San Diego, California - The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel climbed to the top of Consumer Reports’ full-size pickup truck ratings with an impressive performance in the organization’s fuel economy tests.

The EcoDiesel (82 point overall road test score) turned in a best-in-class fuel economy of 20 mpg overall and 27 mpg on the highway, to help it score better than the previously tested Ram 1500 V8 (81) regular gas version and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (80).

“These are about the same fuel-economy numbers that we typically see in a mid-sized SUV. The Ram is currently the only truck to offer turbo-diesel technology. It will be interesting to see what impact it will have on the half-ton truck market,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports. 

Consumer Reports engineers found the EcoDiesel to be as luxurious and refined as the previously tested V8 version. The EcoDiesel remains fully capable of doing dirty work when duty calls. A unique coil-spring rear suspension gives it a smooth ride, and the interior is whisper-quiet.

Consumer Reports noted some telltale diesel clatter at idle and low speeds, but the engine noise is well-hushed when cruising. Some buyers may like hearing the distinctive diesel engine note. The continued interior and powertrain improvements make the Ram a particularly well-rounded choice for most consumers.

Updated test results for the Ram EcoDiesel are available today at www.ConsumerReports.org.

In other tests, the redesigned Toyota Highlanders’ impressive performance earned it the top spot in Consumer Reports midsized SUV ratings. Consumer Reports engineers found it refined and comfortable, loaded with creature comforts, and the ability to tow 3,500 pounds. Yet it gets a very thrifty 25 mpg overall, which is the same as many small SUVs and midsized sedans.

The Hybrid takes the smooth, powerful V6 from the regular Highlander and adds a hybrid battery pack and three electric motors, increasing horsepower by 10, to 280. In place of the conventional six-speed automatic transmission, the Hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission, which is well-matched to the engine. That combo delivers 25 mpg overall, which is 25 percent better than the regular Highlander’s 20. Power delivery is smooth. Transitions between electric power and the gas engine are seamless. And the Hybrid can usually propel itself on electric power up to about 35 mph.

The new Highlander also handles better, with a steadier ride and reduced body lean in corners. When pushed to its handling limits, a well-tuned stability-control system kept things secure. Energy-saving regenerative brakes make the pedal a little touchy, but stopping distances were good.

Testers were impressed with Toyota’s new infotainment system, which has simple menus that make it easy to select functions, as well as knobs for volume and tuning. It also has excellent voice controls and one of the most comprehensive Bluetooth streaming-audio interfaces Consumer Reports has seen.

Complete tests results of the redesigned Toyota Highlander Hybrid, as well as additional reports for the recently tested Chevrolet Suburban(“Very Good”), Chevrolet Tahoe (“Very Good”), and Ford C-Max Hybrid Plug-In.(“Very Good”),  are available online at www.ConsumerReports.org and in the October issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands starting August 28, 2014.

Consumer Reports’ testing procedures are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or Web site. More than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. Roughly 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up on each test car during the testing process. CR buys all its test cars anonymously from dealers. Other reviewers base their evaluations on press cars that are hand-picked by the automakers.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.