We’re excited that a new Ram 1500 Rebel 4x4 has joined our long-term test fleet of vehicles for a yearlong evaluation!
The Rebel won 2016 Pickup Truck of the Year (PTOTY) by a wide margin over the other three competitors for good reason. The Rebel is based on the capable Ram 1500 pickup, but the truck features many off-road–friendly upgrades including a Rebel-specific multi-piece front bumper that improves ground clearance, mud and snow-rated 33-inch-tall tires, 17-inch wheels, Bilstein shocks, Anti-Spin rear differential, and a 1-inch factory suspension lift to help clear the 33s. At the 2016 PTOTY, these items combined to help create a vehicle that excelled in a variety of areas. Some of the judges’ comments on the Rebel included “One smooth dirt machine” and “Everything about the Ram feels right.” It’s also worth noting that when asked which of the four trucks in the test they’d like to take home, seven of the eight judges chose the Rebel.
Due to manufacturing schedules, the Rebel that was built for our long-term test is a 2017 model year truck. Aside from some minor content changes, it’s the same as a ’16 model. Our 140.5-inch-wheelbase crew cab 4x4 truck is outfitted with almost the same content as the truck we tested during Pickup Truck of the Year 2016. It includes a 5.7L Hemi V-8 engine with MDS and VVT that makes 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, an eight-speed 8HP70 automatic transmission, the RamBox Cargo Management System, spray-in bedliner, trailer brake controller, the Protection Group (T-case and front suspension skidplates), and Luxury Group (that includes LED bed lighting among several other items). Our long-term tester does have two things our PTOTY tester didn’t have, and that’s a remote start system (now standard for the ’17 model year) and the optional 32-gallon fuel tank (replaces the standard 26-gallon fuel tank).
We’re several months into our test of the Ram 1500 Rebel long-term truck and we’ve learned a lot. Let’s start with some of our off-road observations. In the past we’ve wished out loud that the Rebel had a rear locker, and nothing has changed in that respect, but we have to admit that the rear Anti-Slip differential and traction control system hasn’t let us down yet. We’ve spent scores of hours on the trail in the truck and the combination has always found a way to keep us moving forward. We’ve had wheels in the air, we’ve driven through ruts so deep that even with the air suspension at the maximum height the belly was still dragging, and we navigated untold miles of deep-sand roads as we explored the local forest. The 4.7:1 First gear ratio of the eight-speed transmission helps to give the Rebel a crawl ratio of 48.7:1, which, combined with the excellent electronic driving calibration, makes crawling the big Rebel over slow-speed obstacles a smooth, no-drama experience. We also need to give kudos to the Rebel’s standard air suspension. While it does create a stiffer ride when raised, it’s a small price to pay for the adjustability. We’ve often complained that newer trucks are too low to the ground, which adversely affect things like approach angle and breakover angle. The Rebel’s adjustability helps improve those angles with the push of a button. If we had one wish it’s that the system would raise the truck faster, but maybe we’re just impatient.
Another area of the Rebel we want to talk about in this installment is the RamBox Cargo Management System. This system includes weathertight, easy access, lockable cargo bins located on each side of the cargo bed. Early on, we were skeptical as to whether or not they would be useful in daily life, but it didn’t take long for us to take a liking to them in a big way. We have one of our RamBoxes packed with a wide range of recovery gear, a small air compressor, a portable emergency battery for jump-starts, tire repair kit, bottle jack, a selection of tools, and lots more. Even with all that stuff in the RamBox, there’s still room for more stuff. In the other RamBox we carry a variety of things like trail snacks, a thick comforter, wet wipes, and a change of clothing and shoes for those times we get caught in rain when on the trail or working outside. Again, there’s still a significant amount of space available in that RamBox. We also like that the RamBox doors have electric locks and that they operate in conjunction with the Rebel’s door locks and tailgate lock, and this includes with the key fob. Further, we like that the RamBox doors are designed so they don’t travel into the cargo bed when open, which means they don’t hit items that are in the bed and higher than the bedrail. Another bonus is that the RamBox storage means we still have all the Rebel’s interior storage available for stuff like our DSLR and GoPro camera gear and accessories. For our needs, the RamBoxes are perfect.
At this writing, the Rebel’s oil life is still indicating 41 percent so the truck has not been in for service yet. One thing we’re going to have our local Ram dealer check when it does go in for service is the TPMS system, which occasionally signals us it has detected a fault in the system.
In the next segment we’ll report on our experiences while towing everything from a 6x12-foot cargo trailer to a 20-foot RV, and we’ll undoubtedly have more dirt miles on the truck by then, so stay tuned.
Options As TestedLuxury Group- LED Bed Lighting, Power Heated Mirrors with Power Fold Away, Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror, Exterior Mirrors with Courtesy Lamps, Sun Visors with Illuminated Vanity Mirrors, Overhead Console with Garage Door Opener ($695); Protection Group- Transfer Case Skid Plate, Front Suspension Skid Plate ($225); 8-Speed Automatic 8HP70 Transmission- 17-in Aluminum Spare Wheel ($500); 5.7L V-8 Hemi MDS VVT Engine ($1,250); 32-gal fuel tank ($355); Uconnect 8.4 NAV- GPS Navigation, Sirius XM Traffic/5-yr Traffic Subscription, Sirius XM Travel Link/5-yr Travel Link Subscription ($700); RamBox Cargo Management System- 4 Adjustable Cargo Tie-Down Hooks, Bed Cargo Divider/Extender ($1,295); Trailer Brake Control ($280); Spray-In Bedliner ($495)
Report: 1 of 4Previous Reports: None
Base Price: $47,095
Price as Tested: $54,210
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time electronically controlled, two-speed
Miles to date: 5,730
Miles since last report: N/A
Average mpg (this report): 14.75
Test best tank (mpg): 17.1 (highway @ 70 mph)
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.9 (towing a 6x12 cargo trailer w/1,200 pounds of cargo into a headwind)
This period: None
Problem areas: Random TPMS error signal
What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Height adjustability of air suspension, effective Anti-Slip rear differential and traction control
Not: Air suspension is a little slow to increase the ride height
“Lower ride height for fuel mileage, taller for off-road, by simply pushing a button. Works for me.”
“Very predictable off-road. No surprises. Just smooth and steady.”
“Each RamBox even has interior lights so I can find my stuff in the dark!”