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2016 Ram 1500 Rebel

Greater than the Sum of its Parts

Feb 6, 2016
Photographers: Robert Guio
It’s easy to look at the Ram 1500 Rebel with a cynical eye: Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sees the success of the Ford F-150 Raptor, goes to the parts bin, builds a truck with a few features already available on other Rams, slaps on a new grille, and calls it an “off-road package.”
But the Rebel is way more than its spec sheet suggests. For starters, the air suspension is retuned for off-road duty, with an extra inch of ground clearance in its normal setting. Additionally, the truck gets Bilstein shocks all around, and the Rebel’s engineers absolutely nailed their tuning. While other Fiat Chrysler vehicles with the air suspension often bounce uncomfortably against their shocks’ upper jounce bumpers, the Rebel will happily bound across all kinds of terrain with its air suspension jacked way up.
Photo 2/13   |   35 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel On Trail
Our tester combined that suspension goodness with the legendary 5.7L Hemi V-8, paired to an eight-speed automatic that routes power to a differential with 3.92:1 gears. The short differential and massive engine power gave the Rebel some damned impressive acceleration, and the Hemi’s typically seductive exhaust noise is readily audible in this application. (Gamers: Remember the Cartel Cruiser pickup from Grand Theft Auto III? This truck sounds pretty much the same.)
Towing was a non-issue with the Rebel, but its payload rating of just over 1,000 pounds was comically low. Perhaps Ram is recalling the days when a 1/2-ton pickup really could only haul half a ton, but in an era when a Tacoma can haul 1,100 pounds, a 1500 should really step up its game. At least the air suspension leveled the Rebel when loaded down, and it aced both the trailer and payload tests with tons of power and decent handling.
Photo 3/13   |   44 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel Embroidered Seat
On-road, the Ram drives very much like any other modern fullsize pickup. It’s comfortable and composed, and the Toyo tires’ tall sidewalls absorb bumps well without adding too much road noise. With five on board, there was ample space for everyone, and rear-seat comfort was pretty remarkable. Additionally, Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system is very intuitive, although some of us wish it were possible to adjust HVAC temperature without using the touch screen.
Off-road, the Rebel was in lockstep with the Tacoma for first place. While its size worked against it in the tight confines of our mountain trail, its off-road–oriented traction control, stonking torque, and aggressive tires made it the most fun on the sand dunes. Toyota, take note: this is how you do traction control.
Photo 4/13   |   27 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel Blasting Dunes
With the company’s bold new logo emblazoned across the grille and tailgate, the Ram Rebel isn’t for shirking violets or bashful types. Even in silver or black, the Rebel demands attention. Some of our testers loved its brashness, while others thought its grille looked like a wizened cowboy’s handlebar mustache and not in a good way. Our truck was painted two-tone Flame Red with Brilliant Black accents, possibly the most attention-grabbing color available for the Rebel.
Inside, the Rebel comes equipped with black and red upholstery, with black cloth adorning the seat faces and red material on the seatbacks and sides. Every Rebel comes with embossing on the seat centers that matches the Toyos’ tread pattern. Some of us thought it was a neat way to tie in the truck’s off-road–oriented nature, but one editor pointed out that every time the new owner has to replace the tires, they’ll have to be Toyos if he or she wants the interior to match. Red anodized aluminum accents on the door panels, HVAC vent bezels, and instrument panel didn’t quite match the exterior color or seat accents and stitching, but it was still much a nicer material than faux carbon fiber or woodgrain.
Photo 5/13   |   85 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel Front
Nevertheless, beauty is a matter of taste. The Rebel’s surprisingly competent performance was a matter of fact. None of us could fault its compliant air suspension, off-road chops, or hot-rod Hemi V-8, and it became the chariot of choice for many of our testers. And its sub-$45k base price even made it something of a bargain in the face of its competitors’ off-road packages. Its closest natural competitor is the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, and while many of us enjoyed that truck in last year’s Pickup Truck of the Year competition, we liked the Rebel better. If you like the look, and most of us did, Ram’s newest offering is a great option.
By Brett T. Evans
WE LIKE: Hemi power + short gearing + snorting exhaust = onramp fun. Ram engineers nailed the air suspension’s off-road tuning. Comfortable ride.
WE DON’T LIKE: Hemi power + short gearing + snorting exhaust = poor observed fuel economy. Distinctive look not to everyone’s tastes.
LEAD IMAGE: There’s no guessing what kind of vehicle this is, with bold “RAM” script featured prominently on the grille and tailgate. The Rebel is big, ostentatious, capable, and all-American, with a huge dose of off-road fun to go along with its fancy new clothes.
Photo 6/13   |   47 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel Engine
2016 Ram 1500 Rebel Base Price: $45,100
Price As Tested: $53,175
EPA Fuel Econ (City/HWY/Comb): 15/21/17
Engine: 5.7L Hemi V-8
Horsepower: 395 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 410 @ 3,950 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Accel 0-60 MPH: 7.66 seconds
Quarter Mile: 16.10 seconds @ 91.0 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH: 135.54 ft
Accel 0-60 (Payload): 7.76 seconds*
Quarter Mile (Payload): 16.07 seconds @ 88.47 mph*
Accel 0-60 (Towing): 14.57 seconds**
Quarter Mile (Towing): 20.29 seconds @ 70.87 mph**
Weight: 5,849 lbs
Tested Fuel Econ (Average/Best): 12.63/15.41
*1,000 pounds of payload **7,545-pound trailer weight

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