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The Luxury Truck

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T he inside story of the new Ram 1500, with interior studio Chief Designer, Ryan Nagode.

When Ram was launch as a stand-alone truck brand in 2009, a decision was also made to split its design studio into exterior and interior studios. The reasoning behind this move was to put more emphasis on them individually, gain leadership in new technological innovations and satisfy a growing demand for more luxurious, high-end truck editions.

“It’s amazing just how much it has changed in the last ten years,” said Ryan Nagode, Chief Interior Designer for Ram, Dodge and SRT products at FCA. “Especially with trucks, it was a mindset change to consider them as more than just a tool.”

“Yes, we still have our Tradesman, a no frills, get-it-done truck,” added Nagode. “On the other hand, our Ram 1500 Laramie Long Horn is a luxury SUV with a cargo bed in the back, in case you need to haul stuff.

We do unique leather and trim panel wraps, intricate stitching, etching and embossing, stuff we never did on trucks. Our Laramie Long Horn and Limited trim levels are definitely luxury vehicles now.”

There are very obvious differences between a car and a truck interior, such as cabin size, storage bin space and the seating is also more upright. “That overall sense - that you’re not on top of each other - is a big thing for truck buyers,” added Nagode. “When you fold the rear seats up, there’s enough room in the back of a crew cab to put a giant TV inside.”

“Early on in the planning stage (for the new Ram 1500) we decided we wanted to attract more luxury buyers,” continued Nagode. “For me that translated into looking at more high-end materials, even before we started to sketch the interior. Our rough open-pore barn wood trim, is a natural material that we hadn’t worked with before. We also paid a lot of attention to the jewelry elements, such as the little filigree etching details on the metal trim. It’s not something that a buyer may pick up on right away, but we want a buyer to feel like this vehicle is tailored to them.”

“We spent a ton of time on the centre console, we did mockups and breadboard models on how we could use the extra space, since we didn’t have a transmission shifter to work around.” Transmission drive selections are now made via a rotary dial located on the dashboard. You can also fit a 15-inch laptop in the console, which has five USB ports. “A lot of owners apparently now prefer to give their kids individual iPads rather than have a single built-in entertainment system for rear passengers,” according to Nagode.

The overall level of technical sophistication is very impressive. All models equipped with the 5.7 litre V8 Hemi MDS engine come with a cabin noise cancellation system. It allows the V8 engine to use its fuel-saving 4-cylinder operating mode more often and longer. Active tune modules are also used in the suspension design to cancel unwanted road noise. And the top-line 9000-watt Harman Kardon audio system comes with 19 speakers, a surround sound amplifier and a 10-inch subwoofer.

If you plan to travel a less beaten path, the new Rebel edition offers 33-inch tires, a factory lift kit, a locking rear differential and other useful off-road features. At the top end, a fully equipped Ram 1500 Limited 4x4 Crew Cab is close to $80,000, before delivery fees and taxes.

ONLY IN THE NEW RAM 1500

It’s the largest-in-class, a 12-inch touch-screen with Uconnect 4C Navigation and split-screen capability.

ONLY IN CANADA

The new Ram 1500 Sport is built exclusively for Canada and features unique exterior design cues, interior treatments and custom options.

PRICE RANGE: $34,595 to $65,095

BY BOB McHUGH

RAMTRUCK.CA