RAM 1500 Ecodiesel
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Ram offers the most attractive and clever touches in the light-duty class, and the most options under the hood as well.

Chrysler’s 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8 is joined by 3.0-liter “EcoDiesel” V6; eight-speed automatic transmission and other countermeasures help Ram reduce fuel consumption to respectable levels.

Who would have guessed that the macho Ram 1500 would ever trumpet its fuel performance? That was partially addressed when Chrysler’s ever-popular 3.6-liter V6 found its way into the engine bay. With 305 horsepower and 18 mpg in the city and 25 highway, it was a sweet combination. Its eight-speed automatic transmission also helped and it can now also be attached to the 395-horsepower 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8. The big engine can shut down four of its eight cylinders when not needed, such as at under light-load conditions or when heading downhill. The most unique engine is the optional 3.0-liter “EcoDiesel” V6, which makes the Ram 1500 the only light-duty diesel pickup in North America. Using the same figures as for the Jeep Grand Cherokee — 240 horsepower and 420 pound feet of torque — with the eight-speed automatic, it can tow 9,200 pounds. The regular V6 can tug 7,450 pounds. Rams get further fuel-reduction assistance with stop-start technology that turns off the engine at rest, then instantly fires it up again once the brake pedal is released. Electric power steering cuts parasitic power losses. Optional is an air suspension with load leveling and five height settings, one of which lowers the body at highway speeds by 0.6 inches to cut the wind a bit better. Finally, a “thermal management system” is designed to quickly get the Ram’s crankcase oil and other fluids up to operational temperatures, which assists in conserving gas. As for body styles, regular-cab models are available with a six-foot, four-inch box, or an eight-footer, while Quad Cabs get the shorter box only. The larger four-door Ram Crew gets you a 5’7″ bed, or the six-foot, four-inch bed option. There are also available locking storage compartments built into the rear fenders that can each hold up to 120 12-ounce cans that can be specified with centrally controlled power locks. When it comes to four-wheel-drive, buyers can choose between a part-time system and an on-demand setup that automatically engages when road conditions warrant. Other neat touches for include a capless fuel-filler system and a front-park assist that’ll parallel park the “Beast” into incredibly tight spots.