The juggernaut: Life with Ram’s 1500 Rebel

Switching out of the posh, luxurious Ram 1500 Limited, the top and most-expensive trim in the 1500 lineup and climbing up into the 1500 Rebel felt like shifting from a classy conversation with Frank Sinatra to a grungier storytelling session with Metallica. One truck is a street king, the other a beast that belongs on a bumpy two-track road somewhere deep in the vast wilderness of a National Park. Of all the models in the Ram 1500 lineup, the Rebel is the most capable off-roader. Boisterous looks, plenty of underbody skid plates, knobby tires, upgraded Bilstein shocks for a taller overall ride height, and other goodies like hill-descent control and a button that engages the standard locking rear differential. Kamil just finished up a date with Ford’s Raptor, now it was my turn with Ram’s counterpart.

With a starting price of $42,240, the 2019 1500 Rebel offers a flexible array of powertrain, drive, and cab configurations, and may be the ideal choice for you if you’re looking for a spirited truck that isn’t afraid to get dirty and thrown around. It’s definitely a truck that can be daily driven, with a few things to consider:

Those tires though

The Rebel wears quite the pairs of hiking boots: 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac LT275/70R18 all-terrain tires. Wrapped around unique black 18-inch wheels, these meaty tires come standard and give the Rebel a confident, grippy footprint on rock, slick ice, and pretty much anywhere the pavement ends. But the added traction does come at a cost, however, as a quick search on Tirerack.com showed replacement tires listing for $274.99 a piece, or a little over a thousand dollars for all four. Prior to hopping in the Rebel for the first time, I was preparing to hear an endless drone from these all-terrain tires, especially on the highway, but to my surprise they weren’t overwhelmingly loud and livable in everyday driving. There was only an occasional, faint “Hummmm” that crept through the cabin only noticeable on slow city streets.

Cylinder count and fuel economy

Like other members of the 1500 family, the Rebel offers a standard 305 horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque mild-hybrid technology or an available 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with an optional mild-hybrid version. All pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a 3.92 rear axle, and selectable four-wheel-drive. While the roaring 5.7-liter V-8’s thunderous power brought joy to my ears and made the Rebel an absolute riot to drive, the return on investment at the pump wasn’t the best. With my test model’s $445 optional 33-gallon fuel tank (26-gallon standard), I averaged 15.17 mpg after 398.8 miles of 80% highway, 20% city driving. That’s slightly less than the EPA estimated 17/15/21 mpg combined/city/highway. Dropping down two cylinders brings in an estimated 21/19/24 mpg combined/city/highway, while upgrading to the V-8 paired with the eTorque system slightly increases the eight-cylinder mileage to 19/17/22 mpg combined/city/highway.The Ram Rebel's 5.7-liter V-8

Its gunslinger looks, inside and out

The Rebel looks like the kind of half-ton truck you’d expect to line up for a quick draw on some dusty high noon Western showdown. With big, bold, and intimidating exterior appearance tactics, the Rebel carries a noticeable in-your-face flair compared to many of the more conservative trims in the 1500 lineup. You won’t be particularly “blending in” with its taller stance, bulgier domed hood with functional air vents, blacked-out fender flares, bumpers, grille, and headlights with LED accents. Passersby won’t underestimate its two heavy-duty front two hooks or smirk at its wheels that belong in Moab. Inside, the Rebel’s cabin is more on the rugged side with “Rebel” badging and red trimming on the door panels, around the air vents, steering wheel stitching, and seat piping. While you don’t get the elegant leather you’d expect in the Limited or Laramie trims, you do get seats done up in a two-tone mix of cloth and vinyl, and the center cloth pattern mimics tire tread. Multimedia fanatics should be aware that the Rebel comes with a smaller 5.0-inch touchscreen for the Uconnect system. The impressive 12-inch tablet-sized touchscreen isn’t available unless you fork over another $2,995 for the Rebel 12 package, which also adds full leather upholstery.
The Ram Rebel's gunslinger interior

Air suspension vs traditional

The two different suspension setups offered on the Ram 1500 each have their pros and cons. While the optional adjustable air suspension creates an almost magic carpet floaty ride, soaking up every single little bump or crack in the road, splurging on the “4-Corner Air suspension” tacks on an additional $1,795. You do get a maximum of close to 11 inches of ground clearance thanks to the adjustable air suspension highest off-road mode. That said, with more moving parts in the air suspension than the standard common shock and spring duo, reliability comes into play. A brief read through an online forum/message board for current Ram Rebel owners revealed pricey problematic mishaps like the potential for blown fuses, leaks, and the system not leveling properly in colder conditions. If an air spring goes out, expect to pay in the $370-$450 neighborhood for the part… and that’s on the low end, not including labor. The compressor itself costs close to $600 (Source, RockAuto.com). In the end it comes down to a pick-your-poison scenario with the Rebel: do you want a slightly bumpier ride or a more expensive total cost at the dealership and the question of longevity?
Traditional suspension with upgraded Bilstein shocks here on this Ram Rebel

Cab sizes

If you’re deciding between cab choices the Crew Cab is the way to go when shopping around for a new Rebel or for that matter, any trim of the Ram 1500. Opening the stubby, small rear doors on my Rebel tester, I found it very cramped in the rear seat being a tall, lanky 29-year-old. It’s important to note too that you do get a longer 6-foot 4-inch bed with the Quad Cab. Opting for a larger Crew Cab configuration, with a smaller 5-foot 7-inch bed however, is definitely worth the nearly $3,000 upcharge (starting MSRP of $47,740). Bigger doors open wide to a massive backseat, with an impressive generous amount of room for three adults to comfortably spread out while you’re bombing down an unplowed north woods road. Note that on the Rebel, you cannot get both the Crew Cab with a 6-foot 4-inch bed.

Tight rear quarters in the Ram Rebel's Crew Cab

Towing and payload

Looking to put your Rebel to work and pull a trailer full of snowmobiles or pack its bed with a cord of firewood? Keep in mind the following bragging rights when deciding between cab sizes, engines, and either two- or four-wheel-drive.

  • Crew Cab, 4×2, 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 7,520 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,930 pounds
  • Crew Cab, 4×4, 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 7,370 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,770 pounds
  • Crew Cab, 4×2, 5.7-liter V-8
    Maximum towing 11,540 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,850 pounds
  • Crew Cab, 4×4, 5.7-liter V-8
    Maximum towing 11,340 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,840 pounds
  • Crew Cab, 4×2, 5.7-liter V-8 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 11,430 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,740 pounds
  • Crew Cab, 4×4, 5.7-liter V-8 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 11,190 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,720 pounds
  • Quad Cab, 4×2, 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 7,750 pounds, Maximum hauling 2, 320 pounds
  • Quad Cab, 4×4, 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 7,410 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,710 pounds
  • Quad Cab, 4×2, 5.7-liter V-8
    Maximum towing 11,690 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,980 pounds
  • Quad Cab, 4×4, 5.7-liter V-8
    Maximum towing 11,470 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,970 pounds
  • Quad Cab, 4×2, 5.7-liter V-8 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 12,750 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,890 pounds
  • Quad Cab, 4×4, 5.7-liter V-8 with eTorque
    Maximum towing 11,330 pounds, Maximum hauling 1,820 pounds

Ram Rebel's be

 

[DisclaimerRam tossed us the keys to the 1500 Rebel and included a tank of fuel.]

32 Comments

  1. All good and well, but the tacky hypocrisy of a massive corporation with 235000 employees calling a commercial product “Rebel”…ripping off all the labels would be my very first step on the dealer lot.

    1. Shades of Monty Python… “you’re all unique individuals” Voice from the back – “I’m not!”

      Same could be said of any of the large decals on pickup beds. I’m not sure if anyone really cares whether it is a 4×4 or has a particular package.

      1. I wish automobile badging were limited to the make and model, period, with no trim levels advertising your place in the hierarchy. Like you said, who cares? Do the Europeans still de-badge their cars?

      1. Dunno, I’m aware businesses do that and believe their own marketing departments too much. People tattoo beer brand names onto their arms, after all. Still not getting used to this bs, and I just wouldn’t want to sit in a seat with “rebel” written on it. Could just as well say “moron”.

  2. That does raise a very good question: What is rebellious about that truck? What even makes it different (other than in detail) than any other pickup truck? Yeah, true it does sport a red and black interior, but…. is that enough? Now a Honda Ridgeline – There’s a Rebel

    1. I would have thought Toyota Hilux, the favourite of 3rd world insurgents in any conflict.

  3. Duratracs perform amazingly well in almost any environment. This spring I’m buying my grandfather’s old F150, and those tires plus a limited-slip rear diff are the first upgrades I’m making.

    1. They do well for the first 20-25k miles of their life then quickly begin to degrade in their wet and braking performance. By 25k the set I had on my Avalanche were shot, and so loud at highway speed that I could barely hear the radio.

      1. Interesting to hear that. Most that I have known to use them do so on Jeeps and 4Runners, and they’ve held up well until 40+. I’m waffling between the Duratracs and General Grabber AT/Xs– the latter which I honestly think are better tires, but the Wranglers look awesome– the Grabbers, not so much (honestly, they look to me like BFG AT clones). Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten more than 30k miles on a set of tires before, so longevity doesn’t play a big factor with me.

        1. Keep in mind that Jeeps and 4Runners have quite a bit less weight than the Avalanche I had them on, and presumably than the F150 you’ll be putting them on. Definitely has an impact on tread wear. Can’t go wrong with either tire but I don’t think I’d buy the Duratrac again (then again, I don’t know if I’d buy the AT/X either).

          1. Good point about vehicle weight. I’ve never used either of those tires personally– I had always ran BFG ATs on my CJ-7, and while they were great (looked good, decent traction, and amazing wear), that was before the KO2s came out. Friends and family of mine that have used the KO2s have experienced issues with balancing and poor performance in snow– otherwise, I’d stick with BFG. I’ve had great luck with Goodyear’s touring tires on the family minivan, but have never bought any kind of General tire.

            Tires in general seem to be very specific to the vehicle, environment in which they are used, and the driver’s style. It’s hard to look at reviews or even go on word-of-mouth when choosing!

          2. Absolutely! Every situation is so individual-specific that it’s impossible for reviews and opinions to be 100% aligned on which tires are best. I liked my Duratracs, don’t get me wrong, but they wore out quickly and made a ton of noise when worn. The original ATs never appealed to me but the KO2s are getting fantastic reviews almost across the board. The Toyo AT2s are fantastic, would recommend them to anybody; got 50k out of them on my Avalanche, my dad is on his 3rd set on his Silverado, and my brother has them on his Rebel and everyone unanimously agrees they’re fantastic as long as you’re not doing any off-roading. Then there’s the Falken AT3Ws, which I plan to try sometime…

          3. I read a lot of reviews on Tire Rack and Discount Tire’s websites and look to see if Tire Rack has done any testing on them. You have to pay attention to the kind of vehicle that the reviewer is driving too. I bought some Arizonan tires for my Mazda3 from Discount Tire (their in house brand) and based on positive reviews and they were terrible. Turned out most of the reviews were from Lexus and Lincoln owners. After reading reviews from other Mazda3 and VW Golf owners I swapped them for some Dunlops which were fantastic. Discount was great about letting me return them with no issues.

            My experience with Goodyears has been negative. Factory tires on the Mazda and Outlook and I put a set on my Odyssey. All were disappointing. The two sets of winter tires I have are Generals and have been fantastic.

          4. Many thanks to you guys for feedback on tires. For what feels like a crap shoot, they’re a fairly sizable expense!

            I’ve heard good things about the Toyo AT2s and Falken Wildpeaks (especially for longevity) but haven’t seen them available in my old-school size of 235/75-15 to do a price comparison. I eventually plan to upsize to at least 31×10.50s, but I’ll need to go with a lower ring/pinion first or else it’ll drive like a slug– I’m budgeting that a couple of years down the road. Given the wear Ross saw with the Duratracs and salguod’s bad experience with Goodyears, I may lean more to the Generals when the time comes for purchase. They’re considerably cheaper than the Duratracs anyway (by about $45/tire).

          5. Factory size on my Ranger is 235/60R15 but it’s got 30×9.50s on the rear and a 3.73 rear end. Rear tires are about 4″ too tall, I think. It can’t get out of its own way and 5th is useless below an indicated 65 mph, which is actually close to 75mph. I think it may have a plugged cat too, which isn’t helping.

          6. I believe it. I won’t know what gearing this truck has until the weather improves and I can crawl under it– it’s high, I know that. I’m guessing at least 3.08. I recall driving it in high school and feeling like I had to slip the clutch a little to keep from stalling. I can’t afford to go with a taller (and heavier) tire until I change the ring and pinion, so it’s going to retain its tame grandpa looks for a while.

          7. My Ranger has a decal on the edge of the door with an axle code which I looked up online. Even my Thunderbird has the axle code on the VIN plate on the door jamb. You might not have to crawl under it.

          8. Thanks– I had forgotten about that. It’s a damned 2.73! I may need to change gears regardless. Those are great for the highway, but not much good for fun or work.

          9. Thanks– I had forgotten about that. It’s a damned 2.73! I may need to change gears regardless. Those are great for the highway, but not much good for fun or work.

  4. This is close to how I’d configure a 2019 Ram, though mine would be a Big Horn (like my 2017 is) or Laramie (like I thought about buying in ’17) to be able to get the 40/20/40 front seat and auto-mode transfer case. IMO it’s too bad the Rebel doesn’t have an option without the bucket seats.
    I actually prefer the Quad Cab for the larger box but still sufficient back seat space that I can “sit behind myself” (but, I’m closer to average height.)
    I do like having that optional larger gas tank in my Ram. I’ve seen the distance-to-empty estimate be nearly 600 miles after a fill-up in summer and that’s with the Hemi and 3.92’s.

    In defense of the name:
    -It’s at least a real word unlike its rough equivalents Z71, FX4, TRD (…well, that last one’s almost a word tee hee hee hee)
    -It’s from the in-house historical catalog, even! (by way of AMC)
    -As noted in the article, the trim level has an aiming-to-misbehave vibe that fits with the name

  5. This is close to how I’d configure a 2019 Ram, though mine would be a Big Horn (like my 2017 is) or Laramie (like I thought about buying in ’17) to be able to get the 40/20/40 front seat and auto-mode transfer case. IMO it’s too bad the Rebel doesn’t have an option without the bucket seats.
    I actually prefer the Quad Cab for the larger box but still sufficient back seat space that I can “sit behind myself” (but, I’m closer to average height.)
    I do like having that optional larger gas tank in my Ram. I’ve seen the distance-to-empty estimate be nearly 600 miles after a fill-up in summer and that’s with the Hemi and 3.92’s.

    In defense of the name:
    -It’s at least a real word unlike its rough equivalents Z71, FX4, TRD (…well, that last one’s almost a word tee hee hee hee)
    -It’s from the in-house historical catalog, even! (by way of AMC)
    -As noted in the article, the trim level has an aiming-to-misbehave vibe that fits with the name

  6. traveling for work for a few weeks, and I rented a 1500 Big Horn. I know it isn’t especially unique to the Ram, but this thing is huge! how does anyone drive a monster like this regularly?! I’m in a rural/suburban area and even here I can barely squeeze the thing into a parking spot.

    1. They’re enormous. My brother has a prior-gen Rebel and it’s laughably huge. The interior is so wide that the vehicle that comes to mind every time I’m in it is the H1.

    2. With enough time you can get used to it. But, having grown up on a farm and being a construction equipment engineer now, I’ve had some times where the smallest and sprightliest vehicle I may have driven in a given period of several weeks might have been a full-size pickup.

  7. So is this going directly for the Raptors Baja antics or is it more a traditional off road mud plugger?

    1. Accidentally posted my original reply elsewhere and now can’t get it to show up here.

      In a nutshell: Rebel is certainly lesser of an off-road machine than is the Raptor. That said, the Rebel can probably hold its own quite well on the rocks, mud, and on normal trails. On the high-speed, Baja-style stuff, no production pickup can touch the Raptor save for *maybe* the ZR2.

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