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Ram Rebel offroad pickup trucks: surprisingly capable

Automotive exterior

The Ram Rebel is an off-road-enhanced full-size pickup, inspired by dealers and customers who put on lift kits, custom hoods, larger name badges, and such. According to one designer, even as they were creating the 2016 Ram Rebel, they were thinking of the future supercharged-Hemi-powered 2017 Ram Rebel TRX concept.

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Rumors of a Dodge Rebel have circulated since 2005, especially since an April 2014 trademark filing. Rebel has been used for an AMC/Rambler car and for an export Valiant.

Ram Rebel may not challenge the Wrangler on off-road courses, but it has advantages over many dealer-installed or aftermarket kits, one of which is being pre-installed. The air suspension lifts the cab by a full inch (in off-road mode), and even in standard mode, it rides higher than other Ram 1500s in their standard modes. The suspension and electronics have been updated to match the lift, so unlike a poorly engineered aftermarket kit (not that all aftermarket kits fall into the class), it won't wear down the tires and bring unpredictable handling.

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It isn't is a direct Raptor competitor, or a miniature Power Wagon - it's more of a Chevy LT Z71 or Ford FX4. Still, the Ram Rebel has a much better approach angle than the Chevy Silverado Z71, and a slightly lower departure angle. We can't compare the breakover angle to the Chevrolet, since GM doesn't list it, and the ground clearance might not be measured the same way. It appears to beat the Ford FX4 in every off-road clearance specification except for the departure angle.

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Those who actually off-road their trucks may appreciate the durable powder-coated surfaces of the black front and rear bumpers. The front also has a powder-coated, silver skid plate, front tow hooks, and new LED fog lamps. Black-bezel projector headlamps with LED marker lights are set under an aluminum, twin-snorkel sport hood. The Rebel uses Power Wagon wheel-arch moldings, and flat-black badges and mirrors.

Where the Ford Raptor has a great deal of money invested in off-road capacity that most owners will likely never use, the Rebel adapted its Ram's existing technologies and combined them with an upgraded interior. The result is a vehicle that should satisfy the off-road requirements of most pickup owners, along with their desire for visible customization and aggressive looks.

Is this the face of the 2016 Ram 1500?

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The 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel has a new grille, leaving behind the old "cross-hairs," and - like recent Fords - putting the brand name into prominence. The honeycomb grille, a Ram trademark since 1994, blends all too well in these photos with the flat-black radiator. The "frown" in the main grille shape is reminiscent of classic pickups and the recent Toyota Tundra which apes them (and the "face" aspect is aided by the small round headlights inside the squarish frames). Overall, it is a much more aggressive look than Dodge or Ram has used in the past, especially with the blackened headlights.

The Ram 1500 Rebel has new 17-inch one-piece aluminum wheels, with matte black accent pockets. In back, the tailgate has "RAM" stamped into the metal, with blacked-out lettering; and dual chrome-tipped exhausts are standard. Options include a backup camera, and a new tri-fold tonneau cover. Five colors are available at the start: Granite Crystal Metallic, Bright Silver Metallic, Flame Red, white, and black, in both monotone and two-tone forms.

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It seems unlikely that the Ram Rebel will be the only truck with this appearance; it seems to be a test of the overall look, which could be adopted in somewhat less aggressive form by the '16s, which are listed in the FCA long term plan. We do expect that Ram will keep the rear end look on models that don't use their patented dual tailgate, and will use some variant of the front end look, possibly with a thinner grille outline and a different inset. Either way, the large "RAM" lettering in front and rear is probably here to stay.

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The truck is made in Warren, Michigan, a short drive from Detroit proper.

2015 Ram Rebel Off-Road Credentials

The Ram 1500 Rebel is more than a decal package, and not just because of the well thought out bumpers and lower body coloring. The functional changes are Bilstein front and rear shocks; a different steering and stability-control calibration; a softer rear stabilizer bar; 33-inch (LT285/70R17E) Toyo Open Country A/T all-terrain tires; and a one-inch raised ride height, increasing the off-road approach, departure, and breakover angles. These are all changes made not only by owners, but also by dealers - which may, in some cases, void the warranty. With the Rebel, such "customizations" not only do not void the warranty, but also make service calls less likely than if done incorrectly by owners or shops (since the lift and larger tires generally change the suspension geometry).

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Open Country A/Ts are versatile all-terrain tires designed for all-season handling and a comfortable ride, with an aggressive tread pattern, wavy sipe arrangement and groove bottom siping for snow traction, and an open shoulder for water evacuation.

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The one-inch lift comes via Ram's exclusive air suspension system to clear the 33-inch tires and provide additional ground clearance, some of which is used by the optional skid plates. A modified independent front suspension alignment adjusts tire angles; and aluminum lower A-arms absorb the load. The result is best-in-class ground clearance (not minimum ground clearance) of 10.3 inches with skid plates, 11.0 without.

Rebel is a crew cab with a 5-foot-7-inch bed. There is, oddly, no diesel version, just the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V8, in - again, oddly - either RWD (Hemi only) or 4X4 versions. RamBox is optional.

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2015 Rebel
2015 Rebel
Off Road
Silverado Z71
2014 Ford

Approach Angle Deg.23.825.317.924
Breakover Angle Deg.18.0/23.6*19.6/25.4*not stated17
Departure Angle Deg.21.923.023.325
Front Axle to ground9.39.3****
Rear Axle to ground8.88.8****

* With and without skid plates
** Chevrolet min ground clearance 8.9"; Ford max 8.8"

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2015 Ram 1500 Powertrain

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine won Ward's 10 Best Engines for three years in a row, and has 305 horsepower, 269 lb.-ft. of torque, and fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon (mpg). The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with has 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.

Both engines come with the class-exclusive "TorqueFlite 8" eight-speed automatic transmission, and can be optioned up with a rear anti-spin differential, which turns both rear wheels in tandem when increased torque is applied; it automatically unlocks the differential for normal on-road driving, allowing the wheels to spin independently for improved drivability.

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V8 Rebel pickup trucks are available with 3.92 or 3.21 gear ratios. The V6 is only sold as a 4x4, with a 3.92 gear ratio that better leverages its power and torque. Both 4x4 versions have standard Ram 1500 Borg-Warner electric transfer cases with locking 2.64:1 low gears and neutral positions; the V6 has a 44-45 part-time setup, while the V8 has a 44-44 on-demand setup. The V6 lacks an on-demand (automatic) four wheel drive setting, the V8 has one. Neither setup uses a center differential - and neither is different from other Ram 1500s.

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The front axle is a ZF 215mm model, the rear axle is a Chrysler 235mm. As with other Rams, the front suspension has upper and lower A-arms, a stabilizer bar; the rear supsension is a five-link setup with a track bar and stabilizer bar.

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Inside the 2015 Rebel

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Inside, Rebel has durable "technical grain" vinyl seats in bright red and black, with Sedoso fabric inserts that match the tire tread pattern; details include light gray stitching, red ram's-head embroidery on the headrests (see the close-up higher up on this page), and "Rebel" nameplates on the upper seat bolsters. Heated front seats are standard.

The instrument panel, door armrests, and center console armrest cover are topped with Radar Red and Light Gray accent stitching. The center stack and console have iron gray metallic paint, for a cast-iron appearance. The Rebel's heated steering wheel is wrapped with semi- perforated black leather, with red X-stitches.

A new center console bin has a cell phone/tablet holder designed for a variety of different shapes and sizes, reflecting changes in the mobile device market. Red anodized vent rings, door accent rings, door trim spears, and a center console trim ring add color. The console cover includes another ram's head logo, adding to the rather large number of ram logos in the truck.

Deep all-weather rubber floor mats with contrasting Radar Red Ram's head help contain dirt, snow, and debris. Unlike many black-interior Mopars, both the headliner and upper pillars are also black.

The photographs have been adjusted to increase the brightness of dark areas so shapes and textures can be shown better. This makes the black materials appear to be gray, but they are indeed black. In the mud mat photo below, the parking brake appears to be released. This is a preproduction pickup and it may not have the same fit and finish quality as production trucks will.

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2015 Ram Rebel quality

The 2015 Ram 1500 series is backed with a five-year /100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty that covers parts and labor for the engine, transmission, and drive system, including free towing to the nearest Ram dealer, if needed. The warranty is transferable. The standard three-year / 36,000-mile basic warranty provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for the Ram 1500.

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The 2015 Ram 1500's quality is tested at the Chrysler Technology Center's labs in Auburn Hills, Michigan, which includes a Road Test Simulator (RTS). The RTS can re-create the abuse a truck endures at the hands of a 95th percentile driver - someone who drives the pickup in more severe conditions than 95% of all customers, and can put a lifetime of wear and tear on a truck in about one month's time.

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Rebel goes on sale early in the second half of 2015, joining Tradesman, Express, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Sport, Laramie, Longhorn and Limited.

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Ram Rebel First LookMopar '16 Ram Rebel
Interview with the chief engineer

Further Rebel specifications and dimensions

See the 2013-2015 Ram specs page for Pentastar V6, Hemi V8, transfer case, and transmission information and competitive comparisons.

Ram 1500 Rebels get the automatic grille shutters and "knob shifter" - both of which come with the eight speed automatic transmission.

Gearing1st, 4.71; 8th, 0.67; R, 3.30;
Axle, 3.92 (3.21 opt w/V8); Low range, 2.64:1
Electrical180 amp alternator, 730 CCA Group 65 battery
Front brakes13.2 x 1.1 vented discs, two-piston pin-slider caliper
Rear brakes13.8 x 0.87 disk with single-piston pin-slider caliper
Power brakesDual rate tandem diaphragm vacuum-assisted

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There is only a crew cab. At this time, there are no plans for a quad cab.

Crew cabFrontRear
Volume64.0 cubic feet61.0 cubic feet

Wheelbase, 140.5; track, 68.6 front, 68.0 rear; 229 inches long; 81.5 inches wide. All have a 26 gallon tank standard and 32 gallon optional.

The cargo box is 5 foot 7 inches in length, with a volume of 50.3 cubic feet (SAE), and a 67.4 inch length at the floor with the tailgate closed; the width is 66.4 max, 51 inches between wheelhouses. Depth is 20 inches. The tailgate opening width is 60.4 inches.

Pentastar V6Hemi V8 4x4Hemi V8 RWD
Gas mileage17/2515/2115/22
Power/Torque305 / 269395 / 410394 / 410

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The suspension dimensions change based on the air suspension mode:

Ram Rebel
Off Road
SLT 4x4**
Lone Star,
Express 4x4**
Ground clearance, front axle9.39.39.3
Ground clearance, rear axle8.88.88.8
Lift-in height32.935.436.4
Approach angle18.7°23.8°25.3°17.8°23.9°
Departure angle18.9°21.9°23.0°24.°22.1°
Breakover angle with skid plates13.0°18.0°19.6°
... and without skid plates17.7°23.6°25.4°20.5°18.8°
Ground clearance with skid plate*6.29.310.3
... and without skid plates6.910.011.08.6 (normal)9.2 (normal)

Ram Rebel First LookMopar Rebel
Interview with the chief engineer

* Yes, we know this makes no sense given the axle heights. It must be measured as an average or at a certain point, unless it's actually the ride height. Minimum ground clearance is likely 8.8 inches since that's the rear axle limit.
**With the same bed and cab

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