Whether it’s an available air suspension system or bedside storage bins, luxury car-rivaling interiors, or a 12-inch multimedia display, innovation is a cornerstone of the Ram Truck brand.
“We have over 100 years of truck-building heritage and we’re proud of that,” said Jim Morrison, head of Ram in North America. This pickup-focused division was spun-off from Dodge back in 2009, something that gave them more freedom “to carve out our own space, define what we want to be good at and continue to grow.”
“It’s really interesting,” recounted Morrison. “[When] I started in this business… luxury in a heavy-duty pickup truck was a seatbelt.” Today, drivers expect so much more from their rigs, which are just as likely to be pressed into family-hauling duty as they are to be loaded up at the job site.
The latest crop of Ram trucks can be had with leather-and-wood-trimmed cabins that are the segment’s best. But fuel-efficient eTorque mild-hybrid drivetrains, an available Cummins engine with 1,000 pound-feet of torque and even the brand’s signature big-rig styling help keep rival automakers on their toes.
One of the most intriguing features Ram engineers have come up with is the brand-new Multifunction Tailgate, which will be available on 1500 models. It folds down like a normal tailgate, being able to support a full 2,000 pounds, but it can also swing open like a pair of barndoors, making it easier to climb into the bed or reach cargo stored there.
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Tailgates have gone mostly unchanged for a century, but in one model year, two automakers have seen fit to completely reinvent them, Ram, of course, and GMC with its MultiPro Tailgate, which is available on the Sierra. “We didn’t intend them to be all that close together,” said Morrison. “Obviously, we don’t know what they’re working on, they don’t know what we’re working on,” so it was pure happenstance they came out at basically the same time. He also noted they get plenty of feedback from customers about how they can improve their trucks and this is one implementation of that, something they’ve been working on for quite a while.
Another area where Ram leads the pack is in infotainment technology. Its newest-generation light- and heavy-duty pickups can both be fitted with a massive 12-inch portrait display, one with enough screen real estate to have two different things showing at once, like the navigation map up top and climate controls on the lower half. Morrison said, “Not very long ago, people would have thought we were insane putting anything more than a five-inch radio in a pickup truck.” Now, everything else seems far too small.
On the safety front, Ram is dramatically reducing the risk of collision by putting advanced driver-assistance features in even its largest commercial vehicles. Forward collision warning with automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, both of which function even while towing a trailer, are offered in heavy-duty models including chassis cabs.
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“[If] your truck can brake for you, and your trailer can brake for you, that can save one heck of a wreck,” said Morrison. “And that’s why we made sure that that safety tech is available on our chassis cabs and our pickup trucks, all the way down to Tradesman,” that’s Ram’s entry-level trim.
Despite all the clever features and segment firsts this truck division has introduced, they have no intention of slowing down. Morrison said the innovation will continue.
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