2020 Ram 1500 first drive review: Now with EcoDiesel power – CNET

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2020 Ram 1500 first drive review: Now with EcoDiesel power


The Ram 1500 is my favorite truck in the highly competitive full-size pickup segment. With excellent onboard technology, good looks both inside and out, lots of utility and a comfortable ride, it’s hard to beat this well-rounded package. For 2020, the story only gets better with the addition of a new diesel engine.

Ram’s new 3.0-liter V6 may have the same displacement as the company’s outgoing EcoDiesel engine, but 80% of its parts are new. For 2020, the engine has a brand-new turbocharger, intake ports and combustion system. The pistons have been redesigned and feature thinner rings for less friction. A new, low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation system reduces power loss from the turbo. The end result is an engine that offers more power and torque than its predecessor, while offering reductions in noise, vibration and harshness.

This 3.0-liter V6 produces 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque — 8% and 14% gains, respectively, over the outgoing engine. What’s more, that class-leading torque comes on at just 1,600rpm, which is 400rpm sooner than before. That means there’s more low-end grunt upon initial acceleration, and the retuned, eight-speed automatic transmission manages the power so smoothly I can barely tell it’s there at all.

You can hear a bit of characteristic diesel rattle under hard acceleration, but once I’m up to speed, it’s quiet as can be. Without any weight in the bed or a trailer behind me, the diesel engine makes the Ram quite quick, with lots of midrange punch for easy passing. EPA numbers have not been finalized just yet, but Ram claims the 1500 EcoDiesel could drive from Duluth, Minnesota, to Dallas, Texas, without needing to stop for fuel. That’s a distance of over 1,000 miles, according to Google Maps. With a 33-gallon tank, that means the Ram 1500 could theoretically see highway fuel economy numbers of 33 miles per gallon, but we’ll wait for the EPA to chime in soon enough.

The Ram EcoDiesel can haul 2,040 pounds in its bed or tow 12,560 pounds behind it — the latter a best-in-class number. The Ram’s optional air suspension has a self-leveling feature to keep the ride smooth while towing, and the blind-spot monitoring feature covers the length of the trailer. Of course, the best towing tech in the pickup truck segment right now still comes from Ford, with its Pro Trailer Back-Up tech, which makes reversing as easy as turning a dial. Be sure to check out our guide to all things towing for more on that.

Oh, and don’t forget about Ram’s new multifunction tailgate, which folds down like usual, but has barn-door, side-opening functionality, as well. It’s not quite the origami master that GMC’s MultiPro tailgate is, however.

With the EcoDiesel engine, the Ram 1500 can tow as much as 12,560 pounds.


Ram

What I like best about the 2020 Ram 1500 is that you can get the EcoDiesel engine on every single trim, including the off-road-ready Rebel. The low-end torque is great for slowly traversing an off-road course, but if desert running is in your future, the Ram’s more powerful 5.7-liter V8 is likely the powertrain for you.

As for the rest of the 2020 Ram 1500, it carries over unchanged from last year, when the truck was brand new. This truck can be really luxurious inside, and because of the aforementioned air suspension, offers a cushy, stable ride. The rear seats recline for added passenger comfort; full-speed adaptive cruise control is available; and a giant, 12-inch Uconnect infotainment screen comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Ram doesn’t offer the only diesel engine in the full-size pickup segment, of course. The 2019 Ford F-150 Power Stroke is a solid option, but can’t best the Ram in power, torque, payload or towing. The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra offer an inline-six diesel engine, with a healthy 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, and while its 2,302-pound payload rating bests the Ram 1500, these trucks can only tow 9,300 pounds. Finally, there’s the Nissan Titan XD, which is more of a heavy-duty pickup than anything else, what with its Cummins V8 engine 555 pound-feet of torque. Of course, the Titan XD isn’t long for this world, so…

As far as I’m concerned, the Ram 1500 offers the best diesel package in the segment. But it won’t come cheaply — expect to pay a $4,995 premium over a 3.6-liter V6 model. Still, that means a two-wheel-drive Ram 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab EcoDiesel comes in at $36,890, plus $1,695 for destination, which isn’t a ton of coin. This EcoDiesel engine only makes the super-good Ram 1500 even better.


Mike Cutler/Roadshow

Editors’ note: Travel costs related to this feature were covered by the manufacturer. This is common in the auto industry, as it’s far more economical to ship journalists to cars than to ship cars to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multiday vehicle loans from manufacturers in order to provide scored editorial reviews, all scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial team are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.



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