The combination of low-end power and good fuel economy make diesel engines a natural choice for trucks. And, if you look under the hood of many heavy-duty trucks–the Silverado 2500s and Ford F-250s of the world–you will in fact see diesels. Big, huge diesels, with massive displacements and ungodly torque specs. These are engines meant for towing heavy loads–big boats, houses, big boats with houses on them, etc.–and they’re usually used for such, whacky diesel drag racing notwithstanding.
Yet diesels have remained conspicuously absent from the much larger light-duty truck market, despite the ever-increasing demands on towing capacity and fuel economy. Leave it to Ram to put two-and-two together and throw its excellent 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine into the 2014 Ram 1500. Currently available in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the new diesel puts out 240 horsepower and an astonishing 420 lb.-ft. of torque; for those keeping score at home, that’s more torque than even the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 available in the Ram. To top it off, it’s connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission, a setup we’ve loved in the Grand Cherokee. Cost? Ram is a little cagey about that one, saying that it’s, “$2,850 greater than a similarly equipped Ram 1500 with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8″ with the same eight-speed automatic. Using 2013 numbers, that puts it somewhere north of $4,000 extra over the standard V-6 engine. Efficiency, it seems, doesn’t come cheap. We also don’t have any official word about fuel economy, as Ram’s being mum, and the EPA hasn’t rated any of the new Chrysler V-6 diesel applications yet.
Regardless of engine choice, there are other enhancements to the rest of the 2014 Ram 1500 lineup. All models now have access to the eight-speed automatic, regardless of engine. There are front sensors to help guide the Ram’s enormous schnoz into a parking spot. The air conditioning system has been reworked to help increase fuel economy, an available load-leveling air suspension, and if you opt for the HFE V-6 model you even get stop-start technology that shuts off the engine at stops and restarts it when you start to move again.
Hemi Duty Heavy Duty
The heavy-duty version of the Ram also gets an upgrade, albeit in the opposite direction. Rather than upgrade the diesel that’s already available, Ram now offers a 6.4-liter V-8 engine that delivers 410 horsepower, which Ram says is best-in-class. The heavy-duty Ram also gets a new air suspension for the 2500 model, and Ram fans looking to tow a fifth-wheel trailer can now add a goosneck mount in the 2500 model. Don’t know what that means? That’s probably because you don’t tow, but for avid campers who must haul a portable house with them, it’s important stuff.