Ram 1500 Laramie 3.0 EcoDiesel Crewcab Shortbox: The bulky diesel thing
When a little more is required: the new Ram Pickup is actually more than just bold and powerful. And with the new Fiat diesel engine, it acts the fuel-saver as well. We put it to the test.
A mountain of a car – alongside the Ram Pickup, a VW Amarok shies away in shame, as if it were a small car. At almost six metres line, more than two metres wide (without the mirrors of course), and boasting a radiator grille the size of a mid-European garage door.
No - no clichés of the open countryside, a lone rider etc. today. The Ram 1500 doesn't need them - it speaks for itself. But it does allow itself an introduction: the Ram 1500 Laramie 3.0 CRD EcoDiesel Crewcab Shortbox. It has, incidentally, dropped the name "Dodge" since 2009, when "Ram Trucks" was hived off as its own sub-brand.
Dodge Ram? No, just Ram
Such a long introduction is actually necessary since in its homeland, where full-size pickups are more widely sold than any vile "car", there are so many equipment variants, chassis combinations with various wheelbases, cabins, platforms and weight classes of the Ram alone that you could loose days when it comes to making a purchase decision. As a result the type designations are somewhat longer than, say, for a Golf GTI. Recently a third selection dilemma has been added, in the form of the "EcoDiesel" in the incredibly long type designation. With this, the Ram becomes more European than you would have thought: the three-litre engine comes from Fiat subsidiary VM Motori and has long been familiar to German Jeep customers from the current Grand Cherokee. The Ram comes to Germany via a subsidiary of the Canadian importer: AEC Europe GmbH in Munich is the authorised importer for Dodge and Ram, operates its own network of dealers and takes care of warranty processing and financing. So a very international story must unfold before a German customer can get the keys to his new Ram 1500. Officially, AEC is to deliver the Ram to its distributors at the end of the year, which therefore also explains our approximate price details.
After the initial "Wow, what a brute!" we move into the "good room", in which you could also park a small car. The large crew cab offers so much space on every seat that even a Mercedes S-Class will be jealous. New couples couldn't find a more inappropriate car: separated by a central console like a built-in cupboard, the passenger is just about in earshot.
It is encouraging to see that the Ram 1500 in the Laramie trim counters the risk of isolation with its exceptionally lush range of equipment. The UConnect multimedia system, known from the Fiat-Chrysler Group, offers the full range of standard modern communication possibilities, the fine leather seats can be heated and cooled, while the heated multi-function steering wheel is a blessing for those parked outside, after a long Winter night. The range of equipment corresponds roughly to Jeep's top-of-the-range Grand Cherokee Overland, which is certainly not known for its austere furnishings.Inner city travel is only possible if you have a sense of humour
Given its sheer size, one thing is clear right from the outset: those who find themselves in inner city traffic in the Ram or looking for a space in an airport multi-storey car park will need a healthy measure of composure and humour. Normal German parking spaces are wide enough if you drive carefully, but there is a lot of car overhanging the parking space markings - both front and back.
This diesel cruiser is much more at home in the wild, where it can really show what it;s made of. A drive setting is selected via a rotary switch and the ship can put out to sea. It doesn't take long for that first aha moment to arrive: the Ram Ecodiesel actually has suspension. In contrast to the vast majority of other pickups, the rear axle is supported on helical springs on the rear axle, which, in place of the occasionally clumsy efforts of the leaf spring competition, help to achieve genuine comfort The 2.8 tonnes surge calmly towards the horizon, while the V6 diesel engine works its way promptly and smoothly through the higher gears of the eight-speed automatic transmission. Excessive hustle and bustle is not only something that is foreign to the tuning of the Ram Ecodiesel, neither are heavy stomps on the accelerator particularly efficient. The diesel engine can indeed zoom the heavy brute to 100 km/h in a respectable time, but a frenzy of speed is the last thing you are after in the Ram 1500. Chassis, steering, weight – everything within it cries out, drawing your attention to the noteworthy comfort, and compelling you to enjoy a laid back journey.
It can up also up the speed a little on the motorway, bring you relaxed and rested to your destination, with a cruising speed of 140-150 km/h. At 170 the voluntary self-control of the engine control system hits a soft boundary, and the Ram then simply will not go any quicker.
Ram EcoDiesel - the name says it all
In all of this, the biggest surprise is the view of the fuel gauge. For in the Ram, it goes down suspiciously slowly, barely perceptible. In actual fact it doesn't pose any problems to drive the bulky thing a distance of 100 kilometres with a consumption of under ten litres. The standard petrol station question that owners of US cars have had to live with decades, delivered with a tone of smug pity - "So how much fuel does that get through?“- can thus be answered with a smile. The Ram Ecodiesel doesn't even begin to guzzle fuel obscenely when driven really quickly on the motorway. It doesn't even make its way through more than 15 litres per 100 km when driven really raucously.
When used as a workhorse, the big cuddly animal shows an alternative side: in order to pull trailers weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, you can't imagine anything better this side of a full-blown lorry. Given the huge dimensions, there is something rather surprising: the 5.7" platform used for the crew cab isn't much longer than that of a Japanese midsize pickup – the price paid for the ballroom that the cabin offers the passengers. Nevertheless, in terms of width it offers genuine added value over the Hilux and others of its kind.
On the other hand, in the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel, the matter of off-road driving quickly addressed: a 3.6-metre wheelbase in conjunction with low foot boards prevent any grand ambitions, with the huge brute becoming grounded even on harmless bumps. Those who want more will have to invest in a raised chassis and much larger tyres in order to significantly increase the ground clearance and most of all the ramp angle. However, things then get a bit more challenging and the Ram mutates into an armoured recovery vehicle. The Ram Ecodiesel also has the technical requirements for this (short gear reduction, acceptable articulation thanks to helical springs) covered as standard. And a remarkably generous selection of drive options: the automatic all-wheel drive can be switched off in favour of rear-wheel drive, and in addition, the all-wheel drive can be centrally locked in the street setting, while with off-road articulation activated (all of this is controlled at the touch of a button) the drive is always fixed.Conclusion:
It is big, heavy and expensive. And it is extremely comfortable, surprisingly efficient and finely furnished. While fans have previously had to satisfy their fullsize pickup craving with fuel-guzzling petrol engines, the Ram EcoDiesel focuses on a different set of values. No V8 rumble, but no tears at the petrol station either. However, those who, in addition to carrying loads and pulling trailers, also want to drive off-road, must invest in some conversions.
Date31 July 2015