15 Best Family Cars: 2015 Ram 1500

It might seem strange that we don’t have just one pickup truck on our Best Family Cars list for 2015; this year, we have two. That shows not only how far trucks have come, but it’s also our way of acknowledging that families come in many shapes and sizes, and that not every family needs the same thing from their vehicle.

The Ram 1500 may be the most civilized truck on the market today. When it comes to buying a family car, that can go a long way. Many families are looking for more than just a kid carrier, or something that offers easy installation of a car seat. While the Ram can serve as official munchkin mover, it can also do a lot more. Its versatility makes it easy to carry an ATV or dirt bikes, and the Ram-exclusive RamBox allows you to tote small gear on your next camping trip.

As Comfortable as a Sedan

The Ram has the most comfortable ride of any truck. That it can work hard as well makes this an impressive all-around truck, one that can do just about anything. Thanks to a coil-spring rear suspension and available air suspension, a family can enjoy the comfort of a midsize sedan while on a road trip. Also adding to that cruising America appeal is the modern interior, with optional amenities like heated leather seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, Uconnect with wi-fi hotspot, nav system and SiriusXM with real-time traffic. There’s also an available clean diesel V6, for a fuel range that ensures you don’t need to stop nearly as often, saving both time and money.

The Ram is a truck that’s ideal for the great American road trip, that quintessential event that every family really should do. What better way to see America than in comfort, with all of your adventure gear in tow?

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2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

2015 ram 1500 ecodiesel hfe - DOC610995

Ram Trucks  has managed to eek out another mile per gallon from the already fuel-efficient Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickup,  proving the Detroit Auto Show  wasn’t all about brawny off-road trucks.  Ram’s new class-leading numbers are EPA-certified at 21 mpg city, 24 mpg combined, and 29 mpg highway. The upgraded mileage comes thanks to the HFE, or High Fuel Efficiency package. But technically, the Ram HFE is no different than any other Ram EcoDiesel, including its engine, transmission, and gearing specifications. It all comes down to equipment packaging and aerodynamics.

Engineers figured out the low-optioned Tradesman trim level combined with the shorter Quad Cab and six-foot, four-inch bed offers the slipperiest shape of the truck line. Add to that the prior knowledge of the wheel-to-wheel running boards and a tonneau cover’s ability to cut drag, and you’ve got the most aerodynamic Ram yet.

This makes the HFE a full 12 percent more efficient than the next-closest competitor, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost-powered 2015 Ford F-150,  rated at 26 mpg highway.

For current Ram EcoDiesel owners, adding the same tri-fold tonneau cover and extended side steps would likely result in improved fuel economy as well. Just don’t expect 29 mpg with a four-wheel-drive, Crew Cab truck.

Thankfully Ram didn’t neuter the Ram of its towing and hauling capabilities with tall gears, skinny tires, or a wimpy ECU tune. The truck is still able to haul 1,614 pounds in the bed and tow 8,050 pounds on the hitch.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

The Ram HFE still makes use of the Active Grille Shutters that open and close depending on cooling needs of the engine. When shut, air is diverted up and over the truck rather than through the engine bay and frame rails. Surprisingly, the truck comes standard with 20-inch wheels. Ram says the Goodyear tires provide the least rolling resistance of the truck’s current crop of stock rubber. Also available to dress up the base Tradesman is the body-colored front fascia from the Ram Express trim level. Selecting the HFE is the only way to get that sporty fascia and EcoDiesel on the same truck.

Spotting a HFE Ram is obviously best done by the HFE badge on the tailgate. Otherwise, the truck looks normal to the casual observer. The Ram Express front fascia, side steps, and tri-fold tonneau cover are the other give-a-ways as to the HFE’s fuel-sipping capabilities.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel - Driven

Laramie trim package shown/Not optional on HFE
There’s no difference here: all the same adornments – or relative lack thereof – found in the Tradesman trim level are present. Cloth seats and the base radio are the norm. Ram hasn’t announced detailed packaging yet, but things like power windows and locks might even be an optional extra as they are of the standard Tradesman trim level.

As a whole, the Ram HFE offers seating for six on its two bench rows. Rear leg is more compromised than in the larger Crew Cab, but there’s enough space for teens.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

At the heart of the operation is the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6. No modifications were done to the drivetrain at all, so things are just as they are on a non-HFE Ram. The compact diesel produces a respectable 240 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 420 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. Bolted to that is the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF that provides smooth shifts and quick responses.

Having driven a few Ram EcoDiesels, I can say the truck really does perform well. The average consumer probably wouldn’t even notice the engine from behind the wheel. Accelerating to 60 mph only takes 8.5 seconds and NVH is well controlled, even at full throttle.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

Ram did not announced pricing for the HFE trim level at its launch. Expect a nominal price hike over base Tradesman EcoDiesel price of $34,610 to cover the added wheels, side steps, and tonneau cover.

Ford F-150

Ford’s new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 is the next best choice in the fuel economy show down. Rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, the EcoBoost is only a few mpgs under the Ram. Considering an EcoBoost-equipped F-150 costs less than the Ram EcoDiesel and the difference in gas and diesel fuel prices, overall running costs would likely be cheaper with the Ford.

The twin-turbocharged V-6 isn’t afraid of work either. Boasting 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, the engine is able to lug around an 8,500-pound trailer.

Pricing for the 2.7-liter EcoBoost F-150 starts at $30,275 when equipped with the extended cab and six-foot, six-inch bed.

Chevrolet Silverado

Like Ford, Chevrolet doesn’t currently offer a HFE-style trim package. The Bow Tie has done it before with the XFE Silverado, but getting the most mileage from Chevy requires sticking with the V-6.

In the similarly configured Double Cab, Standard Box Silverado equipped with the 4.3-liter V-6, the EPA rates the truck at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Towing does trail the others here, coming in at 5,600 pounds. Power ratings are also in third place at 285 horses and 305 pound-feet. Customers can jump to the 5.3-liter V-8, however, for the extra power while getting 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

Prices for the so-equipped Silverado start at $31,325 for the V-6 and $1,095 more for the V-8.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE offers class-leading fuel economy while retaining great levels of towing and hauling capabilities. I suspect this will become a popular trim package thanks to the inevitable marketing coming its way and its (estimated) low cost. Of course, you can buy a lot of fuel with the $4,000 you saved by sticking with the 3.6-liter V-6 gas engine, especially considering the price difference between diesel and gasoline.

Either way, Ram now builds a full-size truck that gets darn near 30 mpg. That’s an impressive feat, to say the least. Expect the Ram HFE in dealers this spring.

First Look: 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel

Rebel with a different cause

SHOW FLOOR UPDATE: So RAM isn’t quite ready to take on the Ford Raptor, but there’s still plenty to like with the new 1500 Rebel. The seat inserts embossed with tire tread pattern is pretty cool and kind of has a massaging effect when you first sit down. Overall, the Rebel looks tough enough, though we’ll have to wait and see how rebellious (ahem) it is on the sand dunes. The Rebel should arrive in showrooms this fall, but not before it stars in a movie dubbed “Monster Trucks,” set to hit theaters this summer. -Erick Ayapana

Sorry to disappoint you, but all of those rumors about Ram building a Ford F-150 Raptor-fighter turned out to be far from true. This pickup was not built to fight anything. Well, that’s not entirely true, either. It sure beats up on all the other Rams that look more similar than different. This one is obviously a rebel. This 2015 Ram Rebel 1500 might not have the suspension or even engine to combat the Raptor across an open desert.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not cool.

The exterior is completely different than any of the other nine Ram 1500 trim levels. The Rebel forgoes the typical crosshair grille that Ram has been using for nearly 30 years. (Back then it was still the Dodge Ram.)

The blacked-out grille instead uses the word Ram across the front and a silver off-road skidplate at the bottom. There are new tow hooks and new foglamps, and even the headlamps have a smoky look to them. There are also two snorkels on the hood, though they don’t provide any function other than give the Rebel the most intimidating 1500 front in the Ram lineup. The truck adopts fenders from the Power Wagon and rests on 17-inch wheels with chunky 33-inch Toyo tires. Even the backside is different, using 5-inch letters to spell out Ram across the tailgate. It arrives in five colors, though all of the models with two-tone paint will have a black base. Monotone Rebels are also available. The interior is also done up with a lot of flair. Red trim replaces other trim options found on other Ram pickups. The instrument panel and center stack also have red trim surrounding them. The Rebel will debut a new center console box that features a cellphone/tablet holder, as well. The rubber holder leans the phone slightly but holds it firmly. Really, it’s ingenious. In a quick test, both an iPhone and Android phone, as well as an iPad Mini, fit perfectly, though it is only wide enough to hold two phones at once.
The seats are covered in a Sedoso fabric embossed with the Toyo tire tread, bringing some of the exterior design inside. It looks better in person than any photo might suggest. Although it won’t fly across sand dunes like a Raptor, the Rebel does come with specially tuned Blistein shocks. It will also feature the Ram’s air suspension, allowing it to raise itself up 1 inch higher than other Rams. The Rebel will offer two engine choices: the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 or the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. Both engines have a solid track record, the Pentastar producing 305 horsepower and the Hemi creating 395. For the first time ever, the Rebel will feature a 3.6-liter model with a 3.92 axle ratio for 4×4 models. The 4×2 model will have a 3.92 axle ratio. All Rebels will have an eight-speed automatic transmission. Even though the Rebel isn’t a true Raptor-fighter, it still has some serious off-roading chops, considering its power and all of its features. It should also have a much more affordable price, though Ram hasn’t announced that yet. The Rebel should be available by the third quarter of 2015.

10 Reasons Why the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the 2015 Autobytel Truck of the Year

By Benjamin Hunting

The 2015 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel might not be the newest truck on the market, but the fact that it was voted the Autobytel Truck of the Year for 2015 says a lot about just how amazing this pickup truly is.  With its gobs of torque, excellent fuel mileage, and uncompromised capability when it comes to towing and hauling, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel demonstrates just how much pent-up demand there was for a turbodiesel engine in a light truck.  It also happens to offer one of the nicest passenger compartments available, and features a suspension system that has yet to be matched by its rivals.

Let’s take a look at 10 reasons why the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the 2015 Autobytel Truck of the Year.

01. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Is Plenty Powerful

The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel features a 3.0-liter, turbodiesel V-6 that offers up more torque than several of its eight-cylinder rivals.  In addition to its 240 horsepower, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel produces 420 lb-ft of twist, which makes for serious acceleration when already moving at highway speeds.  In our opinion, that more than compensates for its less-than-V-8 performance off of the line, which is really the only area where the truck’s turbodiesel engine doesn’t feel as virile as some of its competitors.

02. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Can Be Had In Almost Everything

Unlike other special pickup truck drivetrains, the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel makes its turbodiesel goodness available across almost the entire product line-up.  That means if you are looking for a basic single cab, Tradesmen entry-level trim with the EcoDiesel engine or if you prefer a fully decked-out Ram 1500 Laramie Limited EcoDiesel, you are in luck – the engine is available in single, quad, and crew cab body styles along with the Tradesman, SLT, Lone Star, Big Horn, Outdoorsman, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Laramie Limited editions of the pickup.

03. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Offers Exceptional Efficiency

The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel’s excellent torque is one of its primary selling points, but that’s not the only bonus that comes with the pickup’s turbodiesel V-6.  The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel’s mighty engine also happens to be quite frugal, to the tune of 20-mpg in stop and go driving and 28-mpg on the highway.  That latter figure is phenomenal for a full-size truck, and it’s between three and eight miles per gallon better than other trucks from Ford, Chevrolet, and GMC outfitted with comparably powerful engines.  Ram claims a 728 mile range on a single tank of fuel at highway speeds in the 1500 EcoDiesel.

04. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Comes With An Eight-Speed Automatic

A big part of what helps the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel walk the line between fuel-sipper and full-on workhorse is its eight-speed automatic transmission.  With two more forward gears than any other autobox available with a full-size pickup (shifted via a rotary dial that frees up significant space on the truck’s center console), the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is capable of selecting the precise ratio required for hauling, accelerating, or conserving fuel while cruising at a steady rate of speed.  The transmission itself is sourced from ZF, and is used in a number of applications across the Ram, Chrysler, and Dodge line-up with equally-impressive results.

05. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Features Optional Four-Wheel Drive

Let’s say you want to take advantage of the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel’s impressive single-tank range to explore areas where roads might be few and far between.  No problem: the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel’s available four-wheel drive system offers a low-range transfer case that is designed to make short work of mud, rocks, and even streams.  The EcoDiesel can also be equipped with off-road-ready gear such as skid plates, tow hooks, and a proper trail-going suspension system when you’re ready to get serious about the path less traveled.

06. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Hauls And Hauls

With so much torque on tap, you would be right to think that the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a towing champion.  In fact, when properly configured the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel can pull up to 9,200 lbs of trailer weight, which puts it near the top of the light-duty pickup truck class.  There’s also more than 1,500 lbs of cargo hauling capability waiting to be unlocked in the EcoDiesel, which is available with a variety of bed lengths ranging up to eight feet.

07. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Offers A Sophisticated Suspension System

Unlike any other full-size truck currently available, the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel forgoes a traditional rear leaf spring setup and instead swaps in a pair of coil springs to create a coils-at-each-corner suspension system.  The end result is handling and comfort that are a cut above the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC Sierra, especially when driving over rough pavement (or no pavement at all).  The best part?  The coil system doesn’t sacrifice any of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel’s practicality, and it can be aided and abetted by an optional self-leveling air suspension system.

08. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Features One Of The Best Cabins In The Business

It may have the largest overall cabin, but it’s hard to deny that the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel’s top trim levels – the Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited – set the standard for interior comfort, fit, and finish in the full-size pickup segment.  With reams of leather on the seats, door panels, and trim, combined with the class-best Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system and significant interior storage compartments (including an ultra-deep center console), the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel can be equipped to the point where it’s probably nicer inside than your first apartment.

09. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Looks The Business

Complementing its exceptional interior style is sheet metal that continues to set the template for modern pickup design.  The culmination of the ‘big rig’ look that Dodge first unveiled in the 1990s, the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel offers the over-sized crosshair front grille, muscular flanks, and huge hood that together come across as both classy and aggressive from almost every angle.  Some might find the EcoDiesel’s extroverted personality a little overwhelming, but we feel that’s simply part of the truck’s charm.

10. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Is Reasonably Affordable

How much do you have to pay for the privilege of plunking an EcoDiesel engine under the hood of a brand new 2015 Ram 1500?  Not as much as you’d think.  Swapping out the base 3.6-liter V-6 (which generates 269 lb-ft of torque) from the entry-level Ram 1500 Tradesman in favor of the 3.0-liter turbodiesel’s 420 lb-ft of twist will set you back an extra $4,000 – or roughly $2,850 more than opting for the almost-as-robust, but not-quite-as-efficient 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.  At the upper limits of the Ram 1500 universe, the cost to upgrade to the EcoDiesel drivetrain drops to $3,120.  Either way, we feel that the turbodiesel’s benefits are well worth the price of admission.