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Driving the Rockies in the 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the 2020 Nissan Versa and 15 Other Game-Changing Vehicles

The Rocky Mountain Driving Experience gave journalists the chance to drive 17 new vehicles. All of the vehicles are important in their segments. Come with us for the drive!

I have always said that I was the luckiest person alive because I get to learn and write about the things I love. The Rocky Mountain Driving Experience allowed members of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press to drive 17 of the latest and most important vehicles. One of the vehicles, the 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is already considered a game-changer. Fiat Chrysler has not yet released the mileage numbers for the EcoDiesel, but insiders tell me that “The plan is for the third-generation 1500 EcoDiesel to outdo the second-generation truck in every way.”

The first thing you notice when driving the pickup is how much quieter the new EcoDiesel is, inside and outside of the truck. Inside the cab, you really wouldn’t notice that it is a diesel. Trevor Dorchies, who is the manager for the Ram brand media relations, credits the new EcoDiesel engine for the quieter operation as well as the improved sound-proofing in the truck.

In upcoming stories, I will report much more about two other great changes affecting the EcoDiesel’s outstanding handling and acceleration.

The Driving Experience outing took us along back roads through the Colorado Rockies, west of Denver to Colorado Springs. The many changes in elevation on our way to the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, in Colorado Springs, gave the many reporters the chance to put the vehicles through their paces.

Nissan Demonstrates Commitment to Sedans

2020 Nissan Versa

Nissan had a strong showing bringing out its all-new 2020 Versa and the 2020 Nissan Altima. The 2020 Versa is promising to break new ground in its segment, being more connected than ever, while adding class-leading availability of safety features. The all-new 2020 Versa is longer and wider than previous versions, with great cargo room for a small vehicle. Nissan has upgraded the interior and added a sleek new instrument panel that looks more like the interiors of the higher end Maxima and Altima.

Watch Torque News report on 2020 Ram's towing safety and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily Ram and automotive news analysis.

Speaking of the Altima, the 2020 version took to the narrower mountain roads like a champ, handling the curves and elevation changes like a sports car, with premium comfort. The interior feels much roomier than most mid-size vehicles and looks more expensive than what most would expect. With the Detroit Three all but abandoning sedans, Nissan intends to capitalize on the sedan segment. These two vehicles will both be in high demand for the anti-crossover crowd.

The 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE has also been seriously upgraded. It shows why 46 million of the small sedans have already been sold up until now.

Fast Fun and Very Different

Journalists were lined up at every swap point for the chance to drive the incredibly sleek 2019 BMW 850i and the super-powerful 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody. The two popular vehicles couldn’t be more different in design and feel and both wowed the crowd.

All Round Enjoyable Vehicles

The 2020 Subaru Outback showed why it is one of the most popular vehicles in the west. It handles the back roads brilliantly, always comfortable, always nimble. I kind of felt badly about not having a dog riding with us in the vehicle. It seems everyone else does! The all-new urethane seat coverings are designed to be breathable and easy to keep clean. The new seats will make driving kids and dogs much easier.

Likewise, the 2020 Subaru Legacy handles Colorado driving incredibly well. All of the different Subaru models are top sellers in the upper east coast, the mountain west, and along the Pacific coast up through the northwest.

It was great having the opportunity to compare both the 2019 Fiat 500X and the 2019 Jeep Renegade. Built on the same platform, both were sporting the new 1.3L turbo. Both are fun, both handled the roads well, but you get entirely different looks from other drivers. Jeeps are plentiful in Colorado but the Fiats always stand out!

There are many more fabulous vehicles to talk about. The very fast and dynamic 2019 Volkswagen Arteon feels like it was built for great acceleration on the mountain roads. Of course, Germany has its share of mountains so it makes perfect sense.

Mazda received great reviews for the 2019 CX-5 Signature and the always in-demand 2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback AWD. It is easy to see why both vehicles will be strong sellers.

Journalists also got to drive the latest SUV offerings from Koreans. The 2020 Kia Telluride is the latest three-row SUV with affordable pricing. The 2020 Hyundai Palisade has seating for eight and is upgraded all the way around. Both will be contenders in the crossover competition.

More FCA Fun

You can expect to hear much more from me about two other vehicles featured in the event. Everyone competed for the chance to drive the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. It’s new, it’s fun and it is incredible when you take the top panel off and feel the wind through your hair. I swear, you can’t help but laugh. It handles great and is pure Jeep excitement.

Ram also featured one of its Moparized 2019 Ram 1500 vehicles. We learned about FCA’s new Custom Shops, I’ll be reporting much more on the new concept. Plus, it is astounding how a driver can customize his or her new vehicle.

The Rocky Mountain Driving Experience was an incredible event and I can’t wait to share some of the inside information I learned during it.

Mary Conway covered the Detroit Three for more than twenty years for the ABC affiliate, in Detroit. Her affection for the Motor City comes naturally. Her father ran a gas station while Mary was growing up, in Wisconsin. Follow Mary on Twitter at @maryconwaymedia.