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Here's a review of my test drive in a Ram 1500 EcoDiesel on Nov. 1. The truck was a Laramie Crew Cab with short bed and loaded with many options (air suspension, RamBox, vented seats, etc.). White with black interior. It was a pre-production vehicle driven to my area in Oregon by a Ram Advocate, an employee at Ram's West Business Center in Arizona.

full-view.jpg EcoDiesel badge.jpg engine.jpg wheel.jpg

Not much to say about the engine, really. It is strong, smooth and unobtrusive. The group stood next to it with the engine running while the rep talked and we were not bothered by the exhaust or the engine noise. From outside the diesel has a characteristic clatter that sounds different than the Hemi but is probably no louder; at one point a Hemi started next to us and drowned out the diesel. The following video gives an idea of the diesel sound when standing abeam of it at different distances.


I drove for about a half-hour on local streets, a state highway and a dirt BLM road. I put my foot to it a couple of times and it accelerated quickly without drama. In the driver's seat there is little sensation that a diesel is under the hood. I imagine that performance-oriented drivers would find fault in the diesel but for me it is what I expect a truck to be and more.

I asked the rep many questions. Here is a short summary of what I learned:

Engine choice - It is an existing design used in Europe for several years and adapted to the Ram. The modern design is well suited to short trips, unlike heavy-duty truck diesels we are more familiar with in the U.S. Ram chose the 3.0L over larger engines because it was the only one that met fuel economy goals while providing a power for a light-duty pickup.

Gearing - The 3.55 axle provides the best combination of performance and economy. The 3.92 is available for those who frequently tow heavy loads but will cause a drop in economy and the shifting with not be as crisp. A tow/haul mode is standard.

Weight - The diesel engine plus its emissions system add a couple hundred pounds to the vehicle weight which brings down both payload capacity and tow rating. For maximum ratings the Hemi is slightly better, other things being equal. For fuel economy the diesel is much better.

DEF - The DEF tank holds 8 gal which will probably need to be refilled before the 10,000 mi oil change depending on operating conditions. If the exhaust fluid runs out or the emission system fails for some reason, the engine will continue to run normally. The DEF tank and lines are heated when the engine is running and work in sub-zero temperatures.

Surprisingly there is no latch or lock on the fuel filler door. Another detail that Ram seems to have left out for cost.
fuel-filler.jpg

Air suspension - The system works in sub-zero temperatures. It does not compensate for uneven ground and should not operate with the engine off. If the system is overloaded or fails for some reason the truck will lower to normal ride height and will be drivable. He had not heard of the "low battery warning" some users have reported. The headlights do not change aim when the air suspension raises or lowers the vehicle. The video shows the Ram raising to off-road 2 position.

Suspension looks complicated and vunerable. I worry about rocks, ice and other debris but that is just me. In use I barely noticed the air suspension.
air-suspension-rear.jpg air-suspension-front.jpg

Payload and tow ratings - These follow the SAE Surface Vehicle Recommended Practices although the latest charts may not say that. The published ratings and the recommendation not to install a camper on Quad Cab and Crew Cab models should be taken with a grain of salt; marketing and legal advice can affect specs. There was no weight label on this pre-production vehicle.

Availability - The U.S. and Canada are different and one could get the diesel before the other, probably Canada first. A few production units may be available this year but full production will not begin until January.

HID headlamps - Ram does not use these probably because of cost. Seems cheap to me on a $50k vehicle.

Navigation and camera - Use is restricted when moving for legal reasons although there is a way to change the routing through Yelp. He had not heard of the Lockpick system that can unlock these features and even integrate a front camera on some models.

Center console is intimidating with many switches, dials and touch-screen icons. The rotary gear shift is odd but functional. Love the push-button starter.
dash-controls.jpg

Insulation - No difference between basic and high-end models although the interior trim is different.

Other events - He was doing a 2-week tour of the Northwest. Other tours may be scheduled through dealers in other parts of the country.

Although I didn't find the EcoDiesel dramatically different from the Hemi I have previously test driven, it was a very useful couple of hours. I put a deposit down on one and I'm just waiting for the order bank to open.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great write up BigFoot! How did the ride feel on the different surfaces?
I did not notice anything special about the ride so it must be okay. ;)
The Ram rep said he could tell there was some extra weight in the front on highway curves although it was not a problem.
The air suspension, crew cab and P tires all contribute to a smooth ride. I suspect LT tires would make it little rougher.
 

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Hello Mr.Bigfoot:I just found your test drive review of the Ram Ecodiesel and thought it very informative.Do you know if the truck you drove had the 3.55 or 3.92 gears?I've ordered mine w/3.92's and was wondering what the rep was referring to when he mentioned that the 3.92's shifted a little less crisp then the 3.55's.I'm not too concerned about a little less mpg's as I'm seldom on the highway.
 

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I'm going to the twin cities auto show tonight, I heard there is 1 Ecodiesel on display. Anyone have any requests for pics? Or questions to ask the reps? I will post anything I haven't seen on here before after the show.


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I'm going to the twin cities auto show tonight, I heard there is 1 Ecodiesel on display. Anyone have any requests for pics? Or questions to ask the reps? I will post anything I haven't seen on here before after the show.


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the actual muffler(s)
 

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Only One EcoDiesel at the Auto show; didn't see a GC Diesel. You could sit in most of the vehicles at the show, but you couldn't get close enough to touch the Ecodiesel, very frustrating, so close but yet so far.
Ego, I tried my best to get pics of the exhaust system but couldn't get very close.
Camp Jeep was the most interactive part of the show, I rode in a Grand Cherokee Overland through the off-road coarse. This vehicle was comfy as hell and the Overland trim was beautiful. I was surprised at how off camber we got/felt from the inside of the jeep, but always felt stable and in control. The Hemi felt very powerful from the passenger seat. There were GC, Cherokee, and Wranglers that you could ride in around the track



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Dealer told me mine should be in Monday. I ordered mine 2 hours after it opened for ordering. We will see if it arrives Monday
Just don't get your hopes up. Unless it's actually on a rail as we speak. I ordered same day. Mine has been waiting at the rail storage to ship for almost two weeks due to the rail cars delay and weather.

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yeah. hopes aint up at all!! I don't expect to see it till April. My tag comes due on mine end of the month and hoping I don't have to pay it because it is April before mine shows but guarantee that will happen. Bet like you it is just sitting!!
 

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Crappie man, I'm not sure where you live but here in PA it is only a $50 fine for no inspection. Most of the time they will give you a week to get it done and bring it in to the police station to prove it was done. My buddy hasn't inspected his truck for 5 years he has gotten pulled over twice and he would rather be fined that way he doesn't have to bring it in to show that it was inspected. In 5 years it has only cost him $100. If it where me I wouldn't get it inspected.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The last four comments have nothing to do with the topic. They should be in a delivery discussion.
 

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I was told this one could be purchased in Hastings MN at the local dealership on Monday of next week.
Too bad it's white, I'm not a fan of white.


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