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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel EPA-Rated at 28 MPG Highway

We've known power and towing figures for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel for some time, but until now, fuel economy figures were a corporate secret. No more: on the eve of the 2014 Chicago auto show, Chrysler announced its diesel-fueled half-ton pickup is EPA rated at 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.

Those ratings are for rear-wheel drive 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel models, though we've heard rumblings that four-wheel drive Ram 1500s equipped with the new 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission will only be roughly 1 mpg lower. Either way, they affirm our initial hypothesis from our first drive, where we predicted the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel "should easily eclipse the 25 mpg highway achieved by the 3.6-liter V-6" offered on the Ram, which is also mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. For that matter, it also beats the V-6's 17-mpg city rating, and trounces the 15/22 mpg (city/highway) returned by a Ram 1500 fitted with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and eight-speed automatic transmission.

This rating also allows Ram to springboard itself to the front of the full-size pickup pack, and claim best-in-class fuel economy once again. Compared to a rear-wheel drive 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra equipped with the base 4.3-liter V-6, the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel bests both trucks by two mpg in the city, four mpg on the highway, and three mpg combined. The EcoDiesel is not only rated higher than the 2014 Ford F-150's 3.7-liter V-6 in terms of fuel economy, but also its closest competitor in terms of displacement and power: an F-150 equipped with the optional 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6.

Official EPA fuel economy ratings for two-wheel-drive, full-size pickups are compiled below.

If that isn't interesting enough, the Ram EcoDiesel's EPA ratings also put it in the neighborhood of many four-cylinder midsize pickups. A two-wheel drive Nissan Frontier equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission is rated at 19/23 mpg (city/highway/combined). The Ram even manages to beat the best in the midsize class - the two-wheel-drive Toyota Tacoma with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder and a five-speed manual - by three miles per gallon in the highway rating.

The 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 is available on any 2014 Ram 1500 Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn, Outdoorsman, and Laramie (Limited/Longhorn) model so long as they're not regular cab trucks built with the short six-foot bed. Predictably, adding the EcoDiesel to a 2014 Ram 1500 doesn't exactly come cheap. Ram states the EcoDiesel option package runs $2850 more than a comparable 1500 equipped with both the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and the eight-speed automatic transmission. As such, a two-wheel-drive 1500 Tradesman regular cab pickup with the eight-foot box and the EcoDiesel should carry a base price of $31,265, including destination, which amounts to a $4470 premium for the diesel engine. On models like the Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Laramie Limited - which all boast the 5.7-liter V-8 and eight-speed automatic as standard - the EcoDiesel commands only a $2850 premium.

Ram may have won the fuel-economy battle for the time being, but the war is anything but over. The new aluminum-intensive 2015 Ford F-150 is just around the corner, and its combination of materials, aerodynamic tricks (some of which were pioneered by the Ram), and a smaller 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 may boost efficiency. GM is also said to be readying a range of 10-speed automatic transmissions for its future full-size trucks. On the diesel front, Nissan's next-generation Titan promises to offer a new Cummins-sourced 5.0-liter turbo-diesel V-8.

If competition truly improves the breed, look for a greatly enhanced full-size pickup market to emerge over the next several years.