What test car is Garry bringing us this week?
We literally have no clue what he’s bringing us until it lands in our driveway, but who are we to doubt Garry Sowerby, who has a bazillion Guinness records for around-the-world driving? That’s a bazillion more than we have, after all. Come along and find out as we drive ’em, dirty ’em and shoot ’em with our phone cams. These are real-life, no-glam reviews.
DIRT ON GARRY
He actually owns the last Checker cab ever built. It’s a green and white 1982 model powered by propane.
By JEFF MELNYCHUK
When Garry rolls up in the Ram EcoDiesel, I’m unprepared for the one-man band of visual effects.
Chrome trim, silver trim, big chrome wheels, big white letters on the tires, giant “Ram 1500” logo, chrome running boards and twinkling LED heads.
I fully expect Garry to be wearing a big white hat with a feather bobbing around. Sadly, he’s not and we take an unusually silent walk around the new Ram.
“I just want to tell it to relax.”
Indeed the Ram has not learned the art of subtlety – LIKE TYPING THIS STORY IN ALL-CAPS – but the biggest gimmick is not as a gimmicky as the name implies.
“EcoDiesel” is a stretch – a big stretch – here. After all, how can a 6,000-pound truck be “Eco” anything? It can’t, of course, but that’s the image the marketing types are trying to get across. But you are not – let me repeat, not – considered a tree-hugger/greenie/saviour of Mother Earth by driving this truck. You will not be wearing a hemp shirt, sandals, paper pants or living off the land.
What you will be doing is towing heavy stuff (up to 4,200 kilograms) and pulling down some very decent fuel-economy numbers (we averaged about 8.5 l/100). But Eco? No.
This truck is, however, unique among its peers since it’s the only full-size light-duty pickup to be offered with a diesel powerplant. The bar has been set, so Chevy, Ford and GMC will likely have to follow suit. Oh, and they should definitely follow suit, because aside from the name and the overdose of trim, I absolutely love this truck.
The diesel, with or without the “Eco” attached to it, is awesome. It’s rated at a puny 240 horsepower, but it makes 420 pound-feet of torque, way down low in the rev range, which means when you step on the pedal, it goes. The knob that controls the eight-speed automatic transmission is also awesome. No more jutting handle to change gears. With eight forward gears, the diesel is nestled right in its ideal power range all the time. The “saddle bags” (called the “Ram Box”) are awesome, too. You can fill the left and right sides with ice and what appears to be about a 10,000 cans of beer, and then retire to the lake for a year to drink them all. The box divider/gate is also awesome. It keeps stuff from sliding from one end to the other. Carrying a lawnmower? You just use the divider to trap it at the front or back of the box.
What’s missing? The tailgate needs a slow release since it just flops in your lap when you unlatch it, and the Ram needs the bumper step that’s found on the Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, otherwise getting in and out of the bed is best left to wiry youngsters with strong backs and knees.
What the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel doesn’t need, aside from the “Eco” name? More trim. Clean that up and you can call it anything you like.
(You can follow Garry on Twitter: @DrivenMind99)
OK, CAN WE CHAT?
WOW: Four-door diesel would make a great family hauler; good on fuel; flexible box layout and storage bins; drives like a car; hauls like it has a V8, up to 4,200 kilograms.
HMMM: Has yet to learn the fine art of subtlety; Quit with the “Eco” thing. It’s worn out and just . . . incorrect; diesel starts in the $42,000 range.
Jeff Melnychuk is Wheelbase Media’s managing editor. He can be reached on the Web at www.wheelbasemedia.com by clicking the contact link. Wheelbase supplies automotive news and features to newspapers across North America.