Behind the Wheel
2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Review: The best parts of this truck are not under the hood
With its easy steering and luxe interior, the 2020 Ram 1500 Limited has earned every right to be considered a luxury truck. It defies typical convention in other ways too, as it soaks up the bumps in the road like a full-size sedan and offers rear seat legroom akin to 27A on a Delta-operated Airbus 321.
But can it "truck"? I'm so glad you asked. While the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado are typically thought of as America's work truck, when the redesigned Ram 1500 debuted as a 2019 model, its appointments (rightly) earned it a coveted place in the lifestyle truck category.
The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the newest engine option for the full-size truck.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
The answer is yes, it can "truck". Though you're more likely to see the 1500 Limited at a Home Depot for weekend warrior type of projects than at a worksite, it's obvious to anyone that test drives it that the Ram is more than capable, especially with the nifty multifunction tailgate, which splits 60/40 and opens outward rather while also allowing a traditional tailgate drop to permit easier access to the bed.
However, how much capability you require and the drive experience you want will dictate the engine you choose - just as it does in a truck from any other automaker.
The latest test version of the 1500 Limited to roll into my driveway was powered by a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine. The engine makes the truck capable of achieving 480 pound-feet of torque and has a max towing capacity of 12,560 pounds. Both those numbers best then capabilities of the F-150 and Silverado with their own 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesels under the hood.
Is the Ram engine the best? The short answer to that is no.
Under the hood of the model, as tested, is a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
The EcoDiesel is about as fuel efficient as the other two engines but it suffers off the line compared to the Chevrolet inline-six. Though it has more torque, even without a full load in the bed, the Ram feels slower from a standstill than the Chevy. It frustratingly gets up to 45 mph then cruises competently from there on. The delay is enough to make you have to plan ahead when pulling out in traffic.
That postponed response of the accelerator replicates turbo lag. Why? It's likely because Rom needs to ensure the engine hits mpg targets. The company is especially cognizant of that in the wake of the $307.5 million settlement Ram's parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), paid to compensate for installing emissions cheating software in diesel engined vehicles.
Aside from the engine, the Ram 1500 Limited is a mighty fine truck. It's attractive inside and out with supple leather on the seats and soft-touch materials where it matters. The seats remain comfortable, even when on long drives.
The interior of the Ram 1500 Limited is sumptuous.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
As much as the 12.3-inch vertically orientated infotainment screen is appealing at first sight, the more it gets used, the more frustrating it becomes. There's no quick way to access the camera for parking or navigating a drive thru, and scrolling through radio stations is a chore, but perhaps the biggest annoyance is adjusting the climate controls. One errant tap too many and suddenly the heating or air conditioning is on full blast. Readjusting the correct temperature can be a quick fix, but it takes longer for the mechanics to adjust. In the meantime, you're uncomfortable for more time than is ideal.
If you're in the market for a full-size truck with a diesel engine, and interior isn't as important, the Chevrolet Silverado is your best bet. If you don't absolutely require a diesel engine and prefer a nicer interior for daily driver duties, the Ram 1500 is the way to go. However, the forthcoming 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid may shake up this recommendation.