2015 Dodge Ram 1500 diesel delivers outstanding fuel efficiency

Having reviewed the 2014 version of the Dodge Ram 1500 we were very excited to get behind the wheel of this 2015 version of Ram’s award-winning truck.  And, this time around we were going to see if all the media hype for the 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel is warranted.  Ironically, over the last few months we have seen an incredible drop in fuel prices so as of our test week in December gas prices in Canada were at their lowest level in four to five years and diesel fuel was actually priced at a premium in comparison.

Upon getting the keys to the new tester I was pleasantly surprised to see how good the truck looked in its “Western Brown” exterior colour.

Dodge Ram 1500 Ecodiesel

Dodge Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

Anyone familiar with the luxury standard of today’s full-sized crew cab trucks will not be surprised by the level of detail in the Ram’s cabin – it is comparable to that of a luxury car with its rich leather bucket seats and high-end interior materials.   Some of our favourites include the back-up camera (crucial for parking in tight underground garages) and the nine speaker Alpine stereo system with SiriusXM Satelite radio. Other key features especially useful in the Canadian winter include heated second row seats, dual zone climate control and a heated steering wheel.  However, one feature we did not have, but was in the 2014 tester, was the air suspension system which provides drivers with the ability to raise the frame of the truck enabling more travel for off-road use. This feature also lowers the truck for better fuel efficiency and makes it easier to get in and out. For our purposes in the city this is not a feature we would leverage on a regular basis, but it is cool nonetheless.

Interior

Our tester came equipped with Chrysler’s award winning UConnect multimedia and connectivity package. It’s the most user-friendly setup in any pickup truck we have tested to date, combining an 8.4-inch center touchscreen with a configurable gauge display. UConnect’s touchscreen and steering-wheel controls gives the driver instant access to all the communication and interior features available in the cabin.

Dodge Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

UConnect console

As Dodge’s third highest trim level, the Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 model comes in at a starting price of $40,595 CDN MSRP.  However, our tester model came with a base price of $53,695 but was equipped with a range of optional features pushing the actual “total price as tested” to $64,535. The biggest ticket item within all the options is the $4,600 for the EcoDiesel V6.  That is a significant chunk of cash but this EcoDiesel engine is game changing and was named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines for 2014.

back truck

During our week-long test where we used the truck predominantly as a city errand chaser, with one trip to cottage country, the truck got an average of 10.4L per 100 KM which works out to 23 MPG.  This is truly remarkable fuel efficiency for an almost 6,000 lb (2,722 kg) full size truck especially considering the majority of miles were in the city.  In fact, the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 is the most efficient engine available today in its class.  See official press release.

Dodge Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

3.0L V6 EcoDiesel

The 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel is a very innovative engine built from a block of compacted graphite iron with aluminum twin-cam heads that put out (240 horsepower and 420 pounds of torque) giving the engine loads of torque for towing (9,200-pound towing capacity).  Realistically, it does not have the same off-the-line speed as the HEMI V8 but who needs that? Since it provides a decent 0 to 60 time of about eight seconds (approx 1 second slower than the Hemi) which is very admirable for a full size pick-up that literally sips diesel compared to its gas-fired brethren.

The only feature our Ram was missing that would be useful is running boards since getting into the truck is a bit tough without them especially for shorter folks.  The running boards also provide some added mud and snow coverage for the driver and passengers upon entry and exit.

Since the Dodge Ram 1500 with its EcoDiesel V6 is the only diesel half-ton pickup currently available in North America there are no direct competitors. However, the key gasoline competitors to the Ram 1500 are the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan and the Toyota Tundra.

I know Christmas has come and gone but if you are still in the need of a full size truck with superb fuel efficiency make sure you check out a Ram dealer near you!

 

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2017 Jeep Wrangler may get aluminum unibody

Ford Motor Company certainly has received a ton of ink in the auto press ever since announcing that their 2015 F-150 pickup will be built with an all aluminum-body shedding 700 pounds off the weight of the current version.  This move to aluminum is quite revolutionary and it comes as no surprise other manufactures are now on the bandwagon.

Earlier this week, at Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles’ marathon press conference CEO Sergio Marchionne was asked if they plan to use aluminum in the future Dodge Ram. “Although we have the capability to do an aluminum body for the Ram, I have better places to use aluminum in the portfolio.”

At the end of the day, Automotive News asked if there is a “better use for aluminum” in the lineup than the Wrangler. Marchionne simply said, “No.”

This is not a 100% confirmation the next Wrangler will use aluminum in its chassis or body, but it sure seems like it is the most plausible options as the iconic SUV has gained a considerable amount of weight with each recent generation. Back in 2011, Jeep created an all aluminum-bodied Wrangler Stitch Concept, which was about 498 kg lighter than the standard Wrangler.

Wrangler Stitch Concept

Wrangler Stitch Concept

Check out this video of the Wrangler Stitch Concept from an Indian based media outlet.

Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4 Review

Living in Toronto’s east end, space is a premium so driving a full size pick-up truck is not exactly ideal. However, having recently spent a week testing the 2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4 I have to stay it’s a marvelous machine.  With its eight-speed automatic transmission, backup camera, air suspension and smallish five-foot-seven inch box it was surprisingly maneuverable in the tight confines of Canada’s biggest city.

Ram 1500 Laramie

Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4

Having been named Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year five times in the last 20 years the Ram brings a stellar pedigree to the table.  With victories in 1994, 2003, 2010 and back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014, Chrysler’s Ram continues to have success with its winning platform.

In 2011, the Chrysler Group dropped the Dodge Ram model name, re-branding its line of trucks under the shorter Ram brand.  This new branding came with an amazing marketing campaign focused on the infamous “Code of the West” theme narrated by Hollywood icon Sam Elliott.  The hyper-masculine tone of these ads show the competition as being left in the proverbial dust with Elliott’s voice-over saying the infamous tag line, “Guts, Glory, RAM.” Here’s the original ad that set the creative campaign off.

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The Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 model is the third highest trim level coming in at a starting price of $38,895 CDN  MSRP.  However, our demo model came equipped with a range of additional options pushing the “as tested” price to $59,985. But before you say anything about this being significantly more than the advertised price just hold on since this Ram came with everything you could ever want in a truck.

Our tester came paired with the 5.7L V8 HEMI (395 horsepower and 407 pound-feet) and new eight-speed automatic transmission. The power-train incorporates both variable valve timing (VVT) and a cylinder shut-off system making it quite energy-efficient overall. However, don’t fret, Ram has not gone all soft on you – the HEMI provides tons of muscular power and 0-60 mph times of less than 7 seconds.  All this HEMI power is harnessed through chrome exhaust pipes providing a strong but subtle throaty, V8 exhaust note.

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The cabin of the Ram is comparable to the look and feel of any of today’s luxury cars or trucks with its rich leather bucket seats and high-end interior materials.  Along with the 8.4″ Uconnect Touchscreen with back up camera, 9 speaker amp and subwoofer stereo system, this truck has it all. Some other features especially useful in winter include heated second row seats, dual zone climate control and a heated steering wheel.

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Having chauffeured around family and friends there were many compliments about the roominess and comfort of the Ram’s back seats.  Whether it’s people or groceries, the Ram provides tons of room with its crew cab model.

Ram Laramie with air suspension set at Off Road 2

Ram Laramie with air suspension set to Off Road 2

In spite of providing all the creature comforts associated with high-end vehicles, the Ram does not compromise on its truck characteristics.  The image above illustrates the increased wheel travel available using the air suspension system which provides drivers with the ability to raise the frame of the truck enabling more travel for off-road use. The air suspension system provides a built-in lift-kit at the push of a button which is a dream come true for the off-road enthusiast who does not want to suffer the consequences in ride quality and performance of a lifted suspension.  Land Rover has used this technology on their models for years, so way to go Chrysler!

There is one other significant feature which the Ram possessed, it’s called the wife quotient.  I have written about this before in past reviews and its utmost importance at the end of the day, since without a high number, the usual result means the vehicle does not stay in the driveway. To my wife’s surprise, she loved travelling around in the Ram over the week, she thought it was the most comfortable vehicle she’s experienced in my life as an auto blogger.  She also loved the superior ride height and wide range of luxurious interior features.  If my needs were different and I required a truck, the only missing element for a perfect score would be the optional running boards.

With its rugged good looks, stellar performance and keen sense of efficiency the Ram provides consumers with an amazing opportunity to buy a truck that can do it all.

Key competitors to the Ram 1500 are the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Ford F-150 and the Toyota Tundra.

2012 Fall Mudfest at Gopher Dunes

On an absolutely beautiful Sunday in September, Team RedlineNorth headed back to Gopher Dunes in Courtland, Ontario for their Fall Mudfest event.  Having attended several times now, we knew what to expect and it lived up to the hype once again.  It really is something you have to experience in person to fully “get”.  At this season’s event, there were three large mud bogs for those ambitious folks as well as some amazing trails for the more conservative 4×4 enthusiasts.

We have attempted to capture the essence of these grassroots mud buggies.

Custom fabricated ride

60s Dodge

Ford with tractor tires

Pontiac Fiero on steriods

Vintage Willy’s Jeepster

Hitting the trails in the woods section

Jeep TJ

Classic K5 Blazer

For more information about Mudfest, be sure to check out the Gopher Dunes fanpage on Facebook.