2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel: Rowher Flats Off-Roading
September 19, 2014
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.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor