Behind the Wheel

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Review: The best parts of this truck are not under the hood

The 2020 Ram 1500 is formidable but with the EcoDiesel power plant, it begins to stumble.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

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.

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 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.

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 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.

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 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.

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Updated compact SUV

2022 Nissan Rogue gets new VC Turbo engine

The Rogue was fully redesigned last year.

Nissan

Nissan refreshed its best-selling vehicle, the Rogue SUV, in 2021 with a grown-up new look and plenty of new tech. Changes the year after a major overhaul are usually minor, but for 2022 Nissan's giving the Rogue a new powertrain. A brand-new 1.5-liter variable compression (VC) Turbo engine is on board, producing 201 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Nissan Rogue The new VC engine can change its compression to adapt to driving conditions.Nissan

Power is up 11 percent and torque is up a staggering 24 percent with the new power plant. The variable compression engine is capable of adapting to changing driving conditions. When the driver needs more power, the engine shifts to higher compression, which delivers better acceleration at the expense of fuel economy. When efficiency is best, the engine changes its compression again. The VC engines made their debut in 2019 in both the Infiniti QX50 and Nissan Altima. It's trick engine technology, but it doesn't always deliver on its promise of efficiency gains. Nissan's continuously variable transmission is still in place, though it has been improved with 17 percent wider gear ratio coverage and 32 percent lower friction. The automaker says it helps deliver better acceleration and fuel economy.

2022 Nissan Rogue Top Rogue trims get upscale finishes and a handsome cabin.Nissan

Pricing for the 2022 Rogue S FWD starts at $27,875, including a $1,175 destination charge. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the price by $1,500. Nissan offers three packages for the SUV as well, including a $2,660 SV Premium Package, a $1,320 SL Premium Package, and a $400 10.8-inch head-up display for the top Platinum trim.

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Supercharged V8 pickup

Watch the Ram TRX Lap the Nürburgring

The TRX looked awkward but completed the lap.

BTGDale via YouTube

The Ram TRX is a cartoonish truck with specs that would make most people shy away. Its size, sound, and imposing appearance live up to the hype laid out on the spec sheet, and its Hellcat-derived powertrain demands attention. The truck is one heck of an off-roader, too, but a recent YouTube video proves it can dance on a racetrack, too, though not as gracefully as the low-slung cars it passes.



The YouTubers took the TRX to the imposing Nüburgring in Germany to test its mettle on track. Unsurprisingly, the big Ram rolls over kerbs and is able to blast past several cars on the track. The biggest problem for the truck is its brakes, which end up cooked halfway through the lap. In between a few blasts of NSFW language, we can hear the driver note that his brake pedal is "about halfway to the floor," though he did retain some functionality after letting things cool off. The 6,400-pound truck would likely cook all but the most hardcore motorsport brakes.

The truck appears unmodified and looks to have just over 1,000 miles on the clock for the lap. Of course, the TRX looks about as at home on a track as a Mini Cooper would rock crawling, but the truck's 4.5-second 0-60 mph and 702 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 are more impressive than many sports cars.

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