When this 5th generation Ram pickup was introduced last year, it quickly climbed to the top of the pickup truck mountain. Now in its second year, the 2020 Ram 1500 is available once again with the EcoDiesel engine.
Engine – The last generation Ram 1500 truck also had an EcoDiesel engine but it had to be pulled from the lineup due to emission problems. However, the 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel engine in this generation truck not only fixed the emission problems but also gained more power in the process. It produces 260 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. The horsepower figure isn’t that high but on a diesel engine, it’s the torque that matters. But while it has enough torque to pull a few freight cars, it’s not the most immediate feeling engine. As in, you have to push fairly hard on the throttle pedal to really get the truck going. I’m not saying that the engine isn’t responsive because it is, it just doesn’t have the immediacy of the gasoline counterparts.
But where it does have a huge advantage over its gasoline brethren is fuel economy. The 3.0L EcoDiesel engine in this crew cab 4×4 is rated at 8.0 L/100km (29.4 MPG) on a highway and 11.1 L/100km (21.1 MPG) in a city. During my time with the truck, I achieved a combined fuel economy average of 10.8 L/100km (21.8 MPG) with mostly city driving.
Transmission – Helping the diesel engine achieve the low fuel economy figures is an 8-speed automatic transmission. This transmission is one of, if not, the smoothest shifting transmissions on the market today. It is hard to perceive a shift without hearing or noticing the rpms drop. It’s also quick to react should you decide to stab the throttle pedal in an overtaking situation.
Braking – The 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Limited tips the scales at 2,303 kg but that’s not really a problem for the brakes. There is a moderate amount of pedal travel but it gradually feels more solid the more you push on it. Automatic emergency braking is not standard but is available as an option as part of the Advanced Safety Group.
Handling – Go all the way up to this Limited trim and the Ram 1500 comes equipped with air suspension. It has five levels that range from a low Entry/Exit to Off-Road 2 height. The air suspension makes the Ram 1500 feel planted around corners. Obviously it’s not going to outcorner a sports car or even an econobox, but for a 2+ tonne truck, it feels solid around twisty roads. However, I did find myself sliding a bit in the seat as the seats don’t provide a whole lot of side bolstering.
Capability – Among its competitors, the Ram lays claim to best-in-class towing. The EcoDiesel engine allows the 2020 Ram 1500 to tow up to 12,560 lbs (5,697 kg) however maximum towing is achieved with the gasoline V8. That max tow rating climbs to 12,750 lbs (5,783 kg).
But don’t get fooled by the marketing department because the maximum tow ratings are not achievable on a top spec trim like this Limited Ram 1500 I had the opportunity to drive. Max tow ratings are usually only achievable with the base trims and in quad cab with 4×2 guise.
The Ram Limited is available with a 5’7” or 6’4” length bed. This particular demo had the shorter bed along with the RamBox which are the little lockable boxes to either side of the bed. These do take away from overall bed width however. The recently updated GMC Sierra still boasts a larger bed with or without the RamBoxes.
As for that tailgate, it does allow for easier reaching capability into the bed when it’s opened in its barn door configuration. But GMC’s MultiPro tailgate is more versatile with 6 different configurations. As for that 60/40 split fold when the tailgate is down, don’t worry, it can still hold up to 2,000 lbs of cargo (907 kg).
Ride Comfort – The reason why the engineers decided to offer air suspension was to improve the ride comfort. The 2020 Ram 1500 is easily the most comfortable pickup truck on the market right now. Even with these optional 22-inch wheels and low profile tires, road bumps are easily absorbed by the air suspension.
The front seats are fantastic when it comes to providing comfort. Like I said earlier, not much in the way of side bolsters but for normal city or highway driving, you can go for a long while before needing to stop to stretch.
Interior Space – Speaking of stretching, you can pretty much do that in the back of this crew cab. The Ram 1500 has more rear legroom than its competitors which makes it feel like you’re in a cathedral. Headroom is also plentiful even with the addition of the panoramic sunroof. The rear seats can also recline for added comfort or they can be lifted for underseat cargo storage. Front occupants have just as much space as the rear passengers. Even at my 6’4” stature, I feel small and lost inside the cabin of the Ram 1500.
The cabin also has plenty of cargo areas to store small items. There are two glove boxes. The center console is deep and has a movable partition. The cupholders in the center console can also be moved from the front to the back of the console. As well, the door panels have deep pockets for water bottles and other medium sized items like a tablet.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The V6 EcoDiesel engine is very quiet at low rpms. When accelerating you do hear that classic diesel rumble which is nowhere near as pleasing to the ears as a gasoline V8. But overall the cabin of the 2020 Ram 1500 is well insulated from outside road, wind, and engine noises.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – You can’t talk about gadgets in the Ram 1500 without talking about the massive 12-inch infotainment touchscreen. It is a high resolution and responsive touchscreen that doesn’t feel overly distracting when driving. The lower trims receive an 8.4-inch or a 5-inch touchscreen. Other gadgets on the Ram 1500 Limited include heated & ventilated front and rear seats, adaptive cruise control, parallel & perpendicular parking assist, power side steps, lane departure warning, forward collision alert with emergency braking, LED headlights, and surround view cameras to name a few. Speaking of surround view cameras, I feel like Ram fell into the same trap as Toyota did with the large portrait touchscreen because the surround view feature only occupies the top portion of the screen rather than the full screen.
Interior Design – It’s hard to miss the large touchscreen as it’s the most prominent feature of the interior design. Thankfully simple functions like changing the temperature is done by the physical buttons to either side of the screen. To turn on or off the heated & ventilated seats functions though does require some prodding of the touchscreen. The rest of the cabin is covered in soft leather or soft touch plastics. You can also customize the interior a bit more than in other pickup trucks as the Ram 1500 is available with 15 different combinations of colour leather or cloth seating surfaces.
Exterior Design – The 2020 Ram 1500 looks very sinister in this all-black design. With the air suspension lowered, it almost looks like a row-rider pickup truck. I particularly like the power bulge and vents in the hood. Even in this Diamond Black Pearl paint colour, the vents stand out and give the truck a muscular look. It’s also a big truck. It’s one of the biggest 1500 trucks on the market today which makes it quite difficult to park or maneuver around smaller parking lots. All in all though, the exterior exudes presence and luxury.
The Ram 1500 starts at $44,454 CAD ($32,145 USD) while this Limited trim starts at $72,645 CAD ($53,915 USD). Fully loaded, you’re looking at around the $90,000 CAD ($71,000 USD) price range. Almost $4,000 CAD of that price is due to the premium that the EcoDiesel engine demands over the standard Hemi V8 engine. While $4,000 may not sound like a lot for a truck costing almost 6-figures, it still is a large lump of money. If you plan to use the truck primarily on highways, the fuel efficiency of the diesel will be worth the premium. But if your commute consists more of city driving, the Hemi V8 with the eTorque option (a $995 CAD premium) is the better way to go. Regardless though of which engine you choose, the 2020 Ram 1500 Limited is the king of the pickup truck hill.
Thank you to Ram Trucks Canada for providing the vehicle. www.RamTruck.ca