Remember pickup trucks from 20 years ago? They were all about function above form. Back in the day, you may remember a Ford F-150 or Dodge RAM 1500 having interiors vastly inferior to SUVs or cars. You’d be lucky to get a navigation system, nonetheless, an infotainment system. If you wanted a fancy interior, you’d have to look at “Texas” models such as a RAM Lone Star. As the years have changed, pickup trucks have evolved quickly. Now, you can purchase 1/4 ton pickup trucks with more features than the current crop of SUVs! While you’ll notice many similarities between pickup interiors and some of the buttons they utilize, such as buttons for towing, interiors have become vastly different. To highlight this, we will look at four of the best pickup truck interiors. These include the Ford F-150, RAM 1500, Rivian R1T, and Toyota Tundra.
Before we get into these trucks, I want to define what makes a good truck interior. First off, ease of use. Whatever the type of vehicle, you want it to be simple to use when on the move. Second, a quality interior. This doesn’t mean you need the top-of-the-line $70,000+ interior, but you may want high-quality leather. Next, technology. For the most part, pickups have large infotainment systems which plenty of customization, from driving modes to ride height and navigation. At this point, having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a must. Finally, comfort. There isn’t a point in having nice-looking materials if the seats aren’t well-bolstered and supported. Large grab handles are a must since these are large trucks, and all of them have them. With all those criteria set, let’s look at the Ford F-150.
2023 Ford F-150
When you build the most popular pickup truck in the United States, you need to keep your truck up-to-date. That’s exactly what Ford has done with the Ford F-150. Prices start from around $33,000 for a gasoline-powered XL to about $100,000 for the Lightning Platinum EV. Looking around the cabin, all the buttons and knobs for features such as climate control, towing controls, and media are well-placed. There are buttons on the steering wheel for audio and cruise control, along with some specific buttons for digital dials. Well-placed dials ensure the F-150 has the simplicity and safety aspect of using these controls while driving. One feature the F-150 has that other trucks don’t have is a gear-shifter that can fold down and a folding center console that can be used as a workstation.
On the technology front, there are two types of F-150s to look at. These are the regular gas-powered F-150s and the electric F-150 Lightning. As stated above, you can get digital dials that are easier to look at than conventional dials. Gasoline F-150s can also have a 12-inch infotainment system that houses navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with accessing optional massaging seats. Lightning F-150s step things up with a massive 15.5-inch infotainment system. While the infotainment system incorporates the climate-control, it’s simple to use. Part of those infotainment systems includes a 360-degree camera which is useful when making normal reverses out of a parking spot or connecting to a trailer. For music, there’s an optional B&O Sound System with 18 speakers and a subwoofer.
Quality is necessary for a good truck, and the F-150 has quality materials. Getting upper in the pricing echelon, you’ll find comfortable heated and ventilated seats which can have a massage function. Many of the surfaces can have leather and soft-touch materials. Customization is important, with the interior of the F-150 available in different colors, depending on the trim. Lariat models have tan, black, and gray interiors, while King Ranch F-150s come with a saddle brown interior. When you combine everything, you can see why the Ford F-150 is at the top of the sales charts. Next, let’s take a look at the RAM 1500.
2023 Ram 1500
RAM takes a slightly different approach compared to the Ford F-150. RAM 1500s start at $37,000 for the Tradesman all the way up to $80,000 for the TRX performance truck. Instead of using knobs for climate control, RAM 1500s have buttons on the side of their large infotainment system for climate control. Ease-of-use continues with the convenient placement of the rotary shifter, USB and USB-C connectivity, and button for adjusting the height of the available air suspension. Once again, there are buttons on the steering wheel for audio and infotainment. Similar to the Ford F-150, you get a massive center console, although it doesn’t flip like the Ford. There are traditional dials, but they don’t matter once we get into technology.
The reason is that there is a head-up display that tells you your speed, speed limit, navigation, and other features. RAM’s infotainment system is a large 12-inch portrait-style monitor. This houses various widget-like sections for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, and other features. One option in the RAM, which is becoming more popular in vehicles, is the digital rear-view mirror. It doesn’t replace the regular rear-view mirror but utilizes a digital feed to make looking at the rear easier. An adjustable air suspension helps with egress and ingress when you’re in a large pickup truck. RAM 1500s also have an available 18-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a subwoofer.
There’s also high-quality in the RAM 1500. Similar to the Ford F-150, you’ll find soft-touch materials in the higher-up trims. The buttons have a nice weight, and the knobs are large enough to use when wearing gloves. Interior trims and seats change depending on the trim, with the performance TRX having the option of more body-hugging seats, while the Texas-oriented Longhorn interior has a brown and black interior. Whichever trim, the seats have plenty of bolstering and are comfortable. RAM 1500s take a slightly different approach than the Ford F-150, but that’s nothing compared to the Rivian R1T.
2023 Rivian R1T
Have you heard of the R1T? This is a fully-electric vehicle bucking the trend of traditional pickup trucks. Rivian R1Ts aren’t cheap. For now, there’s one trim called the Adventure, which starts at $73,000. Whereas the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500 have buttons for many of their climate control and other features, everything in the Rivian is in its infotainment system. This gives the Rivian a Tesla-like minimalistic interior. There are no buttons for the central 16-inch landscape infotainment system. This is a truck that may take a few times to get used to all of its controls, but buyers get used to them.
Technology is where the Rivian R1T excels compared to the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500. As stated earlier, the Rivian R1T comes standard with an extensive 16-inch infotainment system. This is the real brain of the R1T and controls everything. In front of the driver is a 12-3 inch digital display that houses the speed, navigation, battery, and others. While there are buttons on the steering wheel for audio and cruise control, Rivian uses its own software for audio. This means there isn’t Apply CarPlay or Android Auto, but Rivian took that into account. What does help are six USB-C connectors throughout the cabin. Even activating the cruise control is similar to a Tesla, where you use the column-mounted shifter to start it. Rivian’s R1T uses a Meridan Elevation sound system with 18 speakers and a subwoofer.
Although the layout of the Rivian is different compared to regular internal-combustion vehicles, the quality is still good. There are soft-touch materials throughout the cabin and a large center console. Unlike the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500, having one trim level means more customizability for the interior. Instead of using traditional leather, Rivian goes the sustainable electric-vehicle route of using vegan leather. There are five different choices of colors with interesting names, such as Black Mountain + Dark Ash Wood (black interior with dark wood accents), Ocean Coast + Dark Ash Wood (white interior with dark wood accents), and Forest Edge + Warm Ash Wood (green with lighter wood accents). The Rivian R1T bucks the trend of traditional pickup trucks, but the Toyota Tundra brings us back to how the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500 are designed.
2023 Toyota Tundra
Welcome back to a more traditional cabin with the Toyota Tundra. Since the Toyota Tundra’s interior is stale with a more than ten-year-old cabin, Toyota fully redesigned it. Pricing starts at $37,000 for the SR trim level, while the Capstone trim starts at $75,000. Toyota Tundras have plenty of buttons for climate control, heated and ventilated seats, and adjusting the suspension for the truck bed. One feature unique to the Toyota Tundra is the electric-operated rear window which completely goes down. The cabin feels light and airy when all windows, including the panoramic roof, are open.
With the Toyota Tundra being designed as a more traditional pickup truck, the technology is on par with the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500. This means there are digital dials and a large 14-inch infotainment system with navigation and digital dials. Built for off-roading but available for use on-road is the Multi-Terrain Monitoring system which can be used to see obstacles. Toyota Tundra’s can also have a 360-degree camera along with wireless charging. The technology in the Toyota can be adjusted by saying “Hey Toyota,” an AI feature that can adjust the temperature and media. Like the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500, Toyota Tundras have Apple Carplay and Android. Toyota Tundra’s sound system is a JBL system with 12 speakers and a subwoofer.
Toyotas are known for their durable reliability and build quality. The Tundra is no different, with the benefit of being high quality. Plenty of soft-touch materials abound, with the large center console benefiting from soft-touch for the driver and passenger’s elbows. While many trim levels have black leather, some trims, such as the 1794 edition trim level, have tan or white leather. The top-of-the-line Capstone model has a white and black interior with dark wood trim. Toyota’s Tundra has a high-quality interior similar to the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500.
Pickup truck interiors have changed significantly. While there are models and trim levels that are pretty basic, more costly examples have excellent quality and technology. Ford’s F-150, RAM 1500, and Toyota Tundra’s interiors take a similar approach with large infotainment systems and either digital dials or head-up displays. Meanwhile, the electric Rivian R1T created a more open-concept interior. All of these cabins are unique and interesting. Whichever model you choose, you can get an excellent interior with plenty of soft-touch materials and technology.