The diesel engine is newly enhanced, but, Pardner, the available cowboy-chic ambience is comfortably familiar.
Fully redesigned back in 2019, the then-all-new Ram 1500 for last year’s coming-out party upgraded its gasoline V-6 and V-8 offerings while carrying over its 3.0-liter diesel. Now it’s the diesel’s turn. For 2020, it gets a makeover, resulting in more power and enhanced fuel economy.
Regarding mpg, the EPA now rates the 2WD Ram 1500 diesel at 22 city and a whopping 32 hwy, an improvement in both cycles over the 2019’s ratings of 20 city/27 hwy. The story is the same, though less dramatic, with the 4x4, which now rates an EPA nod of 21 city and 29 hwy compared to the 19/27 numbers achieved before.
Happily, along with an improvement in thrift is an increase in muscle. This revised 3.0-liter V-6 turbo diesel, a $4,995 option, now generates 260 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque through its standard eight-speed automatic. That compares to 240 hp and 420 lb.-ft. back in 2019.
In 135 miles, more city than highway, we registered 22 mpg during our week with the truck.
All the improvements in our diesel sampler, by the way, were wrapped in a Crew Cab 4x4 draped in Ram’s dude-ranch suitable Longhorn trim -- a trim joined in 2020 by six other choices: Tradesman, HFE, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie and Limited.
We say Longhorn is dude-ranch suitable because, despite the rugged trappings of the cabin, there are no comfort hardships imposed.
Our truck’s 10-gallon-hat decor included barn-slat-like wood trim, cowhides on seats, saddle-leather colors and textures, western-motif accent stitching and saddle-bag-style pockets on the front-seat backs, all of which contributed to the truck’s rugged western feel.
At the same time, our Crew Cab’s room was copious, the interior’s modern connectivity features, which included a vertical 12-inch Uconnect infotainment touch-screen, were cutting-edge, and the cabin was luxury-car quiet even as the ride was passenger-car smooth.
For that last attribute, credit goes to our truck’s techy height-adjustable air suspension, a $1,805 option that offers driver-selectable ride heights of (from low to high) Entry/Exit, Aero, Normal, Off-Road 1 and Off-Road 2. And, needless to say, the suspenders will automatically pick a height best suited to the duties at hand unless overridden by the driver.
On the road, sure, the truck feels big, with its hood filling the lane ahead, but handling is confident and the experience serene. We particularly appreciated the shift-on-the-fly electronic transfer case in our 4x4. When we engaged the T-case’s 4WD AUTO setting -- really all-wheel drive -- our empty-bed pickup was the soul of composure on slippery pavement. (Other T-case settings are 2WD, 4WD HIGH and 4WD LOW.)
However, despite its comfort concerns, this guy never forgets he’s a truck. Along with the dude-ranch perks in our truck, we also found handy workday helpers like big map pockets on doors, two glove boxes (upper and lower) and a humongous center console with a sliding cupholder/storage tray.
In addition, our Longhorn 1500 diesel boasted two options that definitely qualify as task-helpers: the RamBox Cargo Management System and the Multi-Function Tailgate, priced at $995 apiece.
RamBox provides two “saddle bag” cargo bins in the bed walls -- handy and lockable. The Multi-Function Tailgate can be operated as a standard drop-down tailgate or, at the touch of a different button, a pair of left and right swing-out doors, the latter choice making cargo-box access much easier.
Finally, available safety features include Adaptive Cruise with Stop, Go and Hold; Forward Collision Warning with brake assist; Lane Departure Warning; park assist; and a 360-degree Surround View Camera.
With this high-mileage, sophisticated package, Ram 1500 has brought the diesel pickup into polite society.