By Drew Singer
Whatever you call Chrysler Canada’s 2014 truck, just do not call it the Dodge Ram.
Ever since Chrysler dropped the Dodge prefix in favour of just Ram in late 2009, the truck lineup has existed devoid of any Dodge badges as its own sub-brand in the wheelhouse of Chrysler Canada.
However, as part of Ram’s new portrait style massive, exterior badge scheme, Canadian Ram owners will find a different badge emblazoned on the sides of their trucks–the word liter, not litre.
Badge politics aside, Chrysler says the 2014 Ram lineup has emerged a “larger and more powerful beast,” ready to bloody its knuckles and grab market share from the reigning, perennial champ in the blue and white corner – Ford F-150.
For 2014, the automaker says its Ram lineup now offers more options for premium, up-market buyers. Ram 1500 offers a new range-topping trim level called Laramie Limited that begins at $47,690 (in 4X2 Crew Cab trim) and usurps the previous family patriarch, Laramie Longhorn, by $2,995.
In addition, Chrysler has also added a new 6.4L HEMI V8 engine option to its Heavy-Duty Ram lineup (it shares 73 per cent of its parts with the standard 5.7 L HEMI).
“We wanted to do something on top of the Longhorn, a little bit less Western in cues and really play up the premium, street truck look,” said Ed Broadbear, V-P of marketing Chrysler Canada.
Chrysler has also doubled down and introduced another engine – a small displacement diesel engine available on Ram 1500 – called EcoDiesel.
The engine is a 60-degree single-turbo DOHC V6 producing 240 hp at 3,600 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm provided by Italian diesel manufacturer VM Motori.
Combined with Chrysler’s TorqueFlite 8 eight-speed transmission, also available on 3.6L Pentastar V6 and 5.7L HEMI V8 models, the brand claims EcoDiesel delivers a best-in-class combination of torque and fuel-efficiency.
As it stands, EcoDiesel is the only diesel engine available in Canada’s light-duty truck segment.
Jason Francis, senior manager of product planning for Chrysler Canada, said EcoDiesel was the culmination of robust heavy-duty diesel sales and Canada’s strong appetite for the energy-rich fuel.
“Diesel is very widely accepted in the Canadian marketplace. Ram is very successful on the diesel side of the house for heavy duty,” said Francis.
“We are the number 1 selling diesel pickup truck in Canada.”
He added that in the company’s market research, 35 per cent of light duty pickup truck intender’s indicated they would be interested in a diesel. On top of this, Francis said the natural attributes of diesel provide the brand with tremendous opportunity in two areas: towing capability and fuel economy.
Unsurprisingly, 4×4 capability is the top reason for a light duty pickup purchase, according to the automaker. And, with up to 9,200 lbs of towing capacity, EcoDiesel edges out the 3.6 L Pentastar powertrain (with up to 7,450 lbs) by 1,750 lbs and even gives 5.7 L HEMI drivers something to worry about, coming up only 1,250 lbs shy of its 10,450 lbs towing capability.
While final EcoDiesel fuel figures were unavailable at press time, the automaker promises the new powertrain will surpass the 7.8 L/100 km (36 mpg) established by the 3.6 L Pentastar V6.
Whether Canadians will be enticed by increased fuel economy numbers, tow ratings, and ultra-low sulfur diesel – or skip out because they have to top up a urea (behind the fuel door) tank every 16,000 kilometres and add $9,400 to the price tag of a base Ram– remains unknown until the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel edition arrives on Canadian dealer lots in the first quarter of 2014.