Ram gets hot new diesel, out-torquing other Class 1 pickups
Ram was first to have a diesel engine in a modern Class 1 (half-ton) pickup truck; others worked quickly to catch up, but all the while, VM engineers were working on upgrades to their 3-liter V6 engine.
The wait was worthwhile: the Ram 1500 diesel, with 480 pound-feet of torque on tap, beats any other truck in the class in torque, and is rated to tow up to 12,560 pounds, depending on equipment. The Ram boffins also claim top fuel economy, which was one of the benefits of the last VM-powered not-Dodge-any-more pickups.
The diesel will be exclusively available in Michigan-built Ram pickups, and will be sold in all versions of the truck, including the formerly gasoline-only Ram Rebel off-roader.
The 2020 Ram 1500’s diesel hits peak torque 400 rpm earlier (at 1,600 rpm), and horsepower jumped up by 8%, hitting 260 @ 3,600 rpm. The power came from quite a few places, including a new, more responsive and efficient, and water-cooled turbocharger; redesigned higher-swirl, higher-flow intake ports; a dual-loop EGR system with high and low pressures; increased compression (from 16.0 to 16.5); redesigned fuel injectors; pistons with thinner rings and lower-friction coatings for less internal resistance; and a dual vacuum pump system with less friction. The EGR system now has an added low-pressure circulation system which draws gases in after the diesel particulate filter, reducing turbocharger energy losses.
VM also went after noise by offsetting the piston pin by 0.3 millimeters from the centerline, and using a new material for the lower part of the oil sump.
The original VM diesel used in the Ram pickups, dubbed “EcoDiesel,” was on the Wards 10 Best Engines list for 2014, 2015, and 2016. The chain-driven dual overhead cam has four valves per cylinder and a compacted graphite iron block and bedplate; the crank and rods are forged steel. The aluminum-alloy pistons are cooled via oil jets. It is made by VM (which is owned by FCA) in Ferrara, Italy. VM diesel engines used in Ram pickups have a five year or 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
If you want the old VM diesel, it’s still available in the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, and lives in Farmingdale, New York.