DULUTH, MN – When it goes on sale in the U.S. in the fourth quarter, the ’20 Ram 1500 fullsize pickup with a new third-generation 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 designed and assembled in Italy will be priced to start at $36,890 in the 2-wheel-drive Tradesman Quad Cab.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has offered a 3.0L EcoDiesel since 2014, and that second-gen engine will remain in the market for at least a year, marketed as the Ram 1500 Classic.
But there were certain trim levels on which the diesel engine was not available. For ’20, the new third-gen EcoDiesel will be offered with every Ram 1500, including the trail-hungry Rebel.
As is the case with its competitors, the new Ram diesel engine is not cheap: a $4,995 stand-alone option, representing a $3,000 premium over the gasoline 5.7L Hemi V-8 with eTorque 48V stop/start system.
That pricing (plus $1,695 for destination and handling charges) matches the 3.0L PowerStroke diesel V-6 that has been recently available in the Ford F-150 and earned a 2019 Wards 10 Best Engines trophy.
Competitor General Motors is launching its 3.0L Duramax diesel inline 6-cyl. in the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra this summer, carrying a $3,890 premium over the Silverado’s 2.7L turbocharged gasoline 4-cyl. and a $2,495 premium over the 5.3L small-block gasoline V-8.
While it appears GM is undercutting its light-duty diesel rivals on pricing, Mike Koval, director-U.S. Ram Truck Marketing, says GM pricing starts higher because its Duramax diesel is at least initially available only on higher trim levels.
“When you order a Chevy, I believe you are also required to option up as well,” Koval says here at a media test drive of the ’20 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
“So that’s the base price for the engine, but then you have to click a couple boxes, which closes that gap,” Koval tells journalists.
FCA US does not yet have certification from the EPA and California Air Resources Board to sell the new EcoDiesel in the U.S., but company officials say they are confident certification will be secured in time for the fourth-quarter launch.
With the new 3.0L EcoDiesel, FCA US claims best-in-class torque (480 lb.-ft. [651 Nm]) and the highest towing capacity (12,560 lbs. [5,698 kg]) for half-ton fullsize diesel pickups.
But that tow rating only is achieved with an optional rear axle with lower gearing of 3.92. With the standard rear axle (3.21 gearing), the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel can tow about 10,000 lbs. (4,536 kg).
FCA’s new V-6 is designed for high towing capacity, but GM’s new Duramax 3.0L is more powerful, with 277 hp (compared to 260 hp in the new Ram).
GM also appears to be positioning its new 3.0L Duramax as the most fuel-efficient light-duty diesel on the market, rated at 23/33 mpg (10.2-7.1 L/100 km) city highway. Meanwhile, its tow rating lags the new Ram, at 9,300 lbs. (4,218 kg).
FCA US is not announcing fuel-economy numbers for the new Ram EcoDiesel until after certification is finalized.
Sales for the previous-generation Ram EcoDiesel reached a peak take-rate of 15.0% in 2015 but then trailed off to 7.7% in 2018, according to Wards Intelligence data. Now marketed as the Ram 1500 Classic, the EcoDiesel take-rate was 3.0% through March of this year.
For comparison, 2.2% of Ford F-150 buyers have opted for the 3.0L PowerStroke diesel through March, down from 4.4% in model-year ’18.
Ram’s new 60-degree 3.0L EcoDiesel, assembled at the FCA Cento facility in Ferrara, Italy, uses chain-driven dual overhead camshafts and aluminum cylinder heads.
Like the engine it replaces, the block is cast with compacted graphite iron, but the new block is 15 lbs. (6.8 kg) lighter due to thinner walls and additional ribs and buttresses to provide more rigidity.
The EcoDiesel achieves peak torque at 1,600 rpm, 400 rpm earlier than the engine it replaces. The company says 80% of the engine’s content is all new. Changes include:
- New, more-efficient water-cooled turbocharger with variable geometry that provides improved response.
- Redesigned intake ports to improve engine performance and fuel economy.
- Dual, high-pressure and low-pressure exhaust-gas recirculation system, a first for a diesel engine in North America, boosting fuel economy and lowering oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions. Also helping reduce NOx is a lower 16.0:1 compression ratio (down from 16.5:1).
- Redesigned high-pressure 2,000-bar (29,000 psi) direct-injection fuel injectors.
- Redesigned aluminum-alloy pistons with thinner piston rings and skirt coatings to reduce friction and improve fuel economy.
- Urea-based selective catalytic reduction system that is 50% larger and incorporates a new diesel oxidation catalyst to reduce NOx.
The ZF 8-speed automatic transmission carries over from the previous-generation diesel but has been recalibrated to shift earlier at lower rpm and to accommodate the additional torque.
At launch, the EcoDiesel will not be paired with FCA’s fuel-saving eTorque 48V stop/start system, but a powertrain executive says the two could be mated without technical difficulty.