The pickup truck for many is really a rolling office. That's why Chrysler and Sprint chose the redesigned 2013 Ram 1500 as one of the vehicles to debut a new connectivity system -- Uconnect Access.
The system is also going on the all-new SRT Viper, a car Chrysler hopes will wow and impress with its sleek new design and roaring engine. A new connectivity system can't hurt.
The upgraded Uconnect system gives drivers Internet access, in-dash apps, a smartphone app, emergency assistance and cloud-based voice recognition systems. But Chrysler layered in a few new options as well.
Using Sprint's Velocity for Vehicle Manufacturers system, 2013 Ram truck owners can use their vehicles as a mobile hot spot for other people at their work site. Even better: The system can link in with other WiFi spots in the area, so if the truck is parked outside a Starbucks, Panera Bread or public library, the driver could use the Internet in the car for free. If the driver doesn't have access to free Internet, customers can opt for a monthly data plan or an on-demand pay-per-use option.
Chrysler's upgraded system comes in basic and upgraded versions: The base version, UconnectR3, features an 8.4-inch color touchscreen and the flexibility to purchase navigation after you buy the vehicle. It includes a built-in cellular modem and Wi-Fi capability, access to 911 and roadside assistance via the press of a button on the rearview mirror (similar to General Motor's OnStar system), SiriusXM satellite radio, voice recognition, hands-free text messaging and access to digital music through an SD card slot and USB ports.
The higher-end version, UconnectR4 includes everything from the lower priced version, plus HD Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic, and a "full feature" navigation system with 3-D city maps and digital terrain modeling that shows you what your route looks like. A smartphone app available for both systems also allows remotely locking and unlocking the doors and starting the vehicle.
The whole system is extremely well thought out and wonderfully executed, making it a clear choice as finalist in our Connectivity category for Technology of the Year.