2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Limited Drivers' Notes | Black gold

Autoblog Staff
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Ram didn’t have fuel economy numbers for us when we first drove the 1500 EcoDiesel, and because of that, a verdict could not be rendered. Today, that’s no longer the case. In maximum hypermiling 4x2 form, the EcoDiesel is rated at 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. That puts it merely 1 mpg away from the Chevy Silverado Duramax, which achieves 33 mpg on the highway. In our tester’s crew cab 4x4 configuration, it was rated at 24 mpg combined.

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The impressive efficiency can be attributed to the fully reworked 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 under the hood. It makes 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, with the full brunt of that torque being realized at a low 1,600 rpm. It’s a good thing, too, because the EcoDiesel redlines at 5,800 rpm. Towing maxes out at 12,560 pounds, and it has a payload rating of 2,040 pounds. There’s a whole lot of truck to pull around, too. The crew cab backseat leaves enough space for even the tallest of riders to sprawl out, and the front seat is just as expansive and intimidating.

As tested, our Ram 1500 was easily one of the most luxurious, expensive configurations one could possibly spec. It was done up in the highest Limited trim, which means every last premium material and feature is along for the ride. The base price was $58,660, but that doesn’t mean Ram didn’t find plenty of room for options. The most expensive of options happened to be the EcoDiesel engine itself, which comes in at $4,995. Yowza. Our truck also had the $3,995 Black Appearance Package, which adds an array of extras like 22-inch black wheels, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and black accents throughout the exterior. However, the 22-inch wheels were superseded by our truck's $795 Off-Road Group package that added 20-inch wheels with meatier tires, an electronic locking rear axle, multiple underbody skid plates and hill descent control. A $2,295 driver assistance package added adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, a parking assistant, 360-degree camera and ventilated rear seats among other less notable features. Lesser charges like the $1,495 panoramic sunroof, $995 Multi-Function tailgate and $995 RamBox system all contributed to this truck's $75,610 final price.

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: The interior in this Limited is busy. The white-grained black plastic trim (which even appears on the steering wheel, the elaborate stitching on the leather, the carbon-fiber-esque aluminum, the enormous Uconnect screen, the panoramic sunroof … they all seem a little much for a pickup. This truck should come with a black cowboy shirt and a pair of snakeskin boots.

Even without the adornments, there’s a lot going on, for better or worse. There are numerous buttons and switches, and I found myself hunting around quite a bit whenever I wanted to turn off a parking sensor, turn on a heated seat or change the temperature. It’s also easy to forget exactly which storage compartment you stashed your phone in. Sure, it’s nice to have all the comfort and convenience features, but there’s a price you pay (beyond this particular truck’s $75,610 sticker price) for ticking every box on the options list.

I’ll let the other guys tell you about the EcoDiesel engine in the Ram, since I already opined on it in my First Drive review. I’d just like to point out that when I picked up the truck, it showed a driving range of 709 miles on a full tank. I also averaged 22.7 mpg over a fairly equal mix of city and highway driving.


Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: This truck is pure luxury and excess from every way I look at it except for one: the engine. FCA’s new EcoDiesel V6 is under the hood, and there’s no forgetting it. This engine has no shortage of diesel noises and vibrations to go around. Unlike the refined and nearly imperceptible inline-six turbodiesel in GM’s full-size pickups, the EcoDiesel is always present and noticeable in the form of clattering and ticking. And then there’s the vibration that comes through the gas pedal under partial throttle applications. It’s a bit buzzy on the right foot, and I’d prefer it wasn’t there, but it’s not annoying enough to be a dealbreaker.

The massive torque of the diesel engine is noticeable at low speeds, but it never feels quick. Once the initial thrust of acceleration is depleted, it becomes rather slow and lethargic. Buy the diesel for towing and efficiency, but not if you want a quick truck. The 5.7-liter V8 eTorque is a much better option in the Ram if speed is the priority. Similar to the eight-speed automatic paired to other engine options, this unit works well with the diesel. It holds gears when it should and quickly upshifts when it can for better fuel economy. There were a few occasions on the highway where it felt as though it was holding onto a gear for a few seconds longer than necessary, but it never lasted for long. This would be less noticeable with a smoother and more refined engine, but the difference between cruising at 2,300 rpm and 1,500 rpm on the highway is audibly palpable with the Ram EcoDiesel.


Associate Editor, Joel Stocksdale: Like Zac, I was really surprised by the diesel engine. I first experienced it in the Wrangler, and I chalked up a lot of the uncouth noise and vibration to the fact that the Wrangler isn't a particularly well-insulated vehicle. Surely the bigger, more refined and luxurious Ram would silence the diesel. But much of the rattling and whistling and vibration still comes through. Part of me actually likes this. It's obvious this Ram is diesel powered, and it makes it feel a little more like its big Cummins-powered heavy duty sibling. Part of me is annoyed by it, because the Ram is so comfortable and quiet in every other way, that it sometimes comes off as a rude interruption to hear the tapping of the diesel come into the cabin.

Despite its rough nature, there are still reasons to keep it in mind, even when there are more refined options from GM and Ford. For one thing, the fuel economy is excellent. With two-wheel drive, it manages 26 mpg combined, and with four-wheel-drive it gets 24 combined. Both of those are only one mpg behind the Silverado diesel. You can also get the EcoDiesel on any trim, driveline and cab configuration. If you want a frugal work truck, you can get a two-wheel-drive diesel Tradesman. If you want a torquey diesel trail truck, you can get the diesel in a Rebel with four-wheel drive. Both Chevy and Ford restrict their diesels to specific trim levels and body styles.

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