After almost a decade of impressive low-end torque and class-leading mpg numbers, the Ram 1500 pickup plans an early retirement of its enticing, turbocharged, V-6 Ecodiesel engine in January of 2023.
The reasoning behind the ax is easily deciphered, the timing surprised some industry pundits.
Ram, as with fellow domestic pickup rivals Ford and General Motors, continues gravitating towards an electrified future at an electrified pace with Ram anticipating its first Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) arrival in 2024. Parent company Stellantis decided to pull Ram Ecodiesel’s plug upon the EV version’s impending arrival.
When introducing Ecodiesel in 2014, Ram took the bull by the horns, bringing the light-duty segment into the diesel-sphere. For decades, heavier duty 2500 and 3500 pickups utilized diesel powertrains. Ford and GM followed with their own light-duty diesels in 2018 and 2020 respectively.
Ram’s 3.0-liter V-6 turbo diesel delivers 260 horsepower but more impressively 480 lb.-ft of low-end torque with excellent fuel mileage estimates of 22 miles per gallon city and 32 mpg highway. It’s segment-impressive 12,560 pounds of towing capability makes it popular among long and short haulers. It’s one of five available Ram engines in 2022.
Diesels utilize a compression ignited internal combustion engine (ICE) instead of one sparked by spark plugs. Less-volatile (slower-burning) ultra-low sulfur, diesel fuel refines differently from 87-octane used in spark-ignited engines. Diesels deliver a short pause (to warm the compression chamber) when starting the engine via the electronic push button, longer pauses when thermostats dip below freezing. For decades, diesel fuel cost less at the pump, although that dynamic turned upside down during the pandemic.
Ram tones down the high-compression rumbles audible in diesel engine’s past. The Ecodiesel delivers 30 percent better fuel economy than Ram’s 1500 5.7-liter V-8 Hemisphere engine with similar torque numbers.
With a 26-gallon tank, Ram’s range runs regal. With 32 estimated highway miles, 832 potential miles of travel gets banked. The Ram Ecodiesel ran us to the Wisconsin Dells and back in the fall of 2022 without a fuel stop up or back and 190 miles of range remaining. Not nearly enough? A 33-gallon is optional delivering even longer stints.
During the past decade, Ram 1500 ramped up its game, providing a more-than-capable challenger to the industry’s best-selling vehicle, Fords light-duty F-150 pickup. Our 2022 tester is based on the highly refined fifth-generation introduced in 2019.
Standard across Ram’s fifth-generation lineup; a five-link rear coil-spring suspension smoothing out the highway ride; replacing bouncy-house type leaf-style springs popular for decades in such body-on-frame structures. This soothing set up significantly sets Ram apart from Ford or GM without sacrificing towing or hauling capabilities.
Unique to the 2022 model year and our tester this week, a 10th anniversary edition of the luxury-appointed Limited trim with 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, special Patriot Blue Pearl Coat paint, custom graphics, real wood interior textures, jeweled rotary transmission dial and extra exterior chrome accents. Limited trims pamper the sole and anatomy. It’s one of eight available trim levels/models with multiple cab configurations and options galore.
This 2022 tester included a unique multi-function tailgate, a practical advance introduced during a morning press conference at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show. Lots of innovations get labeled as a ‘game changer’ but this low-tech, highly imagined design eases overtaxing of traditional downed tailgates as well as the aging backs of those doing the loading.
As with most pickups, Ram’s aluminum-intensive tail gate opens down with the push up of an exterior latch, in Ram’s case with a slowed-down dampening effect eliminating the forced ‘thud.’ When prone, the tailgates handles up to a 2,000-pound load. A second opportunity employs the tailgate opening like side-by-side refrigerator with 60/40 split type doors, allowing direct bed access with absolutely no tailgate interference.
The larger ‘60’ (left side) section swings out first with the smaller ‘40’ side door unlatching via an interior -frame pull latch. Open the left-side only if need be, or both each with 88-degree swings. In this position, an undercarriage deployable bed step allows simple access when maneuvering into the bed; much appreciated for those unexpectedly finding themselves on the north side of 60.
Cab configurations continue with Quad Cabs and full-sized rear door Crew Cabs both featuring 4 x 2 two wheel rear drive or 4 x 4 four-wheel drive. Crew Cabs include two bed lengths; short bed- five-foot, seven inches and long bed- six-feet, four inches. Quad Cabs work with long beds exclusively. All doors include thick, strapline handles accessible with winter or work gloves on hand.
Our Limited Crew Cab 4x4 turbo diesel checked in at $64,995 and ended at $77,820 with a $1,795 destination charge. Extras included the 10th-Anniversary Edition hardware ($2,145) and blue pearl coat exterior paint ($100).
Also on board, a trailer tow group with dashboard dial reverse steering control ($1,095), tri-fold tonneau cover ($550), the V-6 turbo diesel ($3,200), chrome power-fold trailer-tow mirrors ($445) and a $3,495 equipment group package with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and surround-view in-screen camera.
Ram’s user-friendly interior welcomes gobs of storage space with gentle, not overwhelming technology assists. A and B grab handles assist when entering and recommend power side running boards help the cause as well.
Another Ram extra assisting entries/exits taps into easy-to-operate height adjustment. Optional active four-corner air suspension (a staple since 2013) operates manually via the dashboard or key fob raising and lowering the vehicle to handle differing payloads and tackle off-roading.
Our Limited tester included five height settings each corresponding with vertical, illuminating amber bar on the dash. If outside the truck, two taps of a key-fob icon adjusts height. The lowest setting registers 6.1 inches of ground clearance while ‘off-road 2’ mode raises the stakes to the highest reaches at 10.2 inches. Lower levels improve highway mileage by one mile per gallon through optimal aerodynamics according to Ram.
Outside, available ‘Ram boxes’ build along the bed’s side frame with locking, flip-up style tops opening to store an assortment to tools or tummy pleasers. An underside plug allows melted ice to easily drain so favorite tailgate beverages or even freshly caught lake trout can stay fresh on ice.
Optional power-fold tow mirror housing extends out from the vehicle approximately a half-foot and include dual view mirrors, the vertical outboard portion zeroing in upon side blind spots.
Back inside, the second-row features in-floor ‘Ram Boxes’ near each door providing a covered, deep region for storing/hiding anything from tools to toys. Each Ram box is the size/depth of a vertical half-bucket, enough to swallow a couple of two-litter soda bottles.
Second row seatbacks don’t fold down, but cushions manually retract up. Extra shallow-style storage bins find their way under these seats, too. Three adult-size riders enjoy plenty of head and extra leg room a-la the Crew Cab. Each 60/40 seat cushion mechanically slides forward individually allowing for extra variations in seating comfort. When seats inch forward, back rests conveniently recline up to eight degrees.
More inside storage is found in between front buckets via a large, deep center console with a top tray housing dual beverage holders that slides back unveiling a deep ravine. An arm rest nearby also folds up to swallow even more ‘stuff.’ Bypass this option and the first row includes bench-style seating accommodating three riders.
Push-button electric start/stop comes standard, residing on the dash with enough distance apart from the power-operated steering column. The circular push button includes amber ‘Run’ and ‘off’ indicators as gentle reminders of the engine’s present state. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts via an electronic dashboard chrome twist dial.
Ram offers three off-road style transfer cases within its 4x4 lineup. The V-6 Ecodiesel features the most intuitive (IMHO) ‘On Demand’ version summoned via a convenient, dashboard-located electric push-button square promoting four push buttons in each quad. A smallish, central N button sends the transmission to neutral, summoned when selecting 4wd low. The remaining quad includes 4wd high, rear wheel 2wd high and 4wd auto, making split-second selections between 4wd high and 2wd high without driver input depending upon road circumstances.
The easily interpreted instrument panel includes large circular analog dials with smaller circular outboard inserts flanking a multi-paneled digital center region.
Centering the dash, a 12-inch, portrait-style in-dash multi-function screen available in all trims sans the Base model (sporting an 8.4-inch version). The latest version of Uconnect (Uconnect 5) serves as the screen’s brain integrating together Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation, hands-free phone calls, texts and other technological marvels. Level 5 promises three times the memory capacity of the previous version, Uconnect 4. Temperature settings and fan speeds monitor through this touch screen, or tactile push buttons framing the screen.
Secondary volume and station preset toggle buttons locate in vertical fashion on the steering wheel’s back side where fingers effortlessly control the tempo in a natural resting state utilizing tactile senses; best in the business and so easy and enjoyable to master.
For those interested in Ram 1500’s diesel dynamics, grab them while available on CDJR lots before time ticks away.
At a Glance
2022 Ram 1500
Price as tested: $77,820
Engine: 3.0-liter V-6 turbo diesel
Torque: 480 lb.-ft.
Wheelbase: 144.6 inches
Overall Width: 82.1 inches
Overall Length: 232.9 inches
Overall Height: 77.6 inches
Powertrain Warranty: Five year/100,000 miles
Fuel economy mpg: 22 city, 32 mpg highway
Assembly: Sterling Heights, Michigan