Sometimes distance can change your perspective. When I initially drove the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel back when it was released in 2014, I was amazed at how adeptly Chrysler had been able to pair real-world fuel efficiency with the kind of torque and practicality that full-size truck owners demand. It was a simple dream come true: a turbodiesel engine liberated from the mindset that only heavy-duty commercial buyers could appreciate its numerous charms, combined with what was in my opinion the best-driving, and most attractively-styled light-duty pickup in the business.
A full year later I find myself once again behind the wheel of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, and you know what? The honeymoon is far from over. The 2015 EcoDiesel remains Ram's most compelling truck, and is a strong contender for the best overall option for buyers seeking the ultimate combination of frugality and power in a utility-focused package.
Sweet, Endless Torque
The 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 that sits under the hood of the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel rewards those who aren't seeking instant gratification. While it might not offer the same off-the-line jump of the 5.7-litre Hemi V8, the torque numbers aren't all that far apart: 410 lb-ft for the gas engine, and 420 lb-ft for the diesel (to go with its rating of 240 horsepower). Throw in the EcoDiesel's fat powerband that sees maximum twist come online almost 2,000 rpm sooner than in the Hemi, and you've got a recipe for a train that pulls hard and long, especially on the highway.
The hits just keep coming for the EcoDiesel's mechanical bits. An eight-speed automatic that is the class of the full-size segment handles the shifting duties for every Ram, and its ability to juggle ratios in tandem with the V6's ever-present torque is exceptional, and transparent to the driver. Then, of course, there's the fuel economy: I saw real-world numbers of 10 l/100 km in a mix of city and highway driving while piloting the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, a rate of consumption that shames every other pickup I've had the chance to test in the last year.
Big Horn Brown
In addition to offering a classy, yet rugged design that stands out when compared against the Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado, the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel also offers one of the best-appointed cabins on the market. The Big Horn model that I drove for a week sat roughly in the middle of Ram's 11-trim strong family of pickups, bringing with it a chocolate brown interior that offered cloth seats, the Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system, and a spacious second row of seating accessible via a set of full-size Crew cab rear doors. If you want to spend a lot more money, you can lose yourself in the leather wonderland that is the Laramie Limited, but the EcoDiesel engine is also available with the base ST model, as long as you opt for the six-passenger quad cab.
The Air Up There
It's not just the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's fuel-sipping engine, style-conscious sheet metal, and well-executed interior that make it a winner. The truck also happens to think outside the box when it comes to suspension design, offering a set of adjustable air shocks that can raise and lower the vehicle's ride height for easier access and improved aerodynamics at speed. This setup is matched with coil springs at the back of the Ram that do a much better job of parsing rough pavement than the traditional leaf units found in all other full-size pickups, giving the 1500 EcoDiesel a leg up when it comes to ride comfort and stability. It's such a smooth combination that I have to wonder why Ford and GM insist on retaining decades-old rear suspension details when Ram has proven that its implementation of coil springs has had no negative impact on towing or hauling capacity.
Pay The Price - It's Worth It
Is the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel perfect? If you've got deep pockets, sure; otherwise you might balk at the cost of parking one in your driveway, as you're looking at $6,400 over the Ram 1500 ST Quad cab's $22,095 MSRP to get the diesel fairies to sprinkle their magic dust in the truck's engine bay. That's no small sum, especially considering it only costs $1,700 to outfit the pickup with a 5.7-litre V8. Still, for $30,000, the EcoDiesel doesn't exactly break the bank in a world where trucks routinely crest the $50k mark. I know I'd rather pay more for a better, more efficient drivetrain than simply pack my rig full of a extra leather. How about you?