2014 Ram 1500
(Chrysler Group)

Diesel engine options have long been a mainstay for heavy-duty pickup trucks, but until now, diesel power has never been offered in the half-ton truck segment. That changes with the 2014 Ram 1500. Chrysler Group announced last week details for the EcoDiesel engine option for the Ram 1500.

Chrysler Group hasn’t given any specific fuel economy estimates yet, but it expects the Ram 1500 with the EcoDiesel to be more fuel-efficient than any gasoline V6-powered half-ton pickup truck available. The most fuel-efficient non-hybrid full-size pickup truck currently on the market is the Ram 1500 equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic, which is rated at an EPA-estimated 17/25 mpg city/highway. With the diesel engine, Pickuptrucks.com predicts that fuel economy estimates will be about 23 mpg city and less than 30 mpg highway.

Chrysler Group says the EcoDiesel engine option is a 3.0-liter V6 rated at 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, which is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine is also available on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

Autoblog expects an EcoDiesel-powered Ram 1500 to be able to tow as much as a Hemi V8-powered model, “while returning significantly better fuel mileage.” A Hemi-equipped Ram 1500 can tow up to 10,450 pounds.

With the projections for towing capacity and fuel economy, an EcoDiesel Ram 1500 should be able to match the towing capacity of the strongest Ram 1500 and meet, if not exceed, the fuel economy estimates of the gasoline V6-powered Ram 1500. Given the added cost of diesel fuel over gasoline, owners may not save much money at the pump, but the increased fuel economy should allow for more miles between refueling stops. Given a 26-gallon fuel tank and estimating 29 mpg highway, a diesel-powered Ram 1500 could travel more than 750 miles on a full tank. Using the same tank size with the gasoline V6’s 25 mpg highway estimate, the maximum range of that Ram 1500 would be about 650 miles.

The new diesel engine option costs $2,850 more than a similarly-equipped Hemi V8-powered model, according to Chrysler Group. Given this pricing information, Car and Driver expects that a diesel-powered Ram 1500 will likely start at about $30,000.

Chrysler Group says the base 2014 Ram 1500 will start at $24,200 before destination. A Ram Truck representative said it will hit dealerships late this year or early in 2014.

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