Several automakers have experimented with mild-hybrid trucks. But only one pickup truck offers a mild-hybrid version of every gasoline engine: the Ram 1500. Purists can still order a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with none of the eTorque bells and whistles. But you can also get a Ram 1500 with either a Pentastar V6 or HEMI V8 with the eTorque mild-hybrid system.
What is better hybrid or mild hybrid?
Fully hybrid drivetrains offer excellent fuel efficiency but are expensive and can be complex to repair. Some are relatively slow in gasoline-only mode. Mild hybrids work with existing gasoline engines to smooth out the auto start/stop mode and add one or two mpg.
The Ram 1500’s eTorque system is classified as a “mild-hybrid” drivetrain. Fully hybrid engines include an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission, or transmission and driveshaft. This motor can propel the vehicle without the internal combustion engine and charge the batteries with regenerative braking.
The eTorque mild-hybrid drivetrain combines the traditional alternator and starter motor into a single unit, connected to the front of the engine with a heavy-duty serpentine belt. The gasoline engine shuts off when you come to a stop. When you press the accelerator, this electric motor launches the truck off the line and the gasoline engine starts up immediately.
When you tap the brakes, the electric motor/generator on the front of the engine adds some friction, slowing the entire driveline. It uses this force to recharge the 48-volt battery behind the Ram 1500’s seat for its next launch.
Heavy-duty Ram truck buyers cannot yet order the 6.4-liter HEMI with the eTorque system. But Stellantis has engineered an eTorque system for the 6.4-liter HEMI in its Grand Wagoneer, so we expect to see it available in the Ram 2500-5500 soon.
Here’s a video explaining the Ram 1500’s eTorque system:
Is Ram eTorque any good?
The Ram 1500’s eTorque mild-hybrid system does exactly what its engineered to: it adds a couple mpg of fuel efficiency while smoothing out the auto start/stop functionality. The result is a truck that drives like a regular gasoline-powered V6 or V8 pickup with slightly better fuel efficiency.
Fans of fully hybrid systems such as the Ford F-150 PowerBoost or the Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX might be disappointed by the Ram 1500’s mild-hybrid’s slight fuel-efficiency improvement. But fans of traditional V6 and V8 engines will appreciate the familiar performance of an eTorque equipped Ram.
So is Ram’s eTorque system any good? That completely depends on what you are looking for in your truck’s powertrain.
What trucks have hybrids?
The 2022 Ford F-150 is available with a PowerBoost hybrid drivetrain: a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 paired with an electric motor and 10-speed automatic. The mid-year 2022 Toyota Tundra will be available with the very similar i-FORCE MAX. Ram offers its V6 and V8-powered mild-hybrid eTorque system that evens out the start/stop function. You can also find several used GM pickups with hybrid drivetrains.
At this point, more full-size pickup trucks have offered a hybrid engine option than have not. The only full-size pickup truck that has never offered any form of full or mild-hybrid is the Nissan Titan. That said, the Ram 1500’s mild-hybrid system is a very different drivetrain, at a different pricepoint, than the fully-hybrid options from Ford and Toyota.
General Motors first offered a “micro-hybrid” version of its Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra back in 2004. This truck had a small electric motor on the flywheel of its transmission, just capable of charging its battery and starting its engine.
In 2009, GM launched a full hybrid version of its Silverado/Sierra with a 6.0-liter V8 and CVT transmission. But slow acceleration made this option a flop outside of fleet buyers and GM discontinued it in 2013.