The 2019 Ram 1500 takes pickup-truck lux­ury to the next level

The top Lim­ited model is the line’s flag­ship with am­ple ameni­ties and a steep sticker price

The Mercury News - - Drive - CTW FEA­TURES By Jim Gorze­lany

While they’re still avail­able in rather ba­sic work-truck ver­sions, au­tomak­ers and mo­torists alike are liv­ing large with top-shelf lux­ury pickup trucks that ri­val the best lux­ury cars in terms of fea­tures and ac­com­mo­da­tions.

We re­cently spent a week driv­ing a top-of-the-line four-door Lim­ited ver­sion of the re­designed-for-2019 Ram 1500 and can at­test that the new model is well suited to chal­lenge the class-lead­ing Ford F-150 Lim­ited and GMC Sierra De­nali among big-buck trucks.

For starters, it’s lighter, longer and wider and fea­tures fresh styling that dumps the for­mer “big rig” look for a more up­right ap­pear­ance. As be­fore, the Ram 1500 comes in a wide range of trim lev­els, cab con­fig­u­ra­tions and bed lengths.

Our tester came with four-wheel drive and the avail­able 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8 that gen­er­ates a strong 395 horse­power (rear-drive and a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horse­power are stan­dard). Both en­gines in­cor­po­rate a new “mild-hy­brid” sys­tem that makes them both quicker and more fuel ef­fi­cient. An eight-speed ro­tary-di­al­con­trolled au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is stan­dard. The truck’s trailer-tow­ing ca­pac­ity is 12,750 pounds when prop­erly equipped, yet it rides well and han­dles eas­ily, es­pe­cially with the op­tional air sus­pen­sion with which our test model was equipped.

The truck can be fit­ted with lock­ing stor­age com­part­ments in the rear fend­ers, a power tail­gate re­lease, power de­ploy­able run­ning boards, and a tri-fold soft ton­neau cover for the cargo bed that turns it into an enor­mous se­cure trunk. Avail­able safety fea­tures in­clude adap­tive cruise con­trol, a blind-spot mon­i­tor with rear crosstraf­fic de­tec­tion, lane-de­par­ture warn­ing and for­ward auto-brak­ing.

The Lim­ited model we drove came el­e­gantly leatheruphol­stered in­side with a her­ring­bone pat­tern on the steer­ing wheel and trim items, heated and ven­ti­lated front and rear seats and an enor­mous cen­ter con­sole be­tween them. The back seat is roomy enough to ac­com­mo­date three large adults — wear­ing cow­boy hats, no less — in li­mou­sine-like com­fort. Rear in-floor bins with re­mov­able lin­ers pro­vide ad­di­tional out-of-sight stor­age. A panoramic dual-pane power sun­roof is avail­able for an open-air ef­fect.

High­light­ing the Lim­ited’s in­te­rior is a large 12-inch ver­ti­cally-mounted tablet­com­puter-like dis­play that’s mounted at the cen­ter of the dash­board. It’s con­fig­urable and re­sponds to both ges­ture and touch con­trol. Run­ning the lat­est ver­sion of the ex­cel­lent “Ucon­nect” mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem, it looks com­plex but is sur­pris­ingly in­tu­itive to op­er­ate. (Other ver­sions fea­ture less-spec­tac­u­lar 8.4 and 5.0-inch dis­plays.)

Full smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity in­cludes Blue­tooth, Ap­ple CarPlay, and An­droid Auto in­ter­faces. A mo­bile app en­ables own­ers to re­motely lock, un­lock or start their ve­hi­cle, lo­cate the truck in a crowded park­ing lot, and send des­ti­na­tion en­tries di­rectly to the avail­able nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. Sir­iusXM satel­lite ra­dio is in­cluded, and it comes with a new stream­ing mu­sic fea­ture.

An avail­able sur­round cam­era gives a 360-de­gree view around the truck for eas­ier and safer park­ing; a ba­sic rear-view mon­i­tor is stan­dard across the line. A new Ac­tive Noise Can­cel­la­tion sys­tem helps cre­ate in-cabin seren­ity, while an op­tional 19-speaker Har­mon Kar­don premium au­dio ar­ray with an ear­split­ting 900 watts eas­ily shat­ters it.

Need­less to say, all this lux­ury, com­bined with ma­jor tow­ing and haul­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties — comes at a steep cost. The Ram 1500 Lim­ited we tested had a sticker price of

$68,785 that in­cluded nearly $11,000 worth of op­tions (along with the $1,695 des­ti­na­tion charge). That’s in­deed pricey, but it’s roughly on a par with the top Ford F-150 Lim­ited model that starts at over $62,000 and can cross the $70,000 bar­rier with all boxes checked on the op­tions list.

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