by: Jag Dhatt
There was a time when pick-ups were seen as either work trucks or for use off-road. Then they became used by the regular Joe, or even Jane, for every day use, even though the bed, the pick-up portion of the truck, was rarely used. And now, the pick-up truck has become the norm for many people who want its features, but still want to travel in luxury.
The new 2019 RAM 1500 was revealed in early 2018 and it turned a lot of heads, including mine. It was sharper, more aggressive, and best of all, filled with innovations that were definitely needed. And who can forget that huge center screen?
Yes, the RAM 1500 is a great truck, and a favourite of mine. A couple of my friends swear by their Ford F150 or the GMC Sierra, but for me, the RAM 1500 clearly takes the cake.
Now, the RAM 1500 itself is a great truck and does everything in style and luxury, if you choose the upper trim like the Limited. But what if you wanted to have something more aggressive and capable and retain the stock components of the RAM? Well, that’s where the RAM 1500 Rebel comes in.
In terms of the RAM 1500 line-up, the Rebel sits nicely between the Sport (which by the way is solely for Canada) and the Laramie. But really, what makes the Rebel a Rebel? Let’s find out.
Since the RAM is built for more aggressive and off-road driving, it has to have enough power and thus, it can be equipped with the 5.7L HEMI VVT V8 engine, complete with FuelSaver MDS. This HEMI produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the Rebel can get from rest to 100 km/h in just over 6.5 seconds; not bad for a truck that weighs over 6,800 pounds. Yes, the Limited feels faster, but remember that the Rebel’s purpose isn’t a straight-line race. One of the best features of RAM’s technology has to be the FuelSaver MDS because at highway speeds, four of the cylinders shut down, not only conserving fuel, but saving wear and tear on the engine. I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t incorporate this technology into their engines.
One would imagine that having the HEMI and FuelSaver MDS systems would prove to be loud in the cabin; however, with an active noise cancellation system, engine noise is negligible – we felt this in the RAM Limited as well during a previous press trip in Detroit. The RAM even puts sedans to shame with respect to interior noise.
The RAM Rebel’s off-road ability is enhanced by a 3.92 rear axle ratio, complete with a locking rear differential, allowing off-road ventures to be more fun and providing the traction and ability when necessary.
Being off-road, you have to make sure that your truck’s underbody is protected. The Rebel has necessary skid plates so you don’t get stuck with damage where help may not be easily accessible.
The Rebel comes equipped with 4 corner air suspension, which for anyone dwelling into the logging roads, needs. With the simple push of a button, you can raise and lower the RAM for getting through tough terrain, or being aerodynamic on the highway. Another benefit of the 4-corner air suspension is ease of entry or exit from the vehicle, which is important if you have kids or seniors who would normally have difficulty with such a task that most of us take for granted.
For the off-roaders, have you ever come to an area where there is a huge decline and you wonder how you’ll control the acceleration and brakes in such a way that you still have control over the vehicle? It’s not easy. At a recent press trip, I had the opportunity to take two vehicles, in a controlled setting, down a pretty steep grade. One vehicle was equipped with Hill Descent Control and the other wasn’t. What I can say is that having Hill Descent Control is impressive because the vehicle does all the work for you, and all you have to do is steer. And yes, the RAM Rebel has it. Trust me – it’s a feature that you wish you had if ever in the situation.
Being such an able off-road vehicle, you’d expect the RAM Rebel to be lacking in creature comforts; however, that is not the case. Our test vehicle came fully loaded with all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a premium vehicle. There were the beautifully appointed leather seats, red and black in colour as well, leather stitching, that huge 12” UConnect screen, and of course, tonnes of safety technology.
So who’s going to buy the Rebel? Well, to be honest, it’s built for a specific crowd that needs more capability than the Regular RAM. It’s not going head-to-head with the Ford Raptor, but will compete nicely with the Tundra TRD Pro and even the TrailBoss Chevy Silverado. In my opinion, out of these three, the RAM Rebel is the clear winner because it offers the best styling, equipment and technology compared to the others. Remember, the Tundra still doesn’t have keyless entry and push-button start!
With a base price of $60,795, the 2019 RAM Rebel will deliver on all of its promises of being a super-capable off-road truck that will put a smile on the owners’ faces. Our test vehicle, loaded with tonnes of luxury and technology packages came out at $73,305. Not bad for a truck that you can take off-road and still pull up to cocktail event in style. Sign me up.