The new 2019 Ram 1500 has many things you’d expect from a truck: vast towing capacity, a bountiful maximum payload, and loads of horsepower. But it also has something you might not expect: a massive 12-inch touchscreen display embedded in the dashboard that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The display is just shy of the 17-inch behemoth found in the Tesla Model S or X, but after spending a few minutes with it on the show floor here in Detroit, it feels just as vibrant and sharp. It’s also just about as responsive as the one that Tesla uses, which is to say it’s not particularly speedy or accurate. It’s easy to swipe or tap so fast that the system doesn’t keep up so well, multitouch inputs are hit or miss, and at least one of the trucks on the show floor already suffered a pretty bad bug that slid the menu icons down “below” the viewing area. Hey, at least there are still plenty of physical controls surrounding the screen.
Fiat Chrysler is powering the new Ram’s computer-sized screen with the fourth generation of the company’s own infotainment software, called UConnect. Its bubbly, gradated icons aren’t going to win any design awards, but most of the menus are easy to read and navigate. A persistent row of icons at the bottom allow quick access to things like satellite radio, climate and seat temperature controls, and navigation, while a home button in the top left corner makes it easy to always return to the UI’s starting point.
What’s neat about UConnect on this massive display is that you can split-screen two apps, meaning you could run SiriusXM in one half while the Ram’s navigation guides you in the other. And the new Ram supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though they can only run in this split-screen mode. It makes sense — vertical screens aren’t exactly all the rage in the automotive world. And this is how Volvo handles CarPlay on its own infotainment system. But it’s a little jarring on a screen this big, especially considering how familiar Apple and Google are with designing mobile operating systems in a portrait layout. At the very least, it would be nice to be able to set Apple Maps or Google Maps full screen.
There are a few other technological accoutrements in the new Ram, like a wireless charging pad and a 900-watt, 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. It’s also a hybrid. Who knew slugging around in a truck could feel so futuristic?