2020 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 2500HD 4x4, sort of vs. the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab: Two ways to the big boys.

2020 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel: Is this even big enough?

Price: $71,305 (up from a base price of $47,990). The engine? $4,995. (Well, that’s half the Silverado’s price.) Sunroof: $1,495. Much more mentioned below, though I don’t have room to write about every single item.

Marketer’s pitch: Nothing snappy on the Ram website — just discounts.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the “user-friendly interior and materials, ride quality, capability,” but not that it’s “really large, heavier than competitors, steep pricing.”

Reality: Plenty big.

Catching up: After last week’s ride in the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD, nothing else will seem big, right? Well, the Ram 1500 does a good approximation.

What’s new: The Rebel trim means your Ram pickup comes black as coal — the grille, the wheels, everything, even the interior. It sucks the light out of the universe. And for just a hundred bucks. I’d pass, but your mileage may vary.

Also, the EcoDiesel 3.0-liter V-6 joins the lineup for 2020.

Up to speed: I’ve spent too much time in boy racer trucks over the last few tests, trucks that zoom as fast as race cars. The EcoDiesel is a more mellow experience. Enjoy the clatter of the pistons as they ride inside the engine, bringing all that oil-based pulling and climbing power to the wheels.

The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 ($4,995) creates just 260 horsepower but 480 pound-feet of torque. Motor Trend says the truck gets to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is not bad for the power.

Up the hills: I had the chance to clean my yard again, so we took the 1500 on the same path through Sturgis’ Vertical Acre that the Gladiator and other trucks have trod. It got scary back there, but the truck never slipped or spun.

The interior of the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel tested also featured plenty of black. But Ram has made their trucks easy to live with.
FiatChrysler
The interior of the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel tested also featured plenty of black. But Ram has made their trucks easy to live with.

Stuff and friends: The RamBox Cargo Management System ($995) added convenient toolboxes on each side and movable interior gate, and (for an additional $550) a foldable bed cover. The boxes didn’t feel as if they intruded into the cargo area too badly, and plenty of branches exited the yard that Saturday.

The load height is not too unfriendly — I could climb onto the tailgate with just a bit of a stretch. The black tubular side steps ($695) didn’t reach back as far as they could and left me disappointed — and a little scared — as I worked to secure the load at the front of the bed. But plenty of places to tie down ropes made loading easier.

The multifunction tailgate allows a piece of it to swing out like a door in addition to the usual drop-down motion. OK then.

The Crew Cab rear seat bottom folds up for added inside storage. When more people ride along, passengers in that seat will be comfortable and have plenty of room for stretching out.

The EcoDiesel engine allows towing up to 10,070 pounds, far less than the 2500HD. (The Hemi V-8 adds about 2,500 pounds of towing capacity.)

On the road: The Ram 1500 once was the easiest of pickups to maneuver in town, roll along curvy country roads, and enjoy on the highway. But the most recent redesign has made it feel ungainly. I had to keep the passenger mirror set to face the road so I could monitor the white stripe as I drove, something I usually don’t have to do in pickups.

Handling is bouncy. The 1500 feels like a truck. Highways are nice enough, though, maybe thanks to the air suspension ($1,805).

Shifty: The dial transmission bothers me still. And I continue turning up the radio instead of shifting gears. The buttons to hold gears sit in the steering wheel and are easy to operate, but shifting on the fly is designed to be kept to a minimum.

Play some tunes: The Ram features Fiat’s wonderful stereo system, something I like more and more each time I test one of its models. Big 12-inch screen, easy to operate, and sound is an A- (with the 19-speaker Harman Kardon version, which came as part of the $2,995 Rebel12 package, which added power heated front seats and more). You’d think Billy Idol would have offered his voice for the nav, though (“with a Rebel 12, she cried, 'More, more, more. Ow.’ ”).

Keeping warm and cool: The heater features buttons for temperature and fan speed, but beyond that, it’s Touchscreen City, baby. Kind of a pain.

Fuel consumption: Forget the Eco part of the diesel here. I recorded 18 mpg, but without a lot of highway usage. Still, oink.

Where it’s built: Sterling Heights, Mich.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports gives the Ram 1500 a predicted reliability of 1 out of 5.

In the end: The Ram 1500 is plenty big and powerful, and the multifaceted cargo system makes it a joy to live with. Only owners of serious trailer equipment or other special equipment need apply for Chevy’s 2500HD.

But, oh, those prices. I kinda wish people would leave these monsters to the professionals, so that they’d stop being such a profit center.