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 EcoDieselThe 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 EcoDieselUnder 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 EcoDieselThe 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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The event takes place across a 1,000-km desert route.

Performance Communications

Off-road racing events are gaining popularity, but as with other aspects of motorsport, women are generally underrepresented. Following the lead of Rebelle Rally, an all-women American event, a new navigation rally will take place next week in Saudi Arabia. Rally Jameel will run see competitors running between 300 and 500 kilometers a day in hopes of achieving navigational excellence in the Saudi desert.

The event is scheduled to take place between March 17 and March 19, and will feature 33 two-person teams from around the world. Seven of the competitors are from the United States, but all of the competing women will be faced with a 1,000-kilometer race route that runs from Ha'il to Riyadh.

Rally Jameel33 two-person teams will compete.Performance Communications

Competitors will field a variety of AWD and 4WD vehicles, including models from Toyota, Lexus, and Porsche. The idea is that the vehicles should be normal, everyday models, instead of purpose-built off-road racers. Rather than speed, the event prioritizes navigational precision. Participants can use navigation tech and a digital road book, and must focus on their routes to achieve the best timing.

Rally Jameel takes inspiration from the Rebelle Rally, the first women's off-road navigation rally in the U.S. Rebelle organizers blessed the Saudi Arabia-based event, and Jameel will see at least one competitor that competed in the event, Sedona Blinson. Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, a Toyota Saudi Arabia dealership, initiated the event, along with Bakhashab Motorsport.

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The FITS system allows customers to create custom components for their truck.

Ford

Ford has taken a refreshing DIY approach with the new Maverick pickup truck. Owners have taken to building their own ski racks, and the truck's Flexbed system allows owners to buy or build several other cargo management solutions. Taking things a step further, Ford just released 3D printer plans for the truck's interior accessory system to allow customers to create their own accessories.

2022 Ford MaverickIn addition to the 3d printer plans, Ford offers accessories for sale.Ford

The system is called FITS, or Ford Integrated Tether System. It allows owners to 3D print their own accessories or choose from a handful of Ford-made products, such as cup holders, a phone cord organizer, bag hooks, a trash bag, and under-seat dividers. The FITS receivers are located on the back of the center console and under the rear seat in the new Maverick.

Though Ford released its own files, the tiny slot offers huge possibilities, as shown by the number of customer-created accessories. We're talking everything from handheld video game console mounts to grocery bag hooks and more. Anyone with a 3D printer and some time can design a FITS component and release the idea to other Maverick owners. There's even an accessory that uses screws to attach so non-FITS vehicles can use the system.

2022 Ford MaverickThe Maverick has FITS receivers on the back of the center console and under the back seat.Ford

The neat, technology-driven feature is currently only available to Maverick owners, but that could change in the future. In the meantime, however, Ford's newest pickup truck is so popular that demand has far outstripped supply to the point that the automaker stopped taking new orders for the 2022 model year.

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