Ram has a reputation for creating the biggest, baddest pickups that build on a legacy of World War II troop trucks, Army command vehicles, Powerwagons, and more recently, posh pickups. They're for people who are a little rebellious (or let people think they are). With in-your-face design and fortified capability, Ram Rebel appeals to country folk and urban hipsters alike.
Rebel's styling channels both the Ram Powerwagon and Lil' Red Truck, missing only twin exhaust stacks running up the sides of the cab to fill the frame. The front view diverts from Ram's traditional crosshair grille and features a blacked out insert with Silver "RAM" lettered across. The tailgate gets its own giant block "RAM". Powerwagon wheel arches and blacked out trim contrast with LED fog lamps, skid plates, and tow hooks. A faux twin-snorkel hood and 17-inch alloys with 33-inch tires look serious, but side steps would also add gravity.
You may need to grab handles or keep a step stool in your purse to heave yourself up inside, but it's worth the effort. Continuing the Rebel rousing, Radar Red and black seats are trimmed with canvas surfaces, diesel gray stitching, and Toyo tire tread pattern. Anodized red dash, door, and console accents stand in for woodgrain. Especially with crew cabs, there's plenty of room for four or five to stretch out and enjoy heated front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation, and USBs all-around. The audio system will thump you silly, but you'll have to adjust your own climate control.
Clever storage abounds. Lockable and lighted "Ram Box" storage cubbies are integrated into the bedsides, bed tie-downs clutch ATVs, and a bed divider keeps camping gear from sliding -- no matter the terrain. Inside, the deep front console can store laptops. There's plenty of open storage with clever clips to hold MP3 players or phones. McGuzzler cups stay secure on the fly.
Moving this tribute to youthful indiscretion is a standard 305 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine that achieves 25-MPG hwy. Skip it and get the tire-stomping 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that bellows out 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. Two-wheel-drive is standard with the HEMI, but that's pointless, so get electronic 4x4. Gas mileage really isn't top of list if you're buying a sumo-sized pickup, but cylinder deactivation and Chrysler's TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission do what they can.
That's not the end of the Rebel's capability. It's a little big for tight trails, but should annihilate gravel and mud with a one-inch factory suspension lift that improves approach/breakover angles, skid plates to protect the soft bits underside, tow hooks just in case, and off-road tires to claw through it all. Engineers tapped Ram's optional air suspension to give drivers a range of ride heights. What works off road improves on-road comfort (to a point) -- whether working the HEMI on open Interstate or crushing potholes. If trailering is in the plans, you'll appreciate the integrated dash controller, pre-installed wiring, and heavy-duty hitch receptacle.
Meant to elicit warm feelings for jacked-up pickups from your youth, Rebel's style will raise the roof at your local roadhouse or cut a swath parking at the Children's Museum (seriously, did it). From either destination, no matter the weather or terrain, you'll know getting home will be no problem. If that's rebellious, sign me up. Prices start at $43,170, but came to $49,330 as equipped.
2016 Ram 1500 Rebel
- Five-passenger, 4x4 pickup
- Powertrain: 395 hp 5.7-liter V8, 8-speed trans
- Suspension f/r: Air Ind/Solid axle
- Wheels f/r: 17-inch/17-inch alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, capability
- Fuel economy: 15/22 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Warren, MI
- Base/as-tested price: $43,170/49,330