Last fall, I had a blast scampering around in the mud-loving EcoDiesel Jeep Grand Cherokee and was thoroughly impressed with the SUV’s off-road prowess, cabin quality, and snazzy styling. It was a bonafide Range Rover fighter at a fraction of the cost, and I had to agree with other critics in that the turbo diesel model was outstanding. But not everyone out there wants an SUV, and as truck sales continue to climb, the rugged Ram 1500 shows us why it may have the upper hand.
Fiat-Chrysler claims that the 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel “leads pickup truck fuel economy with the exclusive 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine,” and with a solid 29 miles per gallon, we have little reason to argue that. It’s a very clever, high boost turbo unit and once mated to a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, can put 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque right where it belongs. With a towing capacity that tops out at 9,200 pounds, and a powertrain price tag that’s just $3,120 more than a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 model, it’s no wonder this version of the 1500 has won so many awards.
Developed and manufactured entirely by Fiat-owned supplier VM Motori, the new EcoDiesel really is equipped with a special diesel oxidation catalyst, a diesel particulate filter, and selective catalytic reduction capabilities, allowing its rapidly spooling turbo motor to be both green and gutsy — and, it stands alone in its segment.
The efficient little V6 also features America’s best-in-class diesel powertrain warranty, which means that buyers get a five-year/100,000-mile protection plan. There also is Ram’s standard three-year/36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty, which provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for the Ram 1500, so everything from the body to the brakes is covered.
Details on Ram’s powertrain warranty shows that it covers the cost of all parts and labor deemed necessary for the repair of a crucial component, so your engine, transmission, and drive system are completely covered. This also includes free towing to the nearest Ram dealer, which is a blessing if you live or work in a remote area. The warranty also is 100% transferable, so anyone who sells their truck while it is still under warranty can pass the coverage over to the new owner without question.
As far as safety goes, the 2016 Ram 1500 now features revised frame and body modifications that meet the new IIHS small front overlap test, and once equipped with a Mopar brush guard these trucks can handle even greater impacts. Tire blockers are another notable safety touch, as their addition next to the frame rails greatly reduce the chances of a passenger compartment intrusion. The new Ram 1500 body also has reinforced A-pillars and door sills that help improve the structural integrity of the passenger compartment during impact and rollover.
On the environmental side of the story, the EcoDiesel isn’t the only real winner here, as the Ram 1500 also rocks F1234yf refrigerant, which was a first for the segment and was developed entirely to help reduce greenhouse gases. Other cool green notables include a thermal management system that helps efficiency gains, and an active aerodynamic setup that includes grille shutters and air suspension for decreased drag while on the highway.
Other fresh updates include LED bed lighting in the rear corners next to the tailgate, and a new center console design, which first debuted in the Rebel and Laramie Limited trims. Bluetooth connectivity is also now available on entry-level radios for hands-free driving in all Ram 1500 trucks. The Ram 1500 currently can be had in 11 different colors, including fresh shades like Red Pearl, Luxury Brown, and Pearl White. Buyers can also opt for either a monotone and/or two-tone design, depending on the model they have chosen.
In order to make sure that everything meets customer and government standards, Ram utilizes a unique Road Test Simulator (RTS), which according to the automaker “recreates the abuse a truck endures at the hands of a 95th-percentile driver.” This basically means that these trucks experience tests that are so grueling, and conditions that are so severe, that only 5% of all truck owners would ever subject their vehicles to these extremes.
According to Ram, the RTS puts “a lifetime of wear and tear on a truck in about one month’s time,” further proving that the Ram development team is firmly committed to finding and fixing any issues, thus improving its standings with potential truck buyers. Couple all that with Ram’s renowned off-road capabilities and a dizzying array of Mopar and aftermarket upgrades, and you’ve got a light-duty diesel truck that kicks ass on every level.