Ram breaks out a new third-generation EcoDiesel engine in its 2020 half-ton pickup truck and makes the 3.0-liter diesel V6 available in every trim level, including the Rebel. The new Ram half-ton truck will be lighter than the previous truck, it will produce 480-lb.-ft. of torque and tow up to 12,560 pounds. Ram says that’s more torque and towing capacity than any other light duty truck.
And once the final numbers are out, Ram believes the 260-horsepower 1500 EcoDiesel will get better fuel economy as well.
The EcoDiesel’s 260 horsepower may not sound like that much, but don’t be fooled. Diesel engines develop far more torque than gasoline engines, and Ram makes the most of every one of this V6 engine’s horses. In this truck, that translates into decent acceleration, but massive pulling power. This truck won’t jump off the line from a red light, but it will pull a heavier trailer than any other half-ton. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic, operated via a rotary dial shifter that takes up virtually no room on the dashboard.
Ram officials unveiled the new diesel pickup in Minnesota two weeks ago, allowing automotive journalists to drive the truck on the curving roads along Lake Superior. Then journalists got to get the truck dirty on off-road trails, hills and boggy bowls of water turned orange by the iron-rich Minnesota soil.
While the new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 leads the way in torque for half-ton trucks, Ram also owns the top torque spot for heavy-duties with 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque. Payload for the EcoDiesel 1500 is 2,040 pounds.
While the numbers are important, the rest of the story reveals more about the truck. The EcoDiesel performed well in off-road conditions, having no trouble negotiating deeply rutted trails or climbing slick, muddy hills. I locked the rear axle in the Rebel test truck, applied steady throttle and the truck slowly made its way up some pretty steep inclines without so much as a wheel slip. Then I switched on the hill descent control and eased my way down the other side. The truck did all the work; all I had to do was steer.
The 2020 truck comes on the heels of a big year for Ram. I still hear a few people mistakenly calling the truck a “Dodge Ram,” but the company this year celebrates its 10th Anniversary as a standalone brand. The move has worked out pretty well for parent company FCA.
Ram sales are up 28 percent thus far this year, and the 2019 Ram 1500 won, well, a truckload of awards. The model year started with the Ram 1500 winning the “Truck of Texas” title from the Texas Auto Writers Association last October. That award was followed by Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year,” Popular Mechanic’s “Truck of the Year” and the “Best of Show” at the New York International Auto Show.
“When all you do is trucks, you can do trucks better,” said Mike Koval director of Ram truck marketing in the United States. The base model Ram Tradesman with the new diesel engine will start at $36,890 when it begins arriving at dealerships in the 4th Quarter of this year, Koval said. The price, however, can run up pretty quickly in the higher trims.
One of the most impressive things about the new truck, believe it or not, is its quieter ride. Mauro Puglia, the chief engineer of the new EcoDiesel engine, told journalists at the launch that reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) was one of the goals of his team. Adjustments to the pistons and the use of different materials in the oil sump resulted in a reduction of mechanical noise, Puglia said. The engine will be built at the FCA Cento facility in Ferrara, Italy, and the truck will be built in Michigan.
The difference in NVH was noticeable during my daylong test drive. My driving partner, Mike Marrs, host of the “In Wheel Time” radio show on ESPN in Houston, was able to record his report on the truck in a single take while I was driving.
And if you hate to stop for fuel like I do, here’s a bonus: the truck will get either a 26- or 33-gallon tank depending on configuration and trim, so once mileage figures are confirmed, the truck should have a good highway range.
Most trucks today have outstanding interiors, and the Ram EcoDiesel is no exception. Inside the cabin, the new Ram 1500 is opulent, with attention to detail and a long list of standard and available comfort and technology features. The terrific 12-inch display touchscreen is back for 2020 with Uconnect, one of the best connectivity and infotainment systems on the market.
2020 Ram 1500 4X4 Limited Crew Cab
Engine: 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6
Horsepower/Torque: 260/480 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Price: $56,915 ($63,080 w/options & freight)
EPA Mileage Estimates: TBA
Estimated Highway Range: TBA