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Ram embraces diesel engines in light pickups

Diesel-power vehicles have been making waves recently. With a lot of hype surrounded this fuel, which is more environmentally friendly than traditional gas, many manufacturers are considering the possibility of entering - or re-entering - the market.

Although diesel pickup trucks were once a popular option, their availability has waned in recent years. That is expected to change with one introduction from a major manufacturer, which could kick-start a renaissance of these light-duty machines.

Ram introduces a light diesel
Ram is looking to bring diesel back to light-duty trucks, and it will begin with an upgraded Ram 1500 pickup featuring the diesel engine. This six-cylinder motor will be more fuel efficient for drivers, even with the more expensive cost of diesel taken into account, and machines with these engines generally offer better low-end torque and towing power than their competitors, USA Today reported.

"The name of the game is making larger vehicles more relevant," Ram President Reid Bigland told the news source. "You make them more relevant by making them more fuel efficient."

Ram isn't the only brand embracing diesel technologies. Nissan has already announced plans to offer a full-size Titan pickup truck with a Cummins diesel engine. This motor was originally supposed to be included in a Ram truck but expanded to the Japanese automaker when a special partnership was formed, Automobile magazine reported. Nissan is scheduled to release this model and its V-8 engine sometime in early 2014.

Buyers beware
Just because diesel engines present a solid option for some drivers doesn't mean they are a good selection for all motorists. They can be more expensive to maintain, and the sticker prices on trucks with these motors are often higher than traditional vehicles, which can put certain models out of the price range of some. In fact, those drivers who are planning on making several rounds of truck modifications or invest in other upgrades may find that it is not within their budget to purchase these vehicles.

However, drivers looking for longevity should certainly take a look at diesel engines, as these motors may be better long-term investments.

"The high compression ratio of diesel engines allows for better efficiency compared to gasoline engines," Robert Angner, department manager of advanced product planning for Mercedes-Benz, told Digital Trends. "But this high compression ratio also requires more robust parts, which in general are considered to add longevity to the life span of the engine."

Off-roading advantages
In addition to the improved torque and towing capacity - both of which are extremely important qualities for off-road driving - diesel engines offer a few other advantages that adventurers may appreciate. For example, saving money on long-term maintenance or replacement parts can leave more funds for truck mods and similar upgrades - something almost any driver can appreciate. 

While some drivers may be hesitant about the noise or pollution stemming from a diesel engine, this concern is one that can be shrugged off. Over the years, these motors have evolved into fine-tuned systems that provide a driving experience that is almost identical to traditional gas-powered vehicles. That means motorists don't have to worry about harming the wilderness they are driving through in an off-road vehicle, and they won't scare too many critters with overbearing trucks. 

"The stigma from diesels of the past being smelly or smoky is still a perception that needs to be overcome, but positive changes have been seen in consumer sentiment that will only continue to improve," Angner told Digital Trends.