First Drive: 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

The Drive
We're amazed at what a nice place Ram pickup cabs have become. The 1500's 2013 update brought a new level of comfort and refinement, a revolution and a revelation compared to the cheap interiors that came just a few years ago.

The EcoDiesel fits well into the newly-refined Ram; it's about as quiet and unobtrusive as a diesel can get, purring softly at idle, thrumming contentedly under acceleration and going all but silent at cruising speeds. Like most diesels, off-the-line acceleration is not all that impressive; Ram lists the official 0-60 time at nine seconds, compared with 7.5 for the gasoline V6 and under 6 (!!) for the HEMI V8. Mid-range power is much better; with its stout torque curve, the EcoDiesel merges and passes like V8-powered trucks from just a few year sago

We have to point out the optional ($1,695) air suspension, which turns the Ram 1500 into the smoothest-riding and best-handling half-ton pickup on the market. Even with regular steel springs, the 1500 compares favorably with the Ford F-150, though it's not quite as cushy as Chevy's Silverado - of course, neither of these trucks offer diesel power in their half-ton variants.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

The Good
Excellent fuel economy with gas-engine-like refinement

Tows better than small gasoline V6s and V8s

Well-finished cabin

Fantastic ride and handling, especially with the optional air suspension

The Bad
Diesel option is pricey

Struggles when towing at maximum trailer weight

Ram does not have the same reputation for durability, quality, and longevity as Ford, Chevy and Toyota

Pricing
EcoDiesel-equipped Rams start at $29,795 including destination fee, with full-loaded examples going for over $58,000 (whew!!); the diesel engine brings a $4,000 price premium over the 3.6 liter gasoline V6. Will the engine pay for itself in higher fuel economy? Diesel fuel prices can vary widely, so it's hard to say; in some locales, it could take as long as twenty years to recoup the cost. Owners looking to tow heavier trailers will most likely be comparing the EcoDiesel to the HEMI V8, and here the diesel comes off looking better: the price premium is $2,850 and payoff could come in as little as five years, less in states like California where price gap between diesel fuel and gasoline is smaller.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

Verdict
The diesel half-ton pickup is an idea whose time has come, and we like Ram's execution. The EcoDiesel is refined and efficient, and while towing and hauling abilities aren't the primary focus, they benefit from diesel power. We like the truck in which the engine is wrapped, too, but the price is high and as for durability and reliability, we'll just have to wait and see.

DriveApart Rating: 8/10
A great idea, well executed. If the Ram turns out to be as reliable as it is appealing, we'll bump that up to a nine.

What do you think - would you consider a diesel-powered half-ton pickup?

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Related Links:
Best 2014: Trucks and SUVs For Towing and Hauling
The Competitor: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Competitor: 2013 Ford F-150

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