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2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: Torque Treat

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FCA is launching the third generation of its 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 with the 2020 Ram 1500 in an effort to keep up with Ford and General Motors, which have also introduced a diesel-powered version of their full-size, light-duty pickups.

We headed to Minnesota for a first drive of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.

Let’s Talk Numbers…
Built in Italy, this new turbocharged engine delivers 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. That’s 20 more pound-feet than the diesel unit in the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500, and 40 more than the Power Stroke available with the Ford F-150.

In a segment where trucks are often asked to work hard and hopefully burn less fuel, Ram is definitely earning points, here.

A Price to Pay
The 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel will start at $49,395 in base Tradesman trim with rear-wheel drive and a Quad Cab. This is the MSRP, so you have to add $1,895 for freight and delivery.

The EcoDiesel is a $5,800 option over the standard 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 on Tradesman and Big Horn and a $3,900 over the standard 5.7-litre HEMI V8 on Sport, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn and Limited.

By the way, the EcoDiesel engine is available for the first time with the Ram Rebel.

EcoDiesel for the Ram 1500 Classic
Full-size pickups have become pretty expensive and many people just can’t afford to buy a brand new one. Seeing the demand for more affordable versions, FCA continues to manufacture the previous-generation Ram 1500, which it sells under the “Classic” name.

Good news: The EcoDiesel V6 can also be specified with the Ram 1500 Classic. Pricing in Quad Cab 4x4 configuration starts at $51,370.

What About Fuel Efficiency?
At the time we wrote this review, neither FCA nor Natural Resources Canada had posted fuel economy ratings for the new EcoDiesel.

During our test drive, which mostly consisted of country roads with a speed of about 90 km/h, the computer read 9.4 L/100 km. It jumped to 15.4 L/100 km when we towed a trailer carrying a pair of ATVs.

In comparison, Chevrolet’s Duramax-powered Silverado 1500 achieves 8.9 L/100 km in combined city-highway driving, while a Power Stroke-equipped Ford F-150 nets 9.5 L/100 km.

Towing Performance
One of the key benefits of turbo-diesel engines is their remarkable strength, even with a small displacement. The 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel can tow up to 5,697 kilograms (12,560 pounds).

How do the others stack up? Ford claims a maximum towing capacity of 5,170 kilograms (11,400 pounds), and Chevrolet is way behind at 4,218 kilograms (9,300 pounds).

Other Engine Options
The addition of the 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 for 2020 doesn’t come at the expense of the other engine options in the Ram 1500.

This new turbo-diesel will need to make a pretty solid case to convince pickup buyers who are typically fond of naturally aspirated gasoline engines, even if the latter tend to cost more at the pump.

Impressive Cabin
Large pickups often serve as a mobile office for their owners. FCA knows it, which is undoubtedly why the new Ram 1500 interior stands out from that of Chevrolet.

The layout is well designed and quite ergonomic. The seats prove highly comfortable, which hasn’t always been the case in this segment. While FCA can be known for botching some of its vehicles, the Ram 1500 is clearly among the better-executed products in the entire portfolio.

The 12-inch centre touchscreen with Uconnect infotainment is just icing on the cake.

Diesel or Gasoline?
Due to the heftier price tag, additional maintenance costs and unknown reliability, we would much rather buy a gasoline-powered Ram. The Pentastar V6 and HEMI V8 are both solid and dependable engines that have proven their worth for many years.

Go with either one of them unless you absolutely need that diesel torque.

Evaluation

Test model 2020 RAM 1500
Trim level Longhorn 4x4 Crew Cab (5.6')
Base price N/A
Price as tested N/A
Warranty (basic) 3 years / 60,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 5 years / 100,000 km
Options N/A
Competitive models N/A
Strong points
  • Class-leading torque
  • EcoDiesel is available in numerous trims
  • Fantastic Uconnect system
Weak points
  • Heftier price tag
  • Additional maintenance costs
  • Unknown reliability

Editor's rating

Fuel Consumption 4.0/5 The official ratings are not yet available.
Comfort 4.0/5 The new Ram 1500 is so comfortable you could easily forget you’re driving a full-size pickup.
Performance 4.0/5 Class-leading 480 pound-feet of torque. Enough said.
Infotainment System 4.0/5 FCA’s Uconnect system is one of the most user-friendly in the entire industry.
Driving Experience 4.0/5 It’s amazing how quiet the diesel engine can be. Will it remain that way after 100,000 kilometres and more?
Overall 3.0/5 Despite the efficiency and formidable capabilities of the EcoDiesel engine, most buyers will be better served by a naturally aspirated, gasoline-powered Ram 1500.
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