The Sell: A full-size pickup with car-sized fuel economy
The Test: While we were speeding toward a trailhead for a mountain-bike ride, the three-liter turbo V6 diesel engine and eight-speed transmission in the 1500 EcoDiesel ($40,215; 19 mpg city/27 hwy) did something we’ve never seen a giant pickup do: deliver greater than 28 miles to the gallon. All things considered, that’s better performance than the Subaru Outback. Further blowing our minds: the Ram pulled this off with a 5.5-foot-long bed, a 4x4 power train that can tow up to 9,100 pounds (say, a 30-foot Airstream), and a massive cabin that can seat five adults. Its plush ride comes thanks to the optional adjustable air-suspension ($1,695) that can take the standard 8.7 inches of ground clearance and raise it two inches or lower it an inch for improved aerodynamics.
Inside, Ram freed up space by replacing the gear shifter with a rotary dial on the dash. UConnect, Ram’s 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen interface, sets the standard for simplicity and functionality among this year’s vehicles. Out back, optional locking Ram Box compartments ($1,295) in the bed walls store wet gear or tools—they can even serve as ice chests thanks to drainage ports on the bottom. In short, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel forever warps the idea that driving a big pickup equals sacrificing ride quality and fuel efficiency.
What’s Missing? The “eco” in EcoDiesel doesn’t refer to “economy.” The truck costs $4,500 over the comparable V8-equipped model, putting it almost into luxury-car territory.
The Verdict: A giant pick-up with the soul of a green machine.