“RAM has seen huge sales growth over the last few years due to constant improvements instead of waiting years to update its rigs.”

The full size truck market is big business for automakers and a big deal for the businesses and people who depend on them.

For almost five decades, the Ford F-150 has been the best selling truck, with little chance they will squander that crown soon. In fact, Ford finished 2014 with over 126,000 F-Series sold and that sets a new record.

RAM was the second best-selling vehicle with more than 88,000 sold.

What has been happening, over the last few years, is a strong shift from General Motors to RAM in terms of establishing the second best-selling truck brand. The rise in RAM popularity traces back to a few key changes over the last several years, from muscular styling to class-leading interiors, a refined ride, plus engine and transmission advancements. New for the RAM line is a V6 turbocharged diesel in the 1500 or half-ton segment.

Read: ‘The Toyota Tundra: Tugging at the Tails of Top-Selling Brand Trucks‘ by Zack Spencer (Feb. 27, 2014)

Looks

What RAM has been able to do is capture buyers’ imaginations with styling. The big and bold grille is even bigger than last models but has been integrated better into the front of the truck. Depending on the trim the grille finish can be chrome, painted or with a different insert. Behind the grille are “active shutters” that close at higher speeds to help send the wind around the vehicle to improve aerodynamic efficiency. There is now a longer side step, which helps reduce buffeting down the side of the trucks, also to aid in fuel economy. One option that makes life easier to live with is the $1,500 air suspension that lowers for easier entry into the RAM or loading into the bed. This system also automatically lowers at speeds over 100 km/h reducing aerodynamic drag and, yet again, improve fuel economy. The opposite is true, at lower speeds and for off-road duties; the air suspension can be raised for better ground clearance.

Inside

Today’s modern truck is no longer just a vehicle for work; the level of refinement and luxury found in today’s rigs is something to behold. My test unit RAM 1500 LaRAMie Quad Cab 4X4 had a starting price of $51,595 but with a long list of extras from keyless entry and start, to full leather seats, power moon roof and the larger 8.4-inch uConnect screen, the total came to just over $63,000.

Not cheap, but man there is a lot of truck here.

The interior is rich-looking and feels first-rate, from the buttons to the switches and materials covering the cabin. And the room is impressive for all passengers, front and back. In addition to the optional 8.4-inch Uconnect communications and entertainment screen, there is a standard large 7-inch screen behind the steering wheel for fully customizable instant information readouts.

Drive

The biggest change for RAM includes the first diesel engine found in a light duty 1500 pickup truck. This is an Italian designed engine that has been used extensively in Europe in Jeep products like the Grand Cherokee. With 420 lb.-ft. or torque, this new “EcoDiesel” has the same output as Ford’s Ecoboost but not the same towing capacity. Rated at 9200 lbs. this truck will be perfect for buyers who want impressive fuel economy and good towing capacity; a balance of usability and thriftiness. This engine has not been rated yet for fuel economy but thanks to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission the new EcoDiesel is going to get better numbers than the already class-leading gasoline V6 RAM. Having driven both the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel and this RAM, I find the gearing and attitude of the RAM much more dynamic and actually inspiring to drive. In real world driving situations this big luxurious truck can actually return fuel economy of 10L/100km without babying the engine.

Verdict

RAM has seen huge sales growth over the last few years due to constant improvements instead of waiting years to update its rigs. It started with dynamic exterior design, followed by class leading interior, then an 8-speed automatic and now a Diesel. There is even an off-road ready RAM, just shown in Detroit; due to arrive called the Rebel. The RAM EcoDiesel has been selling very well and Chrysler claims they will put this truck up against the new aluminum F-150 for top dog in the fuel economy race. Good times to be looking for a truck.

The Lowdown

Power: 3.0L V6 turbo diesel

Fill-up: 10.6L/7.4L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price as tested: $65,195


 

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

 

 

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