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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Ram: The Ram Rebel's fashion sense connects it to the broader Ram family, while off-roading upgrades show a flair for adventure, reviewer Casey Williams says.

Friday, November 10, 2017 10:33 am

Review: Ram Rebel is most expressive of expressive truck family

CASEY WILLIAMS | Special to The Journal Gazette

2018 Ram 1500 Rebel

  • Five-passenger, 4x4 pickup
  • Powertrain: 395 horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8, eight-speed transmission
  • Suspension f/r: Air Ind/Solid axle
  • Wheels f/r: 17-inch/17-inch alloy
  • Brakes f/r: disc/disc
  • Must-have features: Style, capability
  • Fuel economy: 15/21 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly: Warren, Mich.
  • Base/as-tested price: $45,095/$58,710


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There are 11 Ram 1500 models, ranging from the work-ready Tradesman through the Big Horn, Lone Star, Sport, Night, Laramie and Limited Tungsten editions.

Each has a unique character that appeals subsets of the broad spectrum of full-size truck drivers. Toward the top is the Ram Rebel, which is perhaps the most expressive of an expressive family.

Rebel is big and bold, with hints of Power Wagon and Lil’ Red Truck. All Rams continue the semi-tractor fenders and tall grille pioneered in the early ‘90s, but the Rebel is a bit more flamboyant.

Gone is the traditional crosshair grille, replaced by a blacked out curvy-mustached version with “RAM” letters smack middle. Giant block “RAM” letters are slapped across the tailgate, too.

Power Wagon wheel arches and blacked out trim contrast with LED fog lamps, skid plates and tow hooks. A faux twin-snorkel hood and 17-inch alloys with off-road tires commit to the look, beckoning you to hit the trails.

Plant your heels onto the step bars, grab the handles and bounce inside. It’s pretty comfy in there with heated leather seats up front, heated steering wheel and kickin’ Alpine audio system. Especially with Crew Cab models, there’s plenty of room for four or five passengers to spread out and ride long distances. Our truck was also upgraded with automatic climate control.

Available for 2018 are 4G Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Chrysler Group’s latest touchscreen remains one of the best in the business, with intuitive icons at the bottom that take you to audio, climate control, navigation and phone easier than dialing your smartphone (which connects via Bluetooth).

There’s plenty of storage, too. Lockable and lighted storage cubbies are integrated to the bedsides, bed tie-downs cinch ATVs, and a bed divider keeps camping gear from sliding – no matter the terrain.

Inside, the deep front console can store laptops. There’s plenty of open storage with clever clips to hold MP3 players or phones. Guzzler cups stay secure on the fly.

Moving this tribute to untoward behavior is a tire-stomping 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that bellows out 395 horsepower and 410 foot-pounds of torque. Two-wheel-drive is standard with the HEMI, but that’s pointless, so get electronic four-wheel-drive.

Gas mileage really isn’t top-of-list if you’re buying a sumo-sized pickup, but cylinder deactivation and Chrysler’s TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission do what they can, enabling 15/21-MPG city/highway.

That’s only the beginning of the Rebel’s capability. It’s a little big for tight trails, but should annihilate gravel and mud with skid plates to protect the soft bits underside, tow hooks just in case, and off-road tires to claw through it all.

Engineers tapped Ram’s optional air suspension to give drivers a range of ride heights. What works off-road improves on-road comfort (to a point) – whether working the HEMI on open interstate or crushing potholes. If trailering is in the plans, you’ll appreciate the integrated dash controller.

Being rebellious without purpose is immature, but driving the Ram Rebel is no joke. Its fashion sense connects it to the broader Ram family, while off-roading upgrades show a flair for adventure.

No matter the destination or terrain, the big truck can get you there in supreme comfort. Ram Rebel starts at $45,095, rising to $58,710 as tested.

Casey Williams is an Indianapolis automotive journalist. Contact him at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube and Twitter: @AutoCasey