2014 was the first year we got to see a diesel in a half-ton pickup in the U.S. via the EcoDiesel Ram. 2016 will be the year we get to see Nissan and GM step up to the plate. We showed you a Colorado last month (check it out on Dieselworldmag.com if you missed it) and we’re driving a 5.0L Cummins Nissan right now. You’ll be able to see that review in the next issue.
These small diesels entering the market are a really good thing for diesel enthusiasts. It shows that America is starting to love diesel as a whole. And after VW’s debacle, diesel needs all the good PR it can get. Needless to say, smaller diesels are on my mind now more than ever. Last month, while Diesel World contributor Aaron Gold was driving the Duramax-powered Colorado, I was driving an EcoDiesel Ram. Most press vehicles nowadays are only available for a few days (making testing feel more like taking a rental car on a spirited drive) but thanks to FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) I was able to test one for a good two weeks allowing me to really make that truck mine.
I like to do things differently. So, I ignored all the industry testing norms (no standardized tow testing, skid pad tests or hyper mileage testing – that’s all available from the OEMs anyway) and just drove the Ram as I normally would. After all, that’s what a true test should be about, right? How the truck works in the real world? I did the normal commute during the week, hauled firewood with it, towed the boat, ate inside it and threw my trash in the back seat. I definitely didn’t treat it like a vehicle that was still owned and maintained by one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world. Before giving it back, I even took it up a few fire trails and crawled around in a few dried up California riverbeds just to see how the 4×4 worked and how it rode in the rough stuff. The air suspension rode great in the dirt—so nice I just kept going on the trail from one mountain peak to another until the road sorta disappeared, and that’s probably where I should have stopped. But, I crossed the line and pushed a vehicle that wasn’t mine just a little too far. Long story short, I didn’t break anything (at least not that I’m going to talk about publicly) but I did spend the next day buffing the scratches off the paint.
In the end, it really was a great truck, and while I’m used to a much bigger and older truck with an engine more than twice the size, which I love driving, I really hated giving the Ram back. The adjustable air ride suspension was a ton of fun to play with and was extremely useful in the dirt; mileage was a pleasant surprise (for my wallet) at 21 mpg; at highway speeds, it was so quiet inside (in comparison to my 7.3L) that I could actually take calls and converse without yelling. What I can’t wait for though is getting a chance to play with one that’s been hopped up.