Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Z_CNHI News Service

September 30, 2013

Ram 1500 breaks new ground as first light-duty truck with diesel engine

(Continued)

WESTLAKE, Calif. —

Ram also brought some gasoline trucks to compare it to, and more than once I had to double-check to be sure I was in the diesel version. I just couldn't tell from the sound.

One of the biggest question marks about this truck — and one of the best reasons to buy it, too — is the gas mileage it's going to get. The official government ratings haven't been announced yet, but the folks at Ram swear it's going to be "class-leading" whenever the numbers come out.

That means it should get better fuel economy than the V6 gasoline trucks that are on the market right now, with the added benefit of greater towing capacity. It's rated to tow up to 9,200 pounds, which is approaching the figure you would expect from a big, thirsty, V8 gas engine.

The price premium for the EcoDiesel is also reasonable. It's just $2,850 more than a similarly equipped Ram with a HEMI V8 engine, a price that's low enough to pay for itself in fuel cost savings over time. And given the historically higher resale value of diesel trucks, it could turn out to be an even smarter decision down the road.

Aside from the coolness of the new diesel, I like what this move says about the Ram brand as a whole. This is a company that's been breaking new ground in the pickup market and rolling out innovations before other trucks, like their diesel engine brakes in heavy-duty models and their big-rig styling in the 1990s.

Being the first to put a diesel engine in a light-duty chassis is just another step in that process. It's a smart move on Ram's part because I suspect there's a large, untapped market of people who want to drive a diesel truck but don't want to deal with the drawbacks and expense of a heavy-duty model.

It's been a long wait, but those people finally have their truck.

Derek Price is an independent automotive columnist. Reach him at carcolumn@gmail.com.

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