Now that virtually every American household is making an attempt to be more environmentally responsible, it seems that every major automaker is offering some form of an “Eco” power plant. Ford introduced the incredibly powerful EcoBoost V-6 a few years ago, with a great deal of success and now plans to add an eco-friendly turbocharged four-cylinder to the mix for 2015. General Motors has unveiled a fresh new lineup of direct fuel injected variable displacement V6 and V8 engines christened Ecotec3 for their light-duty pickups and SUVs. Now Chrysler has “thrown their hat in the ring” with a slightly different strategy.
Chrysler/Fiat, realizing that American pickup truck owners were suffering under the load of all that gas saving eco-baggage, opted to market the industry’s first small-displacement turbocharged diesel light-duty pickup. It is called the 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Diesel powered automobiles and light-duty trucks are the wave of the future. With the recent advancements in today’s ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels, direct injection methods, and more efficient turbochargers, diesel powered pickups and SUVS will no doubt give way to an increasing number of affordable diesel powered cars in the very near future. Chevrolet already offers the affordable Cobalt as an example. The European market is already flooded with clean burning, reliable, and affordable diesel powered cars and light-duty trucks.
The Chrysler/Fiat EcoDiesel engine is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, manufactured by an affiliate of Fiat, longtime Marine diesel engine builder VM Motori. The engine is also available in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Standard equipment for the 2105 Dodge Ram 1500 is the PentaStar 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine; however, the EcoDiesel is available as a $4,000 upgrade. If you plan to drive the Ram extensively, this initial cost will be rapidly recovered with fuel savings.
While Chrysler/Fiat will continue to offer the tremendously powerful Cummins 6.7-liter turbo-diesel in their larger trucks, they believe that the light-duty diesel powered pickup meets a consumer need that has gone largely unfulfilled in the last few years. Having said that allow me to go ahead and say for the record that this is not a fast truck. Acceleration, especially from a dead stop, is not the strong suit of this vehicle. If you are looking for a truck that will “burn rubber” and provide blinding acceleration, then you would be best served with the 5.7-liter or 6.4-liter Hemi engine. The 3.0 EcoDiesel generates only 240-horsepower but it also makes 420 lb.-ft. of torque. This translates into good towing capacity, great fuel efficiency (21 mpg city/28 mpg highway), and moderate engine performance. The variable vane turbocharger virtually eliminates the dreaded turbo-lag of yester-year’s smaller diesel engines and a free-flowing exhaust system with an engine control re-programmer would also help. Accelerating from 0 to 60 takes a period of 9.2-seconds but this truck (comfortably equipped with a four-wheel drivetrain) has plenty of pulling power for putting the boat in the water, etc. Towing capacity is rated at an ample 9,200-pounds.
The smaller and lighter V6 diesel engine, coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drivetrain, provided a more balanced ride with added comfort and control over the full size Ram trucks with the larger and heavier engines. The diesel engine also affords an increased mileage range of nearly 50-percent a similarly equipped gasoline powered truck.