Dodge Ram 1500 HFE a High Efficiency Hauler

Full size pickups are big and not necessarily considered ‘green,’ but there’s been movement in recent years to remedy that. One of the notable entries is the Ram 1500 now offered in HFE (High Fuel Economy) and clean diesel versions. The Ram pickup, a staple for the Dodge brand for more than three decades, morphed into a Ram Truck product several years ago.

We had the opportunity to put over 500 miles on the odometer during a recent road trip and found the Ram 1500 HFE an accommodating ride. Our Ram 1500 HFE Regular Cab was powered by a new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 rated at 305 horsepower with 269 lb-ft. torque, a combination that provided a confident driving experience during our travels. It’s EPA rated at 18 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway, which tracked well with our 23.2 mpg average achieved even while hauling furniture. While towing wasn’t part of our regimen, this two-wheel drive pickup is capable of towing up to 6,500 pounds.

 

Helping achieve significantly improved fuel economy is a new TorqueFlite 8 automatic transmission that doubles the number of gears compared to previous four-speed transmissions. Shifting is via a dash-mounted rotary e-shift replacing both column and floor shifters. An oddity at first, we really grew to like shifting with this easy-to-use rotary dial.

The Ram 1500’s fuel saving technologies include a stop-start system that improves fuel economy by up to 3.3 percent. Many innovations individually bring one or two percent improvements by reducing parasitic losses that zap engine power. For instance, electric power steering reduces the need for the engine to constantly power a hydraulic pump and contributes toward improving fuel efficiency up to 1.8 percent while adding five horsepower. A new thermal management system quickly raises engine and transmission fluid temperatures to reduce parasitic losses, while pulse-width modulation decreases the alternator’s parasitic electrical load.

A wind tunnel-optimized exterior and active aerodynamics like grille shutters and air suspension bring a 6 percent aerodynamic improvement and a drag coefficient of 0.36, outstanding for a pickup. The truck’s air suspension system has five height settings, with its aero mode lowering the truck and improving fuel efficiency by 1 percent. The truck also rides on low rolling resistance tires.

Reducing weight improves fuel economy. The Ram 1500 HFE has shaved about 67 pounds from overall weight with a redesigned frame, new box floor cross-members in the bed, new front bumper, and an aluminum hood. The Pentastar V-6 and TorqueFlite 8 reduce weight by about 76 pounds.

Clean diesel fans will appreciate the new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel variant of the Ram 1500, a model that uses many of the same fuel saving technologies as its gasoline sibling. The turbocharged V-6 produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. torque and offers a 7,450 pound towing ability. Developed and manufactured by VM Motori, the new EcoDiesel is approved for running on B20 biodiesel fuel.