2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel: I Want to Go Up There
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on December 17, 2015
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.Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing