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2020 Ram 1500 diesel delivers
whisper-quiet power and classleading towing
By Mark Phelan
Detroit Free Press

DULUTH, Minn. _ Fiat Chrysler wins the latest
round of the Truck Wars as an all-new diesel
engine lifts the towing capacity of its 2020
Ram 1500 pickup well beyond the diesel Ford
F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC
Sierra 1500.
The whisper-quiet 3.0L diesel also generates
more torque _ the force most important for
towing _ than those key competitors. The
third-generation 3.0L Ecodiesel V-6 goes on
sale in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The engine will be available in all 2020 Ram
1500 models, from the $36,890 Tradesman
to the luxurious $60K-plus Laramie Longhorn.
Detailed pricing and fuel economy figures will
be available closer to when the new diesel
goes on sale.
I spent a day driving the new diesel Ram
through northern Minnesota’s Iron Range,
including some off-roading and modest towing.
More power from an all-new V-6
The 2020 Ram 1500 diesel can tow 12,560
pounds. That compares to 10,400 for the
F-150 diesel and 9,300 for the Silverado 1500
and GMC 1500. Diesels have been popular
in automakers’ bigger medium-duty pickups,
like the Ram 2500 and 3500, for decades,
but they’re relatively new in 1500s, which are
also called half-ton pickups, even though they
all haul more than that. The term “half-ton”
dates back to when pickups were less capable
than they are today and could only carry about
1,000 pounds in their cab and bed.
The 2020 Ram 1500 diesel can haul up to
2,300 pounds in its cab and bed, in addition to
its towing capacity.
Buyers liked the first Ram 1500 diesel, so
Ford followed suit with its own 3.0L V-6. Chevy
and GMC joined the party this year, as Ram is
introducing the third generation of its engine.

Truck drivers love diesels because
they’re more fuel efficient than
a gasoline engine with the same
towing capacity.
Ram jumped on the diesel
bandwagon early and hard in
2013. Fiat is one of Europe’s
leaders in the technology. It
pioneered the technologies that
made diesel engines hugely
popular in Europe. Fiat Chrysler
largely escaped the scandal that
crippled German automakers’
diesel sales.
A full 80% of the Ram diesel’s
parts are new, including its block,
valvetrain and head _ most of what you see
when you open the hood. Unlike the Ram’s
gasoline engines, the diesel doesn’t have Fiat
Chrysler’s 48-volt eTorque mild hybrid system.
The new block contributes to quiet operation.
Diesels used to be plagued by rattles and
smoky exhaust, but you might walk by
an idling Ram and not realize there was
anything unusual about the engine. The quiet
operation owes to a host of engineering
changes, including making the block _ which
is essentially the engine’s body _ out of a
very stiff material called compacted graphite
iron. Despite all that, I suspect the Chevrolet
Silverado’s new 3.0L inline six-cylinder diesel
would be smoother and quieter than the Ram
in a side-by-side test.
The engine is the same size, but almost
entirely different from the 3.0L V-6 diesel Ram
sells in its older Classic model. That engine
will disappear whenever Ram stops selling the
old version of its pickup.
A very comfortable ride
The Ram I tested was loaded with comfort
and convenience features, including an air
suspension that delivered one of the most
comfortable rides I’ve ever had in a pickup.

The suspension adjusted for off-roading and
highway driving, too.
The engine is smooth and quiet. The big
pickup accelerated smoothly, thanks in part
to diesel-oriented changes to the eight-speed
transmission’s shift points.
The Ram’s been a hit since the current
generation debuted as a 2019 model, and
nothing about the 2020 is likely to change
that. The interior features distressed wood,
Western-style filigree metal and perforated
leather seats.
The Ram made easy work of a short but
demanding off-road course. Its low-range gear
allows for easy driving at higher speeds than
most pickups in serious off-road mode thanks
to the diesel’s strong torque output.
Ram provided a 5,150-pound trailer. That’s
not enough to truly test a vehicle that can
tow more than twice that, but the Ram pulled
fine up and down mild hills and up to 65 mph.
Acceleration was OK, and the pickup’s brakes
and steering were good enough that it was
easy to forget I had a trailer with a pair of ATVs
behind me.
The diesel Ram Laramie 4x4 crew cab I
tested stickered at $68,000. That includes
Ram’s useful optional multifunction tailgate.

It can open down, like all pickup tailgates, or
from the sides, with a 60/40 split.
___

2020 Ram 1500 Laramie 4x4 crew
cab at a glance
Price as tested: $68,000 (excluding destination
charges)
Full-size pickup
Seats five
Four-wheel drive
Built in Sterling Heights
3.0L diesel V-6 with 260 horsepower and 480
pound-feet of torque
EPA fuel economy rating: TBD.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 144.6 inches
Length: 232.9 inches
Width: 82.1 inches
Height: 77.6 inches

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