You're approach is practical.
I can share my thoughts on the DD driveabilty of the 1500-series truck; it is a large, bulky rig in the Crew Cab form. I STRONGLY recommend park sense, front and rear cameras, and power folding mirrors. It makes driving the Queen Mary a lot less harrying.
The stock dampers on my 1500
, like so many other pickups I've owned, are marginal, and will overheat on bad pavement after awhile.
Consider the axle ratio carefully, and leverage that against what your overall expectations are.
Multiply what people on various forums tell you what mpg they are obtaining and reduce by 35%. My diesel Wrangler conversions average 25 in normal suburban driving.
The current ZF 8-speed is a license-built by Chrysler unit manufactured in the Kokomo, IN facility.
As of 13 my, the rear axle and optional tru-trac style limited slip differential assembly are ZF sourced.
13 my and newer trucks have a dedicated, fully-networked CAN backbone that integrates every system. I avoid all new software pushes, and so far are doing fine on my factory load out.
Hope this helps.