That title is of course meant to be taken in a sarcastic vein, not to imply that I believe that the RAM 1500 truck series is struggling, it isn’t; if anything it’s shaping up to be the most successful and best RAM generation ever both from a sales as well as a critical consideration perspective. But given the name of “Rebel” for the trim line of the truck that I was offered to take a look at over a week’s time, I’m still not sure if the truck is supposed to be the rebel or if that’s more hoping to describe the owner of the truck. The truck isn’t overly rebellious as opposed to the norm in the segment and the typical owner that is willing and able to pay the price of entry likely doesn’t fit the rebel stereotype either and let’s face it, a modern CrewCab 4×4 full size pickup isn’t rebellious, it’s just more and more representative of the norm in many areas of the country, in many cases though for good reason.
What the truck does have is a bit more “swagger” than some of the other trucks in the lineup from RAM. I’d agree that it probably would not be a great idea to have a trim line named Swagger but then again there was a minivan that played on the word a decade or so ago to very good effect.
RAM has done an excellent job in differentiating the various trim lines from basic workmanlike and durable interior and exterior components on the more contractor and affordably priced grades/levels to more comprehensively and value packed versions in the middle trims, all the way up to having several grades of luxury trucks that are outfitted with leather, wood, and actual craftsmanlike details that make an owner or driver feel special or at least a sense that they are driving something more special than the norm.
In the process they have managed to use the same basic framework and building blocks to create and sell these trucks at vastly different price points with the main points of differentiation and actual increased product cost to build/source being mainly within the interior, as the powertrain and other mechanical choices are pretty much the same or at least available in almost any of the configurations and the price points can also be all over the place with a lower-line truck often ending up with more features and options than a higher-line one with prices reflecting the same. There’s something for almost everyone and if it doesn’t start out exactly right as offered, it can often end up that way with a few well-chosen options. One’s own personal taste and preferences can allow a truck to be more precisely tailored than virtually any other vehicle.
Rebel occupies sort of the center of the line-up, which starts at Tradesman, continues with Big Horn, Laramie, then Rebel, and above that are Laramie Longhorn and finally the Limited. Laramie and Rebel are similar in price point with Rebel very slightly higher but very different in execution and they represent the beginning of the upper trim levels whereas Big Horn and Tradesman are much more volume oriented.
With the Rebel, you have a choice of Crew Cab with a 5’7″ bed or a QuadCab with 6’4″ bed (QuadCab is RAM-speak for four conventionally hinged but smaller rear doors, and a smaller back seat area). You can’t get the CrewCab with the longer bed which is unfortunate but this is the highest trim that is even offered as a QuadCab, the other two are Crew Cab only. The lower trims offer a CrewCab with the longer or short bed and a QuadCab with the longer bed but as with all the 1/2 ton makers, nobody has a CrewCab with an 8foot bed, that’s 3/4 ton and up territory. And lastly, there is currently no Regular Cab option in this generation of RAM, but it does still exist in the RAM Classic line.
As such, the most basic Rebel CrewCab in 4×2 form with the shorter 5’7″ bed starts at $44,740 and if your rebellious nature takes you to northern climes or more offroad, then the 4×4 option would increase that to a minimum of $47,990. But let’s get back to the price later as this particular example was outfitted more like a typical plate at a Las Vegas buffet that a drunk vacationer would overload on their first trip down that aisle for their $39.95 ticket rather than a balanced set of options that the average person would perhaps choose from and make a considered selection of.
By now, most everyone has seen the basic new 1500 shape that was introduced a few years back to considerable acclaim, almost universally considered a very handsome and somewhat restrained design that few took offense at and seemed to win over quite a few that were either bored with or offended by some of the competition’s designs.
But even better received than the new exterior were the new interiors, featuring far fewer obviously cheap, hard plastics and uninspired details due to being entirely cognizant of the fact that full size trucks have become completely mainstream and now substitute for large luxury sedans of prior years in many instances.
The “tough” and “durable” image of a truck fits in well with crumbling infrastructure that increasingly can make more fragile vehicle types susceptible to damage (or at least the perception thereof), and the more utilitarian and useful roots of trucks are reflected in generally long lives, very good resale values as well as oftentimes ease of repairs due to more space between components and within the body spaces, never mind that projecting an aura of strength and protectiveness has become a sign of the times, especially in the truck market.
For the Rebel trim, I suppose a sort of slightly dark and moody theme is present, less so in the versions painted bright red or white but certainly so in this Maximum Steel colored example. While looking sort of graphite gray under most lighting, brilliant sunshine and the right angles display hints of blue and green in the metal flake and really liven it up, I guess even a rebel can have green or blue eyes or whatever, not just coal black ones to match the boots.
The bumpers are solid steel and black, the grille is black plastic in a somewhat uninspired form, maybe like the leather jacket worn by the stereotypical rebel in the streets, a bulging hood with badging atop it presents sort of a sneer (or is it the grille that does that?), and the black wheels with machined areas and shod with aggressively treaded all-terrain tires are probably representative of motorcycle boots with metal buckles.
Fender flares and mirrors in black plastic along with a metal front skidplate help push an I-don’t-care-about-a-scratch attitude, but everything is still very purposefully matched and presented as even a tough guy has an image to maintain.
Inside it’s similar, thankfully this particular one had the black interior with graphite trim, there is also one that has sort of a reddish orange stripe effect around a lot of interior components that I suppose was interesting when first done on the prior generation but now that Subaru of all makers is doing something similar in one of its lines/trims doesn’t really send much of a message anymore, or at least not what may have been intended originally.
The overarching theme is blackness, which isn’t bad in a vehicle that is bound to both live a long life and likely get dirty. Everything is well presented, easy to use, and if not actually leather everywhere, does make a very good impression of such with stitching highlights and interesting uses of it. While the Rebel trim (sadly) eschews any use of wood, there are well textured soft plastics and the hard shiny areas are done in a glossy black with a tiny silver diamond-plate motif throughout it which seems entirely appropriate for a tough image and I found to be an inspired choice of patterns.
Seats are hugely comfortable, infinitely adjustable, heated (but not cooled in this one somehow), the center touch screen is a 12″ vertical format which I’ve reviewed previously in a different RAM piece so won’t just repeat myself and bore you, and an overall very comfortable place to spend one’s day or commute, whatever the situation may be.
This example also featured the massive panoramic sunroof which lets a lot of light in if desired, being as it was around 100 degrees this week and the truck is a dark color with a black interior I mostly kept the shade closed which helped tremendously but not entirely in keeping the interior less than boiling hot.
I did make good and continued use of the air conditioning and it was effective in cooling the cabin down quickly and keeping it so. Judicious use of the four windows, the panoramic roof and the powered rear window opening helped a lot in clearing the heat out as well.
The center console, while massive and massively adjustable with moving trays and componentry to customize your own preferred layout for cupholding, working, clutter organization etc was not intrusive on the legs, one could sit basically completely askew behind the wheel and still be unimpinged upon. Powered pedals that could move fore and aft helped as well to find the perfect position with of course an infinitely adjustable steering wheel.
The party continues in the back seat with three abreast seating and a completely flat floor. Legroom so large that crossing legs is not a problem, and slouching so easy that submarining under a seatbelt may be an issue are features highly prized in a CrewCab’s cabin and once experienced with a family make it tough to get back into a mid-size sedan for the next Thanksgiving trip to the in-laws.
The back seat folds up with just a simple push in a split format leaving lots of lockable storage space inside that’s easily filled with all manner of luggage, bins, tools, or whatever else, even large pets.
As expected this truck uses a pushbutton to start the engine and being a RAM has a dial selector for the transmission. There is a cluster of buttons to select the drive mode (2Hi, 4Hi, 4Lo) and lock the rear axle. Similarly another small cluster handles the integrated trailer brake and below the touch screen is a row of toggles for various different functions that are a bit of a joy to both behold and use, everything has a good and precise action and feel.
The transmission selector dial especially I found myself happily dealing with again, having used all of the various options I’m starting to really appreciate this one – the way it’s mounted, I can sort of slouch a bit behind the wheel and using just my right hand draped on the center console use two finger tips to rotate it from reverse to drive when backing out of the driveway and getting underway.
I know it’s supremely lazy but it’s also supremely luxurious-feeling to do so rather than grasping a big rod of steel and plastic and yanking it down around the column. That certainly has its place too and also can feel great in a different way, but it doesn’t feel as decadent. Let them eat cake…it’s not like either is connected to an actual mechanical linkage underneath anymore anyway.
This truck had the 3.0L V6 TurboDiesel (EcoDiesel) third generation engine built by VM Motori in Italy that we’ve recently reviewed in the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and contributor MagnumSRT8Brian also had the previous version of it in his unfortunately ill-fated RAM truck of slightly older vintage. As in the Jeep, the engine has plenty of power (260hp and class leading 480lb-ft of torque which is actually quite a bit more than the Jeep’s 442lb-ft apparently due to cooling constraints in the Jeep), is strong and feels unstressed in any situation, and even at high speeds still has plenty to give.
Mated to an 8speed ZF transmission built in Germany the combination makes for a comfortable and enjoyable powertrain that is slightly quieter than in the Jeep but still retains a little bit of that diesel grumble, especially at idle, that many owners seem to love without being anywhere near as loud as the larger Cummins offerings, especially as in the older trucks. No neighbor will complain at this idling in the driveway. The diesel engine is also warrantied for 100,000 miles, a nice bump up from the others that are only covered up to 60,000.
Besides pulling power, the other advantage of diesel is usually fuel economy. While this one is rated at 21City, 29Highway and a 24Average, I experienced an indicated average of 23.1 with the majority of my driving on freeways and flowing highways. My driving totaled 442 miles, with a trip to Denver and another to Laramie the long way (I-25/I-80, return via 287) accounting for about 340 miles with the balance mainly around town along with a period of idling and moving it around for numerous pictures.
On none of the high speed sections did I ever see the average exceed 25mpg, but I was traveling at generally elevated speeds, on the plus side the city parts didn’t drag it down significantly. A wonderful bonus was that this truck had the optional 33-gallon tank, thus still leaving over 3/8’s of a tank at the end of my week although diesel fuel is still available locally for just under $2 a gallon currently. Minimizing trips to the gas station while still be able to travel significant distances is cause for celebration, but it’s a bladder-clenching sight to see a distance-to-empty of around 800 miles displayed in the instrument cluster.
This truck was also equipped with the air suspension which provided a smooth and supple ride along with offering active aero wherein the suspension will lower itself slightly at speed and the grille has shutters that can close or open as needed depending on load and temperature, all in the interests of fuel efficiency (Some other trim levels also have an airdam that can lower automatically to reduce drag).
Everything seemed to function seamlessly (or at least no warning lights illuminated!). Related though, and perhaps due to the large-treaded tires (Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac in LT275/70R18), the truck seemed much more susceptible to wandering within the lane than many others, leading to frequent minor deployment of the lane keep assist feature that in this case seemed more sensitive than most.
It did a very good job, in a few instances where I purposely would test it, it was well capable of actively steering the truck around bends at high speeds (always done in areas with lots of runoff/shoulder space and with a loose hand on the wheel ready to firmly grasp it) but seemed a bit more nervous just cruising along (not confident like a Rebel should be!) and desirous of a firmer hand on the tiller with more constant course correction than the norm. I do believe it was more tire-related than anything else as even the larger dually-equipped RAM truck I drove last year didn’t seem to do this as much.
There are also had two very interesting features that this truck was equipped with having to do with its rear cargo space, those being the RamBox system and the Multi-Function Tailgate.
The RamBox Cargo Management System is basically two lockable storage compartments within the bed sides, one per side. These are plastic lined and have drain plugs so they could act as beverage coolers or to hold tools or whatever. This side also contains an electrical outlet to power tools or whatever.
While nice to have for those purposes, they also make the interior of the bed less spacious by removing the areas fore and aft of the wheelwells within the bed and make the bedsides so wide that it really is very difficult to lift anything in or out from the sides.
It appears that the lids are made out of plastic or some kind of composite material other than metal though, as there was some evident warping of the lids. In day to day usage, not really noticeable but definitely there, I first noticed it in the side view mirror. Last week was extremely hot and the truck sat outside a lot, it could be that the material changes shape slightly depending on temperature or perhaps warps a bit and then sets that way. The angle of the photo displays it in its most evident form, but also the way it’s viewed in the side view mirrors where it’s constantly visible.
The Multi-Function Tailgate on the other hand is an interesting idea without a downside that I can see, besides a cost increase over the standard unit of course. It can be used like any other fold-down tailgate where the two sections fold down as one solid unit or, by pushing down on the handle area instead of lifting up, opens in a 60/40 barndoor-like configuration (left 60% side first).
At first I thought this was sort of a gimmick but by the end of the week found myself using it more this way than as a traditional tailgate. First, it makes it easier to load and unload by removing the extra area to slide the cargo across and second, opening and closing it is easier on the wrist and hand than having to support the weight of the tailgate at all, even though it is damped and sort of spring loaded to assist the standard usage.
Swinging the doors is easier than lifting the tailgate. However they don’t swing much wider than the width of the bed so create a bit of a tunnel to navigate into with whatever the load is so that’s a potential downside depending on the situation or load. Still, it’s an option and can still be used as a traditional tailgate. The bigger bonus for some is that the huge RAM lettering on the tailgate is replaced by a still large but overall smaller Ram’s head logo. And the whole thing is also controlled by the central locking system along with the RamBoxes.
Back to driving the truck, of course all the other safety and user assistance features were present, not just the LaneKeepAssist, this time I also found the Parking Assist tried to assist me by stopping me from backing down a steep incline (a concrete ramp), presumably as it figured I was approaching the ground at too great an angle too fast.
I actually got out to check that I wasn’t about to scrape anything and then overrode the system, while at first perhaps a bit annoying the intent to not do harm is there and I’d rather be minorly inconvenienced than cause damage. Adaptive Cruise Control with full Stop and Go, Automatic High Beams, and Rain Sensitive Wipers were all present along with Blind Spot Assist and of course the BackUp Camera which is always remarkably clear, bright and precisely rendered on FCA’s larger UConnect systems.
The UConnect System is also the basis for the sound system, in this case another megawattage system with Harman Kardon’s technology that as usual I enjoyed tremendously. This time I found myself singing along shamelessly at full volume to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” while I had it turned all the way up and as a result completely drowned my own voice out (a good thing), which then segued into “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns’N’Roses and I all of a sudden found myself completely back in my college days…
Back in the present though before taking a huge detour I started to discuss pricing above. To get further into that, I established that the base price for the 4×4 Rebel CrewCab is $47,990, a not insignificant sum by any means but containing all manner of standard features, many if not most of which were further upgraded by options, but a leather interior and all-LED lighting is standard as are front and transfer case skid plates.
In this case the rear axle ratio was 3.92 and with this engine the truck seems to be rated to tow up to 12,560 pounds “when properly equipped” – I suspect that this particular one might be a bit lower than that due to all of the built-in weight of the options. There’s so much included and so many different ways to go that looking at the website is probably the easiest way to see it all, but I’ll list everything that this one had on its sticker…If you see it in the pictures and it’s not listed below as an option then it’s standard.
The EcoDiesel engine option is $4,995 (the 3.6l V6 PentaStar eTorque gasser is standard with a 5.7 Hemi V8 as another option priced at $1,495 or $1,695 depending on that engine being chosen with or without the eTorque system).
The Maximum Steel paint color is $200, the Safety and Convenience Group which is most of the assistance features is well priced at $895, Bed Utility Group at $450 consists of adjustable tiedown hooks and pickup box interior lighting, Monotone paint seems to be a no-cost option (some colors have a black lower section option), and something called the Rebel 12 (yes, 12, I don’t know why) at $2,995 includes a whole slew of stuff such as 8-way powered seats with 4-way lumbar on the driver’s, a 4G LTE WiFi HotSpot, SiriusXM along with TrafficPlus and TravelLink, the 19-speaker Harman Kardon Premium Sound System, 5 Years of SXM traffic service, Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto, HD Radio, Heated front seats and steering wheel, and the 12″ UConnect with Navigation.
Continuing down the options buffet, there’s a $3000 lobster known as the Rebel Level 2 Equipment Group consisting of various items that are already included in the above Rebel 12 package and presumably credited somewhere in there but also adding a 115V rear power outlet, Dual Auto HVAC, MediaHub with USB ports, Exterior mirrors with supplemental signals, Front and Rear ParkSense with full stop as mentioned earlier, Power adjustable pedals and power folding mirrors, Automatic wipers, Rear underseat storage compartments, Rear defroster, Remote keyless entry with Remote start, and a Garage door opener button.
Next on the plate (by now it should be a platter) is the Tri-fold tonneau cover at $550, the Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof for $1,495, Side Steps at $695, Rear wheelhouse liners for $195, the Multifunction Tailgate at $995 with Ram’s Head Badge (!), 33-gallon fuel tank for $445, AirSuspension at $1,805, BlindSpot and CrossPath Detection is $595 and the RamBox System is $995.
For a further $295 the Trailer Brake Control hops onboard, and last but not least the Spray-in Bedliner will lighten your wallet by another $595. Oh, and $1,695 for destination charges brings the total to, wait for it…$70,880. All of a sudden the base price of $47,990 seems like a much smaller number, right? Of course nobody pays those full sticker prices, if forced to, you’d probably choke. Or perhaps rebel.
But back to our original premise – just like as with actual rebels, some end up conforming to society’s norms in the end. Whether that’s good or bad either for them or society isn’t for me to judge, but in this case it makes for a truck that is easy to like and get along with and doesn’t really have any ill manners of significance. The leather jacket hasn’t been completely traded in for a sweater vest but beneath a slightly gruff exterior is a bit of a softie that’s actually quite easygoing and eager to be a good partner.
Thank you very much to RAM for lending us this fully fueled truck and letting us get our Rebel on for the week!