by Patrick Rall
Earlier today we brought you the news of the new 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel, and after the grand presentation was over, I had a chance to check out the new off-road ready half ton Ram in person. Joining me for my walkaround was Ram Chief Engineer Mike Cairns, who touched on the key features that make this Ram special, and answered questions.
While the Ram Rebel looks good in pictures, it looks even better in person. When I first learned that they would be going with something other than a crosshair grille, I was concerned; having owned five Ram pickups in the past 10 years, I am a big fan of the crosshair styling. However, I’m a little bit in love with the uniquely designed grille of the Ram Rebel and how it works with the unique bumper and the heavy dose of matte black trim all around to create a rugged, sinister look. Mike Cairns explained that this yields better aerodynamics, as well, while providing enough airflow for cooling.
The aggressive new front end of the Ram Rebel leads the way for one of the best looking half ton trimlines, in my opinion, with the wheel opening flares from the 2500 Power Wagon combining with the black lower portion of the body to create a rough and ready two tone look that really looks incredible from any angle. While the side styling is fairly subtle, with black badging, the unique black and silver wheels and the lower portion of the truck painted black, but the rear end is just as bold and sharp-looking as the front. Rather than the large Ram’s head logo which adorns the rest of the 2015 Ram lineup, the Rebel has “RAM” across the tailgate with more matte black on the rear bumper completing the all-around two tone design.
Inside, the Ram Rebel comes with a high-end looking-and-feeling seating spread, with red leather trim on the sides, white leather on the front with the Rebel logos and uniquely stamped microfiber center seat sections that have the tread pattern of the Rebel’s Toyo tires stamped in for extra impact. When you add all of the bells and buzzers of the package, like the configurable gauge cluster and the stunning 8.4” infotainment system, the Rebel feels more like a sporty luxury truck inside
In terms of styling, I consider the Ram Rebel to be a home run. While some Ram fans might cringe at the removal of the crosshair grille, it should be noted that this grille change only applies to the Rebel. Other 2015 Ram trucks will continue to wear the traditional crosshair grille, but to differentiate the Rebel from the rest of the lineup – this new grille was a smart move.
The engineers wanted the Ram Rebel to be more than just an appearance package, keeping the air suspension while improving the off-road capabilities. To do this, they went with new Bilstein suspension components that are paired with a retuned air suspension. This system still has varying adjustable settings, including an Aero mode, a loading mode, and an off-road mode [see ride-height specs], but those familiar with the adjustable air suspension in other current Rams will recognize the stock ride height of the Rebel to being similar to the height of other 1500 Ram trucks in Off-Road 1 mode. This is about an inch higher than normal, but those who need more ground clearance can opt for an Off-Road mode that lifts the truck another inch (similar to the Off-Road 2 setting in other Ram trucks) and this height can be used to speeds up to 25 miles per hour.
There is no speed setting on the standard Rebel ride height, but once the truck reaches speeds over 60mph, the truck automatically drops into Aero mode; and should you need help loading or unloading cargo, the Ram Rebel also has a parking mode, which drops the truck about 3 inches lower than stock ride height.
Aiding the specially tuned Bilstein suspension setup in the Ram Rebel is a set of 33 inch Toyo tires that Mike Cairns stated offers a strong mix of grip in all conditions, but are also suitable for everyday highway use, with solid on-road handing and little of the noise or vibration that is common with serious off-road tires.
The 2015 Ram Rebel comes with the buyer’s choice of the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 305 horsepower or the 5.7L Hemi with 395 horsepower and 410lb-ft of torque. This makes the Rebel one of the most powerful half ton trucks in the current market, and in addition to yielding the same towing and hauling capabilities as the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup, both the Pentastar and the Hemi will allow this off-road truck to make short work of any obstacle…while doing so in a hurry for those truck drivers with a need for speed.
I did ask Mike Cairns if the EcoDiesel had been considered and while it was considered, the high volume of EcoDiesel sales right now combined with the advantages of the two gas motors for off-road use led the team to avoid the EcoDiesel for now. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a diesel Rebel in the future, after VM completes its plant expansions.
The exact availability for the 2015 Ram Rebel haven’t been announced, but Mike Cairns explained that the first prototype test trucks had been built and we should begin seeing these trucks on dealership showroom floors by the end of the second quarter of this year…so look for the Rebel to arrive sometime around mid-summer. Pricing has not been announced, but we can expect this heavily appointed pickup to sit towards the upper end of the Ram 1500 price range and while more bed and cabn configurations could arrive in the future, the Ram Rebel launching this summer will be available only as a Crew Cab model with the short bed.
When the Ram Rebel does arrive, I expect that it will be a big hit with those folks who want better capability (or the appearance of better capability), without the Power Wagon’s high price or thirst. The Rebel wont be cheap by any stretch, but offroaders who want a factory Ram that will handle tough road conditions on Saturday while still serving as a comfortable daily driver all week will be quick to line up for the Ram Rebel.
We expect to have a video of the walkaround soon.
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