DETROIT -- While the Ford F-150 is shedding pounds to improve fuel economy, the 2014 Ram 1500 used a new diesel engine to achieve a highway rating of 28 mpg, the highest for any pickup on sale in the United States.
The pickup's rating was posted last week on the EPA's fueleconomy.gov. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel gets 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg combined city/highway.
That gives the Ram pickup the two highest fuel economy ratings among full-sized pickups. The Ram 1500 HFE with a 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engine is rated at 18 city/25 highway/21 combined.
In the fall, Ford will counterpunch in the pickup fuel economy fight with the redesigned 2015 F-150, which has a weight-saving aluminum body. General Motors counters with redesigned Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickups, which go on sale in the fall. Those vehicles have not been rated by the EPA.
Chrysler began assembling Ram 1500 EcoDiesels in late January at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit and expects to begin delivering them to dealers this month.
The 3.0-liter diesel V-6 is made by Fiat subsidiary VM Motori S.p.A. in Italy. It produces 240 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque and is teamed with an eight-speed transmission in the Ram 1500.
The exhaust is treated with urea to cut emissions of oxides of nitrogen. The onboard urea tank must be refilled every 10,000 miles.
This is the first diesel light-duty pickup offered in North America since GM sold them in the mid-1990s.
Ram brand head Reid Bigland estimated that diesel versions will account for as much as 30 percent of Ram 1500 sales.
The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel starts at $30,465, including delivery. The price is $2,850 higher than a similarly equipped Ram 1500 with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, the company said.