FOOD FOR GRUNT: A breakfast of oats is good for a horse, but for more grunt alfalfa offers extra carb energy. Feeding a internal combustion work engine diesel provides 15% energy density than similar meal of gasoline. Thus, when it comes to heavy duty work trucks large displacement diesel engines outsell their gasoline powered counterparts by a margin of 3 to 1. It is not so where light work and recreational pick up trucks are concerned, however that is about to change.
FOR THE LONG HAUL: The day may come when high torque electrification can affordably yield 1000 miles of highway range in light work trucks. Until then new turbocharging, high pressure fuel injection and clean diesel technologies bestowed on “smaller” displacement powerplants hope to invert the half ton gas to diesel sales ratio. In fact, model year 2020 marks the first time each of the Big Three offers a turbo diesel option in their 1500 series pickups.
HALF TON BIGHORN OIL BURNER: FCA (soon to be Stellantis) launched a smash hit redesigned RAM pickup truck in North America for model year 2019. From the get-go a 48 V light hybrid eTorque assist has been available on gasoline engines. However this year marks the return of gobs of low end torque in a RAM pickup. Roadblazing.com editors had the privilege of donning plastic gloves to pump from a grimy gas pump into a 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4×4 Eco Diesel.
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WHAT: 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4 EcoDiesel. One year ago the 5th generation of [formerly known as Dodge] RAM pickup truck was unveiled to the North American market with a designation code of DT, replacing the
Standard Powertrain: 3rd generation VM Motori L630 intercooled turbocharged 3.0L 24V DOHC compacted graphite block Tier 2, BIN 3 EcoDiesel V-6, with liquid intercooled Honeywell 2056 variable geometry turbocharger, NOx exhaust particulate filtration and urea injection after-treatment + 8-speed torque converter planetary automatic transmission + 2-speed part time electronic transfer case 4-wheel drive to an open front & E-limited slip rear differentials.
- 260 horsepower, 480 lb-ft torque @ = +20 hp, +60 lb-ft vs. Gen. 2 L 630 EcoDiesel
- vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 3.0 I-6 TDi = -17 hp, +2- lb-ft; vs. Ford F-150 3.0 V-6 TDi = +10 hp, + 40 lb-ft
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The “Big Rig” engine forward, low slung fenders with low mount headlatmps and tall cross haired grille began with a 3rd generation Dodge Ram DR series, muscularized for the 4th generation DS series Ram. A new 5th generation RAM 1500 pickup adopts a more “aero” approach with taller fenders and headlights positioned on the flanks of a no longer crosshaired multi horizonatal slat upper grille.
- “RAM REBEL” theme = darkened grille w/ dark lattice inserts; Dark plastic simulated hood vents; darkened bumper covers & lower fascia; Exposed front lower skid plate; Darkened window frames & mirror caps; Two-toned darkened lower body; Larger dark wheel arch cladding; Two-tone alloy wheels; All terrain tires; Left rear tailgate “REBEL” emblem.
WHY: Small displacement, big torque diesel power rejoins this revised, ultra-civilized civilian pickup truck
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Spring 2020
WHERE: RAM new truck dealers
WHERE MADE: Sterling Heights, Michigan, U.S.A.
WHERE TO: High four-wheel drive on the fly is but a twist of the electronic two-speed helical gear transfer case selector knob. Where improved roadway ends, the air-suspension provides about an inch greater wheel articulation while light truck knobby Goodyears grab the dirt.
- -1 No driver selectable automatic terrain modes
HOW STRONG: A paradigm of automatic gear-swap confidence the ZF 8-speed transmission doesn’t concern itself with sub 2000 rpm suburban or highway cruising. The Honeywell turbocharger’s variable geometry vanes spool up attentively to throttle demand. Even at slower crank rotation the compacted graphite block DOHC oil burning V-6 transmits barely any idling clatter to a calming crew cab cabin.
HOW LIMBER: Optional air springs at each corner stand in for standard coils relaxing the ride without the typical debilitating bobbing, and can be set to lower the RAM 1500 Rebel’s height. Combined with active grille shutters this drag reduction helps slow the fuel sipping. Even equipped with tall sidewall all-terrain rubber steering turn-in witnesses and improvement over old and helm winding effort wouldn’t be out of place in a large SUV. Single piston sliding brake disc calipers offer progressive reaction.
HOW FAR: 24 mpg combined fuel economy = 20% > gas Super Duty 2500s; = 20% > RAM 1500 Eco standard duty gas V8 powered half-ton out there. 957 miles highway range with optional 33 gallon clean diesel tank.
- vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 3.0 I-6 TDi = +4% mpg; vs. Ford F-150 3.0 V-6 TDi = + 9% mpg
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ Almost as large as boats it will tow; √ Holds five big grown-ups wearing their Carharrt and steel toed Timberlands;
HOW USEFUL: √ Power sliding backlight window; √ Box J-Channel sliding cleats; √ Crinkle finish sprayed-in bed liner; √ Wide full cab length running boards; √ Folding extendable tow, lower convex wing mirrors; √ Easy action tailgate hinges; √ White LED overhead bed & under-rail lights ; √ 60:40 split 2nd Row bench w/ fold-up cushions, fold-down backs; √ 2nd Row sub-bench dual locking bins; √ RAM box 1 x 115V, 400W outlet; √ 1st Row full fore center console deep storage management & saddle pockets; √ 1st & 2nd Row door pocket management. OPTIONAL: ♦ Locking bed cargo divider; ♦ Folding bed tonneau
+1 Available & Especially Useful:
- RAM Box bed saddle storage w/ remote locking
- Dual function fold-down & split swing-out doors tailgate
- RAM 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel: √ Tow Rating (at tongue) = 9750 lbs. (12,560 lbs. max. non Rebel trim) ; √ Payload Rating = 1720 lbs. (2300 lbs. max non Rebel trim)
- vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 3.0 I-6 TDi = + 3260 lbs.; vs. Ford F-150 3.0 V-6 TDi = + 1060 lbs.
HOW SAFE: STANDARD: IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; √ 10 airbags; √ Rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Audible front & rear park warning; √ Roll mitigation; √ Post collision S.O.S. alert; -1 “Moderate” IIHS small front overlap impact score
AVAILABLE (included in test vehicle)
- ♦ Blind Spot, rear cross traffic warning; ♦ Adaptive cruise control; ♦ Forward collision avoidance braking; ♦ Lane departure warning, audible w/ slight tug. Front & rear sonar audible/ visible park warning with emergency braking.
HOW FRIENDLY: Over the foot plus threshold to enter and the white “REBEL” embossed front seat inboard torso cushions, the RAM Rebel’s cabin is a coexistence of pleasant shapes and useful gear. Ample smoked metallic bezels surround climate vents, audio speaker covers and switch groupings with an upscale feel. The metallic banded twin analog ELD gauges, steering wheel and tandem white contrast stitching throughout are classy pieces. So are the jewel finished lower center stack trailer / bed toggles. Connectivity and storage are situated for accessibility. The glam focal point is a glossy, foot diagonally long, portrait oriented embedded touch LCD media screen.
√ Leather seats, heated front, driver: 8-way power w/ 2 setting memory, front pax: 4-way power; Power folding side mirrors; √ 4 Pillar grab handles; √ Dual analog gauge cluster flanking colorized multi-function LCD display; √ Heated power tilt/ telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel w/ horizontal spoke ventral side MFI & driver assist controls & dorsal side audio switches; √ 4-zone auto climate control; √ Tandem contrast stitched soft-touch upper dash-top & door elbow panels; √ Panorama moonroof, power sliding front pane.
- +1 Well insulated cabin filters out much diesel clatter;
- +1/-1 Rotary dash mount transmission position selector = saves space, awkward vs. traditional center console lever
- +1 Work related controls work glove handed operational
- -1 Hard dark large grain plastics dominate below the belt
HOW CONNECTED: √ UConnect 4.0 center dash embedded 12.0″-inch portrait oriented, capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen; √ Bluetooth & voice command hands-free communications; √ GPS HDD Navigation w/ 3-D map, voice guidance; √ voice to text SMS messaging; √ USB-A x 4, USB-C x 4, 12V x 2 (dashtop, cargo), 115V AC x 2 (1st, 2nd Rows)
+1 Concealed forward center console wireless device storage; Qi inductive device charging pocket aft of center armrest.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE:
√ Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone projection; √ 19-speaker, 825 watt Harman Kardon audio booms the bass; √ UConnect Apps
- +1 Extensive UConnect voice commands for climate, audio, voice to text SMS and navigation inputs
By Subscription: √ Sirius XM Traffic, Metro Weather radio & TravelLink apps (5 yrs. included); √ Wi-Fi hot spot (by Verizon Wireless)
HOW MUCH: $70,880 for a 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4 EcoDiesel: -1 Just $5 shy of $5000 for the EcoDiesel option.
WHAT’S MISSING: 2021 model year’s UConnect 5.0; heated rear seats; Tow rating of non-Rebel RAM 1500 EcoDiesels.
ANY COMPETITION: Chevrolet Silverado 3.0 TDi: +1 Quicker; Ford F-150 3.0 TDi: +1 Nifty auto trailer back up.
FINAL SAY-SO: Diesel might be out with cars but is definitely in with light duty pick-ups. Explain why the F-150 outsells this??
(Contributing Editor: T. Paluch)