2016 Ram 1500 Rebel VIDEO REVIEW
2016 Ram 1500 Rebel VIDEO REVIEW by Auto Critic Steve Hammes
The truck market is booming again and manufacturers are feeding the big rig frenzy with an ever growing number of models catering to tastes ranging from tradesman to Taj Mahal. And here, Ram is fueling the off-road truck segment with a model that’s a little bit Laramie and a little bit Power Wagon. This is the Rebel.
There’s no better choice than a pickup if you’re into customizing your ride. Take the Ram 1500 for example – offered in 11 trims and 1 special edition, there’s a truck matches your needs and personality right out of the box. And here we are with the Rebel.
Introduced midway through 2015, it offers an off-road-style package backed by both unique design and mechanical elements. Smacking you right in the face is the all-new grille with prominent badging, a sport hood, a black, powder coated, off-road front bumper design, Power Wagon-inspired black wheel-arch moldings, optional skid plate underbody protection, front tow hooks, LED fog lamps and an all-new 17” wheel design wrapped in 33” Toyo all-terrain tires, engineered for excellent dirt, mud and snow performance while maintaining a quiet ride. Available exclusively as a crew cab with enormous rear seat room and a 5’7” box, the Rebel offers the choice of V6 or V8 power when equipped with 4-wheel drive and exclusively with the HEMI for those who decide 2-wheel drive is sufficient. Performance upgrades center on the adjustable air suspension with a standard 1” raised ride height, capable of clearing an impressive 10.3” in off-road mode. Other modes include entry-exit, particularly helpful without the optional running boards, aerodynamic, fitting for most driving and normal. Bilstein supplies their legendary shocks, there’s a revised steering calibration to match the increased ride height and a new stability program that takes into account the Rebel’s various modifications. And this Rebel is powered by the 5.7-liter V8, tuned for 395-horses and 410 pound-feet of torque. It’s matched to the rotary dial TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic and a part-time 4-wheel drive system with 2-wheel, 4-high and 4-low settings. Additionally, this truck has the optional anti-spin rear differential which automatically engages when increased torque is applied, helpful in off-road driving by turning both wheels in tandem. And finally, the Rebel treatment carries over inside to include these great looking, high-durability vinyl seats finished in red and black with fabric inserts. Look closely and you’ll see they’re embossed with the Toyo tire tread pattern…a theme you’ll also see on the big Uconnect screen. All-weather rubber floor mats, a new console bin with molded inserts for various electronic devices, and unique trim for added color detail summarize the Rebel look.
The Ram 1500 is such an excellent truck, I’ve loved each one I’ve test-driven since its redesign and I’m never disappointed. And for the right person, the Rebel is a very cool take with its off-road package and unique appearance. The ride quality has that big luxury truck sumptuous you can’t find in a car, the Hemi sounds great and it’s got the resume to get after it. The only things I would spec differently here are the exterior color, and the additions of push button start and auto climate control.
Too wide to take down some of my more taxing local off-road trails, we played with the Rebel in more wide open spaces and enjoyed each and every minute. The air suspension matched with the Bilsteins is a game changer for both on- and off-road duty, affording the ultimate in comfort and versatility. And of course, the HEMI never leaves you wanting for more and comes standard with the brawny soundtrack. It’s very quick. To state the obvious, it’s big and peering out over the hood reminds you of that, as does maneuvering it to parking spaces but for that at least there’re power folding mirrors. With such amenities as heated seats, heated steering wheel, the wide ranging Uconnect infotainment system with navigation and SirusXM services, huge console and other clever storage, and a limo-like rear seat that easily transitions into cargo hauling mode, the Rebel exceeds expectations, even at its $53,150 as-tested price. It totally feels quality driven and unlike its FCA brethren, the Ram brand stands apart with its high rankings for initial quality and dependability.
The Ram boxes are optional, but super handy for carrying small stuff and just like the tailgate, lock and unlock with the rest of the truck from the key fob. However, they eat into the small but deep bed, which here has the optional spray-in liner where LED lights brighten up the night. Max towing is rated at 9,900 pounds. Approach and departure angles can’t match those of the mighty PowerWagon but clearing over 25 degrees in the front is certainly off-road worthy.
Pricing for a 4X4 starts at $46,395 and with the multi-displacement V8 earns an EPA estimated 17mpg in combined driving. I settled in at 13.
Tough yet balanced for everyday life with a quiet, luxurious cabin, the Rebel is another tempting addition to Ram’s half-ton truck lineup.