First Drive: 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel

Ram's Rebel-lious New Off-Road Package

Aug 10, 2015
Photographers: Jason Gonderman
"The Rebel drops right into a core segment of the truck market with unique design cues and can-do attitude backed by Ram Truck engineering." - Bob Hegbloom, president and CEO, Ram Truck
Off-road packages are all the rage these days. With the resurgence of the pickup market has also come a renewed interest in the outdoors and people are hungrier than ever for vehicles that take them off the beaten path. For many, the pickup is merely a conveyance to reach their favorite fishing hole, hunting ground, or trailhead while for others it is also their primary means of recreation. In either case, however, it also needs to be a reliable weekday work truck, soccer shuttle, and grocery getter since the average American doesn't really have room in the budget for an extra recreational vehicle these days. Enter the Rebel: Ram's answer to this growing market.
Photo 2/36   |   Ram's traditional crosshair grille has been replaced with this Rebel-specific black and gray unit. The ram's head emblem has also been removed in favor of the block letter "RAM".
Before we get too deep into what the '15 Ram 1500 Rebel is, let's make clear what it is not. When the announcement about Rebel was first made at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the internet was set ablaze with comparisons to Ford's F-150 Raptor. The folks at Ram are very quick to point out that the Rebel was never intended to compete in the class of specialty pickups that include the Ford Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, or Toyota TRD Pro. These are all specialized limited-production vehicles. Instead, the Ram Rebel falls in line with Ford's FX4, Toyota's TRD, Chevy's Z71, GMC's All-Terrain, and Nissan's PRO-4X package. With that out of the way we can dig deeper into what really sets the Rebel apart.
Photo 3/36   |   2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Wheel
Photo 4/36   |   Aggressive 33-inch Toyo Open Country A/T tires provide the traction for Rebel while unique silver and black 17-inch wheel ensures that you stand out from the crowd. Don't let the look fool you; these tires are just as good on the highway as off of it.
Exterior Styling
Part of what makes the Rebel unique is its distinctive styling. Gone from the nose is Rams traditional chrome crossbar grille. Instead, it is replaced with a matte-black unit that is exclusive to Rebel. Branding is handled by bold "RAM" lettering placed across the grille and tailgate. Below the grille is a powdercoated steel skid plate and large recovery hooks. The Sport hood adds to the aggressive looks while fog lights, premium projector headlamps, and LED taillights keep the darkness at bay. The Rebel can be had in five colors including Flame Red, Brilliant Black Crystal, Bright White, Granite Crystal Metallic, and Bright Silver Metallic. Two-tone paint comes standard with Brilliant Black Crystal rocker panels; however, the truck can also be ordered monochromatic. When ordering a Rebel your cab choice is limited only to a crew cab with a 5-foot, 7-inch bed.
Interior Accouterments
Moving inside, the Ram Rebel has been outfitted with a youthful and sporty interior. The Rebel-exclusive black cloth seats feature distinctive red and gray accents and stitching, along with a "tire-tread" embossed treatment on the seat's center insert. Touches of red on the door panels, center console, instrument panel, and radio bezel tie the whole theme together. The finishing touch is the unique Rebel-themed background displayed on the available 7-inch instrument cluster screen at start-up and on the available 8.4-inch touchscreen radio.
Photo 8/36   |   It was really only a matter of time before the Star Wars Rebel references were going to start flowing, but we didn't expect it this soon! The black-and-white color scheme gives the truck a Stormtrooper vibe, but the kill count of craft directly beneath the Rebel badge hints the Ram has no love for the Empire. Apparently this truck's owner has destroyed ten AT-ST walkers, three AT-AT walkers, and perhaps most impressively, five TIE Fighters.
Under The Skin
Rebel finds its motivation from either the 3.6L Pentastar V-6 or 5.7L Hemi V-8, and both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 3.6L engine churns out 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, and it is only available on four-wheel-drive models with 3.92:1 axle gears. For those seeking more power than economy, the 5.7L Hemi lays down 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. The Hemi can be optioned into both two- and four-wheel-drive models and either 3.21:1 or 3.92:1 axle gears. Sorry folks, there's no EcoDiesel option-at least for '15.
Photo 9/36   |   The Ram Rebel is only available with the company's class-exclusive air suspension. The combination of larger tires and a suspension lift yield best-in-class ground clearance of 10.3 inches.
The Rebel's trail-running capability gets a boost with a 1-inch taller ride height than a standard four-wheel-drive 1500, which provides improved approach, departure, and breakover angles. Air suspension is standard on the Rebel, and specially tuned Bilstein mono-tube shock absorbers keep the Rebel under control over rough terrain. A softer rear stabilizer bar and slower steering calibration both aid in improving off-road handling.
Beefy 33-inch (285/70R17) Toyo Open Country A/T all-terrain tires are mounted on new 17-inch silver and black cast-aluminum wheels. The tire's aggressive tread pattern offers outstanding traction when the trail gets tough, while remaining quiet enough for weekday highway duty.
Photo 13/36   |   2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Side Badging
Behind The Wheel
We were recently afforded the opportunity to hop behind the wheel of a Rebel that belongs to a member of Ram's design team and take it for a spin in the woods of Michigan (at the time, only about a half-dozen pre-production units even existed). Traveling on paved roads you'd have no reason to believe that you were in anything other than a run-of-the-mill Ram 1500. Acceleration, braking, and handling are all as you would expect, despite the large and aggressive off-road tires and taller-than-normal ride height. If it weren't for the bright-red anodized vent surrounds and steering-wheel stitching, as well as the "Rebel" logo on the glove box, you'd have no reason to think you were in anything but a Ram 1500 SLT.
Photo 14/36   |   Under the hood of our Rebel tester was the 395hp 5.7L Hemi V-8. Also available is the fuel-sipping 25mpg 3.6L Pentastar V-6.
When we left pavement in favor of something a bit more rugged is where the Rebel really started to shine. There's no kidney belt required for this pickup. The Bilstein shock tuning is spot on, and the truck remained stable and in control running down rutted roads and two-track, while our spine remained in proper alignment as well. Combining the impeccable shock tuning with the Ram's link-coil rear suspension and air springs provides a very smooth and controllable ride, provided you don't try and over-drive the truck (remember, it's neither a Raptor nor a Power Wagon).
The truck we were driving was a Hemi four-wheel-drive model, so it had plenty of power for climbing hills and throwing up roost. Traction from the Toyo tires is fantastic, however the Hemi engine has no problem burying the truck to the frame in loose dirt while in two-wheel-drive. With the suspension raised up to Off-Road Two mode the ride gets a bit firmer, but remains overall better than the standard Ram 1500. We did encounter one spot where the breakover angle was too great for the truck and we had to back out. However, if we owned the truck a little throttle would have slid the frame right up and over the obstacle.
Photo 18/36   |   2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Passenger Side Front View
While our time with the truck was short, it was enough to convince us that Ram has a real winner on its hands with the Rebel. It carries a youthful spirit, aggressive attitude, and docile manners. Ram has managed to find the perfect blend of highway comfort and off-road capability. Expect to see Rebels on a trail near you soon!
Photo 19/36   |   While we wish the truck had a mechanical locking rear differential like most of its competition, the available limited-slip does a pretty dang good job.
2015 Ram 1500 Rebel
TYPE: Five-passenger pickup
BASE PRICE: $42,790
PRICE AS TESTED: $46,370
ENGINE: 5.7L Hemi V-8
TRANSMISSION: TorqueFlight eight-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER: 395
TORQUE: 410 lb-ft
EPA FUEL ECON: 15 city / 21 hwy
Photo 20/36   |   Skid plates over the front bumper, oil pan, front differential, and transfer case keep the underside vitals safe when the trail gets rough.
Photo 24/36   |   2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Tailgate
Photo 28/36   |   Bilstein monotube shocks front and rear are tuned specifically for the Rebel and are in large responsible for it's fantastic ride. If it were up to us, these shocks would be on all Ram 1500s.
Photo 32/36   |   2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Taillight
Photo 36/36   |   2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Tailgate

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