Ram vs Chevy in half-ton diesels
Ram, maker of the first modern half-ton pickup with a diesel, caught Chevy and Ford by surprise; it was a remarkably popular option on pickups, especially given that few people wanted it in Jeep Grand Cherokees.
The next-generation version of that engine (ironically, created partly for GM) has been announced for the 2020 Ram 1500 “DT” series; it has a nice power boost and should be quieter than the current one, though some are wondering whether reliability has been addressed.
Meanwhile, GM was creating a brand new in-line six-cylinder diesel—a sensible choice, because in-line sixes tend to have less vibration and fewer parts than V-designs. The straight-six seems to generate some ultra-reliable designs, too—the big Cummins ISB diesel, the slant six, and numerous others. The GM oil-burner has a just-below-3-liter displacement for the same reason as the Ram engine, which is so it can also be used where displacement taxes start at 3.0 liters.
It helps that the new Silverado body is lighter than the older ones, with greater strength. So how do the diesels line up?
GM’s diesel produces 277 horsepower at 3,750 rpm, and 460 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. That’s more horsepower than Ram’s new diesel (Ram has 260), but less torque (480).
Both easily beat the Ford F-150’s 250 hp and 440 lb-ft, and hit peak torque at lower revs than Ford, which is a drivability advantage. Ford and GM both use ten-speed automatics, while Ram uses a ZF-based eight-speed; drivers should expect similar results, given similar gear ranges.
For most drivers, the GM and Ram diesels are probably quite similar in utility; GM’s horsepower edge is good for acceleration figures, which is probably more important than some more torque in an already torquey type of powerplant. The big question will be reliability; while the new VM is quieter than its already quiet predecessor, the jury is still out on both diesels for durability and reliability. There were some complaints about the Ram engine, but the new one is, well, new; and so is GM’s. It seems likely Chevy owners will pay less, with nicer trims getting it as a $2,500 option.
Time will tell, but we look forward to seeing how this plays out.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including an F-body Camaro and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.