It’s hard to believe how far pickup trucks have come. The RAM Rebel is a mid-level vehicle, and yet on the inside it comes with keyless ignition, a 7-inch touchscreen, a dampened tailgate, an eight-way power driver’s seat and a rear power-sliding window. The interior looks great, with “Rebel” cues everywhere, including the seats. The seat fabric tastefully mimics the tire tread pattern. Speaking of which, the 33-inch Goodyear DuraTrac tires are mounted on beautiful and rugged two-tone wheels. The rest of the exterior is also ready for work or adventure. The stiff chassis has Bilstein shocks in each corner and a bevy of skid plates that would be difficult to Wrangle up (if you see what we did there). There is an electrically operated rear locker for serious off-road work. According the Reid Bigland, head of Ram in the U.S., “The Ram Rebel is the rugged extreme of the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 lineup. We worked hard to deliver something unique with the Rebel, and it’s a proud feeling when Four Wheeler Magazine stands behind it as their Pickup Truck of the Year.”
Yes, the RAM 1500 can lay down some power. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be manually controlled from a button on the steering wheel typically reserved for radio volume. The unit can be configured to lock out the highest gears. This can come in handy if you are towing something heavy. The Rebel can tow 6,460 pounds. If that isn’t enough, you could opt for the mild-hybrid eTorque Ram 1500 V8, which ups the ante to a maximum payload of 2,300 pounds, while the maximum trailer tow capacity becomes a whopping 12,750 pounds. These systems use an electric motor between the engine and transmission to help deliver instant torque and increased fuel economy.
The audio system on my Rebel was the more basic, nine-speaker Alpine system but it sounded great. Surprisingly, bass was not an afterthought. The stereo imaging was also decent for an OEM system. Curiously, a Harman-Kardon premium audio system is available that’s touted as the most powerful audio system ever available in a pickup. It features 19 premium speakers coupled to a 900-watt surround sound amplifier, 10-inch subwoofer and active noise cancelation. I was not able to hear the Harman system, but the Alpine system with only nine speakers was not lacking.
One drawback to the Rebel is the optional tubular side steps. They come priced at $645. As they are set up for off-roading, they do not protrude out from the cab very far. Because of this, it is hard for your foot to get a purchase on them. Luckily, manufacturers of motorized running boards such as AMP Research offer great solutions for the Rebel. Moreover, the price is not that much more than the OEM offering. It’s worth forgoing the factory unit and going full-motorized. Bonus: You’ll have even more ground clearance than the factory ones as they neatly tuck themselves away!
The ready-alert braking system has been featured in other FCA products, but it comes standard in the new Ram 1500 and works well in this Rebel edition. Aftermarket brake alert systems have also come out offering OEM quality. As a shout-out to the aftermarket, Ram engineers have consolidated the cameras and radar sensors mounted in the front grille and interior windshield, respectively. Now everything lives behind the rearview mirror. According to RAM, “The required performance is delivered from a package that is more compact and, in the case of the radar sensor, better insulated from the elements.” It just shows how good sensor and camera technology is becoming. So even if you don’t go for a brand-new truck, you can still be alerted and be safe. That’s certainly not being a Rebel, but the new one comes in at $54K.