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Long-Term Report 2: 2017 Ram 1500 Rebel 4x4

Posted in Features on June 8, 2017
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In the first report on our 2016 Pickup Truck of the Year-winning Ram 1500 Rebel (Jul. ’17) we gave kudos to the truck’s standard four-corner air suspension. We love that it offers the ability to alter the ride height with the touch of a button, which allows us to increase approach, departure, and breakover angles when we point the truck off-road. In the May ’16 Pickup Truck of the Year story we noted that raising the suspension creates a 25.3-degree approach angle (normal approach angle is 23.8 degrees) and a 23-degree departure angle (normal departure angle is 21.9 degrees). Yeah, those improvements are welcome, but we’ve found yet another reason to love the air suspension: towing.

We’ve towed a variety of trailers with the Rebel and love that the air suspension automatically levels when a trailer is attached. Talk about simplicity. One of the trailers we tow is a 6x12-foot V-nose single-axle cargo trailer that has a curb weight of approximately 1,250 pounds and a hitch weight of 187 pounds. Most of the time it has a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle strapped inside along with a couple of spare wheels and tires for the trailer as well as other odds ’n’ ends. We guesstimate total trailer weight to be in the 2,300-pound range. Another trailer we routinely tow is a 20-foot dual-axle travel trailer that has a dry weight of 3,950 pounds and a tongue weight of 310 pounds. We love that we can simply connect a trailer to the truck, the suspension self-levels, and we’re good to go.

We love the ParkView rear back-up camera that displays through the Rebel’s 8.4-inch touchscreen display. It’s great for daily use and hooking up to a trailer is an easy and safe procedure thanks to the camera’s clear, wide-angle view.

Let’s talk a bit more about towing with the Rebel. According to Ram Trucks our Rebel has a maximum trailer weight rating of 9,830 pounds the way it is configured. Our Rebel also has the optional trailer brake control ($280), which is cleanly integrated into an area below the HVAC controls, is easy to use, and ties in with the 7-inch Rebel reconfigurable instrument cluster to monitor setup and function. We dig our Rebel’s standard ParkView rear back-up camera, which integrates with the 8.4-inch dash-mounted touchscreen display to assist in positioning the hitch ball under the trailer’s hitch easily and safely. On the highway, the Rebel has pulled our trailers with no drama. The 5.7L Hemi’s 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque is more than adequate. We use tow/haul mode each time we tow and the results are impressive. With tow/haul engaged, the 8HP70 eight-speed transmission’s upshifts are delayed and it automatically downshifts to help with engine braking during steady braking. Tow/haul mode helps with performance as well as to reduce the potential for transmission overheating due to excessive shifting. We can confirm that it works very well. It’s almost like the transmission is reading our minds. It’s worth noting that even towing on hot days in hilly terrain the transmission temperature has remained well within the normal range. Chalk up another win for Rebel towing. If we had one wish it’s that the power heated outside rear view mirrors with power fold away had vertical adjustability so the tops of taller trailers were more easily visible.

Trailer brake information is conveniently displayed through the 7-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster and is easily accessed using buttons on the steering wheel. The trailer brake controls are straightforward and located to the right of the driver below the HVAC controls.

On another topic, we like to hand wash our long-term vehicles from time to time and we’ve hand washed the Rebel several times. It’s a time consuming endeavor, but we like to do this because when we’re laying hands on every inch of the exterior of a vehicle we can feel things like fit and finish imperfections or irritating design flaws. We’ve found no factory problems with the Rebel. Our wash towel just glides over the finish of the Rebel. However, we are finding an annoying number of door dings gathered while the truck is sitting in airport and hotel parking lots. Doesn’t anybody look before they fling open their car door?

Since our last report the Rebel has been in for its first routine service visit. At 8,378 miles the truck’s computer displayed that oil life was at 14 percent remaining, not quite due, but since we had a long trip planned we took it to the dealer early. The dealer changed the oil, replaced the oil filter, rotated the 33-inch Toyo Open Country A/T tires, performed a multi-point inspection, and topped off the windshield washer fluid. Total cost was an affordable sum of $62.77. Early into our test we had a couple of instances where the TPMS system alerted us that it had a fault. We haven’t received that message recently and the dealer could find no record of it recorded in the truck’s system.

So far, our long-term Ram 1500 Rebel has impressed us in every way whether it has been towing, wheeling, hauling, or just commuting. In our upcoming third report we’ll be examining the Rebels interior and exterior lighting among other things. Based on our experiences we’ll offer our opinion on how the Rebel’s lighting performs during nighttime wheeling and work. As we all know, lighting is incredibly important on a do-it-all truck. Stay tuned.

Options As Tested

Luxury 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: 2 of 4

Previous Reports: Jul. ’17
Base Price: $47,095
Price as Tested: $54,210
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time electronically-controlled, two-speed

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 10,820
Miles since last report: 5,090
Average mpg (this report): 16.2
Test best tank (mpg): 17.7 (highway @ 70 mph)
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.9 (towing a 6x12 cargo trailer w/1,200 pounds of cargo into a headwind)

Maintenance
This period: Oil and filter change, tire rotation, cost $62.77
Problem areas: None

What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Air suspension automatic adjustability for towing
Not: Huge Ram lettering on the tailgate

Logbook Quotes
“I wasn’t an air suspension fan, but after living with the Rebel I’m a believer.”
“This truck is incredibly versatile!”

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