The approach to laying out pickup-truck interiors has changed in recent years as more premium buyers come forward to say they don’t necessarily want to ride around in a mobile toolbox.

Making it look easy, Chrysler designers have created a new brand of rugged luxury with the ’13 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn edition, which is well worth the $55,390 sticker price for the 4x4 crew cab we tested.

The Laramie Longhorn is one of few entries in this year’s Ward’s 10 Best Interiors competition to receive near-perfect scores cross the board, with one juror commenting that this is what a truck would look like “if Bentley made pickups.”

Supple leather is everywhere, in just the right shade of saddle brown that fits with the dusty copper motif of the great American West. Lightly finished real burled walnut trim, as if repurposed from fence posts or a classic barn, is applied throughout the cabin.

Classic touches marry well with modern technology as Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system brings climate, sound and even some vehicle-function controls to your fingertips on a large, user-friendly touchscreen with little hassle. Heated seats and steering wheel are appreciated during a cold snap in the Midwest.

There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how so many styles coalesce in the 1500 Laramie Longhorn, with one juror calling the package “manly, stylish and comfortable,” all at once.

A cynic might grouse that a pickup stickering north of $55,000 darned well should have a spectacular interior, and that base trucks should be evaluated instead.

But that’s not fair because cars in the competition tend to represent upper trim levels. Why should testing requirements for trucks be different? Besides, premium pickups are selling well, and auto makers are crazy not to give buyers exactly what they want.

The standard for premium pickup interiors has been set by Ram’s Laramie Longhorn, and it’ll be exciting to watch competitors race to catch up.

afoley@wardsauto.com