by Nick Hromiak - Thursday, June 16, 2016
You’ve probably heard the old saying “strike while the branding iron is hot.” Well Ram is doing just that as it experiences one of its best sales years for its pickups.
The hot-selling Ram pickup has a new addition to the brand’s existing family of Tradesman, Express, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Sports Laramie, Longhorn, Limited and Power Wagon trim levels. New to the line is the Rebel 1500 pickup, which is similar to the Power Wagon in that it caters to sportsmen but with some added off-road chops. And with a standard air suspension system, this stout truck is transformed into a street machine with a pleasant ride.
True to form, the Rebel has been tuned for the rough and rugged. It sports a 1-inch lift over the standard 1500, plus it’s shod with 33-inch Toyo 285/70R17 tires that are an inch wider and taller than standard tires and provide almost 8 inches of sidewall protection from low off-road obstacles. This lift complements the standard four-corner air suspension system that offers extra lift when needed. At highway speeds, the air system drops an inch to reduce air resistance for better fuel economy.
But that’s not all. Along with this jacked-up suspension, Ram also added specially tuned Bilstein mono-tube shocks for better control of body movement on paved and unpaved roads. And for cornering balance, a softer rear stabilizer bar was used to help off-road suspension articulation. To protect the truck’s vital innards, there are skid plates over the transfer case and over the front suspension.
At normal ride height, there’s a 23.8-degree approach angle helped by a bumper with a raised bottom edge; approach is 25.3 degrees when the suspension is raised. The Rebel’s departure angle of 21.9 degrees increases to 23 when lifted. All enhancements cater to the hunter who gets off the beaten trail.
Ram managed to do all this while maintaining standard payload capacity (1,530 pounds) and towing capability (10,210 pounds, both based on a Crew Cab with Hemi V8, eight-speed automatic transmission and 3.92 rear axle).
Based on the Ram Big Horn trim version, the Rebel’s interior is sedan-comfy and nicely appointed, so much so you hate to track in mud or snow. But specially badged and heavy-duty, ribbed floor mats catch grime and keep it off the carpeting. Of course this is after a huge 25-inch step into the cabin. Because of this stretch, it’s likely some Rebel buyers will add aftermarket step rails to make ingress/egress easier.
The Rebel’s seats are eye-catchers: Seat bottoms and backs are emblazoned with the tread pattern of the Toyo Open Country tires; outer edges of the seats, which see the most wear, are covered in leather.
The back seats can easily hold three hunters with ample leg and headroom. Flip the 60/40 split seat bottoms up against the bulkhead and two carpeted steel panels can be folded down to form a sturdy flat load floor for gear, guns or a dog.
The Rebel is offered with one body style (Crew Cab) and two engine choices: a 3.6-liter, 305-hp Pentastar V6 and a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 (tested) with 395 hp and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. The Hemi carries EPA mileage estimates of 15 city/21 highway mpg with an eight-speed automatic transmission, but don’t expect to achieve those numbers as EPA tests were made without the off-road goodies. The only option not yet offered is Chrysler’s new, much-in-demand, 3-liter, V6 Eco Diesel engine.
The Rebel is also offered in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations with a standard 5-foot-7-inch bed and five exterior color schemes. The standard feature list is lengthy, but includes the most required heated front seats and steering wheel. The only feature Rebel owners will have to acclimate to is the rotary dial in place of a column- or console-mounted shift handle for the automatic transmission. Otherwise all HVAC controls are easy to use, as is the huge 8.4-inch display for rearview camera, GPS nav, audio and UConnect infotainment operation. The 4WD system is a push-button affair with 2WD, 4WD Lock and 4WD Low.
The Open Country tires do hum somewhat when driving on the highway, but their aggressive tread pattern offers good bite in bad conditions on pavement and off-road. According to Ram, they feature a special wavy sipe pattern for a good ride and improved snow traction, while groove bottom siping has more biting edges. Plus, there’s an open shoulder that maximizes water evacuation for excellent all-terrain traction and stability.
Ram pickups have a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that includes free towing to the nearest Ram dealer. It’s transferrable for owners who sell their trucks during the warranty period; coverage can be passed on to the new owner. A three-year/36,000-mile basic limited warranty covers everything bumper-to-bumper.
After a base price of $44,720, the test truck’s extra-cost options included: luxury group ($560); skid plates ($150); rear camera assist and rear backup camera ($595); anti-spin rear differential ($325); eight-speed automatic trans ($500); Rebel customized instrument cluster ($175); 5.7-liter Hemi ($1,150); Uconnect infotainment with GPS nav and satellite radio ($1,005); sprayed bed liner ($475); Ram Boxes ($1,295); and delivery ($1,195). All this escalates the price to $52,375. It’s a lot of money, but it’s a lot of truck and then some for the American Hunter.
• Drivetrain: 5.7L Hemi V8 w/395 hp, 410 lb.-ft. torque; 8-speed automatic trans; 4WD
• Suspension: Active-Level Four Corner Air, independent front, 5-link rear
• Brakes: 4-wheel anti-lock disc
• Dimensions/Capacities: overall length 229"; wheelbase 140.7"; width 81.5"; height 78.1" (79.1" lifted); curb weight 5,387 lbs.; payload 1,530 lbs.; GVWR 6,900 lbs.; GCWR 15,950 lbs.; ground clearance 9.3" front, 8.8" rear, 10"/11" below skid plates (normal/off-road); fuel 26 gals.
• Price as Tested: $52,375 (base $44,720)
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