Like football players, all pickup trucks are not created equal.
I’m not talking about a comparison between Peyton and Eli, nor am I referencing the inevitable F-150 vs. Silverado battle.
Have a look at an NFL roster and you’ll see a guy like Tom Brady, at 225 pounds, whose job it is to stand still and throw the ball, and a 198-pounder in Julian Edelman whose job it is to run and catch the ball.
• Fuel efficiency
• Tops class in ride & handling
• Fuel efficiency
• Tops in truck design
• Fuel efficiency
• Touchscreen needs re-canting
• Base flat floor > underseat storage?
• You’ll pay a price
• Optimistic onboard computer
• Not sold on rotary dial shifter
There are many more players with unique tasks: especially large gentlemen who must protect the guy who throws the ball, more agile men who must run with the ball, and more fellas who come onto the field to attack the other team when, in this case, the Patriots don’t have the ball.
Last week, GoodCarBadCar was granted a few days with Ram’s new diesel-powered 1500 pickup, the first light-duty diesel pickup truck available in our market since the 90s and the first light duty diesel engine in a half-ton truck since before I was born. But just as “football player” can mean so many different things, so can Ram.
This Ram featured the new 3.0L turbocharged diesel engine, four-wheel-drive, Laramie trim, the crew cab bodystyle, and a vast array of options.
This Ram we’ve been driving isn’t just a pickup. It’s a luxury limo, a work truck, a fuel miser, an all-weather traveller, a style statement, a secure vault, and a family car.
Maybe it’s time multi-positional football players made a comeback.
There’s no point in me trying to summarize this, wait for it, $70,090 Ram 1500 Laramie EcoDiesel. You don’t need your Ram to be a Laramie model. A Quad Cab will perhaps suffice unless you’re still filling rear-facing child seats. The new VM Motori-developed V6 diesel is available outside of heavily-optioned Laramie Crew Cab models. So let’s just take each element on its own, cognizant of the flexibility of the Ram lineup.
EPA Highway: 27 mpg NRCAN OEE City: 12.1 L/100 km NRCAN OEE Hwy: 8.8 L/100 km Observed: 20.1 mpg Observed: 11.7 L/100 km
* includes destination/delivery.
MPG fuel economy ratings from the
Environmental Protection Agency.
L/100km ratings from the Canadian
Office of Energy Efficiency’s
new 5-cycle testing for MY2015 vehicles.
Originally designed for GM purposes, this 240-horsepower V6 diesel generates 420 lb-ft of torque at just 2000 rpm. Not at all unlike other diesels, there’s a moment of hesitation when the throttle is first applied during which the owner of a Hemi-engined Ram will say to himself, “I ain’t sure she’s got enough pies in the oven.”
Thankfully that moment is brief, and the swell of torque enjoyed by the EcoDiesel’s driver when overtaking on a rural two-lane is something Pentastar Ram owners ought to try at least once.
The diesel doesn’t deserve all the credit. It works in conjunction with an excellent 8-speed automatic. You’re always in the right gear, and the next gear is only a blink away. Together, they make for a tremendously refined powertrain.
There’s a hint of dieselly clatter when manoeuvring in tight spots, back and forth in a nine-point turn. (Thank-you to the Elantra and Civic drivers in scenic Herring Cove who boxed me in. I needed my father’s help to direct me out, which wasn’t embarrassing at all in front of my wife and mother.) But overall, this diesel has been forcefully silenced with enough sound deadening to hush a crowd of guffawing fishermen.
Better yet, the Ram diesel doesn’t use very much fuel, not by pickup truck or even large crossover standards. In the real world, where I can fill the tank, measure the distance travelled, and then calculate consumption by re-filling the tank, the Ram used 13% more fuel than its onboard computer led me to believe.
Yet at 11.7 L/100 km (or 20.1 mpg on the U.S. scale) in mostly urban driving, we used 9% less fuel than we did in our 5.3L V8-engined GMC Sierra tester did last fall, and that Sierra was driven mostly on the highway. (We also used 16% less fuel in this diesel Ram than we did in the Pentastar V6 Ram last summer.)
Then again, the EcoDiesel was a $4500 option on this Laramie model, above and beyond the Hemi. On an SLT-trimmed Ram 1500, the EcoDiesel would cost $5500 more than the standard V6.
In terms of calculating your potential long-term benefits, your personal annual mileage matters a lot more than mine. But it might not matter as much once you start driving the EcoDiesel, once you see how slowly the fuel gauge needle falls, once you solidify your long-held belief that Truck = Diesel.
With our family of three in the cabin, a cooler full of sandwiches and chips and pop in the bed, and Ramboxes full of hoodies and blankets, we picked up my parents for a picnic at York Redoubt outside town. We were hardly consuming any fuel, relative to other pickup trucks, so we extended our journey to Herring Cove, Duncan’s Cove, Ketch Harbour, and the aptly-named Sandy Cove, where there is sand.
That’s the kind of freedom that, once paid for on transaction day, diesel owners enjoy throughout the rest of their ownership period. You don’t convince yourself of the long-term financial benefits of a sunroof, and you shouldn’t need to establish the economic advantages of this diesel, either.
Regardless of the engine under the hood, Ram’s crew cab body, like the full-fledged four-doors from Ford and GM and Toyota, is huge inside. Leg-stretchingly huge. The bed is shortened, but the available leg room and under-seat storage is truly luxurious whether the seats are leather-clad or sheathed in cloth. Space will always equal luxury, but it won’t be long until the feature count of a high-priced premium vehicle of today will underwhelm.
Two-tone paint, heated and cooled leather seating up front, dual-zone climate control, and Chrysler’s big 8.4-inch UConnect are key Laramie features. It also says Laramie three times inside and once outside. (This Laramie badging tags along with four “Ram” mentions outside and eight inside, the Ram logo which appears twice outside and once inside, and just two exterior “EcoDiesel” badges, both of which the truck-loving teens on our street felt were the exact opposite of truckish toughness.)
GCBC Instituted ISTBTP, AKA Interior Storage Tennis Ball Test Protocol, In Early 2014.
The Ram Crew Cab’s ISTBTP Results Are In The Spec Chart Above.
Our test truck, optioned quite nicely by Chrysler Canada’s PR department, included expensive options like the $1195 RamBoxes (which we used on a couple of occasions for big grocery loads), the $1595 air suspension (which, with 5 ride heights, is pretty awesome), a $1295 power sunroof, $1200 leather buckets up front, $850 side steps, and $4365 in smaller options, plus the optional diesel engine.
The seats won’t massage, the sunroof isn’t panoramic, there’s no blind spot monitoring or adaptive cruise or even a soft-opening tailgate. By the standards of $70,000 luxury cars, this is under-equipped, but it’s still luxury living, particularly when one considers the overall flexibility of the package.
I remain convinced that, by a small margin, Ram offers the best-handling pickup truck range. This is most noticeable when encountering the expansion joints of an overpass mid-corner, where the Ram will feel perfectly normal and other trucks skitter, even if only a little.
Yet by an equally small margin, the structure of GM’s new trucks feel stronger and more solid, and the overall sensation is of the superior work truck. (This sensation was clarified during back-to-back drives on an off-road course at an event sponsored by, yes, GM.)
We’re hair-splitting now though, and it would surprise me if the new F-150 isn’t the superior truck in most aspects. At least until the Ford’s competitors receive their own updates. And so the cycle goes.
I prefer the Sierra/Silverado’s rear seat design; the wider availability of F-150 configurations locally available to me; the simplicity of Ram’s UConnect; the exterior design of the Ram; the silence of a Sierra’s cabin; a column shifter rather than the Ram’s rotary dial; the upcoming Ford’s freshness. The Ram’s touch screen needs to be canted more toward the driver, the fuel gauge should be larger, the dual glove compartments aren’t that large, there’s no built-in helper to lend assistance when jumping into the bed.
But it’s easy to see why Ram is picking up market share in both the United States and Canada. The aluminum-intensive 2015 F-150 aside, Chrysler has brought Ram to the forefront of truck awareness by offering us things other truck makers aren’t providing, most notably in the form of their 8-speed automatic and this light duty V6 diesel.
With Ram offering the power we require and the fuel efficiency we dreamed of, do we really need to measure the trivial interior quality differences, the slight towing capacity disparities, and the narrow pricing discrepancies? A diesel engine might just negate all other arguments.
Especially since, where I live, diesel costs five cents less per litre. That’s like a football player that plays offense and defense and takes a pay cut for doing so.