Modern cars are rolling Best Buys, stuffed with computers performing all sorts of tasks. Each does something to make your life easier or safer, but not always in the exact way you’d want them to. Our long-term 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie truck has a few features we’d like to reprogram.
Rear Park-Assist with Stop
Included with the front and rear parking sensors, “Rear Park Assist with Rear ParkSense Stop” is a handy feature that just doesn’t work for my situation. In theory, it’s a good safety net that prevents you from backing into things by automatically applying the brake if the computer doesn’t think you’re going to stop in time. It relies on the parking sensors to tell the computer how close you are to hitting something and how quickly you’re closing the gap.
This is all good, unless the computer is too cautious. I have a steep driveway that I typically drive nose-first into. When I go to back out, the long rear overhang puts the bumper (where the rear parking sensors are mounted) fairly close to the street before the nose comes down off the hill and levels out the truck. As a result, the parking sensors always think I’m about to reverse into the road surface. With the rear parking assist feature, the truck would slam on the brakes every time I backed out of my driveway. Unable to tell the parking sensors to chill or drive around the issue, I had to dig into the settings and disable the stop function. Alternatively, I could manually disable the rear parking sensors every time I left my house and reactivate them down the road. Neither option is appealing. This has never been an issue with any other car, truck, or SUV with parking sensors or reverse braking functions in the four years I’ve lived in this house.
Rear cameras are required by federal law on all new vehicles now, and they’re incredibly useful. The issue with the Ram’s is actually more with the big 12.0-inch screen that displays it. The Uconnect infotainment system on the 12.0-inch screen lets you split the display horizontally, effectively giving you two stacked screens. When in reverse, the rear camera takes over the upper half of the screen where it’s easiest to see. The issue is it doesn’t always go away. Multiple times now the rear camera has stayed on after switching to drive rather than reverting to navigation, media, phone, or whatever function you selected to be on top. Closing the rear camera with the X in the corner makes it go away, but selecting the function you want again brings back the rear camera instead. Changing to a full-screen display for nav or media then back to split-screen usually fixes it. As if to take it the extra mile, the day this review was written the system developed a new issue in which the camera image was mostly covered in green static and therefore mostly useless.
Uconnect 4C Nav with 12-inch Display
The rear camera isn’t the only software glitch that shows up when you’re using split-screen mode on the big infotainment system. When media is selected as one of the two displayed functions, the touchscreen has trouble recognizing some inputs. The radio presets have the biggest issue, with the system beeping to acknowledge a touch, but nothing else happening. Pushing the preset you want five or six times usually gets its attention.
Also mildly annoying in split-screen mode, though not a glitch, is the navigation’s insistence on defaulting to the “Favorite Destinations” page rather than the map. Getting to the map requires you to swipe left every time you start the truck.
Our Ram is coming up on its first service and we’ll have the dealer look for software updates that could fix these issues. We’ll also have them take care of Ram recall number V71/NHTSA recall number 19V-407, a software update affecting the airbags and seatbelts. Specifically, the computer regulating these functions may not shut down properly, leading to corrupted data and an error that could disable the airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. If no data corruption is found, some fresh code will take care of things, but certain errors could force the dealer to replace the computer.
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