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What is the best Dodge Ram truck engine?

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If you’re in the market for a new Dodge truck, you might be wondering what kind of engine is best for your needs. Should you go for an all gasoline motor, or a hybridized eTorque powerplant? Or is it best to lean toward torque, and select one of the Ram brand’s new diesel engine options for heavier workloads?

For work trucks, diesel engines are hands down the better choice. They last longer, have more power and have higher towing capacities than the best Dodge truck gas engine. 

Over the decades, Dodge has used quite a few diesel engines to pack incredible amounts of torque into its pickup trucks. Many of the longest-lasting Dodge work trucks have sported one of the following diesel motors, and here’s why…

Advantages of owning a Dodge diesel over a gas engine 

If you’re looking for a work truck or transport vehicle, a diesel engine is a reliable option. 

Diesel engines tend to be more fuel efficient than gas, and the cost of diesel fuel tends to be lower than regular gasoline in most places around the world. According to the Department of Energy, diesel motors tend to get anywhere up to 35% more miles to the gallon than gasoline engines.

Diesel engines aren’t nearly as complex as gas engines either, and therefore typically have a longer lifespan, and can be easier to service. And while they may not have the horsepower of gasoline engines, when it comes to low-end power and towing capacity, turbo diesel motors continue to rule the roost.

The disadvantages of diesel versus gas are noise level, vibration, lack of high-speed swiftness, N02 exhaust fumes, and the need to add diesel detergents in certain motors. Diesel trucks also tend to have poor in-town MPG ratings and often cost more than gasoline alternatives when bought new, so be prepared to feel that pinch too.

Cummins 5.9L B-series inline 6-cylinder diesel engine 

(1989-1998)

The 5.9L Cummins diesel engine was first introduced in 1989. While it may seem dated by today’s standards in its simplicity, many truck enthusiasts still claim that this first-generation Cummins diesel motor was the best that Dodge ever offered. 

The main advantages of 5.9L are its availability, affordability, cast iron construction, and respectable power figures. While horsepower may have been low (160 ponies to be correct), this first gen version of the turbo-diesel motor packed 400 pounds of twist. When looking for one of these 12-valve versions of the 5.9L Cummins diesel Dodge Ram, keep an eye out for the intercooled model, which became available during the mid-1991 model year. 

Cummins 5.9L ISB5.9 diesel engine 

(1998 – 2007)

In 1998, Dodge introduced the Cummins 5.9L ISB5.9 Cummins diesel engine, which was first made available with a 24-valve configuration, followed by a common rail setup. With four valves per cylinder and electronic engine management on board, this motor was even more powerful than the original 5.9L Cummins, making it a popular choice for those who needed extra torque for towing or hauling heavy loads. 

When the Ram motor’s nine-year run was up, horsepower and torque had grown from 215 to 325 HP, with torque jumping from 420 to 610 lb-ft. In 2007, Dodge switched to the 6.7L Cummins diesel engine, discontinuing the 5.9L Cummins diesel engine for good.

Note: Both 5.9L Cummins engines produce high emissions. You may need to make modifications to satisfy emission requirements in your state.

3.0L Chrysler EcoDiesel engine 

(2014 – current)

The 3.0L Chrysler EcoDiesel engine was introduced in Dodge’s RAM 1500 way back in 2014. Even though it is called an EcoDiesel, this engine does not use a compression ignition system like most dodge diesel engines. Thanks to using a gasoline-fueled spark ignition system, this motor meets emissions standards in all 50 states.

The EcoDiesel engine comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s been engineered by ZF. It has a low gear ratio of 4.71 and a final overdrive of 0.67. This means that the EcoDiesel engine maintains an impressive amount of torque at low speeds, with low engine revolutions when moving at high speeds. 

The EcoDiesel engine’s electronic rev limiter is set to 4800 rpm, but the engine will up-shift around 4,000 rpm under full load, and even utilizes an active grille shutter system for increased airflow.

6.7L Cummins “High Output” I-6 diesel engine 

(2007 to current)

The 6.7L Cummins I-6 engine is the most recent addition to the Dodge Ram truck lineup, Upon its debut in 2007, this motor was heralded as the leader for those looking to do some heavy lifting. 

Cummins engineered a 13% increase in displacement, while still retaining the original cast iron block and cylinder heads from the 5.9L. This makes parts interchangeability and availability far more readily available. However, modifications to the forced induction and fueling side sent power and efficiency numbers sky high, all while lowering maintenance intervals.

This engine also features SCR (Selective Catalyst Reduction) technology, which helps to reduce NOx emissions and improve fuel efficiency. The 6.7L further increases its worth by doubling the time/miles between oil changes over the 5.9L. 

The newest 6.7L comes in both RAM 2500 and 3500 models and can offer anywhere up to 900 lb-ft torque and 385 HP. The torque curve on this motor kicks in at 1,700 RPM, making for an incredibly smooth ride, without any loss of power.

Conclusion

So, which Dodge truck engine is right for you? If you’re looking for power and performance, and money is of no object, go with the latest 6.7L Cummins I-6 diesel engine. If you want something that’s a bit more fuel-efficient, and are concerned about emissions, take a look at the 3.0L Chrysler EcoDiesel engine. 

Or, if you’re looking for a durable and ultra affordable engine, opt for the classic 5.9L Cummins diesel engine or 24-valve upgraded model from the late 1990s-early 2000s if you can find one!

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