2015 Ram 1500 Rebel: First Drive

4 Ram Rebel 015 II

Ram's pickup truck formula seems to be working pretty well. With so many standard and optional parts and pieces on the 10 different Ram 1500 trim packages, it is able to add a few more with some clever mixing and matching. Thankfully, the Ram engineers did more than that for the new 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel.

From our earlier look at the Ram Rebel, you probably have a good idea of what makes this vehicle special. Lots of the original chatter centered on the swooping grille and large Ram lettering stamped on the tailgate, but this truck is definitely more than just a pretty face. But before we get into how it performed during our early off-road drive in the volcanic northwestern part of Arizona, let's talk about what makes this Ram 1500 a Rebel.

What It Is

The new pickup is a trim package that takes many of the technology options available on other Ram 1500s and mixes them with some unique features and options. Rather than being something "all-new," this Rebel really is something well-tuned and optimized.

Designed to slot into the middle of Ram's half-ton lineup — between the entry-level Tradesman and top-of-the-line Laramie Limited — all Rebels will have the adjustable four-corner airbag suspension (offered as an option at every level), 33-inch Toyo Open Country all-terrain tires, the eight-speed ZF transmission and a set of heavy-duty skid plates (under the bumper and engine, front axle and transfer case). The high-performance monotube Bilstein shocks have been uniquely tuned to handle relatively harsh inputs (like you might find when running over an uneven volcanic ash field) as well as keeping things controlled when carving mountain canyons. Likewise, the front and rear sway bars have been retuned (in fact, softened) to better complement the stiffer and firmer capabilities of the shocks and airbags.

All Rebels offer an optional clutch-pack limited-slip differential and a completely unique interior that will include red anodized aluminum trim accents in the console, dash and doors. The Rebel, along with the new Laramie Limited (HD and 1500), will have the black headliner and pillars, and it will have a brand-new set of molded front seats that offer a seat bottom and seatback with the actual tread pattern of the Open Country tires that come with the truck.

With as much standard content as the new Rebel offers, there are still plenty of choices to make. In terms of powertrains, the Rebel can be ordered with either the 3.6-liter Pentastar DOHC V-6 (only with 3.92:1 gears and in 4x4) or the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 (offered with 3.21:1 or 3.92:1 gears, in 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains). We're told no final decision has been made to eliminate the EcoDiesel engine as a possible future option (that decision depends largely on if Fiat Chrysler Automobiles can allocate more turbo-diesel production to Ram). Finally, the Ram Rebel will be offered in five unique colors.

How It Drives

Our test vehicles for this early media drive were all preproduction units built as some of the first vehicles off the line. But we were assured that, mechanically, these vehicles were as close to production vehicles as it gets. All our Rebels were red with 3.92:1 gears, the 5.7-liter V-8 and eight-speed transmission, so they felt quite snappy off the line, even doing a decent job cruising at less than 2,000 rpm at 70 mph.

10 Ram Rebel 016 II

The Toyo tires are actually the same size as the Goodyear Duratrac tires offered on the Ram Power Wagon, but that's where the similarities end. The Toyo tires are much less noisy on pavement, yet do a good job of grabbing loose gravel, sand and rock. The key feature to the Rebel's abilities rest with the air suspension that offers four different settings, each delivering a different level of ground clearance: Kneel, Aero, Normal and Off-Road.

Like all airbag suspensions, the tradeoff to adjustability comes with the fact that the higher the ride height, the firmer the suspension feels and the less wheel travel it allows. When the terrain is deeply rutted or filled with large rocks or other boulder-like obstacles, the amount of wheel travel or axle flex in the upper Off-Road position can determine whether you make it out or get stuck. Thankfully we never got stuck while driving in the Cinder Hills Off Highway Vehicle Area, but much of the terrain was loose volcanic rock similar to coarse beach sand. To give us a more contact patch on the loose rock, we let out a bit of air from the tires. That certainly helped.

The Ram Rebel's electronic push-button part-time four-wheel-drive system is identical to those offered in other Ram 1500 models, with a high-range lock, low range and two-wheel-drive mode.

The extra low-range gearing and grippy 10.5-inch-wide tires kept our truck right-side up and moving up the loose rock and rutted trails — at one point up the side of a dormant volcano. We especially liked the dedicated GPS coordinate info (four screens deep) in the UConnect multimedia/navigation system that gave us our exact location and at what altitude our truck sat, all with the help of more than 20 satellites circling the Earth (a picture on the screen shows all of them).

At higher speeds, the suspension did a good job soaking up the whoop-de-dos and dirt chop; however we did have to be hyper aware of our speed. In certain situations with certain-sized trail ruts, it was easy to overcome the airbags' and shocks' absorbing abilities and find ourselves uncomfortably off the ground and experiencing bumpy stops when crashing back onto the ground.

When navigating down the steepest part of the trail after we circumnavigated the rim of a dead volcano, we found the 1st-gear/low-range downhill crawling speed quite manageable, but we were surprised that no electronically controlled hill descent feature is available. Still, there didn't seem to be much need for it on the terrain we conquered.

11 Ram Rebel 017 II

Unfortunately, the Cinder Hills off-road park doesn't offer much diversity, so we didn't get to do any technical, full-articulation type of 4x4 trails, where we would have been able to see how well the suspension travel handled hard rocks. In the areas we navigated, we found ourselves not needing more than 8 inches of ground clearance, so we spent much of our time in the more comfortable Normal suspension setting rather than use the 1-inch taller (and firmer) Off-Road setting (which can be engaged in two-wheel drive and high- and low-range, as long as you stay below 25 mph). We like the idea of having that kind of height adjustability just in case, but it seems to us the setup could also come in handy had we buried a tire or two or gotten centered on a log. We've heard some people call the four-corner air suspension an active jack.

Where It Fits

After our drive time with the new Ram Rebel, we have no doubt this is the most trail-capable and off-road-ready Ram 1500 offered, but then again the bar was not set exceptionally high. The previous Ram 1500 off-road leader was probably the Ram Outdoorsman 4x4 with all the options (air suspension, 4x4, Hemi, etc.). The Ram Rebel is clearly a better and more focused four-wheeler, but it's also a better example of a fully integrated package whose sum is greater than its parts list.

The Rebel is not nearly as extreme ready as the Power Wagon is with its sway bar disconnects, live axles and locking differentials. Nor is it set up for desert running or rock crawling like the Ford F-150 Raptor. But from what we've experienced, this new Ram Rebel is not too far underneath, and it offers a certain level of civility that neither of those two examples can match. For the small group of pickups that have off-road credibility, the Rebel seems to offer a good balance of parts and technology. What the engineers have done here is optimize a collection of available technologies to create a well-tuned and well-designed traction package that would make any backcountry explorer or remote campsite lover happy.

Although pricing will not be announced until the end of June, it is likely to hover between $45,000 and $50,000 depending on how you option the truck. Since the Rebel is new, we're guessing the marketing experts might have a bit of pricing flexibility because it is somewhat of an experimental vehicle. This is the first Ram — along with the Ram Heavy Duty Laramie Limited — to have the new face and tailgate design. Without knowing exactly how the public will respond, Ram is guessing the Rebel take in the overall Ram 1500 lineup could be around 5 or 10 percent. Of course, that's the same guess Ram had for the EcoDiesel when it was introduced; based on demand that number was bumped up to 15 and eventually 20 percent.

We'll have more on the Ram Rebel when we get to spend more quality time with it, which we think will have to be with its other off-road competitors. But for now, we are encouraged by how much work Ram engineers have done, and how well the Rebel turned out. This is clearly a new pickup that will push other truckmakers to do better.

Editor's note: This story was updated May 19 to correct information about content and features. 

Manufacturer photos

 

Ram Rebel Chart 3 II

15 Ram Rebel 005 II

2 Ram Rebel 008 II

3 Ram Rebel 011 II

14 Ram Rebel 031 II

7 Ram Rebel 039 II

8 Ram Rebel 042 II

6 Ram Rebel 038 II

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5 Ram Rebel 035 II

12 Ram Rebel 021 II

 

Comments

wonder if the production model will come with a a matching size spare tire of the same brand that is on the truck. Wonder if there is room to fit a 33 and 10.50 wide toyo up under the bed?

@PUTC

1) "The Toyo tires are actually the same size as the BF Goodrich tires offered on the Ram Power Wagon"--- The Power Wagon comes with Goodyear Duratracs and NOT BFG's anymore.


2)The Raptor does not have a front locker. It only has a rear locker. The front is a Torsen Limited-Slip.


3)The Power Wagon does not have an adjustable rear suspension. Only a front suspension sway bar disconnect.


4) The Limited-Slip on the Rebel is an extra option you have to pay for with the package while the others come standard with lockers in their package.

Good looking truck. interior looks sporty. My best friend wants one. Glad Ram has another option for customers. Noticed the list above and their should be a yes in the Power Wagon box for hill decent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S8Et7oTPJY

PUTC
That's not a serious off-road course !
Have you ever drive thru deep washed out ruts or near vertical river banks or climb over logs as big as railroad ties?
You gotta test its limit for a true off-road test!

PLEASE visit me someday and I will show you some REAL off-roading.

I have hill decent on my FX4 never use it. I shift in neutral coming down a steep hill. Sometimes its better to come down fast instead of slow, there's so much you need to learn!

I could make that Ram do off-roading that would amaze anybody that the boys that built it never thought it could do!

I never thought I was the best at off-roading, NOW I think I'm BETTER than any professional off-roader!

i am very sure no Tundra comes with a rear locker unless you install an air locker yourself.

@Cummins -- Good catches. We've followed up and made the corrections you caught both in the story and chart. With that said, it will be good to get this new Rebel along with some of the other top off-road packages out there to see how they compare in a real four-wheeling setting. Now all we have to do is decide where to hold the competition. Any suggestions?

Don't get distracted by the new grille and tailgate; under the skin of this new trim package is ...THE SAME BLEEPING TRUCK THAT FIAT HAS BEEN SELLING SINCE 2009

Still not a fan of the new grill and tailgate, but as recent tests have shown, the Ram is still better then the competitions newly redesigned trucks. Shows how far ahead the 2009 Ram was.

@AD

You are correct. There is no locker on the Tundra TRD Pro per Toyota's website. I thought there was too, but that is only the Tacoma and Highlander TRD Pros that have a locker. The Tundra TRD Pro only has a limited slip with A-TRAC.

I like this truck. Cleverly packaged and distinctive - it will see well I think. I wish they offered it in the quad cab though - the bed is just too short with the crew cab configuration. If they had I might have held off on my Laramie purchase and got one of these

Mark, try Mounds ORV Park, Rocks & Valleys in Michigan or Hollister Hills in California.

tundra doesn't have a rear locker

That black plastic front end is what they call "made to fade"

NOW IF G.M. WOULD GET RID OF THAT HIDEOUS COLLUM SHIFTER!!!

I'd like to see an off-road test on seriously steep rocky terrain with nasty ruts washouts logs and some mud to deal with. Like the places in Idaho where I go elk hunting. Throw in some narrow winding roads overgrown with trees and bushes. The public road 1 mile from my house after a rain storm looks like more of an off-road test than the pictures above.

That front grille is really bad, the tailgate you can live with, it will grow on you.

I do hope the Rebel does come with the EcoDiesel, this would make it the best of the US half ton off roaders.

Chev's Z71 and Ford's FX4 are packages that should be on any 4x4 pickup. I don't consider those packages options, but essentials.

Why would you buy a 4x4, then put package/equipment into it to make it a 4x4, not just an AWD with low range?

@big al
Most people I know need 4x4 because of snow. I know some people that need it for the occasional mud but don't ever really do serious off-road. If you aren't planning on going off-road but you have to deal with snow or mud then you need 4x4 but you don't need any off-road suspension, hill descent control, skid plates, etc. That's why the options on a z71 or fx4 should NOT be on every 4x4 pickup.

I really like the front grille and everything about this truck except pricing probably. I'll wait and see.
I lake that chart you made. Rebel is well executed model , much more usable, than any other model listed.


It's not a bad looking truck, it would grow on me...at least in another cover. I think it should have been called a Power Wagon like it's big brother. My old Power Wagon was a short bed 1/2 ton with a 440 and 4 speed...

@Beebe,
I do disagree with you regarding what denotes an off road capable pickup, not how someone uses their vehicle. Don't confuse the two as they are separate, but related issues.

I also don't disagree with what a person buys.

I do remember when the article appeared of the 2015 F-150 FX4. I do recollect one photo of the FX4 driving up a muddy track and the mud didn't even go as high as the side walls of the tyres.

The front end was scrapping the mud.

The Z71 would be the same. These are more appearance packages than an off road package.

I do think this Ram as ugly as that front end is, is a far better vehicle for off road situations.

As I mentioned, the VM diesel would make this quite a good off road vehicle. But, expensive at that.

Maybe a dedicated AWD pickup would be a far better option for many to drive in icy, snowy or even muddy situations. It could do light off roading which is far more than what most use their 4x4 pickups for.

It would be a cheaper and smarter way.

AWD pickups do exist and do relatively okay in light off road situations, similar to the more hard core AWD CUVs.

Here an AWD 4x4 pickup review;

http://www.carsguide.com.au/car-reviews/vw-amarok-review-11747#.VVuV7bvn_mI

@ Big Al - I agree with beebe on this one, I drive a standard 4x4 truck and it suits my needs just as well as any off-road package and keeps the cost of the truck down. I agree that most off-road packages are more appearance than off-road oriented, but many of the bits in the package that are important can be optioned out on a regular truck. In reality - these packages are just ways of up selling a vehicle, no matter the brand.

beebe
I agree with you totally! I can tell you do serious off-roading like I do.
I call them ruts, but they are washed out roads, some of the ruts I go thru are so deep on one side it feels like the truck is going to tip over on its side.
I climb logs blocking the trail, if they are too big I take the chainsaw out .
I go down hills so steep and vertical that you can't see the bottom or a mountain of rocks to climb where the truck struggles for traction.
I always laugh when these city boys talk about hill decent control! I think you know there are some hills the last thing you need is something holding you back.
You have to be brave crossing water not knowing how deep it is or whats under that water or mud.
Bridges are too expensive its considered normal to cross water without a bridge.

@Big Al

So you think that this Rebel is a better off road vehicle that the Z71 or FX4 based on one photo you saw? Wow. I would say I am totally shocked, but then again I am not since your next statement had something with you wanting to see the Ecodiesel in the Rebel so it was a dead giveaway why you think the Rebel is better.

If you want to se an FX4 in mud then here you go.
https://youtu.be/OaURlVVmELg

Btw, that front end air damn on the F150s is easily removable even tells you to remove if you intend to go off roading in the owners manual.

I'm not impressed since the 1 inch added lift is only available in 4lo. Toyo's are good tires but Ram is spinning PR. Depending on what you are running it isn't a big jump in width or height.
At least they are E-rated tires. ANY 4x4 with an offroad designation should have either 6 or 10 ply tires. Why no ecodiesel?
They offer a 4x2 version, is that like a pre-runner?

@Beebe - I doubt we'd ever see a real tough offroad test since these trucks are from corporate press fleets. The automotive press exists in a symbiotic relationship with auto companies. They provide vehicles to test with the unwritten stipulation that you don't make their product look bad or say anything bad about them. I'm sure scratching the crap out of a press truck during testing would be taboo.

I am wonder why if this truck is offroad why ram didn't let the press really test it offroad. Not down some maintained forest service road that a subaru could handle just as well as the ram rebel.

This is the test I want to see with it..... Not sure why Ram wouldn't let the press beat on these trucks. Jump them repeatedly and scrap the bottom ups. They are suppose to be offered trucks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmIGbeffEXw


Also with the rumor mill of 45k starting price, which I assume the starting price is for a 2wd with the v6 model. 4wd with a V8 and limited slip will be pushing 50k. Mid 50's optioned up with features inside and add a diesel this rig will push around high 50k mark.

Ram people are snake oil salesmen just like BAFO.

Ford says they will reveal awesome F-150 news this week.

I'm sure it will blow this truck out of the water.

I am too disappointed, they didn't test it more offroad, but I am sure they will. There is Fx4 for this type of terain they tested Rebel. Rebel should handle more with no problems. Specially narrow rock crawling with best 48.7 ratio.
Too bad Fx4 didn't even make that list, because Raptor is too wide for serious offroading.

NHTSA investigating why Fiat Chrysler failed to carryout 20 recalls involving 10 million vehicles. Shame on you Fiat Chrysler!

NHTSA investigating why Fiat Chrysler failed to carryout 20 recalls involving 10 million vehicles. Shame on you Fiat Chrysler!


Posted by: greg | May 19, 2015 8:30:38 PM

Fiat/chrysler/ram sucks on there recalls.... We waited a long time on my ram 5500 at work to get the steering recall fixed.... Rolled the dice on that it wouldn't fail. They recalled it but didn't have the parts available and there was expected to be months and months waiting on parts for the recall.... I finally put my foot down and told them to get me different truck. My company ended up going to a third party shop to have the pieces replaced that ram couldn't magically get there hands on.... Just cost my work $ is all but at least the vehicle wasn't going to lose the steering and the truck was safe again.

Here is a wet and snowy mud review of the Rebel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p0fk8eDefo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0R8aMh_E8A

Mark Williams thinks it's great. Cars.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UrxnaewpTU

Listen to that Hemi V8 on the end of that video above.

@greg, What do you think of G.M. proven to have killed at least 100 people from the ignition recall alone? Proven to have tried to cover it up with a different part number.

That goofy front grill will never grow on me. The giant RAM letters on the tailgate could, but only if I painted over the tacky black trim paint with body color matching paint.

Another thing I don't like is the way the plastic throttle body intake tube goes straight up and over to the side in the engine compartment on the engine. It looks very awkward.

The capability is certainly there, but most will be street/mall queens.

@Big Al,

A diesel does not make it a better off-road vehicle. A better overlanding vehicle, perhaps. In some instances it makes it worse (greater weight over front axles). As others have said, there is good reasons why the FX4 etc. packages are options (albeit with very high take rates), as they would have to roll those additional costs into every pickup, and for the majority of users they just want better handling in snow. I am sure AWD pickups will come soon, given that the forthcoming Rapter will have a centre differential in the transfercase and the greater transmission ratios we see will negate the need for a low range for most users.

The giant RAM letters on the tailgate could, but only if I painted over the tacky black trim paint with body color matching paint.
Posted by: the other mike | May 19, 2015 10:01:59 PM

Hahahahahaha. I guess that huge black tacky FFFOOORRRDDD at Raptor is all right. I didn't see anybody to paint it with color matching paint. LOL.

The capability is certainly there, but most will be street/mall queens.
Posted by: the other mike | May 19, 2015 10:01:59 PM

That's what Raptor is for. It's too wide for any offroad use.

Since the Power Wagon is wider than the Raptor from mirror to mirror, does that mean the Power Wagon is too wide for any off road too?

Since the Power Wagon is longer that the Raptor, does that mean it is to long for off road too?

Since the Power Wagon has selectable lockers and only traction control with an open diff when not engaged like the Raptor and the FX4, does that mean the Power Wagon is (as some want to believe) sub par to limited slip too?

Power Wagon is ultimate offroad machine.
Raptor is useless Mall Queen.

The same old group spewing their same old crap. PUTC.com is a joke.

How can a Power Wagon be the "ultimate off road machine"? It has lockers on it. I thought you said limited slip was better off road than lockers. If that is the case then why did Ram choose to put lockers on the "ultimate off road machine" instead of limited slip like this Rebel has? So which is better off road? Lockers like what is on the Power Wagon or limited slip like what is on the Rebel?

Any RAM is better than Ford and that's only what matters.

So it has nothing to do with the actual truck and what it has, but rather with what brand makes it. So you are saying that if Ram made a truck that was part for part exaxtly identical to the Ford Raptor in every way then it would inherently be better just because of the Ram badge on it?

Ford doesn't have new technology RAM has. So yes, doesn't matter . RAM is always better, but maybe when ford will get multilink rear axle coil suspension, or airride or 8 speed and better engines or small diesel, it would be on pair with RAM, but RAM will be ahead of the ford then again.
Ask Cummins. He ditched ford and drives RAM.

Ford doesn't have new technology RAM has. So yes, doesn't matter . RAM is always better, but maybe when ford will get multilink rear axle coil suspension, or airride or 8 speed and better engines or small diesel, it would be on pair with RAM, but RAM will be ahead of the ford then again.
Ask Cummins. He ditched ford and drives RAM.

@Fly lo,
I don't agree with you.

Sorry. Try off roading in a diesel.

Bridges are too expensive its considered normal to cross water without a bridge.
Posted by: Tom#3

You say you work in industry but you make comments like that? It shows that you are full of crap. I'm sure that environmental protection regulations are strict in the USA. Driving through fish bearing streams is a big "no no". If the stream has ocean going fish i.e. salmon then it is a federal issue.

@cummins,

"Since the Power Wagon has selectable lockers and only traction control with an open diff when not engaged like the Raptor and the FX4, does that mean the Power Wagon is (as some want to believe) sub par to limited slip too?

Posted by: Cummins | May 20, 2015 12:52:10 AM

Power Wagon has a limited slip rear end when locker is not engaged. Power Wagon also has a solid front axle. Also has a winch. SO YES IT IS THE ULTIMATE COMBAT PROVEN ORIGINAL 4X4.

@Lou_BC,
I did highlight to the moderators on PUTC regarding comments.

I felt if the moderators actually read the comments and look at the value they add to the discussion and made a decision on whether to remove them would be ideal.

They will only remove a comment if someone places a complaint.

I do think the moderators must tackle these types of comments like Tom#3, HemiV8, etc put forward.

It's great to have these school kids comments. But if PUTC make the site more adult orientated with the use of good moderation it will be great.

Even brand bias should be monitored. As these brand biased comments do start the much of the angst in the threads.

Or, you just have asinine comments like Tom#3 constantly submits.

@ Roll

Yes, he is the pure definition of a f@n b()y!


@Cicka

There are technologies that Ford has that Ram doesn't so I can also say "Ram doesn't have new technology Ford has". Although the multi link suspension (axle in your book) is really not anything to brag about in my book unless you want a truck that rides like a car and squats like one when loaded too. The 8 speed thing is also funny because Ram did it for better fuel economy and better performance yet the 2015 F150 with the 3.5L Ecoboost still smokes the Ram 5.7L Hemi in every performance category in the PUTC challenges AND it also got better fuel mileage both loaded and unloaded too. So why would they want an 8 speed unless it was to be even better?

Also, I didn't ditch my Ford either. I still have my F150 and just drove it today. I am keeping it until 2017 so I can trade it in on another F150 that comes out that year. Although I never said I dislike all Rams. Just the 1500s, the linear coil link suspensions on the 1500s(2500s progressive coil link are not bad), and the 6.4L Hemi because I think they are all weak compared to the competition.

The difference between you and I is that I don't change what I like and dislike based on what a brand has to offer. If I don't like it in a Ram, then I will still not like it in a Ford. You on the other hand only like or dislike what Ram feeds you to like through whatever they are offering at the moment. I have seen you and HEMI V8 dislike something one day and then turn right around and say it is the greatest thing when Ram finally offers it in their trucks. I am not a puppet that has his likes or dislikes dictated by whatever some brand tells me I should want like you guys. I can think for myself.

@Cummins, "Although the multi link suspension (axle in your book) is really not anything to brag about in my book unless you want a truck that rides like a car and squats like one when loaded too."

Ford is the one sagging in every test on PUTC. We have been over and over this. Just because you say so does not make it true.

It's pretty sad when the Ford fanboys have to make stuff up.

Okay HEMI V8. Post the squat numbers of Ram's best Multi-link versus Ford's best leaf spring suspension found in each truck. Remember, let's see which one has the most deviation from orion al to loaded hight and it must be the best suspension suspension offered in each truck either Multi-link coil or leaf spring.

I can show you one here with the F150's 2 in squat versus the Ram 1500's 3 inch squat from original height.

http://www.tfltruck.com/2015/03/2015-ram-1500-ecodiesel-ike-gauntlet-extreme-towing-video/



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