REVIEW: 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Tradesman achieves work truck nirvana with comfort, unbelievable fuel economy

Updated Mar 21, 2015

Pro Pickup LeadCall it plain vanilla. Call it a stripper. Call it bare-bones. It’s all of those. One thing the 2015 Ram 1500 Regular Cab EcoDiesel isn’t, though, is wimpy.

The truck I recently spent a few days driving the city streets, interstates and mountain roads around Phoenix, Arizona and Laughlin, Nevada is the epitome of bland.

But get beyond the two-door’s vinyl floor mats, hand-crank windows, manual seats and manual door locks, and you quickly realize it’s also the epitome of a true work truck: Functional. Powerful. Economical. Comfortable.

Powered by the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, this Ram sips fuel like a camel trekking over the Sahara. During a joint test with the folks at, we saw 29.2 mpg on a 110-mile highway-driving loop that included a 20-mile section of twisting mountain roads.

The truck also bested the EPA’s 20 mpg city driving numbers with better than 22 mpg navigating through moderate traffic.

Pro Pickup BoxI also slapped a 4,500-pound trailer on the hitch ball to see how the little V-6 diesel, developing 420 foot-pounds and 240 horsepower, backed by the 8-speed automatic, does in the trailering department. Taking the same 110-mile route the Ram delivered 17 mpg, which is exceptional fuel economy for a work truck.

The diesel V-6, which is a $4,000 option, is strong right off-throttle up to about 4,000 rpm, at which point the 8-speed quickly snicks up another gear to continue the power surge.

On top of the power, I found the steering nimble, the brakes strong. And the visibility is excellent.

As for ride, the base model Ram 1500 Tradesman 2WD ($25,195) is surprisingly comfortable. One would expect a regular cab with a payload capacity pushing 1,500-pound to be harsh and the seating cramped. It’s neither.

The truck takes the bumps, dips and irregularities in the road with aplomb, and the vinyl 60/40- split-bench seat is both comfortable and adjustable enough to make even taller drivers and passengers be at ease.

There’s a spacious center console with 12-volt and USB connectivity to power electronics, and the Tradesman has a plastic base storage area behind the seats for smaller items such as heavy jackets, work boots, a briefcase and more.

Having the optional UConnect system, with upgraded audio, Bluetooth and touch screen, modernizes the bare interior while making hands-free phone and other connectivity operations available for the rolling office.


The 2015 Tradesman got better than 17mpg towing this 4,500-pound horse trailer.The 2015 Tradesman got better than 17mpg towing this 4,500-pound horse trailer.

One of the only nits I could find to pick with the Tradesman is the stock 17-inch tires. They are fine if the truck is going to be used strictly as a parts getter. But their narrow width and street tread don’t afford much in the way of off-pavement driving or navigating slicker road surfaces.

That can become an issue with the diesel; there’s so much low-end torque it’s easy to find the rear tires protesting as they grab for traction if one gets a little sporty in their driving. I’d also upgrade if I were going to be doing a lot of towing or hauling loads.

Ram’s base-model 1500 Tradesman is a true work truck. But it’s also fun to drive with the EcoDiesel, be it empty, the bed loaded, or with a trailer in-tow. The best part? You don’t make many fuel stops.