Our truck also possessed four-point automatic air suspension — another Ram Trucks exclusive. It leveled the load and steadied the pickup as we traversed washboard dirt roads, maneuvered through sharp cutbacks in the mountains and brushed past big blustery semi-trucks on the freeway while towing.
I had half-expected a somewhat squirrelly ride with a tendency for the rear suspension to wag while towing. Instead, what I found was one of the most stable half-ton trucks with which I have had the pleasure to trailer a boat.
We were even more pleased to see the fuel economy while towing — 13.3 mpg. And that was on some of the most arduous terrain over which you can tow a boat.
The EcoDiesel displayed a peppy side when not towing, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in eight seconds. While it bogs a bit when you stomp on it, midrange acceleration is impressive. Scores of dizzying hairpin turns along the mountain roads gave us a chance to test the cornering ability at speed. For a truck, the Ram 1500 displays surprising agility, and it accelerates well out of a sharp turn, as long as you keep rpm up. That means downshifting into the corners.
After running the diesel hard over mountain passes, freeways and farm roads, nontowing fuel economy proved to be a startlingly good 20.1 mpg. This diesel is also quiet, not a whole lot louder than a gas engine, though the distinctive rattle lets everyone know you’ve arrived.
When it comes to engineering a truck, Ram seems to set its own course. This brand was the first to equip its half-tons with rear-axle coil suspension, the first to offer four-corner automatic air suspension, and the first to offer an eight-speed automatic tranny. Now Ram is the only brand to offer a diesel in a half-ton. That’s a brave bet — one that I hope other truck builders quickly match.
1. Matching TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission keeps the EcoDiesel in its power band.
2. Optional four-corner air suspension helps level the load while towing.
3. Diesel-equipped Ram 1500 recorded 13.3 mpg towing, 20.1 mpg when not towing.
4. Zero-to-60 mph: eight seconds (not towing)