In an effort to increase its presence in the work truck market, Chrysler's Ram Commercial Truck Division introduced two new engines for its pickup and chassis cab lines and a new full sized van with its own diesel engine. The 1500 series pickup truck becomes the first in its class to offer a diesel engine.

The products were launched at a press-only ride-and-drive in Thousand Oaks, California. The 2014 Ram 1500 will offer a 3.0 liter (182 cu. in) V-6 diesel with an 8-speed automatic transmissions sourced from ZF. The engine produces 240 hp at 3600 rpm and a whopping 420 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm. It is B20 (20% biodiesel) capable. Oil drain is at 15,000 miles.

The standard engine in the 1500 is a gasoline powered 3.7 liter (220 cu. in) double overhead cam V-6 that provides 305 hp at 6400 rpm and 269 lb-ft at 4175 rpm. For those wanting V-8 power in a light-duty pickup, the 5.7 liter (345 cu. in) HEMI produces 395 hp and 410 lb-ft at 3950 rpm. The V-8 is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Rear axle ratios range from 3.21 to 4.10.

A new engine, the 6.4 liter (392 cu. in) is available for the 2500, 3500 and chassis cab trucks. The larger HEMI produces 410 hp and 429 lb-ft. Torque does the work in commercial applications, and the lower the rpm, the more flexible and useful the engine will be. Designed exclusively for trucks, the 6.4 produces significant torque 800 to 1000 rpm sooner than other gasoline engines, at approximately 1800 rpm. The 6.7 liter Cummins diesel remains an option for the 2500 and heavier trucks. The 3500 can carry a load of 30,000 pounds, and when towing, can reach an industry-best gross combination weight of 37,500 lbs. Last year, Ram introduced a coil spring rear end in the 1500. For 2014, a 5-link coil spring rear suspension has been added to the 2500, and the 3500 offers leaf springs with air bag assist.

I drove new, diesel powered Ram 1500 on a 42 mile loop that included twists and climbs through several canyons as well as stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway. The ride was amazingly smooth and stable. The V-6 diesel took the hills in stride, and shifts with the 8-speed were smooth as could be. While the “official” mpg figures are not yet available, the truck’s trip computer read an impressive 23.7 mpg. The EPA rating for the Ram 1500 with the V-6 is more than 25 mpg.

The 2014 Ram ProMaster is based on the Fiat Ducato. Standard power in North America is from the 280 hp Pentastar V-6. A 3.0 liter inline 4 cylinder diesel is an option. Power and torque are not yet available. A replacement for the Sprinter, the last full-size van sold under the Dodge name, the ProMaster comes in 1500, 2500 and 3500 cargo vans, a 3500 chassis cab and a 2500 window van. Configurations range from a 118-in wheelbase 1500 with a low roof and 8,550 lb GVWR to a 159-inch wheelbase high roof 3500 with a 9350 lb GVWR. In all, there are 14 variations.

I drove an empty 1500 high roof ProMaster with a V-6 engine to pick up a load of animal feed, returning loaded. I could not tell much difference between being empty and loaded when on city streets and hills on country roads. My only complaint was a lack of grab handles to help enter the vehicle. The driver has use of the steering wheel, but on the passenger side, the spring-loaded handle above the door is not reachable from the ground, at least not on the high roof model. The interior is 6-ft 5-in high. At the cargo doors, the step-in height is 21 inches. The ProMaster will be built in Saltillo, Mexico.