2014 Ram 1500 diesel: Truck fans ‘have been emphatically asking for it’

Fit it with a glass slipper and you might mistake today’s diesel engine for Cinderella. Formerly persona non grata in the U.S. when it comes to light-duty vehicles, the modern clean diesel is suddenly belle of the ball.

To wit: Chevy is introducing a diesel option in its 2014 Cruze compact sedan; Mazda later this year will offer a diesel in its all-new Mazda6 midsize sedan; Jeep plans a diesel choice for its 2014 Grand Cherokee; and, of course, the Germans – Audi to Volkswagen – have been believers forever.

Modern half-ton pickups, however, have resisted diesel – until now.

The 2014 Ram 1500 this fall will become the first modern-era half-ton to make available diesel power.

The decision to offer this class-exclusive technology wasn’t a difficult one, said Fred Diaz, president of Ram Truck: “Truck owners have been emphatically asking for it.”

The 3.0-liter V-6 turbo diesel that will power Ram 1500 is a variant of the engine that will be available in Grand Cherokee later this year. But, no, Ram fans, it isn’t a Cummins. This diesel is manufactured by VM Motori of Cento, Italy, a company half owned by Chrysler Group’s parent, Fiat.

In Grand Cherokee, that engine makes 240 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, but its Ram specs, which won’t be revealed until summer, will be different, said spokesman Nick Cappa.

Whatever its power, the diesel will be managed in Ram exclusively by the same eight-speed automatic found in gasoline-engine half-ton Rams, Cappa said.

At this writing, neither Ford nor GM – nor Toyota’s Tundra nor Nissan’s Titan, for that matter – have announced plans for a half-ton diesel, but don’t be surprised to see it happen. Federal regulations call for cars and trucks to provide an average 54.5 mpg by 2025. A diesel, which typically returns 25 to 30 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline engine, is a good way to increase mpg.

Oh, and Chevy and GMC may be particularly interested: General Motors owns the other half of VM Motori.

For now, however, the half-ton diesel option belongs solely to Ram.

For the record, this is not the first time Ram has offered a non-Cummins diesel. Back in the ’70s, the old D-Body Dodge Ram half-ton offered a Mitsubishi diesel.

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