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driving it home

At long last, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is on the way to dealers.

Chrysler had hoped to have this Ram diesel in showrooms in the third quarter of 2013. In fact, I test drove the Ram diesel in the fall of 2013 and was hugely impressed with its smooth power.

Now Chrysler isn't commenting on the delay. Chrysler Canada spokesman Daniel Labre referred to it as a representative of "minor adjustments" to the production schedule.

The Ram diesel starts at $36,395, which Labre says is "Basically $4,500 for the diesel engine," a 3.0-litre diesel sourced from Fiat-owned VM Motori (240 horsepower/420 pounds-feet of torque). Combined with the eight-speed automatic transmission, Chrysler says the light-duty diesel Ram has best-in-class fuel economy (13.6 litres/100 km combined) and a tow rating of 4,173 kg/9,200 lbs.

The delay suggests that Chrysler wants a flawless launch of its newest diesel pickup. You only get one chance to make a first impression, correct?

The full-size pickup world has been crying out for a light-duty diesel pickup. Ford has focused on fuel economy and power with its turbocharged, direct-injection EcoBoost engines and the V-6 in the F-Series has been very successful.

General Motors' all-new Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra have good gas engines, but no light-duty diesel. Big mistake.

Toyota updated its 2014 Tundra, but as Automotive News put it, "there is nothing about the new Tundra to suggest that Detroit needs to start worrying now" – including the carried-over gas engines. Meanwhile, at Nissan, an updated Titan pickup will get a diesel. Eventually.

Look, pickups are work vehicles or serious recreational toys or both. Studies show that about half of all pickup owners tow a trailer of some sort. If you trailer, get a diesel.

And if you want a light-duty diesel, Chrysler's Ram brand is your only option.

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