A Disobedient Trail-Hungry Truck
Aug 12, 2015
Chrysler has a history of making vehicles focused on fun. Just take a look at the “Adult Toys” lineup from the 70’s and you’ll see that the brand is familiar with putting together packages that appeal to the kid in all of us.
Big Boy Toys
And the kid inside of me is infatuated with the Ram 1500 Rebel. This package was put together to make the Ram 1500 a capable truck off-road, but it also focuses on style, offering more in-your-face attitude than just about any other truck in Ram’s arsenal.
A unique blacked out grille that is only available on the Rebel is the most stark change, while larger wheel arch moldings and unique 17-wheels with matte black accents also call to your eye screaming out to be noticed.
Ram is also pushing the “Who has the largest badge” game to the next level on the tailgate of the Rebel, fit with massive RAM lettering.
So what makes the Rebel so rebellious? First off, the truck sits 1-inch taller than the standard Ram to help clear obstacles that the 33-inch (LT285/70R17E) Toyo Open Country A/T all-terrain tires are climbing over. The tires provide a decent mix between pavement and dirt, staying fairly comfortable in the city while still managing to pull us through some deep mud. More on that later.
A skid plate and tow hooks are fitted at the front end of the Rebel, completing the look and providing protection from rocks and from being stuck with no chance of rescue.
Cruising the City
Driving the Rebel on-road is a little different from the standard truck in a few ways. The slight lift, but mostly the retuned suspension lets this truck lean a little bit more through the corners, taking away a little bit of the planted, confident feeling the standard Ram provides.
Shocks for the front and rear come from Bilstein, which are uniquely tuned for the Rebel to compensate for its ride height, but also to help eat up bumps on off-road trails.
Power is great, with 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque coming from the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. Throttle response is immediate and the eight-speed automatic keeps the truck right in the meat of its power band at all times with smooth shifts.
Power comes at a price with the HEMI though, which averaged 15 mpg in our time with the truck. Hitting the mud only makes the fuel economy worse, especially considering how satisfying it is to put your right foot into it hard. But the fun of conquering tricky trails with this powerhouse will help you forget about those fuel bills.
The heavy weighted steering from every other Ram 1500 is not lost in the rebel, providing an excellent planted feeling with a fair amount of feedback. It does require a firm grip to keep the wheel straight when tackling rocks and other obstacles, but the upside is a very clear picture of what the front wheels are doing.
The fun attitude of the truck continues into the interior, which features unique seats with “Rebel” stitching and a tire tread pattern through the middle (it’s actually the same tread pattern from the Rebel’s Toyo tires). The seats are both playful and comfortable, but they’re not the only upgrades on the inside.
The instrument panel, armrests and center console lid all get two-tone red and gray accent stitching. Thick rubber floor mats are one of the practical upgrades inside the truck, providing style with a red Ram’s head while also helping to keep muddy boots
away from carpet.
As with other high-trim Rams, the Rebel gets the 8.1-inch Uconnect system, which is fast and simple to use.
Hitting the mud
So if the style doesn’t sell you in the dealership, is the off-road prowess of this truck really worth it? The answer is yes. Tackling wet, muddy trails, the biggest improvement on the truck seemed to be the new Toyos, confidently taking us anywhere we wanted to go. Sloppy, deep underwater mud didn’t have the truck hesitating in the least with the big Toyo’s grabbing a solid hold.
The lift also did not go unnoticed, with more than one sharp rock avoided thanks to the added clearance. Our truck was fitted with the optional air suspension, another great addition when leaving the roads. Lifted in off-road mode, the Rebel gains another inch of ground clearance, climbing up to 10.3-inches. It’s good to know that skid plate is up front, but we never needed it.
When boosted up, the truck’s approach angle sits at 25.3 degress, while departure is pegged at 23 degrees. Fording a shallow pond was nothing for the Rebel and climbing in and out didn’t have the truck anywhere near the ground.
The Rebel took everything I could throw at it, and felt as though it could have been pushed much further before you would find it’s off-road limits.
As it was, our tester comes with an MSRP of $47,565. That puts it on par with its competition in terms pf price, but which one of those trucks is really the Rebel’s most direct competitor? Looking around at the other off-road half-tons, GM’s Z71 and Ford’s FX4 package don’t feel nearly as capable as this truck did and don’t take their packages quite this far.
On the other hand, Toyota’s TRD Pro models and the Ford Raptor both feel a little more capable than the Rebel does, especially if this were a desert off-roading situation. But, the Rebel manages to retain its on-road manners surprisingly well, definitely better than both Toyota’s TRD Pro Tundra and Ford’s Raptor, allowing it to be the better truck in a best-of-both worlds situation.
The Verdict: 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Review
Not just another poser truck, the Ram Rebel promises big things with its over the top looks and it delivers. If you’re looking for a new toy that you can play with on weekends in the country and get noticed all week in the city, the Ram Rebel may be just the truck for you.