavy door and bag of roof tiles like a champ. I mean, of course it did. Couldn't put the tailgate up but that cargo wasn't going anywhere anyway.
I really think I'm onto something here.
In Sacramento temperatures are hitting the high 90s. But despite that I decided to do the sundress test on our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's seats. Meaning I was going to jump in the hot dark gray leather seat that had been baking in the sun all afternoon, while wearing a mere sundress. Hard-core, I know.
I could have thrown a towel on the seat but decided this would be a good way to test out the seat coolers. Even though the temperature gauge read 113 degrees in the cab and there was an initial "Yipes!" moment when I first sat down, the seat cooler quickly soothed away the discomfort. Thank goodness!
Final conclusion: You'll never have to fear an oven-hot interior in the Ram thanks to the effective seat coolers.
It's tough work helping a senior couple move from their home that they've lived in for over 35 years into a smaller new house. Fortunately our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was there to save the day. I honestly don't know what I would have done if I had to take one of our long-term SUVs — the Cherokee or the Highlander — for the job instead.
Here are the different ways I got to use our Ram like a truck.
— Hauled pounds of frozen eight-year-old meat and other really scary ex-food products to the landfill. These are the things you would not want stinking up or possibly leaking in the cabin of your car.
— Loaded up the bed with my dad's many Time Life Books collections as well as his library of World War II books and took them to Goodwill. Tip: Don't fill up a large box with books; better to disperse them in smaller boxes. Heh.
— Drove 30 miles into the boonies to pick up several used moving boxes. Since we were taking the freeway we thought it best to stuff them in the second row of the cab. With those seats that fold out of the way, it was easy to cram 30 large, broken-down boxes back there.
— And when I did have to pick up boxes but couldn't stuff them in the cab because my dog was back there, I was able to secure them in the bed by tying them down, looping the twine through the loops in the bed.
— Hand-delivered my parents' old bookcase to my cousin who was going to use it for her kids' room.
— Transporting my mom's many potted plants 400 miles. She loves her garden, so saying good-bye to it was made a bit easier by taking as many of her potted plants as we could to her new home. And sure, the plants looked like they withstood 70-mph winds for six hours but they got there!
— Bringing all the valuables that my parents didn't trust the movers to handle with care. We stuffed the backseat area with a clock that chimes that Titanic theme song, religious statues, important files, designer bags, etc.
I spent a week in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500, but unlike Josh who took the Ram on a multi-state road trip, I didn't have anywhere special to go. I took the truck to and from the office, to the grocery store and the beach, all of which are less than 5 miles from home. After seven days and only about 100 miles of driving, I decided I'd rather have our old long-term 2014 Chevrolet Silverado for this kind of city driving.
For starters, the Silverado is faster. It went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds during our performance test, while the Ram took 8.7 seconds. The Chevy's V8 is far more responsive at low rpm and even though our Ram was quicker through the slalom, the Silverado is much easier to maneuver through traffic. The Ram feels harder to park and heavier, largely because it is. The Silverado weighs 5,206 lbs while the Ram tips the scales at 5,877 lbs, a difference of nearly 700 pounds that feels significant at city speeds from 25-45 mph.
If I were traversing streams on a daily basis or my commute included dirt and snow, our 4x4 Ram would clearly be the right choice. Fuel economy is much better in the diesel-powered Ram too, so it's easier on the wallet. Even at speed, the Ram is quieter, but not by much (60.2 dB at 70 mph vs. 60.9 dB in the Silverado). On any long journey I'd pick the quiet and comfortable Ram, but in the city, where I do most of my driving, I'd go with the Silverado.
So why buy a truck if I just plan on using it in the city? There are plenty of reasons. If I owned a few dirt-bikes or track-toys that needed hauling on the weekends, but I still had to take my (hypothetical) kids to school during the week, I'd buy a city truck. If I worked for or owned a construction or contracting company and needed something to haul lumber, but I had a second car for weekend-fun, I'd buy a city truck. The fact that I live in sunny southern California makes four-wheel drive mostly unnecessary too, so the two-wheel-drive Ram would definitely be a contender here, but in a made-up battle between the two trucks, as they're equipped, it's the Chevy for me.
We all know that L.A. traffic is no picnic. It's wildly unpredictable and wholly unavoidable. It isn't, however, like this. Ever.
Look closely. What you see here are surface streets in red and freeways in green. That means that the Ram's nav traffic thinks that all major surface streets (displayed in this particular scale) are jammed. Gridlocked. Every one. I've seen all sorts of weirdness on L.A. roads, but never anything like this.
The problem is with the nav system not with the roads. In fact, by my observation, all of these major surface streets were as free-flowing as the freeways at this particular hour. Later in my trip it got even weirder. With the exception of a few yellow patches, the freeway traffic info disappeared, but the surface streets remained red.
The next day, everything was back to normal.
I use cruise control more than most. Don't ask me why, but anytime I have clear road ahead of me I usually set my speed and hope that no one gets in my way for a while.
After using the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's setup countless times I've grown to appreciate it for the most part, but it has its drawbacks.
For one, the buttons are small and non-distinct. You have to look down to see which one to use. I much prefer a separate stalk that you can hit without looking.
Another thing that annoys me is the on/off button. I don't see why it's necessary. If you hit "set" the system should turn on. If you hit cancel it should turn off, no power button necessary.
On the plus side, this system shows your set speed clearly in the instrument panel once you've set it. And it holds that speed without letting it drop too high or low. Having all that torque on tap probably helps somewhat.
There's also the fact if you drove this truck every day you would eventually get to know the buttons without looking. At that point, they're well positioned to use quickly and without having to even move your hands on the wheel.
Our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel seems to be a road-trip favorite around here. It's got a big fuel tank, excellent seats and since it's the only pickup currently in our fleet, it's the default vehicle for hauling big items. My cargo was the hood from a 1970 Chevrolet Nova and it was too big for the available crossovers in the Edmunds garage, so I signed out the Ram last weekend for a road trip of my own.
My route went from Los Angeles to Nevada City, Sacramento, Temecula and back home to L.A. Seems like a complicated route just because car part, right? That's because it was just part of the journey.
Really, the hood was an afterthought. Before I agreed to transport the hood, I had signed up to run back-to-back obstacle course events, 500 miles apart. The first was an eight-mile Spartan Race in Sacramento on Saturday and the second was 10-mile Tough Mudder in Temecula on Sunday. I wouldn't need the Ram to tow or haul a ton of weight, but if it was anything less than serene, my weekend would be pretty unbearable.
The first leg of the trip was about 400 miles, easy work for the Ram. Two surfboard soft-racks kept the hood in place the entire time and Ram had plenty of space in the back seat for an oversized duffel bag, a rolling cooler, and enough high-carb food to feed a small country.
The miles from Los Angeles to Folsom felt like some of the quickest I'd ever driven. Not because I was speeding (I had the cruise control set around 70 the entire time) but because this big truck is abundantly comfortable on the highway, and seriously quiet. Something stiffer, louder or less pleasant would've had me dreading the weekend ahead, but the Ram set my mind at ease. I ate from the cooler along the way, blasting by gas stations and laughing maniacally. After 400 miles the Ram had barely used half a tank of fuel.
I quickly delivered the hood in Folsom, hopped back in the truck and went along my way. I arrived in Nevada City about an hour later, after eight hours on the road, just in time for dinner. With 700 miles left to go, things were looking up.
After just six months in our fleet and right in the middle of my 1,300-mile road trip, our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel hit the 15,000-mile mark. We took the truck in for its first service a few months back, but it hasn't required any maintenance since then.
We haven't added any diesel exhaust fluid in the last 5,000 miles but that gauge is low, so expect a full update with details on the Ram's DEF consumption very soon. The manual recommends we take the Ram in for service again at 20,000 miles. Since we seem to like driving the Ram so much, that will probably happen pretty soon.
The first leg of my road trip in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was easy. I went 450 miles in eight hours without any discomfort. Day two in Nevada City, I ran errands and drove over the rolling hills near Tahoe National Forest. At this point, I was about 600 miles into my trip and things were going very well, but the most painful miles were yet to come.
On day three, I headed to an 8+ mile obstacle course race called Spartan Super in Rancho Murieta, CA. Morning weather was wet, but the Ram's rain-sensing wipers took it in stride. The wiper speed was well-regulated and the wipers never came on when the windshield was dry.
Here's a short recap of the Spartan race: It rained. There was lots of mud. We lifted heavy things and put them back down again. Many bananas were eaten. Medals were given out.
After completing the race, I cleaned up, washed off as much dirt as I could with a hose and loaded my gear into the truck. With another obstacle course to run in less than 24 hours, nearly 500 miles away, I needed to get on the road quickly.
Before I left town, I fueled up the truck and set two new records. I had gone 700.1 miles on one tank of fuel, which worked out to 27.8 miles per gallon. This is the first time we've surpassed the EPA's 27 mpg highway rating for the 4WD EcoDiesel, and it beat the last mileage record (607) by nearly 100 miles.
Sure, 80% of those miles were on the highway with no real weight on board, but the Ram also did 150-ish city miles during that tank. It's also worth noting that the Ram spent over an hour idling as I inched along, waiting to get into the parking lot of the Spartan Race. It's not impossible to think, that with a bit of hypermiling, this truck is capable of doing 800-850 miles between fill-ups.
Next stop: Tough Mudder in Temecula, CA. For pain relief, I brought my Shiatsu Massage Pillow and a heating pad along for this second leg of the journey. The 115-volt plug up front in the Ram could handle either device, so I alternated between 20-minute massages for my back and 20 minutes of heat for my worn-out knee. The seat heaters in the Ram would've been just fine if I wanted to heat my back and my bum, but this was a whole different level of comfort.
Eight hours and countless massage cycles later, I arrived in Temecula. At this point, I had gone 474 miles and decided to stop for fuel. Using the same strategy I had along the first leg of the trip, I had set cruise control around 70 mph and stayed mostly in the center lanes. Despite using air conditioning and the dashboard outlet the entire way, I broke the truck's mileage record for the second time that day: 27.9 mpg.
After that small victory (and a shower) I settled in for the night, with eight hours to go before the start of my next event.
Along the second leg of my 1,300-mile road trip, our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel gave me a warning on the center screen that it was time to add some diesel exhaust fluid. I noticed the gauge was low before the trip, so I pre-purchased three boxes of DEF ahead of time. At my next stop, I added 7.5 gallons of DEF and logged the mileage. Here's a breakdown of all the DEF we've added to the Ram so far.
As you can see, the cost of DEF varies pretty widely depending on where you purchase it. On August 8 we paid for the convenience of having a dealership add the fluid during the Ram's first service, and per gallon, it cost more than double what I paid for it at Pep Boys. The Ram came to us with a full DEF tank and we've used 19 gallons of fluid so far.
If you average out the total price of DEF we've already purchased ($120.05/15,748 miles), it comes out to $0.0076 per mile. At the highest rate we've paid ($9.75 per gallon) that would mean an increase to $0.0118 per mile, and if you calculate using the least expensive fluid we've purchased ($4.40 per gallon) the price drops to $0.0053 per mile.
During the last six months, the Ram has consumed 669.1 gallons of diesel fuel and with the current national-average-cost of diesel fuel at about $3.64, that's a total cost of $2,435.52. With those numbers, diesel fuel works out to cost $0.1547 per mile.
Extrapolating these numbers and using the current national average for diesel fuel, the fuel cost over 20,000 miles is $3,094. Over the same distance, purchasing and pouring your own DEF would cost you about $106, while having a dealer do it would approximately $236.
The cost-per-mile of fuel is considering our current mileage of 22.7 mpg (0.7 higher than the EPA combined estimate) and the fact that we're only halfway through our year-long test with the Ram. This means these numbers will likely change a bit, but we'll continue to track DEF usage and what it adds to the cost of ownership.
Also, the windshield washer fluid was low, so I added a gallon of fluid to that reservoir. It cost two dollars.
By day four of my road trip in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, I'd gone 1,200 miles and I was in a bit of pain. The truck didn't cause this discomfort, though. On day three, I had run an 8-mile Spartan Race in northern California then driven 500 miles to participate in an obstacle course called Tough Mudder the very next day.
If anything, the truck's excellent ride quality (combined with the ability to plug in a massage pillow) made the Ram a much better friend to me than I was to myself. So far, the truck had performed flawlessly.
My friend Greg joined me on the final day of the road trip and we piled all our gear in the back seat of the crew cab. We flipped up one of the seats and there was more than enough space for CamelBaks, Clif Bars, backpacks, and extra shoes for after the race.
Sure, I could've fit most of this stuff in the back of a compact car, but in the Ram it just felt more appropriate. Trucks should get dirty from time to time. It's part of their appeal.
After the event, Greg and I were feeling charitable so we offered a ride to some fellow Mudders who hadn't paid for the premium parking. They cheerfully piled in to the bed of the Ram where all seven people fit easily.
Compared to the 1,200 miles I had already done in the Ram, the 122 miles between the event in Temecula and my apartment in Los Angeles, were a breeze. Even on beaten and pitted L.A. freeways, the Ram's ride was smooth and quiet. Over 1,322 miles, the 5,877-pound, diesel-powered truck had averaged 27.3 mpg and gone 700 miles between fill ups. It may not be perfect for commuting in the city, but for highway miles like this, the Ram was exceptional.
Our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel had a busy month, setting two new records for range and fuel economy, and adding 2,456 miles to the odometer. The two new records were achieved in consecutive fill-ups, where the Ram went 700 miles on one tank of fuel and averaged 27.9 miles per gallon on the next tank.
Two lengthy road trips brought the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's lifetime fuel economy average up from 22.3 to 22.7 mpg, continuing to beat the EPA's estimate of 22 mpg combined. It also required the addition of 7.5 gallons of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) which we added at the 15,748-mile-mark. DEF has cost us a total of $120.05 during the first six months of our year-long test.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.4 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 27.9 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.7 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 700.1 miles
Current Odometer: 15,985 miles
Diesel Exhaust Fluid MPG: 828.8 mpg
DEF Usage to Date: 19 Gallons
A buddy and I loaded our Honda CBR600RRs into the bed of the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel last weekend and headed to Buttonwillow Raceway Park for a moto track day. Fellow Edmunds editor Mark Takahashi joined us, finally unleashing his beast of a Yamaha R1 on the track, too.
And wouldn't you know it, we got some of the rain we've so desperately needed here in southern California.
Of all the days Mother Nature chooses to drop the watery stuff, of course it's when we're trying to ride motorcycles around a race track.
While the track day wasn't the biggest success ever for us, thanks to constantly changing conditions (it eventually started pouring in the afternoon, and we packed it in for the day), the Ram was another story.
I continue to be impressed by this Ram EcoDiesel. This is a truly fantastic engine, so smooth and quiet, just a great piece in every way. It had way more than enough power to easily haul me, my buddy, our two motorcycles and all of our gear (the cab was stuffed full) up the long grades on Interstate 5.
And the coil spring rear suspension gives the most car-like ride of any pickup out there.
I'd be happy to drive this truck every day of the week. Even when I don't have the bed loaded with motorcycles or bicycles.
Senior Editor Josh Jacquot mentioned back in July that the tires on our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel rub the wheel wells in certain situations. Josh is probably going to try to garnishee my wages for saying this, but he's actually only half right.
How is this? Because only one of the wheels rubs. And it's the exact same situation every time.
That opening photo, of the driver's side front wheel area, shows the rub point on the fender liner, right near those two bolts. I wasn't sure what was going on for awhile, either, until I started turning the wheels full-lock both directions. The rubbing only occurs when you turn the steering wheel full lock to the right, at which point the left-side tire rubs up against the fender liner.
So the question is: Why is it doing this?
Before we delve any further, here's a photo of the passenger-side front wheel area. You'll see there aren't any rub marks on the fender liner here.
What is hard to tell from the opening photo is just how much the fender liner on the driver's side is sticking out into the path of the left-side tire. At first, before I looked at the other side, I thought maybe the fender liner had come unclipped, and just needed to be popped back into place.
Further inspection revealed this:
A super-tightly-wrapped, surprisingly rigid bit of electrical wiring behind the fender liner. At least, that's sure what it appears to be. Whatever it is, it's pushing the fender liner out where it shouldn't be, hence the tire rub.
Needless to say, we'll have the dealer take a crack at this.
You may recall earlier this year when we headed to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with our long-term 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray for what some guy termed "The Greatest Event in Track Day History."
Well, this past weekend we headed up to the Monterey area for another one of these Friends of Mazda two-day car/motorcycle track weekends. But this time instead of using the Silverado as bike hauler and our long-term Vette as track car, we loaded my Honda CBR600RR into the bed of our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, while towing my turbo Miata on a U-Haul trailer.
Much adventure ensued.
First things first, on Friday I needed to do some prep on my Miata. I wanted to change the oil and filter, swap in a set of track pads front and rear, and put on some new spark plug wires. Plus I also had to drive over to U-Haul to pick up the trailer, but of course I needed to load my moto into the Ram's bed first, since I wouldn't be able to do that once the trailer was attached.
Me being me (that means slightly dimwitted and slow-operating), I didn't get all of these tasks done, and the truck packed for the weekend, until 6:00 p.m. It's safe to say, in retrospect, I didn't get going on this stuff early enough in the day.
Which also means, this being southern California, I screwed myself further because now I was heading out of Orange County up through Los Angeles at just about prime traffic time. Good one.
The Ram EcoDiesel was certainly an easy trundler in traffic, and I just basically kicked back, enjoyed the comfortable cabin, some good tunes and dieseled along until things cleared up. North of L.A. we started to climb some hills, and the EcoDiesel handled the big load it was hauling pretty well. Certainly not the oomph we're used to when it's unladen around town, but also never lacking when I asked for a bit more thrust. Sure, it doesn't have the overabundance of torque like the heavy-duty diesels, but it was adequate. To be honest, I was shocked by the number of cars and SUVs I was passing up long grades, even though I was keeping pretty close to the 55 mph trailer speed limit.
Which brings up another point (or two). Sticking near the 55 mph trailer speed limit is, in some ways, calming. Sure, I would have liked to have made better time, but I also wasn't worried about being pulled over for speeding. Also, because I stayed out of the left lane, I was blissfully unaware of all the left-lane hogs camped out over there. So nice.
Now you'll probably think this is weird, but I was kinda jazzed when (a couple times, anyway) some eighteen-wheelers gave me a flash of the lights on Interstate 5 after I passed them, letting me know my trailer had cleared their rig and it was safe to move back over into the lane. Made me feel like one of the gang, know what I mean? Secretly, I've always thought about being a long-haul trucker. But I digress.
So what time did I roll into the hotel in Monterey? A pleasant 1:30 a.m.
Like I said, not exactly the brightest bulb over here.
During a break between sessions, we took the Ram out to Laguna's Turn Six to check out some of the action. Kind of a cool shot, huh?
At the end of Day 1, we gathered E-Z Ups, chairs, tables and bikes together, and left them overnight in Laguna's paddock area.
The front seat of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is showing some wear after 16,800 miles of service. This seat is a comfortable place to be. I spent over 400 miles in the saddle yesterday and had no complaints. And I'm not sure how this plays into seat wear, but by the looks of things, our staff is right-cheek dominant.
When we left off Laguna Seca Track Day, Part 1, I had arrived in my typical late fashion to the hotel the night before the two-day car/motorcycle track weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel had performed well on the drive to Monterey, hauling my sportbike in the bed while towing my turbo Miata on a trailer.
Early the next morning it was a quick drive to the track, and that's when things got interesting.
Photo by gotbluemilk.com
Why "interesting?" Because I'm involved. As well as a modified car. With me as its mechanic.
I needed to bed-in my track pads and install my track-day airdam, among other things, and the whole process of this plus registering/tech'ing two vehicles meant I missed the first two sessions out on track. Wasn't too thrilled about that. Once I finally did get out there the Miata ran pretty well, though the turbo application means the car still runs hotter than I'd like. At least my newly fabricated brake ducting seemed to work.
But it was the bike session that changed the course of the weekend for me. My previously dislocated left shoulder was acting up badly, so incredibly painful when riding the bike, that I had to just park the bike for the remainder of the weekend after one session. Even though surgery (to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff) was already scheduled for this coming week, it still surprised the heck out of me that the pain got so bad, because I've done moto track days since I dislocated it. And folks, I don't want you to feel obligated to send a bunch of "get well" cards, okay?
Photo by gotbluemilk.com
Although I was super bummed I couldn't do more moto sessions, and the shoulder continued to bother when driving the Miata (partially because I eliminated the power steering awhile back, maybe not my smartest move ever), it was still a good weekend of hard driving with friends.
One other interesting thing happened: In one of the car sessions, while following my buddy in his Mitsubishi Evolution and being trailed by the world-famous Eyesore Racing Frankenmiata, heading up to Laguna's Turn Six, a Nissan GT-R tried to make a boneheaded pass of another Miata...through Turn Six. Just ahead of us. Even in a real race, you don't pass there. But he did. Or at least tried. The GT-R gave the Miata a pretty big clout, (the photo here shows the aftermath), the GT-R sliding to the inside, the Miata spinning to the outside. Luckily, Mike, Ryan and I were all paying attention and were able to slow enough to avoid the spinning cars without hitting each other.
Photo by gotbluemilk.com
But back to the Ram EcoDiesel. It proved a super-comfortable place to nurse my wounds (both physical and mental) on the long drive back down to Orange County, and it towed like a champ. The only thing I noticed was what appears to be some extra sag from that coil-spring rear suspension.
Total trip length: 808.6 miles.
Average towing fuel mileage: 19.8 mpg, although the first 85 miles of the first tank of diesel was towing-free. The on-board computer registered 19.7 mpg for the Trip B mileage of 808.6 miles.
Photo by gotbluemilk.com
It was the morning of the day I planned to head north to Oregon in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I had a story to finish and some errands to run before my daughter got out of school and we could wade out into Friday evening traffic and get going. In the midst of it all the Oil Change Due warning popped up on the truck's information screen.
This wouldn't have been a surprise to any normal vehicle owner, but we swap this truck around amongst the staff. No one prior to me had seen the 500-mile countdown clock begin issuing its notifications. I was mentally assuming 20,000 miles, so the warning at 18,490 miles was a bit of a surprise. I'd completely forgotten that Josh had taken it in for its first oil change a bit early at 8,975 miles instead of 10,000 miles, and that dealer hadn't affixed a reminder windshield sticker behind the sun visor.
So at 11:00 a.m. on a Friday I rushed over to McPeek Dodge/Ram in Anaheim to see what the service department could do for me on short notice. I was in luck. Only two cars were left waiting in front of me from the morning rush. I didn't have time to let them tackle the tire rub issue, though, so I didn't bring it up. As it was I would have to wait 90 minutes for the oil change and tire rotation I absolutely needed.
Half expecting this, I camped out in the waiting area with my laptop to get some work done, surrounded by a pair of Vipers and a couple of R/T Challengers.
Ninety minutes rolled around and the truck was back in the drive pretty much on schedule. But there was a slight problem.
The service writer hadn't checked in a Ram 1500 EcoDiesel for an oil change before and he'd wildly underestimated the cost on the check-in paperwork. He didn't allow for 11 quarts of oil and a fairly expensive oil filter. I told him not to worry about it. I wasn't going to hold him to it. I wasn't there to play Gotcha.
But George and his boss felt obligated, so they only went as far up as the approximate midpoint between what he'd estimated and what it should have cost. They didn't say, but I suspect the oil and filter prices shown below are their cost.
Here's how the $154.81 bill breaks down:
Oil: $69.52 for 11 quarts @ $6.32 each ($9.20 last time)
Filter: $36.00 ($60.00 last time)
Labor: $37.90 (tire rotation and oil change)
Disposal fee: $2.95
Note that I could have asked them to top up the DEF tank, too. But it was over half full so I chose to leave it as-is. That's an easy DIY at any service station or auto parts store.
Evidently the Edmunds staff likes our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I know I certainly do, but it takes more than one fan to reach 20,000 miles in 7.5 months around here.
At its core, the Ram 1500 is my current favorite full-size truck, EcoDiesel or otherwise. I like the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine and the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 just as well. The more I drive any of them I become an even bigger fan of Ram's decision to fit coil spring rear suspension. I quite like the 8-speed automatic transmission, too, even if it does necessitate the use of a rotary shift knob. And the interior and the latest iteration of the U-Connect system are nothing less than fantastic.
For the record, the 20,000-mile mark was reached about halfway through a trip to Oregon and back that I'll be telling you about soon. I hadn't yet driven a Ram pickup on my semi-annual 2,000-mile excursion, but without spoiling too much in advance I can say the whole family has been happy with the choice.
The moment happened about 25 miles north of Bend, Oregon on the way home from a cold and windy visit to Smith Rock State Park. That's it there in the background.
Anyone for thirty thousand miles? I'm game.
November was a busy month for our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Nearly 5,200 miles were added, and about half of them resulted from a Thanksgiving road trip to Oregon I still haven't told you very much about.
The above photograph hints at what was going on, for half the time, at least. Yes, I towed a trailer containing a rally car all the way back. You can't see from here, but the bed and cab are all loaded with tires and the contents of my eldest daughter's dorm room. And the wooden splash panel on the nose of the trailer is concealing a massive steel Jobox tool box filled with a few hundred pounds of spare car parts. The car itself is packed with more tires, three packed suitcases and trash bags full of clothes and bedding.
So it should come as no surprise that I reset the Ram's worst tank this month. After all, I towed the lot from Bend, Oregon over Santiam Pass to Eugene and then south along Interstate 5 over numerous other passes until we crested the Siskiyou Summit and rolled down into Yreka, California for a stretch and some more diesel fuel.
But that new "worst" tank was still a respectable 17.1 mpg. Not bad for towing in the mountains with what I figure is about 6,000 pounds of added weight, possibly more. And the subsequent all-towing tanks that finished the 1,040-mile trip home were 19.4 and 20.5 mpg.
It would seem that diesel pays its biggest dividends to those that tow.
But our Ram's average lifetime mpg didn't suffer overmuch from these three all-towing tanks. Sure, the overall sagged from 22.7 mpg a bit, but 22.4 mpg still bests our Ram 1500 Ecodiesel 4x4's EPA Combined rating of 22 mpg by a wee margin.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.1 (down from 17.5 mpg)
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.4 (4.5 gallons per 100 miles)
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City / 27 Highway)
Best Range: 700.2 miles
Current Odometer: 21,079 miles
Thing is, there are exactly zero towing miles in the EPA's test procedure. But between me and others on staff we can probably claim two or three thousand towing miles. I should probably add them up sometime.
Our 11-foot-tall Christmas tree (plus stand) didn't exactly fit in the bed of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, but as you can see, the truck got the job done.
Hauling it home with the Ram's four seat heaters cranked on a sun-drenched and 75 So-Cal Saturday completed the experience.
Regular readers of the escapades of our long-term test fleet are well aware of my semi-regular forays north to my parents' place on the stunning Oregon coast. This time our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel got the nod. This choice wasn't much of a choice because I had two additional objectives beyond visiting Mom and Dad and spending Thanksgiving with my wife's family over in Bend, Oregon.
I needed to stop at the University of Oregon in Eugene to load up my eldest daughter's dorm room. The Toyota Highlander could have handled that, but I also volunteered to tow a racecar back to southern California for a co-worker. How could I not? He happened to buy his rally-prepped Subaru Impreza 2.5RS from a guy that lived no more than five miles from where we'd be devouring our turkey.
This first leg was the empty-truck portion of the trip. We started in Orange County and headed up Interstate 5 past Sacramento as far as Williams, where we cut over and passed by Clear Lake on the way to Highway 101 near Ukiah. From there it was 101 north all the way through some of the most beautiful coastal Redwood forests in the world to the Oregon border. My parents' place is only 20 miles farther up the road near the Pistol River.
Early on, my wife and daughter fell in love with the truck. They were all about the highway ride, the space — and the seat heaters. Sarah, my youngest daughter, took little time in assigning the Big Red Truck a name: Clifford. Ask your kids.
We made our first fuel stop for more diesel #2 some 583 miles into the trip in Willits, California, where we added 24.0 gallons of the stuff. I wasn't that disappointed with the 24.3 mpg result because we'd been moving right along and at times there had been a stiff headwind. It was not one of my most economical performances.
We paused awhile in Eureka, California to grab a snack and take a gander at some amazing homes built by lumber magnates long ago. These turn-of-the-last-century tycoons were apparently keen to demonstrate what could be done with their wood.
Right on cue, it started to rain when we rolled across the border. But the southern California sun, smog (and drought) had done a number on the Ram's factory wiper blades. So I pointed the Ram at an auto parts store for some industrial strength Oregon-spec ones. Throughout the remainder of the trip I would enjoy a clear windshield despite experiencing 45 of the 50 British words for rain and come to seriously appreciate the Ram's well-sorted adjustable rain-sensing wiper system. Regular wipers will never again suffice.
We arrived after sundown with a half-tank of the Willits diesel left over after covering a total of 848 miles since we left home. As pleasant as the trip in the Ram had been, it was good to be stationary at my parent's place for a few days. Their hilltop ocean view is unmatched.
The second phase of our trip saw us leave the Oregon coast behind in our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel and head inland to Bend. Along the way we stopped in Eugene to pick up our eldest daughter at the University of Oregon. I also refilled it (had it refilled; pump-your-own-gas in not allowed in Oregon) with more diesel before the four of us headed farther east.
This was only our second fuel stop after 1,140 miles on the road. The first had been in Willits, Calif., some 557 miles behind us. Our friendly Eugene station attendant added 21.451 gallons, which works out to 26.0 mpg. Not bad for a tank that was almost exclusively comprised of meandering two-lane roads that hugged the coastline, wound alongside rivers and climbed over more than a few grades and hills, including a handful of trips up Dad's half-mile long 15-percent driveway.
Bend is on the east side of the Cascade Range, and when we arrived there was snow on the ground. It had snowed a few days earlier, and it was fairly cold, but not yet Polar Vortex cold. Still, this gave us the chance to appreciate a couple of cold-weather Ram features.
In was 39 degrees the next morning, and as the engine started and settled into an idle I began to feel a warm sensation in the seats and on the steering wheel rim. It was the Auto-On Comfort feature I had first noticed in June at the warm end of the weather spectrum. I had forgotten all about it.
I had found the system's cold weather trigger point, the one that spontaneously turns on the driver's seat heater and the heated steering wheel. It was a pleasant surprise.
As the manual states, the automatic cold-weather activation temperature is 40 degrees. It was 39F the first day I noticed it, and on subsequent mornings when the outside temperature was 41F or 42F the seat and steering wheel heaters didn't come on.
The threshold temperature isn't adjustable, but the factory selection seemed about right. I appreciated the extra heat at 39F, but I didn't miss it at 42F. And if I'd felt differently the button was close at hand.
Later on, my brothers-in-law and father-in-law piled in for a little exploring through the nearby national forest. At one point we tried a back way into Newberry Crater on a forest service path, and the snow cover left over from the previous week's storm got thicker as our elevation increased.
The pushbutton 4x4 engagement buttons are ganged just below the rotary shifter knob in a prominent location. With no pause or fanfare the Ram seamlessly shifted on the fly into 4-High and continued up the mountain, the diesel engine pulling steadily all the while with the tachometer dithering between 1,200 and 1,500 rpm.
The Ram's factory tires provided decent grip in conditions that alternated between snow, ice, slush and mud, but eventually we got to a place where the snow was too deep to continue and we found nothing but snow machine tracks. Our randomly selected goal was still 800 feet higher in elevation, so we turned back and wandered off to a different part of the forest where there was a lava tube cave instead.
Through it all, the low-end grunt of the Ram's diesel engine made the whole trip feel effortless. It never broke a sweat. This was nothing.
Say what you will about fuel economy, payback time and the relative price of the fuels, but I'm an increasingly big fan of the way this diesel powertrain feels nonchalant and untaxed when it's asked to do a little work.
With the Thanksgiving festivities behind us, it was time to prepare for the 1,040-mile drive home. But this wasn't a simple matter of loading ourselves into the cab and sliding our suitcases under a tarp in the bed and waving goodbye. Before we could set out I first had to drive across Bend to pick up a trailer.
One of my co-workers had bought a rally-prepped Subaru RS 2.5 from someone that just happened to live nearby. The transaction had been in the "deposit" stage for some weeks while he made plans to come up and get it, but then we both realized two things: I was going to be in Bend for my own reasons, and I had already signed out the 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel so I could collect the contents of my daughter's dorm room at the University of Oregon.
I stopped for more diesel fuel on the way over to grab the trailer even though I didn't strictly need it yet. A fresh top-up would isolate the non-towing miles from the towing ones in the logbook. So with "just" 372 miles on the clock the attendant added 15.824 gallons.
That works out to 23.5 mpg for a tank that included a fair bit of messing around on dirt roads, sightseeing and driving around town. Taking all three tanks together, the entire 1,513-mile trip to this point had gone down at 24.7 mpg.
The trailer, an open-deck steel affair with a wood deck, was loaded and ready when I arrived. It had a big steel Jobox jobsite toolbox bolted to the nose, which was nearly filled with heavy steel car parts, axles, control arms and other spares necessary to repair the inevitable wear and tear that comes with rallying. Two pairs of mounted spare race wheels were strapped and locked to its flanks.
And that's why the car was loaded backwards, with the Subaru's engine slightly aft of the trailer's axles. Normally, I would never do this. But if it had been facing forward there would have been too much tongue weight on account of the tires, heavy steel box and its considerable contents. In this case the reverse loading resulted in a just-right amount of trailer tongue weight, about 10 percent by our reckoning.
All I had to do was insert the 2 5/16" trailer ball I'd brought, hook up using the Ram's back-up camera system as a guide, plug the trailer's 7-pin connector into the Ram's factory socket and drive away. In those first few yards I adjusted the Ram's factory electric trailer brake controller to match its gain setting to the trailer and its load.
A Subaru rally car is heavier than you'd think because of the extensive roll cage welded inside. There's also quite a bit of unseen underbody armor. The steel trailer is no featherweight, either. Add in the jobsite toolbox, the spare car parts and the four extra wheels and tires and I figured the rig weighed close to 6,000 pounds.
But that's not all I got. I was also presented with seven more tires: six un-mounted rally tires and a mounted spare for the trailer. These went into the bed of the Ram with our luggage.
At this point we were truly ready to go, so we headed out of town as an approaching storm began pelting us with more rain. We had no time to lose because that rain was scheduled to turn into snow during the night. It was imperative that we put Santiam Pass in our rearview mirror before sunset.
In fact, we needed to be gone even earlier than that because we also needed to arrive at the University of Oregon one hour before sundown so we could add the contents of my daughter's dorm room to the mix. She would stay behind and finish finals before flying home ten days later with her laptop and suitcase full of clothes.
So we were back to three for the trip home. That allowed me to fold the 60-percent side of the Ram's backseat so the more sensitive items could be piled high inside. Our three personal suitcases went into the Subaru's front racing seats, and five garbage bags full of clothes and bedding got unceremoniously stuffed between the seats and on top of the rally car's dash. I piled a few more items on top of the car parts in the trailer's lockable Jobox toolbox for good measure.
Five of those flip-top plastic storage boxes (each inside a trash bag) went into the bed in front of the row of seven tires, now neatly lined up against the tailgate. Then we tucked my tarp carefully over everything in the bed, stretched one of those spiderweb bungee cords over the top and fastened its hooks to the low-mounted tie-downs in each corner of the Ram's bed. It was getting dark and starting to rain again as we finished, but there was no need for a flashlight because of the overhead bed light that's mounted in the third brake light housing above the rear window.
We said goodbye and were ready to roll with a 6,000-pound trailer that weighed even more because of the items we'd added, a full bed and a very full cab. I don't think the total load rose up to the level of the Ram's GCWR, but we couldn't have fallen short by much.
The actual drive home was anti-climactic. The Ram failed to strain up any of the numerous grades. The little 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that could, did — without hesitation.
The trailer and the load didn't change the driving experience much, except that I now had to abide by slightly slower towing speed limits. The trailer brake controller was flawless, up to and including a 40-mph panic stop when someone cut me off as we were leaving town.
Throughout, there was absolutely no tail-wagging-the-dog feeling whatsoever despite numerous curves, passing 18-wheelers and crosswinds. A big dollop of credit goes to the Ram's coil spring rear suspension. I experienced the same calm, effortless trailer-tow feeling in a Ford versus Ram V6 towing test I conducted a couple of years ago. It's not the coil springs, per se, but the lateral Panhard rod that comes along with them. Count this as yet another reason why I am in full support of the coil-spring rear suspension decision made by Ram's engineers and top brass.
By far the biggest negative was the Ram's tendency to allow speed overrun when going downhill on cruise control, and it didn't matter if I was in tow/haul or not. I found myself downshifting manually and dabbing the brakes much more than I thought necessary to control speed. How many times would have been acceptable? Zero.
After all, the computer knows my target speed and it has eight transmission gears at its disposal. There's no excuse why it can't drop a gear or three to keep the rig's speed from climbing. And if I'm going to have to manually downshift all the time, how about giving me the nice Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel steering wheel shift paddles instead of these lame little buttons on the right spoke that are easily confused with the cruise control buttons.
Our owner's manual mentions an exhaust brake, but there's no button. That's because the Ram representative I spoke with reminded me that the 1500 Ecodiesel doesn't have one. Is it a misprint? No. The 1500, 2500 and 3500 share a manual, and the latter two have this feature. Based on what I experienced, the 1500 Ecodiesel needs better downshift intelligence when running downhill (on cruise control or not), a diesel exhaust brake feature, or both.
We made the 1,140-mile run home with two fuel stops, and upon arrival I filled up once more just before I dropped off the trailer to lock-off the towing portion of the test. Over the entire distance the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel averaged 18.8 mpg with this not insubstantial load. Along the way the Ecodiesel's best towing range was 438 miles and its best-tank fuel economy was 20.5 mpg. The worst towing tank, the one over the rainy mountains out of Bend and over several summits along the I-5 corridor in Oregon to Yreka, California, had been 17.1 mpg.
That's pretty remarkable, in my book. The main thing I had in my favor was the low-profile nature of the load, aside from the diesel engine, that is.
Pulling torque, a rock-steady suspension, towing-friendly hitching and trailer braking features, fuel consumption, outright range: There are many reasons why the 2014 Ram Ecodiesel is a good choice for trailer towing. And that's regardless of the relative prices of gasoline and diesel. There's more to this rig than the cost of the fuel, a factor that's hard to predict over the time you'll own the truck in any case.
Recently we tested a 2015 Volkswagen eGolf. We test all electric vehicles with a full charge, and oftentimes, they are so depleted by the end of testing that they don't have range to get home. To get around this, we tow them to and from the track. This time we used our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel as chauffer...
Before towing we had to do some quick math:
Trailer empty weight: 2,210 lbs.
eGolf curb weight: 3,400 lbs.
Total tow weight: 5,610 lbs.
Our Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 has the standard 3.55 rear axle ratio and an advertised tow rating of 7,550 pounds. With almost 2,000-lbs of cushion, we were in good shape.
The engine and transmission were up to the task. I hardly utilized the 420 pound-feet of torque supplied by the turbo-diesel V6. No significant grades, just a healthy dose of freeway driving. I kept the tranny in tow-haul mode, which helped ease the burden while stopping and accelerating, but probably wasn't necessary.
Ride quality was good overall and perhaps improved with a load in-tow. The rear multilink and coil spring suspension deserves the credit here. There was also only minimal tugging of the trailer as the truck responded to dips and bumps in the road as well. Alternatively, our recently departed, and leaf-spring-equipped 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, was subject to far more disruption towing over the same surfaces.
I pulled the front passenger door handle on our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and it stuck...
The door itself opened, closed and latched fine, but the grabber wouldn't return to a flush position unless I pushed it down. It was repeatable in the moment. But I couldn't make it happen again while I had the truck. Cold was the only cause I could imagine, though 55 degrees shouldn't have this much influence on build quality.
Getting out of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel the other day I noticed this small issue. The rubber door trim that insulates the rear of the cabin from wind noise and other such issues is falling off.
After closer inspection, it doesn't appear to be torn, cut or otherwise damaged. It simply came unattached from the door frame it surrounds. Getting it back in place was just a matter of stuffing it back into the slot it fell out of. I suspect it's not a long-term solution, we'll see soon enough.
Alert FEMA and the media. It rained for more than 24 hours in Southern California recently. Couple of times, actually. Yes, it's predictable and boring to discuss the weather, especially rain in the Southland, almost as predictable as the bad behavior of the wet weather drivers who live here. Nice to have the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel on days like this.
I'll never understand it. Roughly half of the current population of Los Angeles County was born elsewhere (or so say the last census findings). This data doesn't parse how much of the population is of driving age, but let's assume it's significant. Let's also assume that they've also come from wetter climates and have, presumably, some experience driving in weather. It's possible that natives, who aren't conditioned to moisture, are mostly responsible for the dependably bad behavior when conditions get slippery around here.
Take the Ram out on a rainy highway and you notice there's a force field around it. The speeding Corolla in the rearview mirror, skating on its 195 tires, gives the Ram a wide berth. It's clear who loses that tangle. Even during a measured pass of a semi, the Ram feels like it belongs. The slick rain-sensing wipers, which performed admirably for us in Oregon and northern California, keep the view clear.
To me, the Ram's real confidence in the wet comes from it brakes. Very progressive, deceleration and control that feels directly linked to pressure and effort. No surprise that the brakes performed pretty well on dry surfaces. In testing, our long-term Ram stopped from 60 mph in 135 feet, a legit distance for a 6,020-pound mass.
Here's what Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton had this to say about the long-term Ram's brakes in testing:
"In normal driving, the pedal has 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 its better because of it. Good fade resistance without loss of feel or effectiveness."
One of the many upgrades with the Laramie trim level of the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is this "wood" trim. It's on the doors front and rear along with a few sections of the dashboard.
The Laramie trim level is expensive, so the folks at Ram may have felt compelled to spruce it up with some extra bits of trim. But as you can see, putting fake wood trim next to marginal black plastic doesn't result in a very luxurious look. It just looks odd.
Now I'm not sure what would be better. Fake carbon fiber is never a good substitute, but some "nice" plastic trim would be just fine. It's a truck after all. An expensive truck for sure but one that doesn't need fake stuff to make it look like it's worth the money.
The DEF gauge on our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel sank into the red zone as I towed Josh's racecar southward towards home. I know what you're thinking: "Didn't they add DEF just a few weeks ago?"
Well yes, and no. Yes, we last filled the tank on October 25. And, yes, the day I added it was November 30.
But you must remember this: We put over 5,000 miles on our Ram in November alone. That's anywhere from three to five months for most people. We had driven 5,335 miles since our last DEF add, and a good percentage of those were towing miles.
Also, the DEF tank wasn't quite empty when I added my 6 gallons. The warning lights had not yet come on. I could have stretched it out another 500 miles or more. But the needle was clearly in the red, and I don't like handing over a vehicle with an impending issue to the next guy or gal.
Besides, I'd never yet added DEF to any vehicle. I was curious.
So I bought two 2.5-gallon containers at my local auto parts store. I might have considered buying a third if they'd had one, but a part of me thought the tank wasn't empty enough for 7.5 gallons. Also, the manual is pretty adamant about not overfilling. So I bought a single gallon instead, even though the smaller container carried a much higher per-ounce price. Ketchup and DEF have that in common.
In all I paid $40.47 for 6 gallons, which works out to $6.75 per each. Our Ram's DEF consumption rate over 5,335 miles was 890 mpg and the per-mile cost of the stuff boils down to three-quarters of a penny.
The 2.5-gallon jugs came in their own cardboard boxes, each containing a screw-on spout. The spout was pretty effective, and it screwed on to the 1-gallon container just the same, which was good because the smaller jug didn't come with one.
It turns out that 2.5 gallons is just about the right size for a jug of this stuff. A decent amount goes in during a single pour and it doesn't weigh enough to be unwieldy.
My six-gallons came up just shy of full, but I don't think 7.5 gallons would have fit without spilling. If I had it to do all over again I'd wait until the needle sank a little lower and the warnings came on, at which point 7.5 gallons would be almost exactly right.
I think I'd approach this differently if I owned this truck and wasn't sharing it with others. For one, I'd only be putting on 1,200 miles a month. At my usual mileage accumulation rate I figure I'd be adding three such jugs every 4 or 5 months, which seems very easy to manage. Or maybe I'd add a single 2.5-gallon jug every month or two and be happy keeping the needle somewhere in the middle. I'd probably make sure I always had an extra 2.5-gallon jug on the shelf at home, too.
And I'd buy my DEF online from an Amazon vendor, where the going rate is $11.97 for a 2.5-gallon container of the exact brand I bought. That works out to $4.79 per gallon and only a half-cent per mile.
Either way, this DEF thing isn't that big of a deal. It's pretty easy to manage, and it's easy enough to add that I would never consider paying the dealer to do it for me.
We put only about 1,500 miles on our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel in December. We didn't tow and there were no road trips. In other words, it was a slow month. Best fill (27.9 mpg), worst fill (17.1 mpg) and best range (700.2 miles) remain the same as last month.
Click through for all the details.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.4
EPA MPG Rating: 22 combined (19 City / 27 Highway)
Best Range: 700.2
Current Odometer: 23,107
I'm not Dan Edmunds. The dude is a towing expert, all concerned with tongue weight and balance, brake gain and hitch drop. Nope. I'm not that guy. In fact, I've hardly towed at all. But I'm here to tell you that our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel makes towing easy.
Much has already been said about towing with the Ram Ecodiesel here and if you want a full Dan Edmunds dissertation on the subject, read the comments on that post. Even if you don't want the full download, but you think you might tow someday, it's knowledge worth having.
Anyway, yesterday was my first real experience towing anything of significant weight. By my educated guess, the combined trailer/car weight here is about 5,500 pounds. Plus, I had another few hundred pounds of payload in the bed and three occupants in the truck. This wasn't a light rig.
It didn't matter.
My strategy was to never be in a hurry and never make any sudden moves. Smooth, like a fat man who can dance, was the order of the day. And the Ram made it effortless. Despite the need to make a few time-critical passes, I never thought about having enough power. Braking was uneventful. Though the trailer has brakes, I only touched the built-in brake controller once to verify their operation. If you're looking for an easy-towing rig, this is a good candidate.
I've had a lot of good experiences with our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel's UConnect system. This isn't one of them. I almost always check traffic on the 91 freeway before I jump on to travel a few exits to a place we frequent for dinner. Over the holiday I did just that. Often this check is performed with a smart phone from my driveway, which has proven reliable. This time, however, I only glanced at the Ram's nav screen.
I regretted it.
As you can see, UConnect let me down on this one. The nav system was far enough behind the Inrix Traffic app on my wife's iPhone that we snapped a few photos to document the situation. UConnect was still showing clear traffic (green) when we exited the freeway 15 minutes later.
There's still plenty of rubber left on our Ram's 275/60R20 Goodyear Wrangler SR-A tires as we approach 25,000 miles. This is what the wear bars look like on both the front and rears as of this writing. Notice how much rubber remains above the wear bar. About 7/32-in of the original 11/32-in remains. In other words, there's plenty of life left in these tires.
January wasn't the most eventful month for our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel but we still managed to pile on another 1,400 miles, tow a car, haul a motorcycle and back over our neighbor's flowers.
Numbers are on the other side.
Not only are we right on the EPA's numbers, but we're achieving those numbers while towing and trudging through most of Southern California. And we're doing it with a motor that just ten years ago, would have seemed laughably small for a full sized truck. Impressive. Just like that bladder-busting 700-mile range.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.3
EPA MPG Rating: 22 combined (19 City / 27 Highway)
Best Range: 700.2 miles
Current Odometer: 24,554 miles
This trim panel has been misaligned on our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel for as long as I can remember. Hasn't changed my life at all. In fact, I still love this truck.
Click though to see what it should look like.
This is how the same panel fits on the passenger side.
After a round of home improvement projects over the last couple of months, I had a side yard full of wood scraps and other junk to get rid of. Despite not having a protective bed liner, our Ram 1500 handled the task with ease, and without a scratch.
With the smaller bed size, you can't throw stuff in as randomly as you can with an eight-foot bed. There was still plenty of room though and I probably could have fit even more if I needed to.
There wasn't enough extra weight to notice a change in ride quality, but this Ram feels perfectly comfortable when it's empty anyway. I think our new F-150 is a close second in that department even with its leaf spring rear suspension. It's also worth noting that with over 25,000 miles on the odometer, our Ram still feels as tight as ever.
Everything seemed normal as I was driving my daughter to school in our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel. Well, almost normal. Five minutes earlier it had cranked an unusually long time (3 or 4 seconds) when I'd started it at home. That rather innocuous incident marked the third such occurrence in three consecutive days, so I made a mental note to tell the dealer about it at the next oil change before I backed out of my driveway and set off.
That plan abruptly changed as I rolled up to a green light and began a right-hand turn. A single-note chime resonated through the cabin, and I glanced down to find a brand new check-engine light glowing on the dash. Ten seconds later the engine died abruptly as I was slowing for the next red light.
I was gently brushing the brakes going no more than 20 mph when it happened, but the sudden loss of power brought me to a stop three truck-lengths short of the line. It was as good a spot as any for something like this to happen. This was a little-used shortcut with almost no traffic. But I was out in the second lane. I needed to move on or move over. So I pushed the start button and attempted a restart.
It was no good. The starter simply cranked and cranked until it timed-out after 25 seconds. I tried again and got the same result.
A prominent "oil pressure low" warning light was now on, along with others that read "service electronic throttle control" and "service airbag system." There was another that said something about an electronic power steering fault, too.
All of these were probably knock-on effects of the stall itself, the sudden loss of motive power and alternator output that none of these systems expected while the vehicle was moving. Still, the possibility of low oil pressure is nothing to dismiss, so I clicked on the four-way flashers, raised the hood, and called a tow truck even though the dipstick read full.
After a few minutes I tried one last time, and after a 10-second crank it came to life. But I was in no mood to resume driving and risk another stall in a more dangerous spot. My only destination was the nearby curb. Once there I shut it down gain.
The AAA tow truck finally arrived 53 minutes after I called, and we set out for McPeek's Dodge/Ram/etc. some 4 miles away. The driver expertly backed the stricken Ram into the service drive, and I got on with the paperwork.
The towing operation added ABS and stability control warnings to the mix that confused the issue, but I knew they didn't have any bearing on my problem. They were a mere result of the rear wheels turning while the fronts were stationary on the hook.
The engine started for the service writer, of course. You knew that it would before you read it. That's how it always goes. But at least he had to wait through an extended crank of some 5-6 seconds. And the check-engine light was still on.
I was told a mechanic should be able to get to it this afternoon. Stay tuned.
While we wait to get our truck back in one piece, here is one of our adventures that happened before the mishap.
A lot has been said about the ride quality in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, and rightly so. It bucked the trend (see what I did there?) of full-sized trucks being rough riding, bouncy affairs and instead showed us that, with a little suspension black magic, a big truck could indeed have a comfortable, relaxed ride.
Well that's all well and good for people, but what does it mean for cargo strapped into the bed? Kinda exactly what you'd think it'd mean.
Our L.A. freeways suck. And with our truck's comically short bed (don't ask) and lack of a bed extender (again, don't ask) it means I'm always extra paranoid when I strap my bike into our Ram. But after a 75-mile round trip to and from a vintage motorcycle genie, I was suitably impressed by how the naturally smooth ride of the Ram translated to the bike in the bed. Only the worst dips ever made it to my bike's suspension, with the rest all being quietly smothered by the truck's magic bits. It really was smooth sailing for all involved.
The bike wasn't fixed, and there will be more on that later, but I did happen across a very tasty Ducati 450 R/T that was waiting for a bit of work.
Hopefully, we'll get our smooth-riding Ram back soon.
And by "extended stay" I mean 12 days.
Why so long? The Ram engineering group in Detroit got involved. But not because I asked them to — I didn't. Maybe someone who knew someone saw the Tweet I'd sent out while I was waiting for the tow truck. Perhaps the problem description raised a red flag.
As well it should. A stall while moving is a rare yet serious failure mode. I'm told they wanted to fully understand the circumstances in order to determine the root cause.
My contact inside the company assures me this was not special journalist treatment, and I tend to agree. Twelve days without a truck does not feel like the red carpet treatment, even if the dealer did offer a loaner. If making us happy and downplaying were the main objectives they would have swapped-out the part in question and turned it around as soon as possible.
Since they didn't do that I can only assume they were truly not certain of the precise failure mode, couldn't guess what single part was to blame. The work ticket, the painstaking pace of the work and the involvement of Ram engineering's district service representative reflects that.
The work ticket also lists the original trouble codes as P0087 and P016F, which have to do with low fuel rail pressure. (Two fuel rails sit underhood and feed three fuel injectors each). The mechanic and the district service rep didn't suffer a stall during their test drives, but they did experience the long crank and observed sluggish response under heavy acceleration, a symptom I hadn't experienced because I hadn't been hauling cargo or hauling butt in the days leading up to the stall.
But they found more than trouble codes. The measured fuel flow rate was low. And an inspection magnet latched on to a tiny piece of metallic debris in the high-pressure side of the fuel system. I don't think they expected that.
The fuel level was at a quarter-tank when the first long-crank incident occurred, and the check-engine light and stall happened at about the eighth-tank mark. The tank level was not yet low enough to illuminate the low-fuel light. I'm told none of this should matter, though, because the system draws fuel out of a canister that sits on the bottom of the tank.
Think of the canister as a bucket. When the tank is full the canister is naturally filled with fuel because it's submerged. But it stays full even as the tank level drops below the lip of the bucket because a) the fuel return line dumps into the canister and b) the pump draws fuel in through a tiny orifice in the bottom. In this way the pump, which is inside the canister, is always bathed in fuel even if the tank level outside drops lower than the lip of the bucket.
They ruled out the possibility of contaminants in the tank or the fuel after they drained and inspected the tank. They also ruled out canister damage from external sources such as a piece of freeway debris or a direct off-road rock hit after their inspection showed no witness marks or dents in the tank.
At this point the specific reason for the low rail pressure and source (and extent) of the debris in the high-pressure part of the fuel system remained unknown. They had theories, but testing them would take time.
So they decided to remove and inspect the entire fuel system from the in-tank canister and its submerged feeder pump to the injector pump to the fuel rails and the injectors themselves. That's pretty much the entire fuel system downstream of the tank itself, except for the fuel lines along the frame rails, which can be flushed and cleaned.
The inspection — more of a dissection, really — would occur in Detroit, so they ordered a laundry list of new replacement parts for our truck, all under warranty. Waiting for the parts to arrive from their various warehouses took most of the time. Many of the pieces are not regular service items that are normally stocked at the local depot.
While they were at it we had them attend to the rubbing inner fender liner. Our truck's early build-date corresponds to a TSB that has to do with the SCR catalyst, so they performed that service, too.
Now that it's back, everything appears normal and the truck runs great. It makes good power and torque, and the fuel economy seems to be right where it should be. It's worth noting that the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel engine itself was never implicated. Its injector rails and fuel injectors were replaced only because of their proximity to where the debris was found, but neither is considered to be the source.
I'm told I'll hear more once the parts are analyzed. For now our 2014 Ram 1500 is back in the mix feeling as capable as ever. I'm still confident in the truck, and the scale of their response makes me think this is NOT a routine weakness that Ram 1500 and Jeep Cherokee Ecodiesel owners are dealing with.
A significant unexpected event held down the mileage added to our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel this month. It spent nearly two weeks out of commission as the dealer and Ram's corporate engineers tried to understand why it suddenly stalled.
Some 1,171 miles were added during February, but only 511 of them can be added to the fuel log. The truck had well over 400 miles on its trip odometer when it was towed, but during the course of the investigation and repairs the mechanic and field engineer drained the remaining fuel, inspected the tank, added an unknown number of gallons and made several diagnostic and confirmation drives.
Along the way the tank and fuel were ruled out as potential contributors, but their tinkering means we have no way of determining the number of gallons that were consumed by the engine during this period. All we could do was top-off the tank when we got the truck back in order to put everything back on track for next month.
The 511 miles we can account for came in a single tank that was consumed at a rate of 22.6 mpg, which kept our Ram 1500 Ecodiesel 4x4's lifetime average at 22.3 mpg. Both figures compare favorably to its official 22 mpg EPA combined rating.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.3 (4.5 gallons per 100 miles)
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 700.2 miles
Current Odometer: 25,725 miles
Oh, right. In all the confusion we barely realized that our 2014 Ram Ecodiesel passed the 25,000-mile mark. And look how cheap Diesel #2 has gotten relative to gasoline in my area. That's a big win.
We've had our 20-degree RTI ramp much longer than we've owned our 2014 Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4x4 Ecodiesel. On more than one occasion they've been in the same room at the same time but, for one reason or another, the latter was never driven up the former.
That changed last week. I finally pointed the Ram at the ramp and crept up the slope until the big 4x4 just barely began teetering. The point at which the tiniest sliver of light is visible beneath the left rear tire is where Ramp Travel Index is measured.
On the way up, the Ram passed its first test by clearing the ramp with its underhanging aero flap, a feat the Colorado didn't come close to managing.
From there it's all about determining the distance the left front tire traveled up the ramp, either through direct measurement or by measuring wheel lift and dividing by the sine of 20 degrees, the RTI ramp angle. I prefer the latter because my ramp doesn't come to a sharp point.
The Ram generated 20 and 3/8 inches of wheel lift, which works out to a climb of 59.57 inches up the ramp. The 2015 Ford F-150, if you remember, recently chalked up 20 and 13/16 inches of wheel lift and 60.85 inches up the ramp.
At first this seems like a victory for the Ford, but such measurements only have meaning after they are related to the vehicle's wheelbase. A given amount of suspension deflection is a bigger deal on a short wheelbase vehicle than a longer one, which is why the ramp-climb distance must be divided by the wheelbase to determine RTI.
And this is where things start to swing back into the Ram's favor. Our crew cab 4x4 rides on a 140.7-inch wheelbase, but the Ford SuperCrew spans 145.0 inches.
In the end they finish neck and neck, with the Ram edging out a narrow advantage with an RTI score of 423 compared to the Ford's 420 points.
Here's how they both stack up against other pickup trucks we've recently measured.
518 — 2014 Ram Power Wagon, front stabilizer bar disconnected (149.3-in WB)
484 — 2014 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro (145.7-in WB)
423 — 2014 Ram 1500 (140.7-in WB)
420 — 2015 Ford F-150 (145.0-in WB)
412 — 2014 Ram Power Wagon, front stabilizer bar connected (149.3-in WB)
We still need to measure Toyota's mass-market version of the Tundra 4x4 and one of the GM 1500 twins to have a complete picture of the full-size segment. The new Nissan Titan is still some months away, too.
Twenty-six thousand miles had gone by since we added the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to our long-term fleet, and I still hadn't driven our truck. Actually, I hadn't driven any Ram 1500 since the significant round of updates for the 2013 model year. So I signed out our diesel pickup for the weekend and drove it home. As others have written, this truck is easy and enjoyable to drive.
Its relaxed character reminds me a lot of our departed long-term 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, though with a few key differences.
Obviously, these trucks are set up differently. Our Ram has four-wheel drive and the optional turbodiesel V6 engine, whereas the Chevy was two-wheel drive with a normally aspirated 5.3-liter V8 and the Z71 suspension tune. Yet, both ride exceptionally well if you're just using them for a daily commute on the highway, which of course is what plenty of full-size truck owners end up doing.
I (slightly) prefer the effort level and precision of the Silverado's steering, though that's a personal opinion that's not shared by the rest of our staff who prefer the A-rated Ram's steering to the B-rated Chevy's. I also remember the Chevy having a firmer brake pedal feel that I liked, though I'm sure in time I'll get used to the Ram's setup.
And while there's lots of torque available from the Ram's diesel six-cylinder, if all other things were equal, I would certainly choose the Silverado's quieter, more refined V8 for general everyday use. The reality, though, is that all other things are not equal: Our Silverado averaged 17.4 mpg over 24,825 miles. Our Ram 1500 is averaging 22.3 mpg. That's a difference that's tough to ignore no matter how you're planning to use your full-size pickup.
Our 2015 Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Colorado were close to brand new when we had their Line-X spray-on bedliners applied. But our 2014 Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4x4 Ecodiesel has some miles on it — over 26,000 of them.
At this point its bed is full of scuffs and scratches. Not many, mind you — we're not landscaping contractors or brick masons — but enough to make us wonder how beat up it might get after the next 26,000 miles and beyond. And we can only imagine the rust we might be seeing if we were located where they use road salt in winter or had the good fortune to live in a seaside bungalow.
The water cooler conversationalists on the testing team wondered if the Line-X spray-on bedliner treatment would be a good restorative measure. There was only one way to find out.
There are scuffs and scratches everywhere, but not enough to be alarming. It's a truck bed, after all.
Most of them go no deeper than the primer, but a few or the larger ones have exposed the bare metal beneath.
The proprietor at Line-X of Orange County told us that they apply a fresh primer coat before they spray the Line-X material if the used truck bed in question has visible rust or too much exposed bare metal.
But our truck didn't have enough truly deep scratches to warrant this extra step. They could proceed as if it were new.
The process was much the same than it had been before, but this time it took a little longer — 3.5 hours — because it was a busy day and they were juggling four trucks.
One of them was a silver 2015 Ford F-150. It was getting a black spray-on bedliner, but the owner also wanted the rear wheel wells coated. The silver does indeed draw attention to itself from in there, but the Line-X guy told me that the customer was just as interested in muting the stone-pecking noise that some dirt and gravel roads produce.
Another truck, a silver Colorado, was getting the lower four inches of its rocker panels coated along with its bed.
After they were done our Ram's bed indeed looked as new as the last two of our trucks they had sprayed. Compared to our 2015 Ford F-150, the color match isn't quite as exact, but that changes dramatically with light conditions. The metallic elements of the Deep Cherry paint on the Ram give it a chameleon tendency, and the rough surface of the Line-X material doesn't reflect light in quite the same way, either.
But we're still happy with the result. Unlike our 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, which was dark gray to begin with, the consensus is this works better on our red Ram than a black liner would have. $150 better? That's open to debate.
And the scratches and scars and potential rust points are all gone. From the bed's point of view, it's as if the odometer had been reset to zero.
It turns out you don't need to rush out as soon as you buy your truck to have this done. You can wait until your next paycheck or put it on your birthday wish list. And you don't need to turn your nose up at a used truck you might be looking at just because it has a scratched-up bed, either. From where we sit, a spray-on bedliner is just as effective on a used truck bed as it is on a new one.
Since I drove our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel over a weekend, it became our family vehicle and I installed the larger of my two convertible car seats in its backseat.
As still I'm relatively new to parenthood and car seats, I was surprised to find three sets of LATCH anchor points in the backseat. It makes sense, though, given that a loaded crew cab is likely to be a multi-use family vehicle. Then, I glanced at page 18 of our Ram's owner's manual, and for a second or two, thought I might not be able to use LATCH to install my car seat.
This is one of the first owner's manuals I've seen that spells out when you can and can't use LATCH this clearly. I'm guessing the "full bench seat" refers to the non-split-folding rear seat (order code: CFM) that's standard in Ram 1500 Work Trucks and, from what I can tell, short-bed SLTs. Our Ram, of course, is a Laramie and has the "split bench seat" (order code: CSX), so a rear center LATCH install is OK provided the combined weight of your child and car seat is under 65 pounds.
I found it easy to get the car seat at the desired angle for a rear-facing installation without using a pool noodle or towel. This was probably at least partly due to the squishiness of the seat-bottom cushion in the center position. One thing I don't love is how the seat-bottom tapers inward in that position allowing my daughter's very large car seat to hang off the edge slightly. The seat is still very secure and tight. I just don't like how it looks. Most likely, this wouldn't be an issue if you installed this car seat forward-facing, because it would be positioned at a more upright angle, plus I'd have the paddle-shaped anti-rebound bar (that's peculiar to my discontinued First Years True Fit seat and a few other car seats like the Clek Foonf) folded under the seat. The anti-rebound bar, in case you're wondering, is basically the equivalent of using a top tether in a rear-facing car seat installation.
Another thing you'll notice is that the rear center latch setup is off-center in our Ram 1500, so that a car seat in this position will be more to the passenger side of the cab. This not only allows you to fold up the "40" section of the rear seat (on the driver side) with no problem, it also provides plenty of room for an adult to ride in the driver-side rear position.
And although I didn't photograph it, there's plenty of room to spread out a changing pad on the 40 section and do a quick diaper change. The flatness of the seat-bottom cushion helped keep my little girl from rolling into the seatbelt hardware, and the elevated height of the rear bench prevented me from hurting my back. There are even a couple of coat hooks mounted in the headliner over the seat-back cushions, and I found it convenient to attach the waterproof bag I use for our cloth-diapering waste to one of these.
One consequence of the off-center LATCH arrangement, though, is that the front passenger seat has to be scooted forward a bit (whereas if the car seat was perfectly centered, you could position the front-passenger seat however you want). With the very tall seat height you get in a full-size truck, though, the front-passenger seat can still be very comfortable for an adult of 5 feet, 10 inches, and my knees don't touch the dash.
Overall, there's a lot to like about our 2014 Ram 1500's provisions for car seats, and I could see it being very useful for families who need the capabilities of a full-size truck and have two or even three kids in car seats.
Far too much time had passed since I last drove our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I don't know who to blame for the truck's utter lack of availability on the signup sheet, but as in most cases my index finger points straight at Senior Editor Josh Jacquot. And that damn rally car he's always towing around.
It sure didn't take long for me to remember just how much I love the big old lug (the Ram, not Josh). My ample commute home highlighted the Ram's smooth ride and superb interior.
But I'm also quite fond of the EcoDiesel engine. You see, it has a calming influence on me.
I've been told I can be pretty intense at times (And man, was I ever mad at that person when they said that to me!). So it's good to sometimes get into a vehicle that takes me out of my usual rush-everywhere-at-all-times syndrome.
The nature of diesels is that they are low and slow revvers. The engine is happy to just loaf along, and this laid-back personality causes me to drive more laid-back, too.
In the Ram EcoDiesel I don't feel the need to "work the traffic," or pour on the coals leaving the line. I just diesel along all easy-like, enjoying the big truck and its plentiful low-end torque, while letting everyone else stress out about their commute.
But what's cool about this Ram diesel is that if you do need/want to squirt through traffic, it's got plenty of sauce to do it. Dip your right foot into the throttle pedal and it's like you just hit the thing with a cattle prod. It jumps forward quickly.
I dig this dual-nature personality.
The last time I drove our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel the horn was inconsistent. If I tried to hit it lightly, nothing would happen.
If I pressed harder it would eventually work. And it seemed like once I got it working, it would become more sensitive for use for a little while after that.
This was especially noticeable when I was driving on the two-lane Ortega Highway. A car pulled over to let me and the Ram by, I tried to give him a little "honk-honk" to say thanks. Nothing happened at first, so I pressed harder and then suddenly it was like I was laying on the horn at the poor guy, as if I were mad at him.
I'm not sure how long this has been going on, but I don't think it's been like this from the beginning. I could be wrong, maybe it's always needed a healthy push.
I like a sensitive horn because, well, I'm not afraid to use it on occasion. Maybe I'm channeling my inner New York City taxi cab driver, but I think of the horn as part of my offensively motivated defensive driving strategy, if that's even a thing.
If someone is starting to pull out in front of me, they get a little tap of the horn. If they're drifting into my lane, more horn. If I see Senior Editor Josh Jacquot walking through the Edmunds parking garage, yep, I lay on the horn. He loves it, it wakes him up.
I'll take a survey of the editors and see if anyone else has noticed anything odd about the Ram's horn operation.
On this particular day, a full-size bed, latex mattress and a nearly 8-foot-tall corner wardrobe were on our shopping list. (Say what you must about IKEA quality, but the initial sturdiness of these items is impressive. Plus, after pouring much money into plumbing, electrical and knocking down load-bearing walls in our domicile, furniture made of real hardwoods is not in budget and I no longer have the discretionary time for Craigslist treasure hunts.) Predictably, we got all turned around looking for the wardrobe in IKEA's human maze. Then, my better half administered CPR to a baby in the store. After a happy outcome and a conversation with the EMTs, we finished our shopping. There was no time to pause for meatballs and cake at the store cafe.
By then, it was late, everyone was tired and we just tetrised all the boxes and the fancy-pants rolled-up mattress into the Ram's bed as best we could. Originally, we'd planned to tie it all down securely with some twine or rope, but the beauty of this bedliner is that its high-friction texture keeps things from sliding around and we decided to skip that part. None of the items budged on the 20-minute drive home. Nevertheless, we took a risk by not tying everything down, and we could very well have been the foolhardy motorists who dropped an oak-finish particle-board bed frame in the number two lane on the westbound Interstate 10. But on this evening, we got away with it.
If I owned a Ram 1500, I would definitely get a spray-in bedliner like this one. It eliminates the need to bring towels and moving blankets when you're running errands or hauling furniture on the spur of the moment, and that for me, would make full-size truck ownership more enjoyable.
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has developed a sporadic "click-click-click-clicking" noise coming from the engine bay.
I first noticed it when I got off the highway after my commute home and was stopped at a light. Making matters more difficult is that it doesn't always make the noise. Sometimes it's there on start-up, sometimes it doesn't happen until after driving it for a while. Other times I noticed it while driving, but then it had stopped by the time I got home.
As far as the truck's actual operation, it's working perfectly fine.
We're not sure if this clicking noise is in any way related to the recent work we had done on the Ram after its apparent fuel system problem, but the truck is due for a service soon and we'll have the dealer look into the noise then.
It was that time again. The DEF gauge on our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel was buried in the red zone. This time I decided to let it run way down for a couple of reasons.
First, I wanted to make sure it was low enough to accept three 2.5-gallon jugs, which are cheaper on a per-gallon basis than 1-gallon bottles. Last time I pulled the trigger too early and only had the confidence to add 6 gallons. For this go-around I made sure the DEF tank was empty enough to get into the no-restart countdown messages, figuring that would ensure that three 7.5-gallon jugs would fit.
Second, I wanted to see if the no-restart countdown warning was obnoxious and dire enough to trigger an EV-style range anxiety response in the pit of my stomach. Would I be sweating it or would it be no big deal?
I decided to add a twist to make it even more interesting. With the needle firmly in the red zone, I headed to the Arizona border to see a friend, hoping to coax the Ram into a warning somewhere along the way.
It worked, but not until I'd turned around and headed home. The 500-mile warning winked on just after I crossed over the Algondones Dunes, otherwise known to the dirtbike and sand rail crowd as Glamis.
It was a routine event on the level of a seatbelt warning. There was a chime and a message that hung around for 20 or 30 seconds, then winked off. A small dash icon winked on to indicate the truck had stored this message. At this point I was 220 miles from home. The office, where my trio of 2.5-gallon DEF jugs waited, was another 60 miles beyond that. This was going to be a piece of cake if the mileage countdown was at all accurate.
The warning came back on (and then faded) each time I stopped and re-started the engine on the way home, counting down in 10-mile increments. The truck was not going to let this slip my mind, but not in an annoying sort of way.
Sure enough, the countdown had dropped to 280 miles when I pulled into my driveway - plenty of remaining distance to take care of it in the next day or so at the office.
I'd ordered my DEF online a week prior. Amazon had shipped it out the next morning and it arrived one day after that. The cost: $11.97 per jug before tax. Shipping was free because I'm signed up for Amazon Prime.
Tax included, I paid $39.33 online for 7.5 gallons, cheaper than what it cost to buy 6 gallons at my local auto parts store the last time. And it came to my door.
My plan to run down the DEF into the warning zone was a good one. All 7.5 gallons fit, but just barely. I needed to slow way down while pouring the last gallon of the final jug to let the tank breathe so it wouldn't spit back. In the end, the DEF gauge was pegged past the Full mark.
I'm not OCD, but I can see how people that are would find all of this satisfying.
In the end we drove 6,858 miles at 914 miles per gallon. Based on the Amazon price, that works out to 0.52 cents per mile or about $5 every 1,000 miles.
Toward the end the countdown warnings were clear and effective, and there was never any feeling of urgency, no electric vehicle-style range anxiety about running out. After all, 500 miles is a long way. And the needle had nudged into the red some 750 miles before that. It's pretty hard to imagine someone being caught off-guard.
Besides, every decent-sized gas station and auto parts has the stuff on the shelf. Running it down like this is no big deal even if you miscalculate and have to buy some on the road.
The payoff here is I was able to pour in three complete jugs that I bought for cheap online and fill the tank without having any left over to take up space in the garage.
You don't have to fill it up, of course. It'd be even easier to buy one jug every couple months and be content keeping the needle somewhere in the middle. It's all so ridiculously easy that DEF maintenance is no reason to avoid diesel.
As seems to be the case with trucks around here, our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel had a busy month. It covered 2,545 miles over the last four weeks with a variety of commuting and hauling responsibilities, using 105.2 gallons of diesel fuel and ticking ever closer to the 30,000-mile milestone.
Best and worst fill-ups didn't change, but the average lifetime MPG inched up from 22.3 to 22.5 mpg, continuing to beat the EPA's combined fuel economy rating of 22 mpg. Here's how the rest of the numbers shake out:
Worst Fill MPG: 17.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.5 (4.4 gallons per 100 miles)
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 700.2 miles
Current Odometer: 28,271 miles
I like a lot about our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I like its laid-back power delivery. I like its ride. I like that it's quiet on the road.
But I don't like its chrome interior trim. Why do manufacturers insist on doing this?
A few evenings ago my wife and I, within the span of a few minutes, were both blinded by the stuff. It was more than just distracting. It was downright dangerous with powerful glare reflecting off the chrome trim ring surrounding the center storage bin. More chrome surrounds the vents and HVAC controls on the dashboard, too.
It's hard to capture with the camera, but it was blinding and persistent. And as long as I live I'll never understand how this stuff makes it into the interior of a modern vehicle.
We try to make sure that all of our long-termers hit at least 20,000 miles during their year with us. Clearly our Ram 1500 is a popular vehicle, as it just crossed the 30,000-mile mark. In that time it's delivered an overall mileage number of 22.5 mpg, just above its EPA combined rating of 22 mpg. That's a rare feat for any of our long-term cars, especially one that has been used for towing, hauling and various road trip duties over the last year.
Other than one unexpectedly long service and a little more DEF fluid than we anticipated, the Ram 1500 has performed admirably. Almost every editor finds it comfortable, easy to drive and chock full of useful features. Our new F-150 will have a tough time proving that it's a better option.
Not sure why I didn't notice that there's a cell phone slot in the console of our Ram 1500 before. After all, it works surprisingly well, even though I'm not sure that it's really designed for a cell phone at all.
My current phone is a Samsung S5 which is on the bigger side of the spectrum. Even so, it fits so loosely that it will flop back and forth under hard acceleration and braking. That's why I'm not sure it's really meant for cell phone use. Either that or designers determined that it's better to make it big enough to fit almost any phone instead of rendering it useless if it's too small.
I've seen several attempts at dedicated cell phone slots recently and this is the first one I've used on a regular basis. I'll have to poke around in our F-150 a little more to see if it has an equivalent feature, but for now the Ram gets a few points for this handy design.
The oil life monitor counted down towards zero, indicating that it was once again time for us to take our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel in for a routine inspection and an oil/filter change. But there was another item on the service menu this time. The Ram regional service representative asked that we time our visit so he could rendezvous with us at the dealership and see how our truck was doing after its fuel system service in late February.
We expected this. It was something he requested when it was released back to us after the work was completed. His plan was to follow-up with a visual inspection and plug in his laptop to see if any of the codes had returned.
And there was one more thing on the menu. A couple of us, including yours truly, had heard an odd, sporadic ticking sound at low speeds a few weeks back. That sound ceased after a few days and hasn't been heard by anyone for a couple weeks. It's pretty much impossible to diagnose a sound that isn't there, but we planned to mention it anyway.
The dealer mechanics started things off by replacing the oil with 11 quarts of fresh 5W30 synthetic and swapping in a new $60 oil filter. The cost: $170.70, minus 10 percent for my AAA member discount. Sales tax brought the total to $165.80.
After they finished, the Ram regional rep swooped in and inspected all the areas where the fuel system work had been done. He plugged in his laptop. Nothing was amiss, there were no codes. It all checked out and he was satisfied.
Neither of us heard any sort of tick, which wasn't surprising because I had only heard it briefly during my DEF rundown trip and hadn't heard it since. A thorough visual inspection turned up nothing. Perhaps it had somehow been debris-related and the culprit was gone.
With no noise, no witness marks and a strong-running truck, about all we could do was table the issue and endeavor to make notes in a logbook if it ever happens again.
After that the dealer mechanics went ahead and performed their usual inspection. Everything checked out and got a green "Checked and OK" rating, including the brake pads. The only items that received a yellow "Will Need Future Attention" rating were the air filter and the tires, neither much of a surprise as we turn over 30,000 miles.
The dealer's note says that all four tires still have 6/32" of tread remaining, which could well translate into another 10,000 miles. After all, summer is approaching and the prospect of rain over the next six months is diminishing fast.
At this point you may be asking, "But Dan, what was the verdict on the fuel system stalling problem?"
Ram has told me a few things: The Bosch high pressure injection pump under the hood checked out fine. There were no problems there.
The trouble apparently started inside the canister that sits on the bottom of the tank. Somehow the in-tank pump's intake orifice had become obstructed, which interrupted the supply of fuel and starved the underhood injector pump. Essentially, the truck abruptly ran out of fuel even though there was fuel in the tank.
The item that plugged the orifice has proven hard to identify. It's too large to have made it through the intake strainer screen, which is designed to catch anything that could obstruct the intake orifice. Whatever it was would have had a very hard time making it there from the tank.
I'm told the item is plastic, but they have not yet identified its source. It could be a stray remnant of the pump manufacturing or installation process, a shaving of some sort. The leading theory says it didn't get past the strainer screen because it was inside all along. I'm still awaiting a final determination, though.
For its part, the pump is a common design that the supplier customizes for the specific needs of a wide range of vehicles, both gasoline and diesel, made by numerous brands. What happened seems to have been a very low-probability fluke. I'll add further updates as I learn more.
One particular design feature of our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel slipped under the radar when I explained why it was towed to the dealer for service two months ago. The feature in question played a critical role, however, because it has to do with how we were able to tow it in the first place.
To recap, the engine stalled abruptly while driving and rolled to a stop. In such cases the electronically-controlled transmission defaults to Park. I was subsequently unable to restart the engine, so I could not use the 8-speed transmission's electronic rotary gear selector to execute a shift into neutral in preparation for towing.
Oh, great. Now what?
It turns out there's an app for that. Or, more correctly, a rip cord.
Ram doesn't call it a rip cord, though. The term they use is Manual Park Release Pull Strap. It's all explained in the "What To Do In Emergencies" section of the 784-page owner's manual.
Step one is set the parking brake. This should be obvious because we're about to change the transmission's state from Park to Neutral.
The difference between the two isn't technically a shift because no forward or reverse gears are engaged in either case. The former has the "parking pawl" engaged, the latter does not. The strap pulls a cable that releases the parking pawl, thus converting Park into Neutral.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before we can do that we must remove the rectangular panel above the parking brake release lever. They suggest a screwdriver, but anything skinny enough to fit into the gap without marring the plastic will suffice. I used a key and my fingertips.
Now comes the moment we pull the strap, but in order to do that, we must use our free hand and our key or small screwdriver to push back a small metallic locking tab that exists to ensure that what we're about to do is a deliberate act. The strap will then extract a lever that will snap into place when it protrudes out far enough.
At this point, the truck is in neutral, just as it would be if the rotary shifter was live and moved to the "N" position. But we mustn't release the parking brake until the tow truck is in position. A better plan is to inform the tow truck driver that the truck is in neutral with the parking brake set, then let him release it when he's ready.
Do all tow truck drivers know about this? They should, but you might want to make sure if you have the 8-speed and rotary shifter. This setup hasn't been around for very many years.
The manual goes on to say that 4x2 Ram 1500 trucks can be lift towed, but they recommend a flatbed for four-wheel drive models.
You may have noticed that AAA sent a lift truck instead of a rollback, even though I told them our Ram was a 4x4. I didn't think anything of it at the time because I figured they had some big spreadsheet that told them what kind of truck to dispatch. I hadn't yet read up to page 665 of the manual.
It turns out this recommendation comes from an abundance of caution on Ram's part because they can't control the circumstances out on the side of the road. They're right on the money if your 4x4 happens to be set to any of the available 4x4 modes when it needs towing: 4 High, 4 Automatic or 4 Low.
A Ram representative later told me that 4x2 mode is OK for emergency towing over short distances. The shift into 2-wheel drive disconnects the front driveline in two places: the transfer case and the front differential. Indeed, our 4x4 suffered no damage in the 3-mile journey to the dealer. For his part, the tow truck driver stayed off the freeway and kept his speed at 35 mph or less.
But this is not the approved way to tow a 4x4 Ram 1500 behind a motorhome over long distances. In that scenario, the truck must be flat-towed with four wheels on the ground. The rip cord is not involved because the transfer case, not the transmission, must be put into neutral in that situation - a process also spelled out in the weighty owner's manual (pages 596-605, specifically).
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel did some sitting around this month, as we only added about 1,750 miles to the odometer (we're averaging about 2,200 miles a month). I'd argue it was well-deserved rest for one of our favorite workhorses, but we still managed to work in about 400 miles of towing among the light-duty commuting. We also surpassed the 30,000-mile mark.
In April, we also did an (expensive) oil service and got some clarity on our fuel/stalling issue from February. We've had the Ram for a little more than one year. I'm not sure anyone wants to see it leave.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.4
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 city/27 highway)
Best Range: 700.2
Current Odometer: 30,502
If you're driving a 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, your stops for fuel can be rather infrequent. In the year that we've had our truck, we've averaged 436 miles between fill-ups. The furthest we've gone on one tank is 700.2 miles, back in November when Travis Langness drove up to Northern California.
I've been wondering, though: How far can you potentially range in a Ram 1500 with the diesel engine?
The EPA's fueleconomy.gov site lists range as part of its detail for vehicles. For the Ram 1500 4WD with the diesel V6, it shows a potential range of 572 to 704 miles. That's a calculation of the combined fuel economy rating (22 mpg) multiplied by the fuel tank capacity. The Ram offers two tank capacities, 26 gallons or 32 gallons, and that's why two range distances are listed.
Of course, you can get bigger numbers by using the estimated highway MPG and doing the math. Travis's 700-mile, mostly highway drive was based on getting 27.8 mpg from 25.147 gallons of fuel. EPA-estimated highway fuel economy for our truck is 27 mpg.
There's also the rear-wheel drive "HFE" version of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel that gets an EPA-estimated 29 mpg on the highway. Here, max theoretical range (with the larger 32-gallon tank) balloons to a rather outrageous 928 miles of driving before the need to refuel. That's enough from LA to the Texas border, then halfway back across New Mexico (Update: as noted in the comments, I later discovered that the diesel's DEF tank precludes the fitting of the larger tank. So we're back down to a maximum of 754 miles with the rear-drive HFE. But you'll still make it to Texas — Brent).
How does the Ram compare to other long-distance champions? A rear-drive 2015 Ford F-150 with the turbocharged 2.7-liter gasoline V6 and optional 36-gallon tank appears to have a better potential range of 936 miles.
And here a few other diesel-fuelled vehicles and their potential highway range if you're curious: Mercedes-Benz E250 BluTec (886 miles), Audi A8 TDI (857 miles), Volkswagen Passat TDI (777 miles with DSG) and Porsche Cayenne Diesel (766 miles).
I really like the optional 8.4-inch touchscreen interface in our 2014 Ram 1500. It's Chrysler's corporate 8.4AN/RA4 system that's used in a variety of other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicles, but that commonality doesn't diminish its specialness.
Here are five reasons why the Ram 1500's UConnect system is superior to systems offered in other full-size trucks.
1: Big 8.4-inch screen with a nearly square aspect ratio. This UConnect system not only has a large diagonal measurement, it also has a squarer aspect ratio compared to more rectangular screens. The result is that the screen's size allows for bigger and easier-to-press virtual buttons, bolder and easier-to-read fonts, and more space to display a map and its details.
2: Simple and logical layout. It doesn't take much time to learn how to operate UConnect. All the main system functions (Radio, Media, Controls, Climate, Nav, Phone and Apps) are always on display at the bottom of the screen. Specific functions on those individual system screens are also clearly displayed, whether it's cycling through map orientations or digital media device operation. The physical tuning/selection knob is also a big help.
3: Plenty of features. UConnect provides many functions beyond the basics. As Dan Edmunds noted in a previous update, when we signed up for the UConnect Access package we also got smartphone app integration, WiFi hotspot functionality (3G, admittedly) and enhanced remote vehicle access.
4: Redundant climate controls. The system in our Ram 1500 gives you two ways to adjust the climate controls. There are the normal, physical buttons mounted below the touchscreen or the virtual on-screen buttons. Both work well and provide the opportunity to use whatever set you like according to circumstances.
5: Responsive and quick processing. One of our biggest historical gripes regarding touchscreen interfaces has been slow or missed responses to touch inputs. That's not the case with UConnect. Touch a virtual button and the system responds quickly and correctly every time. Knowing that it's going to work reduces potential driver distraction.
Two acquaintances of mine recently bought 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickups. I was curious what led them to the decision to buy the Ram rather than other vehicles that might suit their needs. So I asked. Their responses follow.
Buyer One: Male, mid-40s, married with two children
Truck purchased: Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Crew Cab 4x4, 6' 4" bed, Laramie Limited trim
Primary use: Combination of daily driving, towing and shop (work-related hauling) use. Will regularly tow a 4,500-pound open trailer with a Polaris RZR side by side.
What led you to pick this truck over the others?
"Towing fuel consumption was a major factor in my decision. The F-150 also didn't come in the combination of bed length, engine and cab configuration I wanted. And though I'm sure [the Silverado] is a fine truck, I'm just not a Chevy guy."
Vehicle it replaces: 2006 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Other vehicles in the family: 2015 Subaru WRX, 2014 Nissan Pathfinder, 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 Wagon
Buyer Two: Male, mid-50s, married, no children
Truck purchased: Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Quad Cab 4x4, 6' 4" bed, Outdoorsman trim
Primary use: Daily driver. Plans to add a topper to the bed to keep bicycles out of the elements and accommodate vehicle camping.
What led you to pick this truck over the others?
"One major factor in choosing this truck was the fuel economy along with reasonable horsepower and great torque. The quality is evident. Comfort is high and it doesn't drive like a typical truck."
Vehicle it replaces: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Other vehicles in the family: 2007 Toyota Sequoia
I get it that full-size trucks are designed to feel full-size, particularly in a crew cab body style. But if you really need room for stuff plus people, the lack of indoor space is an obvious issue with any pickup, unless you're going to put a cap over the bed.
However, after another week in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, I've realized that this truck has enough enclosed storage areas to accommodate my family 48 weeks out of the year.
To start, there's enough room for a large umbrella stroller in the rear footwell. It doesn't stretch across the whole backseat, either, so an adult could sit in one of the rear outboard positions. And with the stroller's brakes engaged, it won't annoy said adult by sliding around when the Ram is turning.
Then, there's the Ram 1500's huge center console box up front. The size and quantity of its slots rival those of such storage-intensive vehicles as the Honda CR-V and large minivans. I have yet to exhaust the possibilities for stowing drinks, phones, wipes, purses and mom-themed personal electronics (the 12-volt power point is well located, too). No, my life isn't especially interesting these days, but at least I'm staying organized.
I do not lead an exciting enough life to justify the purchase of a truck like our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I don't own a rally car or have parents living on a beautiful and remote part of the Oregon coast. If I owned our Ram, I'd mostly commute in it and occasionally use it to haul mulch, Christmas trees and Ikea furniture.
But there's no question that I could drive this truck every day and be happy.
I always notice that the diesel engine is noisy at startup, but once I'm on my way, all I notice is the abundance of usable torque. I've never missed a hole in traffic, and the eight-speed automatic transmission rarely calls attention to itself, which must mean that its shifts are well-timed and smooth.
Handling is also excellent for a truck. There's nothing overtly sporty about it, of course, but the steering is precise and the ride is composed. Mostly, our Ram 1500 goes where you point it, and it's easy to gather up and park. My better half tells me the ride is too stiff over rough pavement, but that's the price we pay for choosing 20-inch wheels and tires.
I prefer the firmer brake pedal feel (or at least that's how I remember it) from our long-term 2014 Chevy Silverado, but I always acclimate quickly to the Ram's slightly softer pedal.
Really, the main reason I wouldn't go out and buy my own diesel Ram 1500 for personal use is the price tag. Our truck came in around $50,000, and for that sum I could buy myself a very nicely equipped Honda Odyssey. Said minivan wouldn't have anything close to the Ram 1500's utility, of course, but as I said, I don't pursue a lifestyle worthy of a full-size truck.
If you haven't heard, we're keeping our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel around for a bit longer than our standard one-year/20,000 miles test period. In fact, the Ram has a little more than 32,000 miles on its odometer, so it's a good time to see how it's holding up to the wear and tear of long-term life. Let's start with the seats.
The answer: very solidly.
Every seat except the driver's seat looks essentially new and even the driver's seat lacks any significant wear on the bolsters, which tend to show it first. The seat bottom does look like it's been used some, but it's hardly noticeable. The hide has stretched a little bit, but that's about it. Take a look for yourself.
Even after 30,000 miles, our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is still a pretty popular pick around here. In May, we added another 1,500 miles to the odometer and averaged 520 miles between trips to the pump.
There were plenty of basic highway miles, a camping trip (more on that soon) and a bit of city commuting during the month of May, but no major towing assignments. This allowed the Ram's lifetime MPG average to creep up from 22.4 mpg to 22.5 mpg, leaving the worst-and-best fill numbers exactly the same.
Worst Fill MPG: 17.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.5
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 city/27 highway)
Best Range: 700.2
Current Odometer: 32,065 miles
Considering the light off-roading, the road trips and all the hauling it's done, I had a pretty basic weekend with our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Basically, I drove it to a local trailhead, parked it and left it alone while a friend and I hiked in for some camping. The trailhead is close, about 30 minutes from home at a place called Henninger Flats. While I'm sure a much smaller vehicle could've done the same job, I was happy to have the Ram.
When you're camping, it's nice to have a rough-and-tumble kind of vehicle. Something you can abuse and not feel guilty about. I had no remorse flipping up the rear seats and throwing my dusty old gear in the back. You can do that with a truck. With a '66 Vette? Not so much.
My buddy Greg and I were the only two people on this trip, so there just wasn't much to haul. Two big internal-frame backpacks were no problem for the Ram.
After our short Saturday morning drive, we hiked the trail, explored the mountains, whittled some sticks, cooked dinner on a fire-box, played cards, drank whiskey, and spent the night in hammocks. The next morning, we packed up and headed back.
It was near 90 degrees on the way back down the trail, each of us carrying about 30 pounds of gear, so we returned to the Ram in desperate need of air-conditioning. Remote start and ventilated seats were the perfect solution.
I started the truck from far away to begin the cooling process, then hit the button for the ventilated seats right as we set off. In some vehicles this feature is weak and hardly worth the extra cost. In the Ram, my back got cold in 20 minutes and I had to turn off the feature. I remember thinking, "this is exactly how every ventilated seat should work."
The Ram 1500 continues to prove just how versatile and comfortable it is every time I drive it. Even after 32,000 miles, I'm not tired of this truck.
This week I discovered another of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's many configurable settings, this time for retained accessory power.
Turns out, the amount of time accessory power is available after shutting down the engine can be adjusted to one of four settings: 0 seconds, 45 seconds, 5 minutes and 10 minutes. Retaining the accessory power after switching off the engine allows the audio system, windows and other power accessories to function for the specified period of time.
I frequently find it handy to have those items operable for a bit, but I don't want them left on for long enough to deplete the battery. I set it to 5 minutes.
We've had our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel for quite a while now. It's racked up more than 32,000 miles, has towed cars, hauled loads and road-tripped across the west. It's been praised for its comfort and criticized for not being very horny.
In other words, we've done a heck of a lot with this truck. But we're keeping it around a little longer. We're within sight of 35,000 miles. We'll probably have 40,000 on it by the time they pry the keys from us. What haven't we done that you want to see? What haven't we covered at all or as thoroughly as you'd like?
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is pretty universally loved. You'd have to get one of our editors drunk to maybe hear a meaningful criticism of the beast. I mean, the thing pretty much stranded Dan Edmunds and his daughter in the middle of the road, and left us for a few weeks to diagnose and treat the episode, but I think even he is still a fan.
This truck just does so many things right: Great ride, uber roomy and comfortable, good electronics, sharp luxury cabin. Fiat-Chrysler wouldn't need to do much to convert this package into an Escalade killer (and perhaps they may, if the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, rumored for a late August dealer preview, ever amounts to anything).
Only problem is, I can't afford a $50,000 truck like ours. Even if I could, that $50k gets me much closer to a Cayman S. Expensive truck? Relatively-not-expensive Porsche? That's an easy decision for me.
So which Ram 1500 could I afford? How much am I willing to spend on this impressive full-sizer? First, I have to decide if I want a full-size pickup. I like the Chevy Colorado a lot, but not totally sold on it. And I'm not sold that the updated Tacoma will be all that much better, except for maybe an interior that finally realizes that it's 2015.
So full-size it is. First things first: SLT crew cab, 5.7-liter V8, 4x2, 6'4 bed.
Don't need 4x4 most of the year. I'll bring chains when I head into the mountains in the winter. Crew cab because this will be a family long-distance hauler, used for getaways and visits to grandparents between three and nine hours away. Big bed because we've found that the small bed is sometimes too small. The longer bed is a couple grand more, but we can recoup some of that by helping a few friends move, even if they only pay us in beer.
We're already brushing $40,000.
I'll skip heated front seats and steering wheel of the Comfort Group option package. Nice touches, but ultimately unnecessary in Southern California. I'll also skip the trailer two mirror and brake control group. Most I'd plan to pull with this is a small ski boat.
The Luxury Group package is tempting, with leather steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, larger gauge cluster display, steering wheel audio controls and other niceties. Think I might have to bite on this one, as well as upgrade to the larger touchscreen and better nine-speaker audio system.
Also have to bite on the rearview camera package. Nice to have on a truck of any size, and the Missus probably wouldn't drive the truck if it didn't have it. Add another $595.
I'll also opt for the optional Katzkin leather seats at an additional $1,400. Hard to go back to cloth once you've ridden in leather. Add in floor mats and we've got a nice $3,440 option package going.
With destination charges and a current rebate, that brings my truck to $43,460. And that doesn't get me that much closer to affordability. It's not unachievable - especially when that tech stock finally comes through - but for the moment, it's a reality check. Might have to live with those cloth seats and the smaller touchscreen. Might have to start with the Tradesman or Express model.
Or maybe just go classic-style Regular Cab, with the family up front just like in the old days, before sissy crew cabs. Dad stoically driving across a dusty highway, kid in the middle, sleepy head flopping between parent's shoulders. Bleary wife trying to catch some Z's with her face pressed up against the side window glass. Romantic.
I think I'd be riding solo in this kind of truck quite a bit. Let's see what Grand Cherokees are going for...
Some of you may remember our 2012 Jeep Wrangler long-term test vehicle. A subset of you may also recall that I bought it from the company when its time eventually expired. It lives in my garage now.
We added many parts during its time in the long-term fleet, but the ridiculously tall 3.21 fuel economy-oriented axles that came with our 6-speed manual-equipped Sport 2-door remain to this day. They're OK if you stick with the stock 29-inch tires and never go off road, but we'd upgraded to taller 33-inch rubber.
I'd corrected the resulting speedometer error, but the only way to get the engine back in its sweet spot was to have the axles re-geared. But something about the 3.21 carrier makes it impossible to go beyond 3.73, which wasn't going to be enough. And a Sport's front axle housing is a lighter Dana 30 unit that isn't worth upgrading. I suffered in near-silence.
Turns out Mopar sells complete front and rear Dana 44 crate axles with 4.10 gearing and e-lockers, just like the ones that come in a Wrangler Rubicon. And they've recently introduced a huge price drop that makes trying to buy used ones off Craigslist a silly idea.
Why all this Jeep talk in a Ram post? The crates are sized just right to fit side-by-side in a pickup truck, so I arranged to be driving our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel when the axles arrived at the nearby dealer where I bought them.
Each crated axle weighs upwards of 300 pounds, but the dealership had no shortage of burly dudes to help lift them into the truck. As we slid the last one into place, I started making mental notes of whom I might call to help unload them at the other end.
The rough texture of our Line-X spray-in bedliner made it unlikely they'd be sliding around back there, but I hooked into the Ram's large tie-down loops to cinch them down with a hefty ratchet strap anyway. It was a stable load, and the tailgate bore exactly none of it thanks to a pair of 4x4 forklift skids nailed to the bottom of each crate.
My destination was our Redwood studio/shop, the place where we have tools and a Rotary 2-post lift, the same setup I'd used to install a Mopar 3-inch lift kit two years earlier. The crates would remain there until I had a free weekend.
A couple of co-workers that live nearby agreed to help, but I arrived at the shop much earlier than expected. I was on my own. And then I got an idea that involved our RTI ramp.
In my mind, I'd previously discounted it, imagining the ramp to be at least a half-foot taller than the Ram's tailgate. But the reality was they were in agreement by less than an inch. So I flipped the cheese-grater decking upside down to reveal a smooth sliding surface, and in five minutes I had them both out of the truck and scooted up against a wall all by myself.
All I need now is that free weekend.
You may have heard of the Jeep Cherokee that was hacked and crashed by two professional computer scientists?
They exposed a flaw in the UConnect infotainment system that allowed them to take control of many of the vehicle's systems, gaining access by hacking into the vehicle's cellular connection used for on-board WiFi and other diagnostic services.
After sharing their findings with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the parent company of Ram, a recall was issued to update the UConnect system to address the vulnerability.
Since our Ram uses the same UConnect system found in the Cherokee, we figured it was a good idea to install the security patch as soon as possible. I went to FCA's website, put in our Ram's vehicle identification number and confirmed it was affected. The website then showed me a step-by-step guide to downloading and installing the update myself. I also had the option to simply take it to the dealer to have them do the update.
The process was straightforward and the instructions were clear. I downloaded the update to a thumb drive and then simply plugged it into the truck's USB port. It asked if I wanted to install the update and then proceeded to download it after I pressed "accept".
Since there were additional UConnnect updates to go along with the security patch, the full update took about 10 minutes to fully install. Once it was done, the screen returned to its normal state and that was it.
Pretty simple. It didn't take any deep computer knowledge to get it done, so any owner with the most basic computer skills could do it. Hopefully it works.
This happens almost every week. Usually on Thursday.
Phone rings. We answer it. And we regret it.
It's a friend or a friend of a friend telling us he's moving this weekend, or his girlfriend is moving this weekend, or his girlfriend's girlfriend is moving this weekend, and he's wondering if he could borrow one of our pickups and our time.
We say no. They beg. We weaken. They offer beer and barbecue. We cave.
Sure, man. How about our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel?
And we make them promise to take the photo.
Our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has 35,100 miles on the clock and it needs new tires. Okay, it doesn't need new tires, as we could probably eke out a few hundred more miles from them. But the tread is low and I'm about to go on a 5,200-mile road trip, so we decided to jump the gun and put on a new set before I hit the road.
The Ram rides on 275/60R20 Goodyear Wrangler SR-A tires from the factory and we decided to use a direct replacement. We called our local shop, Stokes Tire Service, who gave us a choice of white or black lettering on the sidewalls.
White lettering was $3 more per tire, so we opted for black and placed the order. They arrived the next day. With mounting and balancing, the total came to $742.32. The Ram is now ready for its road trip. Check back for updates from the road.
July was a big month for our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel as it towed a trailer across the United States. The truck did a great job pulling the heavy load, but expectedly, fuel economy suffered.
In the last four weeks, the Ram traveled 4,415 miles, towing for 2,400 of those miles. It used 224.3 gallons of diesel during July for an average of 19.7 mpg. While towing a 5,000-pound load (more on that later), the Ram averaged 17.5 mpg. All of that towing dropped average lifetime MPG from 22.5 to 22.1.
While towing across Texas, the Ram got its worst tank yet of 15.1 mpg, a 2-mpg drop from the previous worst. This was due to the heavy load behind it and varied speed limits on Texas's B-Roads. The limit decreases from 75 to 65, 55, 45, 35 and 25 mph through several small towns. Exiting these towns, the speed limit climbs back up to 75 mph. Basically, it was like driving on and off freeway ramps several dozen times.
Even with several thousand miles of towing under its belt, the Ram is still beating the EPA's combined fuel economy estimate. Now, if it could just teach that trick to our Ford.
Worst Fill MPG: 15.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.1
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 city/27 highway)
Best Range: 700.2
Current Odometer: 37,623 miles
I've spent a lot of time with our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel but I hadn't had a chance to tow with it yet. Lucky for me, there's an annual car meet in North Carolina I go to and the boss gave me approval to tow my Acura Integra there. The meet takes place on a road called the Tail of The Dragon, a curvy mountain road that's a bit of a Mecca for gear heads and I'm always up for a good road trip. So I rented a U-Haul trailer and started packing my bags.
The U-Haul car trailer weighs about 2,200 pounds and my Integra is around 2,600 pounds. Add some gear and supplies and you've got 2.5 tons (5,000 lbs) behind the Ram. I'm not the first person on staff to hook a rig up to this truck but this is definitely one of the most daunting tasks it's ever had.
Inside California I was restricted by the archaic 55-mph towing speed limit, but there were still some pretty challenging conditions. There's a steep grade leaving the California desert and 106-degree ambient temperatures, but the truck barely broke a sweat. I kept a close eye on the Ram's oil-temp gauge and it never went above 233 degrees - about halfway.
If you take the quickest route from Los Angeles to Deals Gap in North Carolina, it's about 2,200 miles. My route to the Tail of The Dragon was a bit longer. Phoenix was first, then Roswell, New Mexico, followed by Austin, New Orleans and Atlanta.
Along interstate highways, diesel fuel took some finding. Some stations aren't marked clearly and don't carry diesel at all. Others only have it at one pump. It's a small consideration but one that adds an extra dimension to a road trip like this, entering your mind every 300 miles or so.
Somewhere between New Mexico and Texas, the DEF needle dipped in to the red so I stopped to fill up, and for the first time our Ram 1500 got to use a Diesel Exhaust Fluid pump rather than the boxes we've been buying. This was much easier and much cheaper. More on that later.
Across much of Texas, the speed limit is a blissful 75 mph. Trucks are allowed to do that speed as well. Problematically though, the Ram's navigation system didn't seem to notice. Not once did the navigation correctly acknowledge the higher speed limit. Luckily, I did. To the Ram's credit, it had no problem towing at this speed. It passed big rigs and trudged up hills without any issues.
Leaving Austin for New Orleans, I realized I'd been driving for nearly 2,000 miles and my butt hadn't gotten uncomfortable once. The seats were friggin' excellent. There's plenty of range in adjustment and enough support to keep even a finicky back happy.
After a night in New Orleans, there was a short 7-hour drive and an overnight stay in Atlanta, then a three-hour journey in the morning up to the Dragon. Those roads are curvy and tight - that's why they're fun. But towing a trailer through switchbacks isn't an experience meant to entertain. Slow and steady keeps you on the mountain. After six days on the road though, I'd arrived, ready to unload my car and go for a spirited drive.
Stay tuned for more on the Tail of The Dragon, fuel economy numbers, and the return trip to Los Angeles.
When we last left our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, I was using it to tow my Acura Integra across the United States. I drove 2,600 miles for the annual Team-Integra Dragon Run and unhooked the trailer immediately. I expected to spend the majority of the trip zipping through the mountains with my Integra buddies, but it turned out that the unladen Ram got quite a bit of use too.
The Ram was the go-to transport vehicle for our group in North Carolina along with my friend Steve's 2014 F-150. Both trucks spent time hauling people around the Fontana Village Resort to the general store, to the local watering hole, to the swimming pool and to our annual kickball game against a group of CR-Z owners.
The resort is a large property with a lot of activities spread out over the area so it was nice to hop in and out of something without strapping on a five-point harness or climbing through a roll cage. All that hopping in and out of the truck revealed a few foibles, though.
The first was the seat. As I mentioned in a previous update, it's still really comfortable, but it's starting to deform. It looks like someone has been sitting in it with a Costanza-sized wallet for a long time.
Then there were the missing step bars. I took the step bars off almost a year ago and I haven't heard any complaints from the other editors yet, but getting in and out of a truck 10-12 times a day makes you miss them a bit.
Otherwise, the truck performed flawlessly. It carried five adult passengers at one point, going up and down the curvy mountain roads, and everyone that rode along was comfortable. There was plenty of space and even my car-enthusiast-buddies were impressed by the relative lack of body roll and the truck's overall handling capabilities.
Having the trucks for group activities was priceless. It was a great place to stow all our wet gear after swimming in a local waterfall, a fun place to tailgate, and it cut down on the general driving exhaustion that high-performance cars can leave you suffering from. We spent plenty of time darting around the North Carolina forest in our Integras, sure, but the truck was much better for the relaxed driving bits.
Up next: the final road-trip update with a three-day dash back to Los Angeles, fuel economy numbers for the 5,000-pound haul and a milestone in the Ram.
Towing 5,000 Pounds for 5,000 Miles - Part 3
If you want to go from the Edmunds office in Santa Monica to Deals Gap, North Carolina, there are millions of miles of road to choose from. Last week, I hooked up a trailer to our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and chose Interstate 10 for the journey east. I-10 crosses the southern United States and my trip to the Tail of The Dragon meandered a bit.
I stopped to see friends, took long breaks and soaked up the scenery. Once I'd reached my destination in North Carolina, I spent four days exploring local parks, blasting through local highways and eating all the barbecue I could get my hands on. Then I loaded up the trailer, said my goodbyes and headed home. I was weary and ready to sleep in my own bed, so the journey home would be much shorter.
Heading west to California, I opted for Interstate 40. It's flat and boring, but it's the quickest route. I had two overnight stops, North Little Rock and Albuquerque, which meant nine-, twelve- and fourteen-hour days on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Over those 2,200 miles of interstate-highway, I had plenty of time to reflect on the Ram's performance.
"What a great truck. Damn, this thing is comfortable."
"The stereo could be a bit louder but it's super easy to use and it connects fast."
"Oh, look! A fireworks store! I wonder if they'll check me for fireworks at the state line?"
"I might get the gas V8 instead but finding diesel wasn't that hard. I'm probably being a bit of a prima donna."
"I shouldn't have had that second Red Bull. Where's the next rest stop?"
After three days, I made it back to Los Angeles, dropped off my car at the Edmunds office, returned the U-Haul trailer and breathed a big sigh of relief. I hit the 40,000-mile milestone just after crossing the California border and the truck chimed in that it was up for time oil change (more on that soon). The trip home was tiring, but the Ram made it livable.
From start to finish, the trip was 5,185 miles. For 5,080 of those miles, the Ram pulled a 2,200-pound steel trailer and a 2,600-pound Acura. I filled up the Ram 15 times in 12 days, using over 300 gallons of diesel fuel and averaging 17.4 miles per gallon.
Towing almost exactly the same load (and with a lower speed limit inside California) our Ford F-150 EcoBoost checked in at 14.3 mpg. If you're interested to read a much deeper dive in to both truck's tow ratings and GCWR's, I recommend Editor Josh Jacquot's full breakdown here.
Overall though, it's hard to emphasize just how pleasant and capable this truck was while towing a trailer back and forth across the United States. The journey was drama-free and much easier than I expected. If I were in the market for a full-size truck, a Ram 1500 would be at the top of my list..
A few hundred miles into my road trip with our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the truck's DEF needle dipped into the red. So somewhere between Roswell, New Mexico and Austin, I stopped at a big travel center/truck stop/gas station that had DEF on tap.
Back home in Santa Monica, DEF pumps aren't easy to find. The closest stations to our offices are 15-20 miles away, so we've been using the various-sized boxes to fill up the blue stuff. But out on the open road where diesel big-rigs are king, diesel exhaust fluid is everywhere and when you aren't buying by the box, DEF is much, much cheaper.
When I pulled up at the pump, there were a few things to figure out. There was a big plastic shield covering the DEF pump (probably so you don't confuse it with gasoline) and a selection process on the keypad that had me buying "Reefer" on the company credit card. I'm hoping the boss doesn't look too closely at that expense report.
Otherwise though, it was just like pumping fuel: put the pump in, pull the handle, stand around and wait until it's done. It was much easier than ordering a box online, waiting for it to come in the mail, unscrewing the top, installing a spout and then having a bunch of cardboard waste when you're done.
DEF was $2.80 per gallon at this station which is on par with the national average. For reference, the next-cheapest DEF purchase we've made was when we bought three 2.5-gallon containers from Amazon.com for $33. That works out to $4.40 per gallon. Clearly, it pays to find this stuff at the pump.
With that fill, we had added DEF to the Ram seven times over the last year. Here's a breakdown:
Over 36,363 miles, the Ram has consumed 38.775 gallons of DEF. Since the last fill-up, we've averaged 1,342.1 mpg with DEF and the lifetime average now stands at 937.8 mpg. In other words, we are using about 10.6 gallons of DEF every 10,000 miles.
If we'd done every DEF fill at this pump with a price of $2.80 per gallon, our lifetime DEF cost at 36,363 miles would be $108.57. As it stands, we've spent $213.99. Not a life-altering difference by most standards, but definitely a gap. With these numbers in hand, I started wondering what the cost difference between our diesel-powered Ram and the two available gasoline-powered engines would be.
When I filled up on DEF, the Ram's lifetime average for fuel economy was 22.4 mpg, compared to its EPA-combined rating of 22 mpg. So for the purposes of this comparison, we'll say that the fuel economy for all three Ram powertrains hypothetically match the EPA's numbers. With four-wheel drive, the 3.6-liter and 5.7-liter gasoline engines are rated at 19 mpg combined and 15 mpg combined, respectively.
The current national average for diesel fuel is $2.61 and the national average for standard gasoline is $2.62. With those prices, here's what that fuel cost would be for each powertrain over 40,000 miles.
Ram 4WD 3.0-L Diesel V6: $4,745.45*
Ram 4WD 3.6-L V6: $5,515.78
Ram 4WD 5.7-L V8: $6,986.66
So the last thing here is to add our DEF costs ($213.99) to our diesel costs, which brings our long-term Ram's total to $4,959.54 ($4,854.02 if we'd bought all our DEF at the pump). I'll concede that there are several other factors at play here including tow ratings, upfront cost difference, maintenance and the (in)convenience of finding diesel fuel, but they just aren't big enough issues to scare me off this excellent powertrain.
Oh yeah, I ran out of windshield-washer fluid again. So I put in a gallon and it cost six bucks.
On the home stretch of my road trip in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, I crossed the Arizona-California border. Somewhere in that vast desert, the truck's odometer ticked over the 40,000-mile mark. We're interested in the long-term reliability of the Ram's diesel powertrain, so we've kept it longer than average, but the Ram hit this milestone after just 16 months in our fleet.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 miles, the Ram needed new tires, a software update to protect it from hackers, a few gallons of DEF, and it's beeping at us that it needs an oil change (more on that soon). Other than that, it's been trouble-free for the last 10,000 miles.
We've got a few upcoming plans for the Ram including some additional off-roading but keep the suggestions coming with what you'd like to see from this extended test. If I had my way, we'd keep this truck forever. It's just that good.
A Pilgrimage to the Tail of the Dragon
Nearly a decade ago, I made my first excursion to the Tail of the Dragon. It was a point of pride for me to take a cross-country journey at some point in my life and the Dragon afforded the perfect opportunity. My air-conditioning broke in North Carolina on that trip and I traveled another 2,200 miles without A/C in the middle of August, but it wasn't enough to scare me off a second visit the following year.
I took a break from the Dragon over the last few years, crediting car troubles, cost, and time restraints for keeping me away, but this year the call to return was too loud to ignore. I've catalogued in previous updates the experience towing to and from the Dragon with our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, but I'd like to talk about the road itself.
With "318 curves in 11 miles" and dozens of excellent adjacent highways, this motoring destination shows up on pretty much every "Best Driving Roads in America" list. That's no mistake. The Dragon really is a mecca for car and motorcycle enthusiasts in North America.
Photo Credit: Killboy.com
The road can be dangerous if you aren't paying attention or if you're driving beyond your limits, but that's true of any road really. For the most part, it's just a great place to get out and drive. Turns roll and bend and rise and fall. Green valleys and crystal-clear rivers pop in and out of view in the valley that surrounds the Dragon and cell phone signal is limited at best. As an escape from the traffic lights and texting-motorists of the city, it's hard to beat.
Photo Credit: Manda Hacks
Solo riders, families, small groups and massive car clubs all make the pilgrimage. There are license plates from all over the country and tourism supports dozens of industries in the area.
There are big resorts, tiny-biker hotels, fantastic barbecue joints tucked away in the mountains and funky local stores with weird Dragon-themed merchandise. There are a dozen photographers that will document your trip and plenty of Tennessee Highway Patrol officers eager to make your acquaintance.
When you've had enough of Highway 129, there are local attractions galore. There are national parks to explore, waterfalls to jump off of, rivers to raft and trains to ride. I could spend a month in the Great Smoky Mountains and never get tired of the scenery.
This excellent series of highways, tourist attractions and natural wonders sits in a picturesque landscape that is worthy of any gearhead's bucket list. If you've ever smiled from behind the wheel of a car because you were enjoying the drive, don't miss the Tail of the Dragon. Go there, stay in your lane, enjoy the journey, and come back often.
Even the Door Pockets Are Full-Size
One of the benefits of a full-size truck, especially our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, is full-size utility. I came to fully realize how much I appreciate full-size utility when I drove our midsize Chevy Colorado to Wyoming this summer. It was the same trip I took with my family in the Ram last summer.
Certain small details, like the utility of big door pockets, stood out.
For comparison, here is the driver's door on the Colorado:
We load the truck up with two kids and two adults for a couple weeks. During that time there are items I leave in the truck for most of the trip. Many of those items live in the door pockets and are only there in case I need them. Bike parts, keys, padlocks and other tools will stay there for a week or more. So it pays to have several pockets to store all that junk.
The Colorado's small door pockets weren't enough. One cup holder is OK, but it's only half as many as you'll find in the Ram's front door. Kids' needs weigh especially heavily in this concern. They're got their own water bottles, toys and books that can be tucked away easily in big door pockets, but not so easily in small ones. The Colorado's pockets are so low profile that they just didn't do the job in many cases.
It shouldn't really surprise anyone that a smaller truck has less storage than a bigger one. But this is one of the areas of compromise that was most obvious during two trips where our needs were the same but the vehicles were different.
Sub-Par Washer Fluid Capacity?
The other day I climbed into our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel after Travis returned from his Tail of the Dragon road trip/Integra love fest. At some point I suspected he added windshield washer fluid, because I found a partially-filled bottle in the backseat, rolling around.
For the second time in two months I flashed back to my Toyota days in the mid-1990s, when I worked with a pair of Toyota Canada engineers who made a stink about this very issue during a winter suitability test of a 4-Runner prototype. Earlier this summer, while adding a jug of washer fluid to our 2014 Volvo S60 long-term vehicle, I recalled the entire amusing story of how they colorfully expressed their disappointment at the Toyota's inability to hold an entire 3.785-liter (1 gallon) jug of the stuff. I hadn't remembered that blast from the past in a dozen years.
I instantly wondered what had happened here. Surely the engineers at a Big Three truckmaker based in a state shaped like a mitten know all about snow, road salt, road grime and the need for the washer fluid bottle to readily devour an entire gallon container of the mysterious blue fluid in one pour. Don't they?
So I quizzed Travis about the circumstances. Had he added fluid because it was on sale or had the washer nozzles gone dry?
Neither. The Ram's low washer fluid indicator had come on, so he bought a gallon at the next fuel stop, more or less the same scenario that led to my recently successful Volvo fluid replenishment. The important difference is what you see here.
I was able to dump in the entire contents of a 1-gallon jug into our Volvo, but Travis was not able to do the same with the Ram. There's a lot left, too. So I looked at the options list for a 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie, wondering if we were missing some sort of cold weather package that might include an enlarged bottle.
Nope. I found three winter-related stand-alone options: remote start system, block heater and rear window defroster. This seems to be the only bottle. For my next trick I perused the owner's manual to see if it could at least tell me how much it holds. Nope.
It would seem there are two possibilities. Either the bottle is big enough but the "low fluid" warning is premature, in which case it might be necessary to let it run dry before attempting a refill. Or maybe the bottle simply doesn't have enough capacity. If that's true, the engineer in charge would be well-advised to take the short trip across the border into Windsor and chat with some Canadians.
After all, the Toyota Canada engineers I met back in the day never did think their Detroit-based counterparts knew much about winter. Based in Arizona at the time, I couldn't fathom such a state of affairs at the time, but perhaps they were right.
DIY Door Seal Fix
Many, many miles ago, our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel exhibited a bit of a fit-and-finish issue. My daughter pointed it out to me as she was climbing into the rear cab.
"This door thingy is loose," she said, pointing to the Ram's rear driver-side door seal. And so it was.
"Can you fix it?" I asked.
She gamely went for it, lining up the channel in the rubber gasket with the door's edge, pressing the seal into place, seating it and kneading out the slack. To my knowledge, the seal hasn't come loose since and we haven't needed to address it with the dealer.
Nothing to see here. Just a dad with a generally useless English degree, trying his best to expand #girlsinSTEM.
"Engineers make good money, sweetie. Do good in math and maybe you can build rockets for the Tesla guy."
Road Tripping to a Ghost Town
Once a year, a group of us leaves town for a weekend of guy-time at the Calico Ghost Town. The location was a random choice in the beginning that grew into a tradition. This year our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel got the call to shuttle us there. It was a great fit. The Ram covered all of the basics for a dudes-trip to the desert.
Passenger Space: By the time we sorted out who was driving what, I had three passengers in the truck with me. Four guys in a truck for four hours and 260 miles had the potential to be a lot of things, of which "comfortable" wasn't the first word that came to mind. But it wasn't bad. No whining from anyone onboard, including me. That's mostly because, even with a six-footer behind me, there was no reason to adjust my seating position.
Air Conditioning: Exterior temps in the 90s did little to slow the effectiveness of the air conditioning. Hot air from the inside was similarly neutralized. Exaggerated boasts and tall tales challenged the A/C system but were nothing a twist of the dial couldn't handle.
Snacks: A large center bin and wide front door pockets offered plenty of space for chips, jerky and drinks. The wide rear bench seat left enough space between passengers for some community storage as did the floor area below it. Rear door pockets were large enough to house smaller items but made for convenient trash cans instead.
Cargo Storage: This was easiest of all. We chucked our things in the bed and didn't think twice about them. Well, that was until Tim's deodorant melted onto his toothbrush. But we weren't fooled. He wasn't going to use those anyway. Good thing we convinced him to ride home in one of the other cars.
Due for Service at 40,000 Miles
Shortly after our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel passed the 40,000-mile mark, the instrument panel lit up. It was due for routine maintenance. This visit called for a long list of visual inspections beyond the scheduled oil change and tire rotation.
Here is what the manual told us to expect:
We called the dealer and made the appointment. Any guesses on what this costs us?
Breezes Through 40,000-Mile Service and Recalls
With 41,421 miles on the odometer, we took our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to the dealer for its 40k service. It's a slightly more involved service that requires not only an oil-and-filter change, but also a fuel filter change and a multi-point inspection.
I took the Ram to McPeeks Dodge in Anaheim as soon as it opened on a Tuesday morning. They don't take appointments and when I called the day before, I was advised that service is performed on a first-come, first-served basis. There was a short line when I arrived, but service advisor Gloria Witt received the truck quickly and informed me of three open recalls that they would address in addition to the 40,000-mile service items.
Recall R23 is a recalibration of the airbag sensors. Specifically, it reduces the sensitivity of the side-curtain airbags. The second recall (R36) requires securing the steering wheel wiring harness with zip ties to guard against damage. Finally, recall R40 addressed the hacking risk affecting numerous UConnect-equipped FCA vehicles.
Gloria asked when I needed the truck back and I told her I'd prefer to have it by 2:00 p.m. that day. She called at 1:47 to tell me the Ram was being washed and would be ready in a few minutes.
Other than a long wait to retrieve the truck, there were no surprises when I picked it up. I paid $276.97 — $137.10 in parts, $125.95 in labor and $13.92 in taxes and fees.
The Right Choice for Full Loads
I recently faced the decision of choosing which truck in our fleet to use to tow more than 700 miles. It was a big job, too — not just towing, but hauling. I would fill the cab with the most precious cargo on earth (my family), the bed with spare parts, tools and fuel, and hook a rally car and trailer behind. I chose our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
I had reasons.
Largely, I just prefer the way the Ram drives when it's loaded. This is familiar ground as I wrote about it earlier this year. However, choosing the Ram meant less space in the cab for kids, food, toys, books — all the things that come with a family road trip when you've got young children. Though the Ram's cab is only marginally smaller, it makes a difference with four people, two child safety seats and everything mentioned above.
In the end, though, the Ram was the right choice. It's such an easy-towing rig that I'd make the same decision again.
Needs More Tie-Downs
One big decision you need to make when buying a Ram 1500 like ours is whether or not to get the unique Rambox storage compartments in the bed. They're a nice feature if you regularly need lockable storage space but don't want a tonneau cover over the entire bed.
As an added bonus, the Rambox option also adds four adjustable tie-down cleats along with an adjustable box divider. We had that option in our previous Ram 1500 and it proved useful more than a few times.
I was reminded of it this past weekend when moving an old engine block.
It was secured on a rolling cart to make it easy to get around in my garage, but that also made it a little too mobile in the back of the Ram. In order to strap it down I had to hook everything up to the single loop at the far corner of the bed. It worked fine, but it would have been nice to have a few more options.
There is a downside to the Rambox setup, however, as it makes the overall size of the bed smaller. Ideally you could get the tie-downs and the bed divider separate from the Rambox option, but as far as I can tell, that's not a factory option. I found some adjustable tie-down rails sold by Mopar, Ram's aftermarket parts division, but only for model years up to 2014.
If I were buying a Ram, this is definitely something I would look into before deciding the final specs on my truck.
Alone on the freeway before sunrise, I quickly realized that, at-speed, our long-term
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is just a little too much truck for me. Although the Ram offers a comfortable, smooth ride, I'm just not used to managing its size and weight at higher-than-lumbering speeds.
Most of us were smart enough to drive up to Lancaster the night before. Unfortunately, I was not among them. By the end of my 100-mile Ram drive, which included numerous changes in elevation, I found myself both physically and mentally drained. My right leg was noticeably fatigued from the constant press of propelling forward the truck's 5,877-pound mass.
My own Volvo wagon weighs in around 3,300 pounds, so it's no surprise the half-ton pickup demands more active attention behind the wheel.
Low Pressure on All Four Tires
Fresh off of a week in our long-term Dodge Viper and in need of something more comfortable/practical (i.e. anything), I hopped in to our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel last weekend. But before I could leave the office, as if by some strange stroke of bad luck, I was greeted with a low tire-pressure warning for the second time in seven days. The TFT screen only warned that one tire was low, but all four tires read below the recommended pressure when cold.
Ever-helpful Testing Assistant Reese Counts opened up the Edmunds track-gear-storage and retrieved our tire pump. As with the Viper, I inspected the Ram's tires for punctures or nails, found none, and then inflated all four tires to the recommended 39 PSI. After 300 miles of weekend driving, the pressures were all still stable.
If this happens again next week, my suspicions will likely turn towards resident prankster and all-around devious character, Editor Mike Monticello.
(Editor's note: we're generally suspicious of Monticello for any mishaps around here, but we've turned our attention to the rapid shift in local weather and ambient temps, which dropped from tropical roast to ocean stormy seemingly overnight, to explain the recurring Deflategate which has also struck other long-termers).
City Life Requires Parking Helpers
When I parked our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel outside my apartment, the street was clear and there were no other cars to worry about. I just pulled the Ram up curbside, folded in the mirrors and walked away. A few hours later though, I found the Ram gently wedged in between two cars, owners unknown.
The Toyota Corolla behind the Ram is about six inches off the rear bumper while the driver of the Ford Escape was much more generous, leaving at least 14 inches of wiggle room. Clearly, there was some tricky maneuvering in my future.
It took an eight-point turn to extract the Ram from this automotive-Chinese-finger-trap, but eventually, it was out. The Ram is large (duh), the location of the front bumper is hard to judge from the driver's seat, and the exhaust tips stick out past the rear bumper, all of which could make it cumbersome if not for the driver-assistance systems.
They may have trouble with items like parking poles, but in this case, the parking sensors and the rearview camera were excellent, allowing me to get within an inch or two of the other cars before adjusting and going the other direction. If you live in a city or even just commute through one, and plan on buying a Ram, opt for the sensors and the camera — they're the right choice.
Fuel Economy Update for October — First Drop Below EPA Combined Rating
We put another 1,883 miles on our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in October. More than 800 of those miles involved towing, which helped drag the Ram's lifetime average fuel economy (21.6 mpg) below the EPA's combined estimate (22 mpg) for the first time in our test.
With only 2,000 miles on our truck, the lifetime average was almost 23 mpg (22.9, actually) and it has slowly decreased since. With one notable exception, the Ram often averages 18 or 19 mpg when towing. Still, averaging so near the EPA number is impressive for a vehicle that tows so frequently. Most of our long-termers finish their time with us at a lifetime average below the EPA combined number. And most aren't tow vehicles.
Here are the numbers as we creep up on 50,000 miles:
Worst Fill MPG: 15.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 21.6
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 city/27 highway)
Best Range: 700.2
Current Odometer: 43,587 miles
Perfect Vehicle for Muddy Passengers
A year ago, I took our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel on a 1,200-mile road trip that ended at a Tough Mudder event in Temecula, California. Tough Mudder is a global series of obstacle-course events I participate in and as you'd expect from the name, participants get pretty filthy by the finish. Running a 10-mile obstacle course can also be pretty painful, so along with the dirt, I expected a few sore muscles by the end of the day.
So when I signed up for another Tough Mudder this year, I made sure the Ram was available. It was the perfect vehicle for the job the first time around and I knew it wouldn't let me down.
There was plenty of room for all the muddy/wet gear on the floor of the back seat. Coolers, duffel bags, back packs and race-food were strewn all over the cabin and it felt totally appropriate. The Ram's interior is the sort of place that feels tough enough to take any abuse you can throw at it.
For the second year in a row, the Ram was a perfect 10-passenger shuttle. There are two parking lots at Vail Lake and since I paid for premium (up-close) parking, the Ram was just a few yards from the finish line. Standard parking, on the other hand, was nearly a mile away so I invited other runners to pile in the bed and hitch a ride to their cars. Nobody was ejected and everybody thanked me as they hobbled away.
A year later, the Ram is still just as impressive as it's ever been. It will take something pretty versatile to knock this off the top-spot as my go-to road trip vehicle in our fleet.
Culprit for Slow Leak Revealed
Last week, Edmunds Car Czar Mike Schmidt noticed the left rear tire on our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was running about five psi low. He added the appropriate air and figured we'd see what happened over the weekend with the truck in the hands of social media guru Travis Langness.
Come Monday, that same left tire was down four psi again. Clearly a slow leak, but a leak nonetheless.
I took it straight to my local Allen Tire shop to see what was up.
I got there after 5 p.m. but they were happy to get right on it. Turns out, this little bugger of a nail was stuck in there. A quick fix and $25 later, the Ram was back on the road.
The tire pressures still weren't quite right at all four corners, so the next morning I reset each tire to the proper 39 psi cold with my digital gauge.
Bike Fits in the Cab, All Wheels On
I'm a big fan of pickups. Not only do I actually enjoy driving them, but I love that trucks make it easier to haul around motorcycles and bicycles. You know, because of that bed behind the cab. But what if I want to throw the bicycle in the cab instead? Will it fit? Without taking any wheels off? Because that would be kinda awesome. And easy.
I folded both rear seats up (simply pull them up, no releases needed) and the bike slid right in. Well, just barely. Helps that it's only a 54 cm road bike. It's entirely possible 56 cm and higher won't fit in this fashion. I tried the same thing a day later with my medium 29er hardtail mountain bike and it was a no-go. The front wheel had to come off.
Still, I was pretty impressed the road bike fit so perfectly in the Ram's crew cab. I didn't even need to secure it. It stayed in place naturally without any problems on the drive up and back. And of course, it was completely safe inside the truck.
Finally Something That Doesn't Fit
We've fit bikes, test gear, weekend rally-race essentials, workout gear and muddy humans, rear-facing car seats, dogs, and, I'm certain, some combination of guns, mescal and three suitcases full of neatly-arranged stacks of pesos in the rear cab of our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
But I finally found something that didn't quite fit.
A 22-inch long cooler.
Well look, it fit, sure. Perhaps the above is a bit of exaggerated clickbait. You slam the door of this truck on anything that's slightly hanging over the edge of the seat and you'll make it fit. Just like I made this cooler fit on the floor, behind the driver seat, jammed between the door panel and the transmission tunnel hump.
Now, this is a deceptive test. I could've raised the rear seat cushion, pulled out the handy folding board thing, and set the cooler on the platform lengthwise. But when I just wanna go to the stadium with a cooler full of beer and pick fights with Chargers fans, I prefer ease of use. Toss the cooler in, roll it out.
In the case, the Ram is barely gettin' 'er done. Nearly a deal-breaker, really.
Short Bed Won't Fit a Door, But That's Okay
Taking our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to Home Depot isn't exactly a new or extraordinary experience. This truck has seen all kinds of hardware store duty, but this time I found yet another item that wouldn't fit in the Ram's short bed.
As you can see, I was picking up a basic interior door. It measured 30 inches x 80 inches, which is 13 inches longer than our Ram's bed. That simply meant resting the door on the tailgate and tying it down with string. I might've laid the tailgate down for a shorter journey (I had 100 miles to drive with the door in back) or heavier cargo, but with this light load that just wasn't necessary.
Some people might complain about a full size truck that couldn't fit such a basic item, but for me it was a non-issue. We've only come across a handful of instances where the Ram's bed wasn't long enough for the task at hand, and when it comes up short we adapt pretty easily. The longbed would be nice on occasion, but parking the Ram would become immediately more cumbersome, and in a city like Los Angeles, that matters quite a bit.
Another Holiday Road Trip With Zero Complaints
Last week, for the second year in a row, I was presented with a choice between our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel or a four-door family sedan for an annual road trip to my father's house in Northern California. This time, I'd have a few passengers. For the second year in a row, I chose the Ram.
Choosing the Ram would've been easy if the only other vehicle available was the Yugo, but I had a few tempting options. My other choices were our long-term Volvo S60 or our Acura TLX. Both would've been comfortable, extremely serviceable vehicles for the trip, but for some reason, I was drawn to the Ram for this kind of journey.
As usual, my brother caught a few Z's as I drove us to Nevada City and just as predictably, the Ram ate up the miles. Our Ram EcoDiesel has repeatedly gone over 600 miles (and over 700 miles once) on one tank of fuel, which is part of what makes it so ideal for road trips.
When you add them all up, the average distance between fill-ups for our Ram is more than 425 miles. For reference, our long-term Ford F-150 has an average of 365 miles between fill ups, and that's with the optional 36-gallon fuel tank on board. Our previous long-termer, a 2014 Chevy Silverado with the 5.3-liter V8, averaged about 280 miles between fill ups. The reigning road-trip champion is clear.
Nina, one of my passengers, had bad experiences with a larger Ram 2500 in the past and she was worried about the ride quality in our long-termer. She feared that it would be a bouncy 500 miles in such a large truck, but those worries were unfounded.
"It's like my own personal bedroom back here" she repeated twice as she spread out blankets and books in the back seat.
After two days of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cookies and various pies, we piled back in the Ram and headed home. The trip added another 1,200 miles to the Ram's odometer in four days (which doesn't seem like much after all the driving we've done in this truck) and it didn't flinch once.
If I had the space and the cash, I'd be the first in line to buy this truck when Edmunds puts it on the market. And I'm hoping we wait another decade or so before we let this one go.
Makes a Good Dump Truck
I'm currently completely remodeling my house. Blowing out bathroom walls and ripping up carpet naturally creates a lot of refuse. We usually store the debris in the covered patio until one of the long-term pickups is available. Then it's time to take a journey to the mystical land of the Orange County Waste and Recycling facility in Brea.
Or if you want to be poetic about it, the dump.
So when the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was available for the weekend, I jumped at the chance to tidy up the patio.
My girlfriend's brother and two of his friends volunteered to help load and unload the truck. First we threw in a few pieces of backer board that held shower tiles in place. The house's previous owner kept a stack of bricks on one side of the garage, so those went in, along with a shower door as the cherry on this garbage sundae. We covered the whole mess with a tarp, held down by more bricks because none of us had the foresight to bring bungee cords. Then we headed to the giant pile of trash in Brea.
Even with four guys in the cab and roughly 600 pounds of crap in the bed, the V6 diesel engine never felt overworked as we chugged uphill to the disposal area. The diesel didn't feel any more sprightly after we got rid of our payload, either. The suspension shrugged off bumps just like it does when I am driving solo. Josh Jacquot pointed to the Ram's rear coil spring suspension as the reason the Ram feels unflappable no matter what's asked of it.
That was a few days ago, and we just pulled up a few hundred pounds of carpet. Hopefully I can snag keys to the 2015 Ford F-150 one day to do a comparison, and finally crown a winner in this Dump Truck Rubbish Rally 2015.
I Want to Go Up There
I forget the exact reason. All I know for certain is I was driving the 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel and I wanted/needed to get to the top of this hill. But there wasn't a trail. Not on any map, at least. After a few false starts I worked my way to a likely approach point at the base, passing the usual outer-city desert detritus along the way: random discarded tires, an old couch, a broken child safety seat, bleached-out beer cans.
The somewhat well-defined single-lane dirt road terminated at a clearing where people come to shoot things. Bullet casings, shotgun shells and clay pigeon remnants were strewn everywhere, along with unidentifiable ex-items used as targets. A few impossibly large hunks of glass suggested that at least one had been a television set.
A steep rocky track led off from there to a low-level outcrop. It seemed to be a likely waypoint, so I stabbed the 4WD Lock button and pointed the Ram up the hill.
It was rockier than it looked, with a churned surface that had the Ram spitting out cantaloupe-sized rocks. The trail firmed up as I reached the shoulder about a fourth of the way to my goal, but then it disappeared.
I kept going up the ridge line, catching dim glimpses of an old trail now and again. Mainly I just dodged the bigger rocks and trundled up a few ledges as the 3.0-liter Ecodiesel went about its business with little apparent effort.
Near the top, the trail became more distinct in an indistinct sort of way. I peeled off to the left just below the top and went sidehill toward a small cave. Skewing sideways a bit, the Ram dislodged a bowling ball of a rock that tumbled down toward the unoccupied shooting gallery. As bowling balls go, it was a pretty misshapen example, with a big flat side that transformed its roll into a skid that ended in some bushes.
This did nothing to ease my worrying about how the Ram's 20-inch chrome-clad wheels were holding up, even though I was choosing my line carefully to avoid damaging them or their relatively low profile 60-series tires. I couldn't help thinking that it's possible to have the same nicely-optioned Laramie truck with 17-inch chrome-clad wheels and tires with an extra 1.5 inches of sidewall instead and pocket a $500 credit.
I clambered up to the top to take a few pictures and enjoy the view for a spell before I aimed the Ram back down the hill. Back at the shoulder, I punched up 4WD Low for the final steep section because the low gearing would make it easier to control descent speed without riding the brakes of the loose, rocky surface. After that I switched back to 2WD, worked my way back to pavement and headed wherever I had been headed when I began this diversion.
Oh, I remember why I went up there. It was because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and because I could. Well, the Ram could.
End of the Line
It was time to move some of my motorcycles around on a Friday morning and the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was definitely up to the task. With the U-Haul 5x9 ramped trailer hitched up, the errands began.
I picked up the trailer in Santa Monica, near our office, then drove it to our studio near Marina Del Rey to pick up my 2002 Harley V-Rod. It took no time to strap it into the trailer and head north to Glendale Harley-Davidson for much-needed service.
From there, it was another trek to my parent's house to pick up my 1994 Honda CBR600 F2 (pictured above) that I've owned since new. I hadn't ridden it in more than three years, so I decided to find it a new home where it could be better appreciated. It went to a buddy of mine who is a chef and recently got into bikes.
I dropped it off at Motorcycle Performance Services near the Miracle Mile, a shop that has kept it in great shape for the last decade or so. There I met up with my friend and exchanged paperwork and several hearty handshakes. I was back on the road to drop off the trailer and then the truck by noon.
As you'd expect, the Ram 1500 didn't even seem phased by the light trailer and cargo. It was easy to maneuver into spaces and the only time the trailer made its presence known was when I'd come to a stop and I'd feel a subtle clunk from the hitch. As good as the Ram's rear suspension is, there was barely any difference with the trailer attached or not. The Ram really is significantly better than other full-size trucks and it keeps proving it over and over again.
Fuel Economy Update — More MPG, More DEF
We're knocking on the door of 50,000 miles in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and fuel economy has pretty much leveled out. With tens of thousands of towing-miles and a good balance of city and highway miles, the Ram's numbers don't change much these days. And aside from the addition of some DEF, these last few months were no different.
Between November 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016, we added 5,200 miles to the Ram's odometer and made 12 trips to the pump. Mileage over those eight weeks averaged out to 23.1 miles per gallon. That brought the overall mileage up from 21.6 to 21.8, just below the combined EPA estimate. And honestly, that's excellent considering all the hard work we've done in this truck.
As the year came to an end, the Ram also chimed in to let us know it needed diesel exhaust fluid too.
Based on previous experience with the size of the DEF tank, we waited until it had about 250 miles of range, then filled it right to the brim with 7.5 gallons of DEF.
The last time we needed DEF was in August, nearly 13,000 miles ago. The distance between DEF fills was much longer this time, likely because we aren't towing 5,000 pounds cross-country. Three boxes of the blue stuff cost $33 at a local gas station, which worked out to about $4.40 per gallon. After 49,156 miles, we've used 46.8 gallons of DEF, which works out to 1,050 mpg and a lifetime cost of $160.52.
Worst Fill MPG: 15.1
Best Fill MPG: 27.9
Average Lifetime MPG: 21.8
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 city/27 highway)
Best Range: 700.2
Current Odometer: 49,156 miles
Want to hyper-focus on the horrible slowness of your daily commute? The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is here to help. Thanks to the onboard drive computer, I know exactly how long it took me to slog through the Southern California freeway traffic.
Don't feel too badly, though. This 100-mile, five-hour drive was a round-trip, broken in half by a glorious eight-hour work day.
The upside: 22.3 mpg is right on the Ram's EPA combined rating of 22 mpg.
And if you can't be sitting on your own living room couch, the Ram's comfy front seat isn't a terrible option.
A Queen-Size Bed Almost Fits
I'll start off by saying that I'm pretty impressed with myself for downsizing all of my earthly possessions to the point that they don't send pangs of anxiety down my chest every time I think about my impending relocation. Aside from my motorcycle and a few guitars that merit their own transportation, set aside from decade-old pots, pans, and band t-shirts I can't seem to part with, I felt like (hoped?) a pickup truck could get the job done.
Getting self-congratulations out of the way, I realized I still have to lug what's left from my buddy's house in San Pedro to my new apartment in Los Angeles's beautiful Koreatown. I put in a request for our Ford F-150 with the vehicle testing team well in advance since I know our trucks are in high demand, but no luck. It was signed out, but I did get the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
With the help of strong coffee, pizza, one extremely strong 5-foot-2 girlfriend and the desire not to give any more money to U-Haul, we fit six medium- to large-size boxes, four medium-size paintings, one motorcycle helmet, and a bag containing a handmade quilt by Grandma Merle all in the cab. Then came the really surprising part: My queen-size bed and box frame fit in the bed — almost.
The end stuck out about the length of the tailgate and the side of the mattress rested on the sidewall of the bed. It was nothing some tie downs couldn't fix. It was only when I prepared to strap the bed down that I realized there were actually only two tie-downs located on the front of the bed. That was OK. Time to get creative and drive slow.
I used the available tie-downs to secure the bed in place. As an extra precaution, I attached a ratchet strap from the front of the bed, across the length of the mattress, over the tailgate, and onto the tow hitch. It was locked in tight.
We took side roads for most of the way, turning a normal half-hour ride on a weekend into a 90-minute journey, parked the truck in the middle of a busy city street and, as the security crew for a Seth Rogen/James Franco movie being filmed at my new building (ahh, Hollywood) stopped traffic for us, easily unloaded my belongings into my new home.
After the comfort and relative ease of this experience, I really dig this truck.
After many months spent comparing our 2014 Ram 1500 to our Ford F-150 long-termers, I'm still in the Ram camp when it comes to cabin comfort, design and overall appeal. Here's why:
A great driving position makes everything work better, and the Ram's setup puts me right where I want to be. I don't have to reach too far for anything and the sightlines aren't obstructed. It's still a big truck, but it doesn't feel that way from the driver's seat.
The seats themselves are great, too. I've done plenty of long trips in our Ram and rarely do I get uncomfortable. The heating and cooling functions in our Laramie trim certainly help.
I also like the way the cabin of our Ram looks and feels. Again, some of that can be chalked up to the Laramie but there's more to it than that. From the gauge cluster to the climate controls to the center console, everything looks purposeful and well-built. I don't always get that feeling in our F-150.
Is this the truck I would buy if I were in the market? Might be. Then again, there's that new Nissan Titan out there now so we'll see.
Putting the Step Bars Back On
Remember when I took the step bars off our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel? I do. It was more than a year ago. At the time, it was theoretically halfway through our 12-month test with the Ram. We'd get six months with the step bars, six months without them, a pretty perfect comparison test.
Those six months lasted a lot longer than expected. Out of sheer will, desire and interest to see how it held up, we kept the Ram much longer than our regular long-term vehicles. Six months quickly turned into fifteen months and now it's finally time to put the truck back to the way we bought it.
The process was simple. A jack, two jack stands, 16 bolts, and an hour of labor, and the the truck looked all fuddy-duddy again. I missed the old look without the step bars right away.
After 15 months without the side rails, not a single staff member asked me to reinstall them on the Ram. I had one passenger comment about stepping up being difficult in the back, but I mostly shrugged it off on account of her sub-5-foot height.
All things considered, our experience in the Ram was excellent, with or without the rails.
50,000 Miles Makes It the Second-Most Loved
This past week we crossed the 50,000-mile mark in our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. This milestone puts it at number two on the all-time Edmunds long-term list, second only to our much loved 2009 Ford Flex that left with more than 70,000 miles.
In the past 10,000 miles, our Ram has towed an Integra across the country and back, a rally-prepped Subaru and a motorcycle. It's been to Northern California and made a short trip to the top of a hill. We've seen what will fit inside the Ram and finally found something that won't. The bed has carried a mattress, an engine block and a moved load of refuse to the dump.
The Ram suffered from a slow leak caused by a nail and had a door seal come loose in the rear. The 40,000-mile service addressed several recalls, including one involving that hacking risk that made the news a few months back.
Overall, we've enjoyed our time with the Ram, but our time with the truck is winding to a close. Stay tuned as we prepare the truck for its inevitable departure.
Sold to CarMax
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel reached its golden anniversary at 50,000 miles. This was a great truck and we loved driving it so much that we kept it an extra 10 months. But it's a new year and there are new cars to buy. Time for a trip to CarMax to size up the truck's value.
According to Edmunds True Market Value, the Ram should be worth about $30,420 as a trade-in. For reference, we paid $50,510 when we bought it in April 2014.
I asked the CarMax appraiser if our spray-on bed liner would affect the truck's value. He said they'd consider it, but it wouldn't likely have a huge impact on the price. Personally, I think an aftermarket bed liner of any sort would improve a truck's trade-in prospect, if only for cosmetic value. No one wants to buy a truck with a bed full of scratches.
CarMax offered us $32,000. This represents roughly 37 percent depreciation over about 22 months. It's hard to pinpoint what the value would have been at the 12-month mark, but the Ram's depreciation seems to be on par with our last full-size truck, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado. The Chevy depreciated about 24 percent in 12 months.
Since the offer was so good, we sold the truck to CarMax a few days later. What do you think? Was this a good price or not?
Fuel Economy Update for February — How'd We Do After 50,000 Miles?
I miss it already. I would have bought our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Crew Cab 4x4 to have for my very own if I wasn't knee-deep in college tuition payments. It's always something, but that turns out to be a very big something.
The Ram remained a popular choice until the very end, which came when its odometer rolled past 50,000 miles. There were many things to like about it, but the torque and drivability of its 3.0-liter diesel engine, its range, and the fuel economy it delivered were right up near the top of the list.
Even with its standard 26-gallon tank — the only one offered with the EcoDiesel — this truck could be a real kidney-buster if the driver wasn't inclined to make a pit stop. Our staffers drove it more than 400 miles on a tank of fuel 68 times; 500 miles or more 32 times; and at least 600 miles on eight occasions. We even squeezed 700.2 miles out of it once.
Being a modern clean diesel, the Ram needs a constant supply of diesel exhaust fluid. We added 46.3 gallons of the stuff at a total cost of $246.99 over the course of what would be three years for most owners.
Some truck-stop stations sell DEF at the pump and that's indeed the cheapest way to go. But for us it was more convenient to buy it in 2.5-gallon jugs and pour it at home. The best and cheapest way we found to do that was buying online, where each jug sold for about $11.50, including shipping. We'd have paid a total of about $213 for all of our DEF if we'd bought it that way every time.
We found that the Ram's good-sized DEF tank could accept three 2.5-gallon jugs of the stuff in one go, but only if we waited until the DEF gauge's needle was buried in the red and the 250-mile was threatening to come on. Those 7.5 gallons typically made us good to go for another 7,500 miles. Assuming there were a few gallons in the DEF tank when we bought our truck, the math works out to an average DEF consumption of 998 mpg. Call it a thousand.
Towing was a big deal for us, and the logbook entries associated with towing amount to 9,307 miles. Our Ram was pulling a trailer 19 percent of the time it was moving, and quite possibly more if the logbook didn't get the proper notation every time.
The trailer in question was typically a car hauler hauling a car, not a blunt-faced camper, so the fuel economy didn't sag as much as it might have. Still, 6,000 pounds is 6,000 pounds. Those 9,307 towing miles came and went at an average of 18.1 mpg.
Here is a summary of the usual stats:
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Average Lifetime MPG, all miles: 21.8 (4.6 gallons per 100 miles)
Lifetime MPG, towing excluded: 22.9 (4.4 gallons per 100 miles)
Lifetime MPG, towing only: 18.1 (5.5 gallons per 100 miles)
Best Fill MPG: 27.9 (20.7 when towing)
Worst Fill MPG: 17.4 (15.1 when towing)
Best Range: 700.2 miles
Final Odometer: 50,084 miles
These numbers are worth picking apart for a moment.
The same drivers that have been driving our 2015 Ford F-150 4x4 2.7-liter EcoBoost crew cab also drove this truck, and they used both of them in much the same way. The F-150 currently lags behind its EPA rating by three full mpg, but the Ram matched its EPA combined rating after a full 50,000 miles even while towing something during almost 20 percent of those miles. Ignore the towing miles and the Ram beat its EPA rating by one mpg.
That almost never happens. Color me impressed.
What We Got
Full-size pickups are some of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. year after year. Their fiercely loyal customers eagerly anticipate and endlessly discuss the release of any new model. But the 2014 Ram 1500 was not all-new. Its last full redesign came in 2009, and we bought one to try out its revolutionary coil-spring rear suspension.
Why buy another? In 2014, Ram brought a diesel engine to the light-duty segment, an option that hadn't been available for decades. Known as the EcoDiesel, the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 put out 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and offered best-in-class fuel economy. It also came paired with another new-for-2014 innovation, an eight-speed automatic transmission.
This sought-after combination was offered on most trim levels, but high initial demand made them hard to find, especially since we were looking for a crew cab 4x4 with the 5-foot, 7-inch short bed, the most popular configuration. We finally located a Laramie, one of the pricier grades, and it carried a base price of $45,525.
The EcoDiesel powertrain added another $2,850. Other notable options included navigation ($500), bucket seats and a console instead of a bench ($500) and the Convenience Group's keyless start, rain-sensing wipers and auto high beams ($495). These and other options brought the sticker price up to $53,010. A $2,500 factory cash incentive knocked that down to $50,510, but we were unable to negotiate any further discounts because the diesel was in such high demand.
Our typical long-term test lasts 12 months and 20,000 miles, but this 2014 Ram EcoDiesel proved to be so popular that we stretched that out to 50,000 miles. Here are some of our observations.
"The Ram's diesel has a good slug of midrange torque that made towing a breeze. In fact, loaded in this way, the diesel was actually more responsive than when unladen. This is because the extra load keeps the turbo spooled up and primed for action. Dip into the right pedal at a cruise and the torque is always right there. Nice." — Jason Kavanagh
"We said goodbye and were ready to roll with a 6,000-pound trailer that weighed even more because of the items we'd added, plus a full bed and a very full cab. I don't think the total rose to the level of the Ram's GCWR, but it couldn't have fallen short by much. The Ram failed to strain up any of the numerous grades. The little 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that could, did — without hesitation." — Dan Edmunds
"I always notice that the diesel engine is noisy at startup, but once I'm on my way, all I notice is the abundance of usable torque. I've never missed a hole in traffic, and the eight-speed automatic transmission rarely calls attention to itself, which must mean that its shifts are well-timed and smooth." — Erin Riches
"I had gone 700.1 miles on one tank of fuel, which worked out to 27.8 miles per gallon. This is the first time we've surpassed the EPA's 27 mpg highway rating for the 4WD EcoDiesel, and it beat the last mileage record (607) by nearly 100 miles. Sure, 80 percent of those miles were on the highway, but the Ram also did 150-ish city miles during that tank." — Travis Langness
"Over the entire distance, the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel averaged 18.8 mpg with this not insubstantial load. Along the way, the Ecodiesel's best towing range was 438 miles and its best tank was 20.5 mpg. The worst towing tank, the one over the rainy mountains out of Bend and over several summits along the I-5 corridor, was 17.1 mpg." — Dan Edmunds
"A lot has been said about the ride quality in our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, and rightly so. It bucked the trend (see what I did there?) of full-size trucks being rough-riding, bouncy affairs and instead showed us that, with a little suspension black magic, a big truck could indeed have a comfortable, relaxed ride." — Kurt Niebuhr
"Possibly the best thing about the Ram is what you don't notice: noise. Road, wind, tire and engine noise are all minimal. I did several 850-mile days in the Ram and could have gone longer." — Josh Jacquot
"It was near 90 degrees on the way back down the trail, each of us carrying about 30 pounds of gear, so we returned to the Ram in desperate need of air-conditioning. Remote start and ventilated seats were the perfect solution." — Travis Langness
"We've only come across a handful of instances where the Ram's short bed wasn't long enough for the task at hand, and when it comes up short we adapt pretty easily. The long bed would be nice on occasion, but parking the Ram would immediately become more cumbersome." — Travis Langness
"Then, there's the Ram 1500's huge center console box up front. The size and quantity of its slots rival those of such storage-intensive vehicles as the Honda CR-V and large minivans. I have yet to exhaust the possibilities for stowing drinks, phones, wipes, purses and personal electronics (the 12-volt power point is well located, too)." — Erin Riches
"A great driving position makes everything work better, and the Ram's setup puts me right where I want to be. I don't have to reach too far for anything, and the sight lines aren't obstructed. It's still a big truck, but it doesn't feel that way from the driver seat. The seats themselves are great, too." — Ed Hellwig
"I had three passengers in the truck with me. Four guys in a truck for four hours and 260 miles had the potential to be a lot of things, of which "comfortable" wasn't the first word that came to mind. But it wasn't bad. No whining from anyone onboard, including me. That's mostly because, even with a 6-footer behind me, there was no reason to adjust my seating position." — Mike Schmidt
Audio and Technology
"Big 8.4-inch screen not only has a large diagonal measurement, it also has a squarer aspect ratio compared to more rectangular screens. The result is that the screen's size allows for bigger and easier-to-press virtual buttons, bolder and easier-to-read fonts, and more space to display a map and its details." — Brent Romans
"Our Ram is now like a Starbucks without the coffee. I can sit in the cab with my laptop or my low-dollar iPad and do useful work or whatever. Uconnect WiFi costs extra because it's essentially a stand-alone 3G service provided by Sprint. You can buy access by the day ($9.99), week ($19.99) or month ($34.99)." — Dan Edmunds
"The cost of DEF varies pretty widely depending on where you purchase it. On August 8 we paid for the convenience of having a dealership add the fluid during the Ram's first service and, per gallon, it cost more than double what I paid for it at Pep Boys." — Travis Langness
"The dealer mechanics started things off by replacing the oil with 11 quarts of fresh 5W30 synthetic and swapping in a new $60 oil filter. The cost: $170.70, minus 10 percent for my AAA member discount. Sales tax brought the total to $165.80." — Dan Edmunds
"A single-note chime resonated through the cabin, and I glanced down to find a brand new check-engine light glowing on the dash. Ten seconds later the engine died abruptly." — Dan Edmunds
"This did nothing to ease my worrying about the Ram's 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, even though I was choosing my line carefully to avoid damaging them or their relatively low-profile 60-series tires. I couldn't help thinking that it's possible to have the same nicely optioned Laramie truck with 17-inch chrome-clad wheels and tires with an extra 1.5 inches of sidewall instead and pocket a $500 credit." — Dan Edmunds
"After 15 months without the side rails, not a single staff member asked me to reinstall them. I had one passenger comment about stepping up being difficult in the back, but I mostly shrugged it off on account of her sub-5-foot height." — Travis Langness
Maintenance & Repairs
The Ram EcoDiesel engine called for routine oil service every 10,000 miles. Oil change costs were not trivial because the EcoDiesel requires 10.5 quarts of synthetic oil and a special oil filter. The timing of road trips led to slight deviations, so we brought it in at 8,975 miles ($187.11), 18,503 miles ($154.81), 29,257 miles ($165.80) and 41,421 miles ($276.97 — also included a new fuel filter.)
The Ram EcoDiesel also requires occasional infusions of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), which is readily available from a variety of sources. The per-gallon price paid ranged from a high of $9.75 at the dealer to a low of $2.80 at a truck-stop DEF pump. Such pumps are rare in Los Angeles, so we typically bought it online in 2.5-gallon jugs for $4.40 per gallon. The Ram's DEF consumption rate was 998 mpg, and over 50,000 miles we added 46.3 gallons of the stuff at a total cost of $246.99.
At the 35,100-mile mark we spent $742.32 for a new set of 275/60R20 tires. The original set had enough tread to make it to 40,000 miles, but we decided to play it safe before embarking on a coast-to-coast road trip that included towing.
Unexpected Dealer Visit:
At 25,561 miles our Ram had to be towed to a dealer after it abruptly displayed a check engine light and stalled while approaching an intersection. The initial dealer analysis did not reveal an obvious problem, so a Ram field engineer got involved. He decided to remove and replace the entire fuel system in order to send everything back to Detroit for analysis. All of this was handled free under warranty. But some of the parts were not normal service items stocked in local depots, and the extra wait caused the total repair time to drag on for 11 days. We were offered a loaner.
The cause was eventually determined to be a very tiny piece of plastic debris inside the in-tank fuel pump produced by a supplier that works with just about every automaker. The tiny fragment had partially blocked a small orifice and starved the system. Because it was found downstream of a fine screen it could not have passed through, the origin of the debris was thought to be a shaving from the manufacturing process.
This incident was a big factor in our decision to extend this test to 50,000 miles. Nothing of the sort ever occurred again, and there were no other unplanned dealer visits.
Our Ram was affected by one customer satisfaction campaign, two Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) repairs and three recalls. Most of them were software-related and were handled during routine visits. An interior light was replaced under warranty, too, but we probably broke it loading cargo.
The customer satisfaction campaign was a software reflash to the Radio Frequency Hub Module to prevent potential issues with the passive entry, keyless start and tire pressure monitoring systems. But we had not experienced any problems. This work was purely precautionary.
One TSB repair was a software reflash of the Engine Control Module to address a false-alarm check engine light we had seen. The other TSB led to the replacement of the SCR catalyst. We had experienced no symptoms, but it was replaced under an abundance of caution during the fuel system investigation.
Two of our three recalls had to do with airbags. The first was a recalibration of the side airbag sensor to guard against inadvertent deployment. The second added protection to the steering wheel wiring harness to prevent rubbing that might inadvertently trigger the driver's airbag. The final recall was a software reflash of the Uconnect entertainment system to thwart outside hackers.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA assigned the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 4x4 a rating of 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway). After 50,084 miles, our pool of drivers essentially matched that with an average of 21.8 mpg. But that figure includes some 9,306 miles spent towing trailers. Remove them and focus on non-towing miles and our average rises to 22.9 mpg.
The truck's best single tank was 27.9 mpg, and the longest range from a single fill was a bladder-busting 700.2 miles. It surpassed 600 miles between fill-ups a total of eight times, and exceeded 500 miles 32 times.
Resale and Depreciation:
The MSRP of our Ram EcoDiesel had been $53,010, but factory incentives brought the purchase price down to $50,510. After 22 months and 50,084 miles the Edmunds TMV® Calculator estimated its worth at $30,420, but CarMax paid us $32,000. That amounts to 37 percent depreciation, but that's after nearly two years and a higher-than-usual number of miles. Its one-year depreciation with typical mileage is hard to determine.
Plentiful engine torque that makes towing a breeze; smooth-shifting transmission rarely gets caught in the wrong gear; EPA fuel economy ratings are easily attainable; refined ride quality makes you forget it's a seriously capable truck; quiet interior when cruising; comfortable and spacious crew cab; easy-to-use audio and navigation system.
Expensive routine oil changes; noticeable diesel engine noise around town; DEF upkeep represents added cost; tow rating not as high as Hemi V8 engine.
Our 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel engine delivered on its promise of high fuel economy and abundant torque for towing. It also had a well-designed interior and a smooth, quiet ride that made it a road trip favorite. Other than our brief issue with the fuel system, it also proved to be a very reliable truck during its first 50,000 miles. It's a truck that many of our editors would buy for themselves and none of us would hesitate to recommend to others.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$784.69 (over 50,084 miles)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||$246.99 for 46.3 gallons of DEF
$742.32 for four new tires
|Warranty Repairs:||Fuel system replacement for later diagnosis, keyless entry software update, engine control module software update, airbag software update, entertainment system anti-hacking update|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||4|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||1|
|Days Out of Service:||12|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||1|
|Best Fuel Economy:||27.9 mpg (20.7 mpg when towing)|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||17.4 mpg (15.1 mpg when towing)|
|Average Fuel Economy:||21.8 mpg (22.9 mpg without towing)|
|True Market Value at service end:||$30,420 (private party sale)|
|What it Sold for:||$32,000|
|Depreciation:||37% (after 22 months)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||50,084 miles|
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.