Property

Renaissance acquisition doubles PegasusLife retirement portfolio

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:52
Retirement living developer PegasusLife has acquired rival Renaissance Retirement in a deal which will double its portfolio and make it the third largest retirement living developer in the UK.
Categories: Property

Toyota to debut Apple CarPlay integration with 2019 Avalon

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:06
Toyota's flagship four-door sedan will also be its first model in North America to offer integration for Apple iPhones. It's been a long time coming. Until the Monday debut of the 2019 Toyota Avalon at the 2018 Detroit auto show, the Japanese automaker had resisted allowing smartphone operating systems access to its infotainment systems, citing...
Categories: Property

First Look: 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53, E53 Coupe, and E53 Cabriolet

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:00

Three 2019 Mercedes-AMG 53-series models—a CLS sedan, E-Class Coupe, and E-Class Cabriolet made their world premiere at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.

The new 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53, E53 Coupe, and E53 Cabriolet replace the 43-series models and should appeal to most AMG lovers.

For starters, they all share a new-electrified 3.0-liter six-cylinder inline engine that offers 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque.

Mercedes claims its EQ Boost starter-alternator adds an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque to the 53 models. The engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and is available with standard 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive.

Mercedes-AMG CLS53 Gallery

New 53-series models feature a twin-blade radiator grille with a black lattice pattern, an A-wing inspired front bumper, AMG side sill panels, rear bumper with diffuser insert, plus round twin tailpipe trim in chrome. The lip spoiler on the trunk is optionally available in carbon fiber.

“With the new 53-series models we are extending our portfolio in a first step towards a hybridized future with a leading-edge combination of sporty design, performance and efficiency. The basis for this is a contemporary drive configuration in the form of a six-cylinder in-line engine with electric auxiliary compressor, EQ Boost starter-alternator and 48 V on-board electrical system,” said Tobias Moers, Mercedes-AMG head honcho, in a statement.

“The very spontaneous response to accelerator pedal input, the precision and the design focusing on driving dynamics are hallmark features of AMG. As such we are providing an additional lifestyle-oriented customer group with a further attractive offering from Affalterbach.”

The EQ Boost starter-alternator combines a starter motor and alternator in an electric motor that is fitted between the six-cylinder in-line engine and transmission. It charges via an electric auxiliary compressor and an exhaust that helps scoot the AMG CLS 53 from 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 4.4 seconds says Mercedes.

Power for the 48 V on-board electrical system is generated by the EQ Boost starter-alternator says AMG tech wizards. Additionally, there are five drive modes that include Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual.

Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe Gallery

The four-door CLS53 rolls on 19-inch light-alloy wheels, and optional 20-inch wheels are available. Interiors get model-specific, exclusive appointments, luxurious materials, and other goodies.

All feature dual high-resolution displays with 12.3-inch screens that blend into a Widescreen Cockpit.

The large display with virtual instruments can be seen in the driver’s field of vision, as well as a central display above the center console. Infotainment system functions can also be operated via the touchpad and by voice control.

The sports seats get red seat belts plus trim elements in carbon fiber and there’s a new AMG Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather for the driver.

AMG says the new 53-series models receive more options than the preceding 43-series models. Interior options in leather and designo interiors are available from classic black with red or gray contrasting topstitching, for the AMG E53 Coupe and Cabriolet.

There are now also combinations in black/saddle brown, black/white, black/classic red, designo titian red/macchiato beige and designo titanium gray/black.

For the AMG CLS53, there is also a choice of color combinations in macchiato beige/magma gray, black/Bengal red and espresso brown/magma gray.

The rear seat row has also been redesigned with three full-size seats says the maker.

Standard tech doodads for the AMG CLS53 include Active Braking Assist, Attention Assist, and Pre Safe protection.

An optional Driving Assistance Package offers Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Steering Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Braking Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Pre-Safe Plus.

Mercedes says an exclusive Edition 1 will be available for the AMG CLS53 in a fine copper color with leather upholstery in black Nappa and copper-colored contrasting topstitching throughout the instrument panel, steering wheel, armrests, center console, door panels, and floor mats.

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG 53-series models go on sale in the U.S. by late 2018.

Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet Gallery

The post First Look: 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53, E53 Coupe, and E53 Cabriolet appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2019 Toyota Avalon preview

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 11:41
The 2019 Toyota Avalon blurs the line between mainstream and luxury. This full-size sedan is Toyota's flagship, and if not for its badges, it could be a Lexus. The 2019 Avalon might be lower-slung than its predecessor, but its high-tech interior and available luxury features make its spec sheet read more like a Lexus than a Toyota. Arriving in...
Categories: Property

Former GPU chief becomes head of offices for Lendlease

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 11:22
The former chief executive officer of the UK’s largest land and property estate, the Government Property Unit, has moved to the private sector to become Lendlease’s new head of offices.
Categories: Property

Landmark funding deal for Select's £247m Manchester BTR scheme

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 11:02
A consortium of lenders led by Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPVF) has given its backing to Select Property Group’s £247m Affinity Living scheme at Circle Square in Manchester.
Categories: Property

2019 Toyota Avalon First Look: The Next Big Toyota

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 11:00

As more Americans flock to SUVs, the number of automakers still competing in traditional sedan segments has shrunk. But Toyota still sees a market of buyers for full-size sedans and thus is rolling out a fifth-generation Avalon.

Because it rides on the same TNGA platform as the 2018 Camry, the redesigned 2019 Avalon also benefits from many of the Camry’s advances in powertrain and platform engineering.

But perhaps what will make the most buzz in the post-CES climate is Toyota’s decision to offer Apple CarPlay. Toyota had been in a legal snarl with Apple and Google about their refusal to fully disclose the workings and security protocols of their back-end programming, so Toyota had been using its own proprietary Entune software—with mixed results.

By offering Avalon with CarPlay, it appears Toyota has smoothed things over with Apple. As for Google/Android devices, however, Toyota’s press release says the Avalon will integrate smart watches with Alexa-enabled voice connectivity—which works with either Apple or Android devices. But the automaker won’t offer Android Auto with the Avalon’s 9.0-inch infotainment screen—which can be pinched and flicked like a smartphone.

Toyota also refers to the Avalon’s infotainment system as “Entune 3.0,” so it might not be giving up on the proprietary-software game entirely. Entune will allow connected services for safety and vehicle service, and it features an available Wi-Fi hot spot powered by Verizon. Should you wish to crank the stereo, the standard audio system has 14 speakers, and the optional version boasts a 1,200-watt, 7.1-channel JBL system that uses Clari-Fi to fill in data lost by media compression software.

In addition to the central console’s infotainment system, the Avalon has a 7.0-inch display in the instrument cluster to show vehicle information, navigation steps, and various vehicle and safety settings. In addition to the analog speedometer, the Avalon includes a digital speedometer in the central display menu.

The 2019 Avalon’s design features more creases and angularity—perhaps following the Nissan Maxima ever so slightly—and is longer, lower, and wider than before. Its new design features a slippery 0.27 Cd.

Inside the Avalon’s expected wood-and-leather ghetto, the center console includes an “e-bin” with a 12-volt plug, three USB power ports (the Avalon has five in total), and a standard Qi wireless device charger. Toyota also designed one of the Avalon’s center-console cupholders to double as a device holder.

On the driving front, the 2019 Avalon will offer an upgraded version of Toyota’s 3.5-liter V-6 as well as the four-cylinder hybrid powertrain also offered in the Camry.

Although Toyota did not give exact power figures for the engines, both are similar dimensionally and have identical compression ratios to the Camry’s powerplants: 301 hp and 267 lb-ft for the 2GR-FKS V-6 and 203 hp and 184 lb-ft for the A25A-FXS four-banger hybrid.

The front-drive V-6 is mated to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission; Touring and XSE models get steering wheel–mounted paddle shifters with rev-matching downshifts. The hybrid uses a CVT, and its batteries are now mounted under the back seat instead of the trunk.

The Avalon has never been a sporty sedan—especially given its typically geriatric buyer demographic—but that isn’t stopping Toyota from trying to give the sedan a bit more snap. The 2019 model offers active variable suspension with adaptive damping, front and rear G sensors, and independent wheel control via shock-mounted solenoid control valves. Toyota says the system can choose from 650  damping steps in 20 milliseconds. The old rear suspension setup of a dual-link MacPherson strut has been replaced by a multilink setup, which has widened the track and lowered the Avalon’s center of gravity.

New Year, new attitude. First look at the all-new #Avalon coming soon from 2018 @NAIASDetroit. https://t.co/Ge5MCCZJ23 #NAIAS pic.twitter.com/Xv8hXlcXcG

— Toyota USA (@Toyota) January 4, 2018

To further crank up the fun, the Avalon has active noise control, an intake sound generator, and engine sound enhancement. All trims get Eco, Normal, and Sport modes, and Touring trims also get a Sport+ setting. We’ll have to drive the Avalon to tell you if any of these make any difference to the driving experience.

On the safety front, standard features include pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beams, 10 airbags, stability control, traction control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, and a standard backup camera.

The 2019 Avalon will go on sale in late spring. Pricing was not announced.

The post 2019 Toyota Avalon First Look: The Next Big Toyota appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Triple Point completes social housing portfolio acquisition

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:31
Triple Point Social Housing REIT has completed the acquisition of a 60-unit supported housing portfolio for £10.7m.
Categories: Property

Paradise Birmingham and Airport City "will not be affected" by Carillion liquidation

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:28
One of Carillion’s biggest real estate partners Argent has said it is confident the development of the Paradise Birmingham scheme “will not be adversely affected” by the compulsory liquidation of the construction firm.
Categories: Property

Paradise Birmingham and Airport City "will not be adversely affected" by Carillion liquidation

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:28
One of Carillion’s biggest real estate partners Argent has said it is confident the development of the Paradise Birmingham scheme “will not be adversely affected” by the compulsory liquidation of the construction firm.
Categories: Property

Meyer Bergman closes third Euro fund with €816m raised

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:27
Meyer Bergman has secured €816m (£726m) of equity commitments from international institutional investors for its third fund, European Retail Partners III (MBERP III), at the final close of capital-raising.
Categories: Property

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept Previews the Future of Infiniti Cars

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:01

Behold the future of Infiniti. Take some whimsy, a desire for simplicity, and a new compact engine. Put them together and you have the Q Inspiration concept, a dramatically proportioned sedan that telegraphs a new design direction for Infiniti cars.

The dramatically proportioned Q Inspiration is not a precursor to any one Infiniti car replacement—it is the precursor to the future design of them all.

Q Inspiration is a four-passenger front- and all-wheel-drive midsize sedan with an enormous interior because it offers not just a new look, but also a new way to look at packaging and technology for Nissan’s luxury brand.

Key to being able to do this re-envisioning is the new VC-Turbo four-cylinder engine that is more compact and gives designers the freedom to shorten the hood and elongate the body. It is the first variable compression ratio engine that gives the gas engine the torque and efficiency of a hybrid or diesel, an advanced powertrain debuting in the 2019 QX50.

“The powertrain is a solution for design,” said Daniel Jimenez, the San Diego-based senior Infiniti designer who did the concept’s original sketch one year ago.

The San Diego team had already worked on Prototype 9, an exercise to breathe fresh air into the brand that produced a vintage racer. “It started as a dream, a blue sky project to tap into something more whimsical,” Jimenez said. “It was the ultimate design experience.”

The Q Inspiration was a more realistic rethink of sedan design and packaging. “We wanted to push the coupe look,” Jimenez said, and emphasize there was something different under the hood. The brand is not tied to a lot of heritage, but it wants to preserve its soul.

Jimenez’s original doodle in the pursuit of purity and harmony was seen by Alfonso Albaisa who took over as the automaker’s design chief last year. The sketch went back and forth between them and Jimenez went to the design headquarters in Atsugi, Japan, for three months to work on it because the scope of what was being envisioned called for full-size clay models from the start.

In the end, Infiniti crafted a midsize sedan with a full-size interior. The wheelbase was stretched, the windshield pushed forward, and a giant glass roof covers the stretched cabin, adding to the sleek look while still preserving headroom.

The Q Inspiration concept’s hood has a dramatic vent that draws the eye to the logo in front from which all design seems to emanate. Within each headlight is a suspended bridge pointing to the logo. And the double-arch grille is recessed, body-colored for the first time, and conservative in a world of big in-your-face grilles. The grille is bordered by frosted white lights rather than chrome and its vertical rib design is repeated throughout the car.

The design was inspired by an archer with a taut bow in that second where he releases the arrow and it is about to rip through the wind. The back appears pinched with rear lights that point forward and cooling vents below that do the same.

The concept has 21-inch wheels with carbon fiber pieces that appear three-dimensional and the caps have the Infiniti logo.

A touchpad opens the door: rear-hinged doors and no B pillar reveal the expansiveness of the minimalist interior. Designers experimented with materials, creating accessories such as handbags and shoes as a rogue side project. In the end, the car and the accessories are finished in white leather with a diamond motif with black and orange piping. The leather is on the seats, the center console that stretches far into the rear seat and armrests than also run to the rear seats.

Like the Tesla Model 3, there is a long wooden dash but the Infiniti concept’s is incorporated into the kabazakura birch are backlit controls and the dash lights up in the rib pattern from the grille. There is a full-length and tasteful screen above the dash and some haptic controls tucked in below. The squared-off steering wheel also has rib-shaped lighting and the start-stop button.

The seats are sci-fi in their shape and simplicity, with pressure points to relieve fatigue. Rear passengers have their own adjustable screen and tons of leg room. The door panels are worth a closer look: the leather appears to turn into wood and they are cut in the pattern of the grille but on its side. Inside the door pockets is gold material known as Nishijin-ori that is paper shreds woven with silk and it doubles as a high-tech sensor to turn on the pocket lighting.

The interior comfort was paramount in tandem with the car’s autonomous drive technologies under the ProPilot umbrella that allows the car to tackle both city and highway driving.

“It’s a serious exercise to show what we’re intending, our vision,” Jimenez said. “This is the first breath we’re taking to this new era of Infiniti.”

The post Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept Previews the Future of Infiniti Cars appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Moorfield sells the Shipping Building in Hayes to Floreat for more than £29m

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 09:57
Moorfield Group has sold The Shipping Building at The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, west London to Floreat Real Estate for a price in excess of £29m.
Categories: Property

RDI acquires major London flexible office assets stake

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 09:30
FTSE 250-listed REIT RDI has acquired an 80% stake in a £161.7m portfolio of central London flexible office assets.
Categories: Property

Watkin Jones CEO quits following record annual results

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 09:13
Watkin Jones has revealed its chief executive Mark Watkin Jones is to step down after a successor has been found.
Categories: Property

Watkin Jones CEO quits on back of record annual results

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 09:13
Watkin Jones has revealed its chief executive Mark Watkin Jones is to step down after a successor has been found.
Categories: Property

Tritax backs £104m Warth Park distribution scheme

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 08:51
Tritax Big Box REIT has completed a deal to acquire and forward fund the development of two new distribution warehouse facilities at Warth Park, in Raunds, Northamptonshire.
Categories: Property

LXi REIT buy Dundee student building

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 08:43
LXi REIT has paid £20.25m to acquire a long-let student accommodation scheme in Dundee, reflecting a net initial yield of 6.3%.
Categories: Property

Carillion plunges into liquidation

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 07:56
Construction giant Carillion has fallen into liquidation, putting tens of thousands of jobs, pensions and government contracts at risk.
Categories: Property

2019 Ram 1500 First Look: Welcome Wagons

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 05:01

Since its 2009 model-year launch, the current Ram has very gradually increased its share of the full-size truck market from 16 to 22 percent. Half-ton pickup buyers are fiercely loyal, and indeed no other manufacturer has seen fluctuations of more than a couple percent during that time, which suggests that Ram is growing by snagging first-time truck buyers. It makes sense that the truck with the most carlike ride might attract unbiased folks moving out of cars or crossovers, so for 2019 Ram is amping up the comfort, efficiency, and luxury of its 1500 models to keep those newcomers coming.

Headline upgrades include 48-volt mild hybridization, a claim to the longest and strongest chassis, and class-leading 0.357 Cd aerodynamics. Will this be enough to continue attracting new blood in the face of a recently refreshed 2018 Truck of the Year–winning Ford F-150, an anticipated all-new Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra duo expected in 2019, and a renewed Toyota Tundra arriving shortly thereafter?

Let’s start with what’s not new: the interior window switches, the pickup box floor stampings, and some fasteners. Although the gasoline powertrains mostly carry over, the Pentastar V-6 and Hemi V-8 engines both employ fancy new eTorque starter/generators that store deceleration energy in a 0.43-kW-hr battery pack. The energy is then fed back to the powertrain in such a way as to optimize fuel economy—like helping sustain a cruising speed without downshifting or reverting from four- to eight-cylinder mode. More than 40 shift maps allow the eight-speed transmission and the eTorque motors to cooperate to wring every possible mile from a gallon of gas. The V-6’s unit is water-cooled and contributes 12 hp and 90 lb-ft; the V-8’s is air-cooled and delivers 16 hp and 130 lb-ft. These motors start the engine in 0.55 second after an auto stop, and they’re used on initial starts except in cold conditions, when a conventional starter does the job.

Two more novel fuel-economy boosters: A heater/cooler for the rear differential oil in rear-drive trucks enables the use of lighter-weight lower-friction oil, and a pair of active mass dampers on the frame cancel vibration so the Hemi can lug a bit more in cylinder deactivation mode without anyone feeling it. The ultimate fuel-saver, an EcoDiesel V-6, arrives later in 2019 without eTorque mild hybridization (that same engine in the new Wrangler produces a Ford F-150 Power Stroke diesel-besting 260 hp and 442 lb-ft).

Let’s talk chassis: The entirely new, 98 percent high-strength-steel ladder frame features a taller, narrower boxed cross-section that improves bending strength. Octagonal-section front frame-rail extensions are mandrel-bent and welded into that shape from tailor-rolled sheet steel that varies from 3 to 2 mm thick going forward to ensure they crumple. These octo-rails splay outward to capture small-offset crash forces. Despite a 4-inch wheelbase stretch (to a claimed longest in class), the new frame dropped 100 pounds for a 17 percent weight savings. Max payload increases by 420 pounds to 2,300, and towing capacity increases from 10,650 to 12,700 pounds. (That beats Chevy, Nissan, and Toyota but falls short of Ford’s 3,270 and 13,200 ratings.)

Other chassis upgrades include a novel upper control arm made of reinforced nylon molded around a steel stamping. It doesn’t save weight, but it efficiently adds the strength needed to permit a 22-inch wheel option on 4×4 models. New frequency-response dampers from Hitachi—a Ram exclusive feature—greatly improve ride quality, especially on high-frequency chatter bumps. (Rebels still get off-road-optimized reservoir shocks.) New variable-rate rear coil springs help comfortably shoulder heavy loads without bottoming out.

Available off-road options include an electronic-locking rear differential and unique rear-axle-locating geometry to raise the coil-spring suspension’s ride height by an inch. This setup becomes standard on Rebel models, lowering the entry cost relative to the 2018 model with standard air ride. Upsizing the base wheel from 17 to 18 inches allows the front brakes to grow from 13.2 to 14.9 inches in diameter, which shaves a claimed 7 feet from the 60–0-mph stopping distance. (We’ve measured 122 to 138 feet.)

That claimed class-leading aero figure—a 9 percent improvement over the current generation—is due primarily to a new active front air dam that lowers 2.7 inch at speeds above 35 mph and rises again below 15 mph. It’s standard on all coil-sprung Rams except Rebels and those with the Off-Road package. Raising the sides of the bed by 1.3 inches and sculpting a vortex-generator into the center of the trailing edge of the roof to manage airflow over the truck helped considerably (and gave Ram the largest standard box capacity). The HFE fuel-economy-special model adds flatter, smoother wheels and air-damming running boards that span between the front and rear tires.

Another 100 pounds came out of the body, thanks to clever hydroforming of the front upper crash rails and tailgate surround structure and use of aluminum for the hood and tailgate (the latter saving 15 pounds). Speaking of the tailgate, it offers electric release, a tailgate-ajar warning, damped lowering from any height, and assist with lifting. Added content like this conspires to limit net weight reduction to about 130 pounds—not bad for a cab body that’s said to measure roughly 4 inches longer and a half inch wider and lower.

Ram is parting with a few storied design icons for 2019. Gone is the cross-hair grille, replaced by seven designs featuring a revised Ram wordmark in the center, most of which are offered in multiple finishes. The ram’s head logo, which dates to 1981, gets updated to a more angular look and now adorns the tailgate of all but the Rebel model, which retains the giant wordmark.

The low-fender/high-hood big-rig look is only hinted at now—the fender gets taller and narrower and the hood bulge widens. Oh, and those tacked-on fender flares that adorn over half of all Rams are tacked on more robustly to reduce car-wash warranty claims. And hallelujah! Ram has ditched the metal mast radio antenna most pickups still employ.

Six price classes plus HFE are now offered: Tradesman, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited. These are amply differentiated, thanks to three headlamp and taillamp designs, the aforementioned array of grilles, 15 wheel designs spanning 18-inch steel through 22-inch aluminum (all of which now attach with six bolts, up from five), and the choice of chrome, blackout, or body color for various trim pieces. Also new: Sport (body color trim) and Black appearance packages are available across nearly all of the lower price classes instead of occupying a single rung on the price ladder. Speaking of ladders, a motorized running board is now available.

New electrical architecture brings all the expected safety gear, including available adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot detection with trailer sensing, and 360-degree camera view. Parallel and perpendicular parking assistance is offered, but trailer-backing assistance is not. Ram expects to achieve best-in-class safety ratings.

Interior space, comfort, and noise levels will all take a big step forward in 2019, we’re assured. On crew cab models, the aforementioned 4-inch stretch amounts to an extra inch in the front and rear doors plus 2 inches behind the rear door. (The eTorque battery and a subwoofer reside behind the rear seat.) The rear floor is now completely flat and features four tie-down rings and in-floor stowage bins that are enlarged to fit the receiver drop hitch. The seat bottom flips up as before to facilitate carrying large items indoors. Beneath it is a 1.4-cubic-foot storage area (twice as big as before) that can now accommodate rifles or fishing rods. On upper trim models, the rear cushion can slide forward 3.1 inches, reclining the backrest 8 degrees in the process. The entire center third of the seat back folds down as an armrest and cupholders, forming both a more comfy armrest and a better third-passenger backrest.

All of the price classes look classier, with even the cloth or vinyl-lined Tradesman variants getting some contrast stitching and a 3.5-inch color driver-information screen in the cluster. These bench-seat models get a three-point center front seat belt for 2019. Big Horn models add the option of two-tone interior trim. Rebels get red anodized trim and other red accents, seats with inserts patterned after its new Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tire tread, and a larger 7.0-inch info screen in the cluster. Laramie leather seats get suede bolster inserts, and Longhorn models add filigree accents in the leather and wood trim.

The Limited trim is what happens when a company has no Imperial sedan with which to separate rich folks from big money. The wood veneers have argent stripes laminated in, and there’s all sorts of fancy embroidery. Leather covers the dash, console sides, and seat backs, and the navy blue and “frost” two-tone leather treatment would suit Aston Martin’s first pickup truck. These trucks reportedly offer more real wood, leather, and metal trim than any other. And between acoustic-laminated glass and active noise cancelation on all models, Ram claims this will be the market’s quietest truck. So much the better to enjoy the top 900-watt 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

A choice of three touchscreen infotainment systems is offered—two 8.4-inch versions (with and without navigation) and a fabulous 12-inch one that seems to split the difference between Volvo’s Sensus and Tesla’s Model S screens (see sidebar). Naturally there’s onboard Wi-Fi served up by a dedicated SIM card that comes with a 12-month “free trial” and five USB ports—four of which incorporate a forthcoming Type C format slot (FCA will be first to market with this) and three of which can contribute content to the Uconnect system.

The front console offers a smartphone/tablet docking slot with Qi wireless charging, and in the rear of the console there are two cupholders across which is a slot sized to hold a tablet at a comfortable viewing angle for rear-seat occupants. Cool. Similarly, the center console incorporates a hanging file folder area in the back with room for purses or laptops (which can be plugged into a 110-volt outlet—there’s another in the rear and one in the optional deeper cargo Ramboxes). There’s also a sliding lid with cupholders and a shallow stowage bin. Inside is an Easter egg image of the four generations of “big-rig” Ram trucks.

The steering wheel now telescopes as well as tilts, the pedals also still adjust for reach, and the front power seats now feature four-way headrests and four-way lumbar adjustment and can motor 0.8 inch lower to better accommodate 10-gallon hats.

As new truck launches go, this should be an exceptionally smooth one because Ram production is moving to the Sterling Heights plant recently vacated by the Chrysler 200. That’s allowed Ram to start production early and ramp it up gradually. Considerable overlap of the current-gen 2018 Ram is expected from the nearby Warren plant, so we can expect a rich mix of fancy 2019 Rams selling alongside lots of 2018 Tradesman models at the beginning. If Ram’s claims on the comfort, quiet, and efficiency front pan out, we’re bullish on Ram’s likelihood of continued market share growth.

Big-Screen Uconnect

Ram introduced 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment to the pickup world, and now it’s doubling down with a portrait-oriented 12.0-inch screen that works like two of the old screens, only brighter and sharper. How bright? 1,000 candela per square meter. Recent iPhones manage only 625 cd/m2. And at 1,280 by 800 pixels, it about matches the iPhone 8’s Retina HD display for resolution.

Not surprisingly, this tablet doppelganger functions much like a tablet, supporting pinch-to-zoom and the ability to move frequently used app buttons to the home row at the bottom. As in a Tesla, you can view the map, audio, or other content in full screen or opt to split the screen with any choice of content on the upper and lower halves of the screen.

Another cool feature is expanded SiriusXM functionality including On Demand content. This allows you to listen to archived shows or stream your favorite team’s game from a home-team station. You can also pause streaming content of any type and resume it on your smartphone or home system (where you can ask Alexa to resume it). Better still, your onboard cellular Wi-Fi link can seamlessly switch to the online stream if you drive into a tunnel or skyscraper jungle and lose the satellite stream. Uconnect gets exclusive access to this feature for a year.

The post 2019 Ram 1500 First Look: Welcome Wagons appeared first on Motor Trend.

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