The half-ton Eco-diesel by Dodge powers a 4WD “light truck” with a fuel efficient V6 diesel engine that puts out 240 hp at 3600 RPM, and 420 ft lbs of torque at only 2000 RPM. The engine is a 24 valve, double overhead (chain-driven) cam unit with a 16.5:1 compression ratio and common rail injection that is turbo charged and after cooled. This is a fairly high tech little diesel! It is actually a Fiat engine which has been in use in Europe for a long time with a proven track record.
My previous truck was a 2010 Dodge dually with the 6.7 Liter straight six Cummins engine. It had power and size I never really needed, but I sure enjoyed owning and driving it for seven years!
My dually did pretty well on fuel for a truck of it’s size, but still averaged only 12 – 14 mpg, with the best performance I ever saw at nearly 17 mpg on the highway, with a tail wind! The much lighter half-ton with a smaller engine is rated for 19 “in town” and 27 highway. I have heard of some owners who say they are getting over 30 on the highway, and right now mine seems to be averaging 28. I expect this to improve with a few miles on it, but even averaging 22 – 24 between town and open roads is a huge improvement in economy over my “big truck”.
UPDATE: My first “towing” test was today. Pulled my light trailer and Kawasaki Mule to my woods place. The truck pulled it well – as well, it felt, as my dually. Going down the road at 65 MPH, with no traffic, I got 17 – 19 mpg, as opposed to 12-13 with the dually. When I had to slow to 55 mph, the mileage went to 20 -22!
A backup camera is an excellent aid to towing! I can SEE the trailer hitch ball, and ease it right up to the trailer tongue! No more getting out of the truck to see how close I am – several times! It is also great for backing up with the trailer hooked to the truck, and if I were to need to check on my hitch connection, the camera on this truck can be manually activated when NOT in reverse.
One big difference in the two vehicles is that now I have to start using Diesel Exhaust Fluid to meet emissions standards. There is a six gallon tank for this stuff, with the filler located next to the diesel fill, and a gauge on the dash to monitor the level. Reports are that a full tank of DEF should last for several thousand miles. On our Christmas trip to North Texas, the DEF gauge did not dip very close to the half full make.This fluid was not necessary on my Cummins engines.
The dually was a problem to park in spots designed for normal sized vehicles, and turning in tight places was a challenge. I have sone tight spots on my entry road to my woods property that I have had to be very careful with, due to the extra width of the dual wheels and their fenders. The overall length of the 1 ton was more, also. These problems have all “gone away” with the switch to the 1/2 ton. I won’t be able to haul as much, of course, but I have trailers to help with that. The 5’7″ bed WILL be a bit of a problem, but I have an “extender” on order for hauling longer pieces of lumber and things like sheets of plywood or roofing “tin”.
My wife loves the new truck for all the things mentioned above, and also because the ride is almost as smooth as a nice car. It is also VERY quiet, and much easier to get in and out of than the “taller” dually was.
Also welcomed are the new “gadgets” that were not available when I bought my 2010 truck, such as the backup camera and in dash navigation system. The 2016 truck also has LED lighting for the cargo bed. We opted for dealer installed “running boards”, but they are not needed as badly as on the taller dually. This truck also has “parking assists in the form of sensors on both sides and front and rear to warn if you are too close to another vehicle or other solid object.
A new “twist” (pardon the pun!) on Dodge trucks for 2016 was the twist shift knob located on the dash board, completely out of the way of any other operations. Although there have been safety concerns on some vehicles so equipped, mine seems to operate in a secure manner – at least at this point.
Another welcome “extra” is the remote start feature, which allows push-button starting of the vehicle from some distance away. This will come in handy for warming up the cab on cold mornings, and since the engine can be cranked without unlocking the vehicle, security is somewhat maintained.
The backup camera system on this truck is among the best I’ve seen, with a wide screen and good viewing area.
An obvious additional “performance feature” of the V6 Eco Diesel is that it has dual exhausts to help the engine “breathe”.
In summary, in my opinion, from my limited experience so far with the new Eco Diesel, it seems to be a real “winner” in terms of utility, ride, and economy. When diesel fuel pump prices rose to equal or even exceed gasoline, some of the diesel advantage was mitigated, but with the increased economy of the Eco Diesel, the longevity and strength of diesel power can be used to very good advantage in a half ton truck that is more user-friendly than other diesel pickups of the past.
As a footnote, my dually turned out to be the best automotive “investment” I have ever made! The original “list” price was a bit over $50,000, and I traded my previous truck in with no additional down payment. I drove it for 7 years while paying off the loan, although I only had 60,000 miles on it at the time of my trade-in – and with what the dealership “gave” me for it on the trade in it almost amounted to banking my payment every month and driving the big truck for free!
UPDATE: Took the truck on its first real “road trip” over the Christmas holidays, driving to Lake Arrowhead near Wichita Falls to visit my wife’s family. I drove half way up then my wife took over and would not let me have the wheel back! She REALLY likes the way this truck rides and drives! Our average mileage for the trip was 26.7 mpg. Dodge estimates 27 on the highway for the vehicle, so this seems to be very close. We were driving in some hilly country on the way up on Hwy 36, however, and my wife likes to use the accelerator perhaps more than is necessary, loves to pass anything that might be in front of her! Had we set the cruise control at below the speed limit – and USED IT – I suspect the mileage would have been at over over 30 mpg.