The line of Ram 1500 trucks has taken on a unique approach for a full-size mainstream truck offering many often consider to be the more luxurious choice for such a vehicle in the higher trim levels. While the luxury appeal of the Ram 1500 is alive and well, there are many trim levels that give us the best of both worlds for luxury and ruggedness, such as in the latest Ram 1500 Rebel, which has a few new unique trim packages to keep the nicely-aging fifth-generation Ram appealing and relevant.
Keeping with a tradition of giving new life to what we could be witnessing as the last couple generations of internal combustion engine vehicles, the Ram 1500 Rebel gets a sporty G/T package. Additionally, there’s an assisting eTorque mild hybrid system to extend those engine start/stop shutdown times to ultimately improve upon fuel consumption. While the Ram Rebel has long been a truck for the brand to be the go-to for an off-roading champion, it now takes on a sportier element and one of the most powerful iterations of the gasoline-powered Ram 1500s outside of the 702-horsepower Ram TRX. It also adds a unique styling element to the exterior setting it apart from other Ram 1500s. The Rebel G/T often receives a double-take look from others, especially in my test vehicle’s Flame Red exterior paint that contrasts the blacked-out trim and wheels.
Performance and Driving Character
Powering the Ram 1500 Rebel G/T is a version of the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 assisted with an eTorque 48-volt mild hybrid system. With that, the eTorque mild hybrid setup with the familiar HEMI V8 outputs 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. That power is directed through a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. There’s also a standard shift-on-demand transfer case providing a four-wheel drive system giving you a four-wheel drive automatic setting, a locked four-wheel drive setting, a four-wheel drive low setting, and a two-wheel drive setting that may save a bit extra on fuel.
The Ram 1500 Rebel G/T moves along at a good pace out on the road where there’s a delightful rumbling note from the sport exhaust system out back accentuating the smooth power of the HEMI V8. There’s also a Mopar cold air intake system added to let the HEMI V8 breathe a bit better as part of the G/T package. Getting up to 60 mph from a standstill requires about 6.4 seconds, which isn’t bad for a full-size truck. The latest Ram 1500 Rebel G/T is closely matched with vehicles like the new Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 that we reviewed a couple of months ago.
Coming to a stop the brakes have a good feel and the engine shuts down a second before you completely stop utilizing its advantage of being a mild hybrid in keeping the accessory power running longer than the normal gas-powered Rams. With such a mild hybrid system, the engine is needed to propel the vehicle and the air-conditioning compressor stops with the engine, so the air eventually becomes a bit stale on those longer stops without the engine running.
Riding on an air suspension system that you get on all Ram Rebel trucks, the ride quality is good and can adapt to various heights for proper ground clearance or easy entry/exit at a lower ride height that must be manually selected. The four-corner air suspension is a closed-loop setup that takes a while to make its height adjustments, but the appreciated aspect is that it will automatically lower to an aerodynamic height once you hit Interstate speeds. Though, again, lowering it to the easy entry/exit height must be done manually and there are no dedicated drive modes to enact the suspension heights. I do like the ability to lower the truck through a key fob button. You can add sufficient clearance for off-roading adventures in its highest mode up to 25 mph and then after that, it will automatically switch to the second-highest off-roading height. What was puzzling about my test vehicle is that it did not have any side steps, which is a major oversight. Even with the Ram Rebel having air suspension that lowers to an entry/exit height, it’s still a challenge for many to jump into the truck considering it has larger off-roading tires that keeps it rather high no matter the lower setting of the air suspension.
Overall ride quality is excellent for such a truck, which is a characteristic that Ram 1500 trucks have enjoyed for many years over its competition, even with the air suspension setup that comes standard on the Rebel. Steering effort is nicely weighted and there’s a welcomed quietness and surprising smoothness of the knobby all-terrain tires wrapping 18-inch gloss black wheels, which come as part of an optional Night Edition package (also adds 8-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel). The Ram 1500 Rebel doesn’t feel substantially heavy and handles just as you expect from a full-size truck.
The Ram 1500 Rebel G/T has a remarkable tow rating of up to 11,210 pounds and can haul a payload of up to 1,324 pounds. That tow rating is the best of its kind in being an off-roading oriented full-size truck even though the payload may be slightly short of some competition.
Ram prides itself on having a respected fuel economy in many of its 1500 trucks, sans the gas-guzzling TRX. With the Ram 1500 Rebel G/T you get consistent numbers and in the real world you may nearly match the EPA estimates of 18 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined. Those figures are attainable in the two-wheel drive mode as I noticed switching to four-wheel drive auto the figures came up about 1 mpg short of the EPA estimates. Having the optional 33-gallon fuel tank ($445 option) extends the range of the 1500 Rebel G/T to just over 700 miles.
Interior and Technology
The interior of the Ram 1500 has long been an inviting space with several soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard but retains the expected truck theme. In being one of the more luxurious trucks, the Ram 1500 even in its Rebel G/T trim doesn’t depart from what has won over Ram 1500 truck enthusiasts. Having the G/T package along with the Night Edition and Rebel Level 2 Equipment Group packages there are several welcomed amenities to accentuate the luxury side of the Ram 1500.
Some of the highlights in my nicely equipped Ram 1500 Rebel G/T test vehicle include heated/ventilated 8-way power leather front seats, 4-way power w/lumbar passenger seat, heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, power-folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, and a front/rear Parksense system.
The major highlight is the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system fed through a large 12-inch portrait-style touchscreen, which is a welcoming experience that’s responsive and easy to use through many redundant menu sets. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which can also be paired through a USB connection (both USB and USB-C connectors).
Seating space is plentiful in the Ram 1500 Rebel, which only comes as a Crew Cab setup. There are also a decent amount of storage areas with easy-accessed bins under the rear floor. However, the choice to locate an upright trigger gear shifter in a traditional floor console space may be a bit controversial for some as it takes up some of the usable console space that some enjoyed when there was a rotary dash-mounted shifter.
One area that I feel comes up a bit short on my test vehicle which already has several option packages is the area of active safety. There are many features missing that should have been included in my view with my Ram 1500 Rebel having the only notable active safety feature of forward collision warning and emergency braking along with the Parksense parking sensors in the front and in the back. Also, the backup camera is a single-view setup with no option of viewing the truck bed or any other angles. I do like the standard digital review mirror, though.
At a total price of $76,675 for my test vehicle, there’s a rather hard pill to swallow considering there are some desirable active safety features missing along with having no side steps on this enjoyable Ram 1500 Rebel G/T. While the starting price of $54,885 for a new Ram Rebel is very respectable, this test vehicle may be missing out on a few essentials to justify the price of admission, even though there’s still a lot to welcome for one of the most luxurious off-roading full-size trucks around. This is a contradiction in terms I can get behind, but maybe for a few thousand less, or at least with a few more safety features and side steps included.