Photo by Vince Taroc.

Photo by Vince Taroc.

I recently test drove the 2014 Ram 1500 Tradesman Regular Cab 4x2. This is a no-frills, utilitarian work truck with hand-cranked windows, manually adjusted seats, hand-adjusted driver- and passenger-side mirrors, and manual door locks. To better cope in rugged work environments, the interior has a black vinyl floor covering for easy mop-up of mud and other spills. The pickup bed has a spray-in bedliner to minimize the scratches and wear-and-tear from loading and off-loading of cargo and tools.

The Ram 1500 I drove was equipped with the Tradesman Package, which includes a trailer tow mirror, trailer brake control, and folding trailer tow mirrors.

From my perspective, the 2014 Ram 1500 met all the needs expected in a work setting; however, the key takeaway for me was the enhanced fuel economy provided by the 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 engine. This is especially impressive considering it is capable of generating 240 hp at 3,600 rpm and producing 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm.

The 3.0L EcoDiesel, earned a 28-mpg rating from the U.S. EPA, which, according to the Ram, is the best highway-cycle test result ever achieved by a full-size, half-ton pickup.

I experienced similar fuel economy results and, on long-distance freeway driving, I was even able to sustain an average 30 mpg for extended driving distances.

In combined city/highway fuel economy, the 2014 Ram 1500 earned an impressive 23-mpg rating from the EPA.

Impressive Engine Performance

The all-new engine’s block and bedplate are made from lightweight compacted graphite iron. Engine performance was very impressive, resulting in almost effortless acceleration to pass vehicles during freeway driving. The EcoDiesel engine performance is enhanced by the MultiJet 2 common-rail fuel-injection system. The MultiJet 2’s high-dispersion nozzles and advanced-technology servovalve can accommodate up to eight fuel-injection events per cylinder cycle. This results in a quieter engine with minimal in-cab engine noise. In addition, it offers excellent low-speed throttle response.

Photo by Vince Taroc.

Photo by Vince Taroc.

Also contributing to the Ram 1500’s excellent fuel economy is the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, which enables optimal engine speed in a wide range of driving conditions. The advanced-technology gearbox has a thermal-management system that quickly warms the transmission oil to reduce pumping losses associated with cold, low-viscosity fluid.

A “Greener” Truck

In terms of CO2 emissions, the 3.0L V-6 EcoDiesel is among today's most advanced diesel engines, emitting 438 grams of CO2 per mile. This is 60-percent fewer emissions than those produced by diesel powertrains 25 years ago. A state-of-the-art selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system also reduces emissions. It incorporates a unique diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) system that alerts the driver to low DEF levels, while also allowing the engine to maintain full power. The Ram 1500 includes an insulated DEF tank with heated lines to mitigate the effects of cold-weather operation. It also features a passive cooling system that does not require engine coolant for the DEF injector. The DEF tank holds eight gallons of fluid. The truck’s duty cycle determines refills, but the average interval is about 10,000 miles.

By the end of my test drive, I was converted into a big fan of the EcoDiesel V-6, and this admiration is apparently seconded by others, such as Ward’s, which named it one of 10 Best Engines for 2014. I believe the EcoDiesel will go a long way toward convincing fleet drivers of the benefits of diesels.

The EcoDiesel is designed and produced by VM Motori, a Chrysler Group diesel engine supplier since 1992.

Related:

PHOTOS: Ram's 1500 Tradesman EcoDiesel Pickup

Author

Mike Antich
Mike Antich

Mike Antich

Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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