2015 Ram Rebel First Drive

Sep. 23, 2015 By Josh Burns
The 2015 Ram Rebel is a Ram 1500 with off-roady-savvy upgrades and a host of unique appearance upgrades. Photo: Chris Collard

Off-roaders are truly fortunate to have so many great options in the truck market these days. Aside from great 4x4 options and a wide variety of impressive tow vehicles that could still hit the trails themselves, more and more manufacturers are also offering off-road specific trucks tailored toward trail exploration. Enter the 2015 Ram Rebel, a truck that offers both improved off-road capability along with a unique styling package to set it apart from the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup.

We recently had a chance to get behind the wheel of the new Ram Rebel at a West Coast event Chrysler held at Willow Springs in Southern California. With Hell Cat Challengers, Vipers and Chargers pushing their speedos well beyond the century mark on the Streets of Willow, us off-roaders ventured up in the mountains above the racetrack for a little seat time in Jeeps and Rams. FCA brought out its entire lineup of off-roaders, including its new 2016 Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition, its new Renegade, Cherokee and more, though we were most interested to log in some seat time with the Ram Rebel.

Although we’ll be getting our hands on a Ram Rebel here very soon for a complete review, this opportunity gave us the chance to get a quick impression of the truck and how it feels both on and off the road. Using Ram’s air suspension system, the Ram Rebel gets an additional 1-inch of ground clearance. Not only does this increase its height to improve the off-road clearance for the truck, it also allowed Ram to stuff larger-than-stock 33-inch Toyo A/T tires on the all-new 17-inch aluminum wheels.

The Ram Rebel features bold styling with its RAM grille and black-and-silver color accents.

On road, the Ram Rebel certainly feels as though it sits a little higher than a standard 1500 as soon as you get behind the wheel – and that’s a good thing. It just simply feels a little more ready to tackle the trails in terms of height and stance. Once we did hit the dirt, the specially tuned Bilstein shocks, which are featured both front and rear, did a good job of soaking up the bumps and weathered trails on our trail run. On steep uphill climbs where 4WD was needed, we shifted the truck into 4 Low and found plenty of traction, with the Toyo tires no doubt providing a little added bite on the soft, hilly terrain.

Prior to hopping in the Rebel, we took a spin in the small-SUV Jeep Renegade, a vehicle that will never be confused with the Wrangler but still can zip around moderate trails in a playful manner. Our off-road trail featured one final section with a steep downhill slope. In the Renegade, we took the descent slowly at first in the Hill Descent Control mode, slowly inching down the steep slope that had us in a very steep angle – not quite vertical, but still not a downhill section to take lightly. When taking that same downhill section in the Ram Rebel, with its best-in-class 10.3 inches of ground clearance up front, we were able to tackle the section with far great confidence – and even a little more speed. Granted, these two vehicles are worlds apart in terms of their wheelbase, but it reinforced just how much the Ram Rebel benefits from the improved ground clearance due to the 1-inch lift and larger Toyos – no worries at all about catching the front end on the slope while descending.

Although we didn’t spend a ton of time in Ram on the pavement, we did have a few short jaunts around the service roads around Willow. Even with the larger tires and increased height, the Ram Rebel feels very comfortable and confident on the road. There’s no downside to off-road additions in our opinion, though we’ll get a better opinion of this when we spend more time in the truck on the highway in our upcoming reviews (as well as provide fuel economy numbers).

We'll be getting our hands on a Ram Rebel very soon for a complete review of the new truck, but our initial impression is a positive one.

In terms of styling the Ram Rebel is certainly bolder than the standard 1500, and by design. The bold RAM grille greets you immediately, which is accented with a black-and-silver front bumper, black wheel well guards, and black-and-silver wheels. The interior features unique Rebel styling, which includes Rebel seats that feature a tire-tread design, black-out instrument panel and other interior black-out features such as the armrests. There’s also the cool new cell phone holder in the center storage bin, something we used both on and off-road to securely hold our large Note 4 cell phone. Color-matched anodized vent rings, door accent rings and door trim spears also accent the interior, giving it a look that is sporty without feeling tacky. We drove the same Flame Red color seen in our initial post of the truck at its launch at the Detroit Auto Show, though Ram offers four other colors that include Granite Crystal Metallic, Bright Silver Metallic, Bright White and Brilliant Black. Although our test truck featured the 5.7-liter HEMI, the Rebel will also be offered with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (no Eco Diesel option, though).

Although the Ram Rebel may be more off-road savvy than a standard 1500, it still is backed with a five-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Warranty and a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. The Ram Rebel pricing starts at $42,790. Be sure to check back soon for a full review of the 2015 Ram Rebel.

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