2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: Driving Impressions From the Road
August 1, 2014
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.
Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor @ 8,969 miles