ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: We’ve had loaded Ram 1500s in our test fleet before and had generally favorable things to say about them. The ride is carlike thanks to an air suspension system. The feature-laden interior is comfortable and pleasant, even if some of the details can be a bit over the top (lot of tooled leather and Western-themed stuff here…).
The diesel V6 -- the first of a wave of new full-size diesel pickups, I guess -- is the equation-changer here. Launched with a great deal of fanfare, I know Ram moved a lot of them early on. Not sure if sales have been sustained, but if America is ever going to warm up to diesel, it’ll probably be because of trucks like this.
And, for the moment, trucks like this are where this EcoDiesel should stay. It’s a torquey motor that’s nevertheless not as refined as something from the Germans. That’s fine for a pickup, OK for the Grand Cherokee and probably not acceptable in a sedan.
Sticker price is high, but unlike the Jeep (which cost about $1,200 more than the Ram) you can get the diesel without springing for an uplevel trim: You can apparently option the workaday Ram 1500 Tradesman with the EcoDiesel and that’ll only set you back around $35,000. That might actually make sense if you’re running a fleet, but you’ll have to do the math.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Edition Crew Cab in our test fleet received a boatload of additional options included heated seats and power 10-way drivers seat with memory.PHOTO BY RAM
EDITORIAL INTERN BRAD WILEY: The Ram 1500 is the comfiest truck on the road. I’ve driven dozens of trucks, both big and small, in one capacity or another, but I have never ridden/driven in a truck that carries its weight so gracefully. Now, I wouldn’t call this truck the fastest thing through a slalom course, but it is darn comfortable. Arguably as much as our long-term Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec, both of which ride on an air suspension. Having a copious amount of time in the captains’ chair, you get the feeling that this truck is built for someone of a bigger stature, more than my 5-feet-10-inch size. One passenger remarked that the cab height was meant for a “10-gallon hat,” and presumably so. The interior stitching and detail is similar to that of Ford’s F-150 King Ranch edition. Although the buckles on the seat pouches in the rear are a tad tacky for my taste, the truck had a very high-quality interior.
From the outside, the truck appears massive. And the faint grumble of the EcoDiesel under the hood just adds to that. Ram did it right with the integrated dual exhaust tips tearing out of the bumper, it’s clean and unique. A far better solution than just a turn-down pipe dumping exhaust gasses out the rear.
The RamBox cargo solution is something that really depends on the owner’s end game. Our tester did come with a foldable bed cover, and a spray in bed liner, but without those features, interior cargo space is really limited when hauling a full load of passengers. It comes down to the sacrifice of bed space. So you’re faced with a decision of either; clean, dry, lockable storage or a few additional inches above the wheel wells. It actually makes total sense to spring for the boxes.
The EcoDiesel is a beast. Not only does it return a solid mpg, but it has the guts to pass on the highway. Not a single passenger knew that a 3.0-liter turbocharged oil burner resided under the hood -- that is unless they noted the badges on the side.
We really didn’t get to put the Ram’s towing capacity to the test, but I would imagine it would have no problem pulling a loaded dual-axle car trailer. The addition of a rearview camera on the tailgate of any pickup is also fantastic. I remember when backing up to hitch a trailer was a game of skill and luck. More luck than anything.
While cruising down the highway or tearing down a country road, this 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Edition with the EcoDiesel behaved unlike any pickup I have driven to date. Some may argue that at the end of the day you are paying shy of $60K for a Ram 1500. However, luxury comes at a price, and this Ram is right on point.
Our test 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Edition Crew Cab was outfitted with the 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel.PHOTO BY RAM
SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: I love that Graham is always looking out for the contractor on a budget. I, on the other hand, have no interest in the $35,000 strippo (aka Tradesman) model. If I’m spending all day hauling crap around, bending nails or otherwise abusing my body to earn a paycheck, you’d better believe I’m going for the whole luxury Monty with my pickup. This Laramie Limited crew-cab model totally fits the bill. But the diesel engine didn’t have the same draw, the same allure that it had for others. Instead, it was the icing on an otherwise yummy, awesomely decked-out cake.
And a supremely comfy cake, at that, to concur with Brad. Comfy in every sense, too, from the caress of the bucket seats to the beautiful air-suspension ride. No matter how many times I drive a Ram with this chassis setup, it always amazes me how un-trucky a big pickup can feel. Seriously, the wheels just glide over the road. And to think it can still tow almost 10,000 pounds equipped thusly. Impressive.
As for that diesel -- or, rather, EcoDiesel as Ram insists -- it does add a pretty penny to the bottom line, and I’m not sure I like the character of the engine enough or am compelled strongly enough by the “eco” part of the equation to think I’d spring for it should I find myself in a pickup-buying state of mind. Yes, it’s a torquey beast, even at only 3.0-liters of displacement and with almost 6,000 pounds to drag around. And, yes, it returns (on paper, at least) 28 mpg on the freeway, which is compelling all on its own. But I’ve never driven more than an average number of miles a year, and combined with the premium charged for diesel fuel, I would never make up the price difference.
Listen to me, concerned about how much this awesome powertrain costs, but not the bloated, bourgeois package it comes in. Sheesh, I must be getting old.
The 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Edition Crew Cab comes in at a base price of $50,525 with our tester topping off at 58,015.PHOTO BY RAM
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Getting into this 2014 Ram 1500 with the EcoDiesel brought back good memories of our long-term 2010 Ram 1500. When we said goodbye to that truck we declared it as the best-riding truck -- loaded or unloaded -- that we’ve come across. Four years later with a new crop of trucks from GM and that statement still rings true. With the air suspension, this test car just floats over the road, absorbing jolts from road imperfections with ease and little shock making its way into the cabin. Compared to our long-term 2014 Chevy Silverado LTZ, which has a descent ride quality itself, the Ram 1500 behaves like a luxury vehicle in the ride department.
It’s an easy car to pedal around town, though. Steering is lightly weighted, but direct for a pickup. Brake performance is strong and easily gets things slowed. The backup camera projects a clear image on the screen and helps a lot when backing it into parking spots.
And I dig the diesel engine with all the torque to move the big Ram around. I didn’t tow anything with it, but instead just made a shopping trip to a warehouse club store and packed the bed with a bunch of supplies. A hint of diesel clattery noise can be heard in the cabin, but it’s not annoying. The eight-speed automatic transmission performed slick shifts and was quick to downshift when extra grunt was needed.
A lot of the other things that we loved on our long-term Ram remain. The RamBox storage compartments are slick, the more rounded lines of the exterior compared to the competition still looks good to my eye and the cabin is beautifully trimmed on this Laramie Limited Edition model with nice leathers and quality materials throughout.
The only thing I wasn’t high about was that it doesn’t have a soft opening tailgate. I’m used to the one on our long-term Silverado and was a little startled when I opened the Ram’s and it just slammed down.
But still, the Ram 1500 is my favorite half-ton pickup truck.
Options: 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine with 800-Amp maintenance-free battery, GVW rating of 6,950 pounds, maximum duty engine cooling, selective catalytic reduction UREA-DEF, 26 gallon fuel tank, 3.55 rear axle ratio ($2,850); customer preferred package 28M including wood leather steering wheel, delete front tow hooks, 20-inch by 9-inch aluminum painted wheels with chrome inserts, high back seats, leather wrapped grab handle, body-color front fascia, body-color rear bumper and step pads, Laramie limited group, Laramie limited leather bucket seats, luxury front and rear floor mats, power 10-way driver seat with memory, power 6-way passenger seat, four corner air suspension, automatic high beam headlamp control, steering wheel mounted audio controls, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, monotone paint, keyless enter ‘n go, rain sensitive windshield wipers, rear 60/40 split folding seat, folding flat load storage, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, rear window defroster, wheel to wheel side steps ($2,495); RamBox cargo management system ($1,295); trailer tow mirror and brake control group, Class IV receiver hitch, power chrome trailer tow mirrors with manual fold-away, trailer brake control ($330); anti-spin differential rear axle ($325); single disc remote CD player ($195)
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