An industry first for a half-ton truck
Eight years ago, there was a lot of hype about a half-ton diesel. Then the economy took a turn for the worse. Now that things are looking up a bit, Ram made the first move—the 2014 Ram 1500 with EcoDiesel engine will hit dealer lots in early 2014.
Ram got serious about the truck race in 2013 with one innovation after another: eight-speed automatic transmission, four-corner air suspension on the Ram 1500; a 30,000-lb. trailer towing on the 3500 and "smart" diesel exhaust brake. Ram’s newest offering features rear air suspension or coil on the 2500, rear hybrid air suspension for the 3500 and the new 6.4-liter Hemi V8. In all, Ram introduced in just two years what normally takes a decade.
Without a doubt, the EcoDiesel and TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission are big news for a half-ton. There’s bigger news, though. To upgrade the 1500 with the diesel powerhouse only costs $2,850 more than a Hemi.
Fiat, as majority owner of Chrysler, owns half of VM Motori, which manufactures the EcoDiesel for the 1500. The 3.0-liter V6 water-cooled turbocharged engine with dual overhead cam and 24 valves pumps out 240 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. It can handle towing 9,200 lb. with ease. The EcoDiesel has a 200,000 mile rated engine life and is B20 capable.
The Ram EcoDiesel, which is almost half the size of the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel, has half the battery power with just one battery. The DEF tank in the 1500 diesel is a whopping 9 gal.
Also new for 2014, a key fob will lock the cab, RamBox (if equipped) and tailgate. Inside, if you push the button on the transmission gear Range Selector and run the gears up to the top (on six- or eight-speed), a light gray number appears to tell you what gear the truck is in, which is nice to know when towing a trailer.
Heavy duties. Also new for 2014, the Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks both get a new 6.4-liter Hemi V8 gas engine that produces 410 hp and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. When PTO equipped and paired with the Aisin transmission, the engine can run on four cylinders instead of eight. The standard engine remains the 5.7-liter Hemi, which boasts 383 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque.
If diesel’s your preference, there are three 6.7-liter Cummins versions for the 2500 and 3500. Ram still offers a manual transmission on the 350-hp diesel with 660 lb.-ft. of torque. When mated with the 68RFE six-speed automatic, output jumps to 370 hp and 800 lb.-ft. of torque. On the Ram 3500, the 385-hp diesel works with the Aisin six-speed automatic transmission to achieve 850 lb.-ft. of torque.
No matter the engine and transmission combination, all 2500 models are upgraded to a 11.5" rear axle. Only the 3500 models will get the big 11.8" rear axle. The standard rear axle ratio is 3.42 on heavy-duty Rams for better fuel economy.
The 2014 2500 models catch up with last year’s 3500 dually and feature advanced three-link rear suspension. Rear leaf springs are gone in favor of heavy-duty taper coil springs. The Hotchkiss rear leaf suspension is standard on the 3500.
The Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 trucks with optional air suspension use load sensing to detect the load and keep the truck level with on-board air compressor and tank. The new air suspension maintains the truck’s rear at a 1° positive angle. Leaf springs start 2.5" higher. Air ride is 2" lower at the tailgate with air because it doesn’t need to squat, so it will be easier to reach into the bed and lower to back up to a trailer.
On the Ram 3500, the gross combination weight rating is 37,600 lb., towing is as much as 30,000 lb. and payload up to 7,320 lb. The Ram 2500 can tow up to 17,940 lb.
That’s a lot packed into a short window for Ram—and the other big two are probably not far behind.
For ride-and-drive commentary, photos and videos from H. Kent Sundling, also known as Mr. Truck, on the 2014 Ram trucks, visit www.FarmJournal.com/2014_Ram