RAM readies industry’s only light-duty diesel pickup for fall intro

As the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup continues to pick up awards — North American Truck of the Year, Motor Trend Truck of the Year, Truck of Texas and numerous others — the industry is closely watching the latest entry into the line: the industry’s only light-duty, small-displacement diesel slated for introduction during the third quarter of this year.

Ram EcoDiesel is first in its segment

Ram EcoDiesel is first in its segment

As I travel around the country, readers, truck owners and others ask frequently about getting more diesel offerings, and I know that other manufacturers are watching closely to see what Ram’s take rate will be for the diesel version.  I’m no fortune teller, but I would guess that — if it represents a decent percentage of sales in the first year — there could be several on the market by 2015 model year.

First 1/2 ton truck with diesel

First 1/2 ton truck with diesel

The 2014 Ram EcoDiesel has a 3.0-liter V-6 engine which Ram says “will stretch its best-in-class fuel economy” mated with the eight-speed TorqueFlite transmission.  The engine is build by VM Motori, a Chrysler Group diesel supplier since 1992, and the engine, including a diesel oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filter and selective catalyst reduction, will be emissions-compliant in all 50 states.

Ram EcoDiesel badging

Ram EcoDiesel badging

Prices for the Ram 1500 start at $24,200 (plus a $1,095 destination fee) and the EcoDiesel version will be priced $2,850 more than a similarly equipped 1500 with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and an 8-speed TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission.  I believe that makes it the most expensive of Ram’s engine/transmission alternatives.

The EcoDiesel will deliver 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque when compared with the Hemi model which has 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.  The third engine was named as a top-ten pick by Ward’s Automotive.  It is the 3.6-liter V-6  features 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque and 20% better fuel economy than its 3.7-liter predecessor.

The EcoDiesel has best-in-class coefficient of drag at 0.360 and first-in-segment fuel saver technology, stop-start, thermal management system, pulse-width modulation and active aerodynamics including grille shutters.

EcoDiesel

EcoDiesel

An exceptional air suspension system also enhances fuel economy, improves ride control and off-road capability.  It also includes entry/exit and loading, as well as automatic load leveling.

With the EcoDiesel’s price point comes a range of standard and optional features, including an available front park assist system and Uconnect Access via an 8.4″ touchscreen. Beginning is 2014, the Ram 1500 will be the first among competitors to carry F1234yf refrigerant to reduce greenhouse emissions.  (I don’t know if this has been adopted for 2014 by Ram’s competitors.)

In Detroit last month, the Ram team made a complete presentation on the EcoDiesel, but did not yet have mileage numbers available — not unusual since it is generally the last thing disclosed.  They are expected to reach toward the 30mpg level, which has been a grail for truck makers.  The diesel vehicle was not available at that time for driving but I will have a chance to experience it early in the third quarter.

EcoDiesel interior

EcoDiesel interior

Most of the features it encompasses are already on the Ram 1500 line, and have met or exceeded expectations.

2014 EcoDiesel Ram

2014 EcoDiesel Ram

Primary, of course, is that this is the first of its kind in this truck segment, again allowing Ram bragging rights for innovation.