Our 2016 Pickup Truck of the Year–winning Ram 1500 Rebel long-term test truck has completed its yearlong stay with Four Wheeler, and it has most likely returned to the Ram mothership in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
If the Rebel could talk, it would regale the Ram folks with stories of trails, cargo, trails, a hurricane, trails, towing, trails, long trips, and trails. As a matter of fact, it’s safe to say that the Rebel saw more trail use than any other long-term Four Wheeler test vehicle in recent memory, and it handled the trails, as well as all the other tasks, with great aplomb.
During our year with the Rebel we wheeled it almost weekly, which may seem hard to believe, but it’s true. That’s the beauty of living very close to areas open to wheeling. The Rebel’s transfer case shift activation was flawless, the adjustable four-corner air suspension allowed us to increase the ride height at the touch of a button, the rear Anti-Spin limited-slip differential worked well, and visibility from the driver seat was very good. As a matter of fact, we never got stuck while off-roading the Rebel. The Rebel got through even on the worst (meaning best) trails. The truck went back to Ram with unused and like-new front towhooks. Did we wish for a locking rear differential in the Rebel? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, the Anti-Spin limited slip never let us down. On the other hand, we like being able to manually control when to send power to both rear wheels. Of course if we could have the Anti-Spin characteristics with the option of locking the rear diff at will we’d be ecstatic.
On the paved road the Rebel was a pleasure to drive, and we did a bunch of on-road driving. In addition to standard commuting, we took the Rebel on some long trips—in the end, the truck was driven through 10 states. Some of those states were crossed multiple times. During several of those trips the bed of the truck was loaded with heavy cargo or the truck was towing a trailer of some sort. Regardless of whether it was loaded or empty the Rebel was solid and planted. Seat comfort was outstanding, the cabin was quiet and refined, and the truck’s ride and handling was very good. And of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the incredibly versatile RamBox Cargo Management System option. The ease of use and space created by each RamBox is impressive and worth every penny of the $1,295 price tag for this option.
Near the end of the test, just when we thought we had learned everything there was to know about the Rebel, we learned more. We were spending time in Florida when Hurricane Irma swept through the state and the Rebel became our evacuation tool. A few days before the hurricane made landfall we left the central part of the state, pointing the Rebel north. Traffic was terrible and fuel was hard to find, so we opted to utilize backroads. This is when two things about the Rebel became clear. First, we appreciated the optional 32-gallon fuel tank (a 26-gallon tank is standard). That extra six gallons helped to get us farther north to gas stations that had fuel. Second, with a purposeful effort of trying to maximize fuel economy we logged a best-ever tank of 18.8 mpg. This was with two adults and hundreds of pounds of cargo in the cab and bed. The combination of a larger fuel tank and decent fuel mileage gave us peace of mind, at least in regard to fuel, as we evacuated.
Now that our yearlong test with the Rebel has concluded, we reflect, and we simply don’t have anything to complain about regarding either design or durability of our Rebel. The truck simply did what it was designed to do with no failures. Early on there was a brief TPMS sensor glitch, but it went away on its own and never returned. With almost 20,000 miles on the Rebel at the end of our test, many of those miles off-road as well as towing and hauling, the truck was as tight as it was the day it was delivered. No trim defected from the truck inside or out, there were no interior or exterior rattles or squeaks, and the engine and transmission went about their job perfectly. We looked for problem areas such as seat wear (there was none) and how the optional spray-on bedliner held up (just fine, even after the abuse we threw at it, including sliding heavy metal items across the floor).
The yearlong test of the Ram 1500 Rebel was a very pleasurable experience, and it proved beyond question that the Rebel deserved to be the Four Wheeler 2016 Pickup Truck of the Year.
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: 4 of 4Previous Reports: Jul. ’17, Oct. ’17, Jan. ’18
Base Price: $47,095
Price as Tested: $54,210
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time electronically-controlled, two-speed
Miles to date: 19,065
Miles since last report: 2,819
Average mpg (this report): 17.0
Test best tank (mpg): 18.8
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.9 (towing a 6x12 cargo trailer w/1,200 pounds of cargo into a headwind)
This period: Oil and filter change @ 17,633 miles
Problem areas: None
What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: RamBox versatility, great exterior lighting, outstanding towing manners, auto-leveling air suspension
Not: Huge Ram lettering on the tailgate
“This is a truck I would spend my money on.”
“Really liking the Rebel’s larger fuel tank option.”
“I’m a RamBox fan.”