Review: 2019 Ram 1500 takes infotainment next level with 12-inch Uconnect 4C Nav system
We've become quite familiar with the 2019 Ram Truck lineup ever since their debut in Detroit early in 2018. We spent some time with them at a launch event in Arizona, driving several models in brief stints to learn their differences. We then spent a week in the 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel as well. Now, after a week in the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn model, we've also become very familiar – and enamored – with the new Uconnect 4C Nav infotainment system.
This upgrade, available for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles, moves from the already very well-done 8.4-inch Uconnect-based system to a new 12-inch Uconnect system with tablet-like functionality and an innovative split-screen sensibility.
Most of the expected functions of a good infotainment system, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth connectivity, and integrated voice commands, are present with Uconnect. Also included are some prized Uconnect capabilities like speech-to-text, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, and several SiriusXM connected services and real-time traffic options. The useful Uconnect "Do Not Disturb" option that limits phone calls and text messages, the latter with an auto-response text if desired, and SiriusXM Tune Start for starting a song over when switching stations are also included.
A new drag-and-drop menu bar setup is featured on the new Uconnect interface. It's nicely done and is available on the 8.4-inch display as well as the new 12-inch one. This allows the user to customize the menus or the quick-access app options to have those most-used things right up front on the menu system. This both personalizes the system and makes it faster to use over time. From there, swiping to one side quickly moves from a main menu item to its sub-menus.
On the 12-inch display, that drag-and-drop feature also includes a split-swap feature wherein with a button press, apps can be split to the lower or upper half of the screen and the display can be swapped with the lower app moving to the upper half and the upper to the lower. We found this very useful when screen glare (inevitable with such a large display) would affect a portion of the screen.
New for the Uconnect 4C Nav is SiriusXM's new 360L listening experience with on-demand content and an enhanced content recommendation system – this adds over 200 SiriusXM channels, including several that were previously only available online. It also adds thousands of pre-recorded, on-demand programs from those channels that are now available in-car.
Content recommendations, including favorite sport teams, artists, and more, are derived from user-selected favorites (available while playing) and derived from listening habits over time. Several other enhancements come with 360L as well, including phone-to-vehicle near-seamless play of content and user profiles for customized content among multiple drivers or passengers. Voice search is now also integrated into 360L for SiriusXM channel and content searching. That latter point made all of the other content upgrades worthwhile as it was very easy to find what was wanted without a lot of hunt and peck.
With Uconnect 4C is navigation that displays three-dimensional landmarks, city models, and digital terrain on the 8.4-inch and the large 12-inch screen. On the larger screen, this works primarily in full-screen mode, though many aspects are seen in half-screen mode as well. Navigating on the go is a new feature that we found highly useful. By speaking an intended destination (including just an address), navigation can bring up the most likely location or locations and prompt the driver to OK that. Once given the okay, the system will begin the navigation from the truck's current location – all without stopping. Very well done.
The expanded Uconnect system also brings five USB ports to the 2019 Ram 1500 – three of those are up front, and two are in the rear. Four ports are Type C USB ports for extremely fast charging and better information connectivity, while three of the ports (two Type C, one standard USB) are fully functioning for communications.
Those USB ports are in addition to the wireless charging pad located with the device holder integrated into the front console. This extremely well-done holder is rubberized to "grip" two or three phones or one small tablet in an upright position, or that same tablet (most anything smaller than 10-inches) or a couple of phones in a landscape position. Wireless charging is located in the point closest to the driver.
Part of the new Uconnect system in the 2019 Ram 1500 is a new 7-inch driver information display located between the gauges on the instrument cluster. This full-color display offers 3-D animation capabilities and configurable functions for personalization of information shown. The information displayed to the driver can be made quickly digestible through graphics and text.
We used this for on-road and off-road information displays that include vehicle dynamics information, highway drive efficiency output, and more. At its most basic, a set of useful status gauges across the top and a large digital speedometer are most useful for normal daily driving, while extended displays of pitch-yaw, 4WD traction information, or short- and long-term fuel economy are excellent for more specific driving situations. The driver information display can also show information pulled from the infotainment screen, such as navigation prompts, radio tuning, media track information, etc.
The final entry into the 2019 Ram 1500's new Uconnect system is the availability of SiriusXM Guardian for in-vehicle safety connectivity. The system works as an SOS in the event of an accident or medical emergency, and is activated by the red SOS button on the rearview mirror. From the Uconnect interface, it can also be activated for roadside assistance needs, automatically pinpointing the vehicle's location for responders. Using the Uconnect mobile app, the vehicle can be remote started, and most climate settings can be changed or set from the app as well. The app also allows the user to find locations and send them remotely to the truck for navigation.
The 2019 Ram 1500 and its new Uconnect system, especially with the 12-inch display, is phenomenally well done. Few others in the industry have gone to screens this large, especially in a dashboard-integrated upright design. Most split-screen capabilities that we've tried, including those large screens from Lexus, Tesla and others, or dual screens from Infiniti, are not nearly as well-integrated as is this new display from Ram Truck. There is some room for improvements in terms of capability, perhaps, but for user friendliness and design, this offering from Ram is top shelf.
Product Page: 2019 Ram 1500