FOR THOSE WHO WANT A TURBO-DIESEL RAM 1500 LARAMIE, THE WAIT IS FINALLY OVER.
EATS UTES for breakfast, drinks fuel like a sailor? Well, not quite, because when we tested the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that exclusively powered the RAM 1500 pick-up until now, it proved surprisingly frugal Ö for a huge petrol donk, that is. But with the recent release of the RAM 1500 Laramie V6 EcoDiesel to the Australian market, you can now have your big slice of American pie and eat it too.
Sure, some of the charm of driving around in a Ram 1500 is the fact it has a stonking great V8 under the Ďhoodí that pumps out a more-than-handy 291kW (395hp in the old language), but for those who can live without that top-end poke and the sweet V8 soundtrack, the new 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is a more-than-worthy Ram powerplant.
POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
THE ECODISEL is essentially the same VM Motori 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine that powers other FCA product including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the obvious benefit in choosing the oiler over the petrol V8 is the formerís better fuel economy, which brings much greater touring range, no doubt attractive to those who intend to tow a large ívan and the like over long distances.
This diesel is no one-trick pony; as well as impressive fuel economy it also packs a decent punch in the torque stakes, producing a meaty 569Nm at 2000rpm. By contrast, the Hemi V8 only makes 556Nm at a considerably higher 3950rpm. Yep, for those who have heavy loads to carry and/or big trailers to haul, the EcoDiesel suddenly starts to make a lot of sense.
Like all Ram 1500s, the V6 EcoDiesel is an auto-only proposition, scoring the same eight-speed TorqueFlite transmission as the Hemi V8, with the same gear ratios. Even the final-drive ratio is the same 3.92:1 offered with the Hemi V8 for those who want a 4500kg towing capacity, but in the case of the EcoDiesel the maximum braked towing capacity is limited to the class-average 3500kg. For the record, the third option in the Ram 1500 line-up is the Hemi V8 with a taller 3.21:1 final drive ratio, and like the EcoDiesel this model has a 3500kg towing capacity.
The Ram 1500 runs a selectable on-demand full-time 4x4 system operated via small buttons on the dash below the gear-selector dial, allowing the driver to choose between 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4WD Lock and 4WD Low.
At $109,950, the Ram 1500 Laramie 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel doesnít come cheap - thatís a full $10K more than the equivalent Hemi V8 1500 Laramie - but like its petrol-powered stablemate itís packed with creature comforts and standard equipment.
The Ram 1500 Laramie is also a lot of ute for the money, measuring 5817mm long and 2017mm wide, with a long 3569mm wheelbase. And while its relatively modest 735kg payload doesnít match dual-cabs like the Ranger or Hilux, the Ramís tub is enormous at 1712mm long, 1687mm wide and a full 1295mm between the wheel arches.
ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING
CLIMB ABOARD the Ram 1500 and fire up the engine and one of the first things you notice is just how quiet it is. Thereís no diesel clatter at idle and even a blip on the throttle results in a muffled response. Thereís no doubt about it: the V6 oiler is one of the smoothest turbo-diesel engines around, and the Ram adds to this feeling of refinement thanks to an abundance of sound-deadening material that ensures the cabin is whisper quiet, even at freeway speeds. Sure, thereís a hint of wind noise around the mirrors, but itís nothing too intrusive, and road noise is also well-suppressed.