Last month, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel fitted with the Mopar 16 package and during that time, the Michigan weather did its thing – giving me a chance to experience this big, beefy half ton truck in a mud, deep snow, hard rain and a sunny day. I put the Ram Rebel through all of the same tests that I do with all of my test trucks, but when possible, I went to extreme measures to see if I could find a reasonable limit to the Rebel’s capabilities.
I did not find that limit, as the Ram 1500 Rebel did everything that I asked it to do better than any truck I have tested and, in my opinion, the Ram Rebel is dollar-for-dollar the best half ton truck on the market for someone who wants a truck that can work and play in the worst conditions.
Pricing Out the Ram Rebel
The Ram Rebel which I spent a week driving was a 2016 model fitted with the limited edition Mopar 16 appearance package. I absolutely love the look of the Mopar Rebel, with the blacked out exterior, but with the 2016 model year passed, you’ll need to luck out and find one sitting at a dealership if you want one. However, aside from the striking look of the all-black exterior package, the Mopar 16 components aren’t essential for the Ram Rebel to be such a great package.
My Rebel test truck had pretty much every option that you can get, including the Luxury Group, the Protection Group, Remote Start, the rear camera package, Mopar side steps, a Mopar tonneau cover, a sunroof, the premium UConnect infotainment package, a 9-speaker Alpine stereo system, a spray-in bedliner, the keyless Enter N Go system, a 32 gallon fuel tank and a limited slip differential. When you add in all of those options with the Mopar 16 package, you get a price as tested of $57,125, but the Ram Rebel and all of the components needed for on-road and off-road can be had for around $48k.
Realistically, to get the most out of the Ram Rebel, you only need to pick the Hemi, four wheel drive and the protection group, as everything else is either an appearance or interior feature – neither of which make this truck any better on the road or trail.
One Gorgeous Truck
On the outside, the Ram Rebel with the Mopar 16 is a great looking truck and aside from the black trim bits, the black wheels, the larger fender flares and the side steps, the “regular” (non-Mopar 16) Rebel is just as sharp. The non-Mopar Rebel wheels are the same design, but rather than an all-black layout, the Rebel comes with a machined face on the wheel with black pockets. The non-Mopar Rebel also has a silver skid plate and lower front bumper, whereas the Mopar 16 has an all-black front bumper, but if you order a new Ram Rebel in black, the wheels, flares, bumper color and stripes are the only differences between the Mopar and non-Mopar Rebel.(More on the next page)
The most significant features of the Ram Rebel exterior design is the bold Ram branded grille, which replaces the long-popular crosshair grille from some of the other current Ram pickups. While I like the crosshair look, I like the Rebel grille even more, as it gives the truck a far more muscular, sporty look – especially with the standard “power bulge” hood. Out back, the Rebel has a huge Ram logo sprawled across the tailgate and I also like that, as I think that a truck like the Rebel should have prominent badges.
Whether or not the Ram Rebel has the Mopar 16 package impacts the color palate and the size of the wheel flares, but every new Ram 1500 Rebel has the same sporty, powerful look that I love.
The Ram Rebel comes with a unique seating package which has black cloth surfaces in the middle with an aggressive tire tread pattern stamped into it with black leather bolsters and red leather trim around the sides and back of the seats. There are also red accents on the dash and door panels, which when combined with the heavy dose of black leather throughout give the Rebel a premium feel without a premium package.
The premium UConnect system in the Ram Rebel does come with a $505 upcharge and the reconfigurable driver information center adds $195, but considering the high end feel of the standard Rebel interior, those added costs are worth every cent. The UConnect system is one of the best, most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market, so if you are buying a new FCA product and the UConnect 8.4 system is available – you want to check that box. This system puts the controls for every aspect of the truck right at your fingertips via the big, bright touch screen, and the system is laid out in a way which makes moving from one function to another while driving nice and easy.
The seats look great, but more importantly, they are comfortable and supportive, with the cloth centers providing extra grip for the driver when navigating uneven terrain and cushioning that makes this a truck that you won’t mind spending hours driving. There is plenty of room in the front and rear seats for even very tall adults, and while the rear middle seat isn’t all that comfortable due to the lack of contouring, it can also seat a taller adult – making this a great truck for transporting 5 adults. Also, if you need addition inside cargo space, the rear seat folds up in two pieces for a convenient combination of storage space and passenger space.(More on the next page)
Thanks to the Crew Cab configuration, the Ram Rebel has lots of interior space for 5 people or less people and lots of cargo, and for less than a grand, you can add premium interior gadgets which take this leather-appointed cabin to the next level. This cabin is the perfect mix of off-road sport and premium luxury, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
The Ram Rebel has an impressive interior and a sporty exterior, but the look of this truck doesn’t matter once you get behind the wheel. The heart of this truck is the 5.7L Hemi, which delivers 395 horsepower and 410lb-ft of torque through the 8-speed automatic transmission and a 3.92 gear set – all of which makes the Ram Rebel one of the quickest trucks on the market today. The Rebel moves out hard from a stop and pulls as hard through the mid-range (as in a highway passing situation) with authority, making this Ram a fun truck to drive in any on-road situation.
More importantly, thanks to the Rebel-specific Bilstein dampers coupled with the Ram’s unique air suspension setup, the Ram 1500 Rebel offers a smooth, yet predictably stiff ride during normal driving situations. I drove the Rebel all over metro Detroit, and while the Rebel is a touch stiffer – so a touch rougher ride – it is negligibly rougher than your average half ton truck. Ultimately, the Rebel is smoother than you would expect an off-road truck which is this capable to be, so the people who desire a truck like this will almost certainly find that the ride quality exceeds their expectations or requirements.
While I had the Ram Rebel, my area received its heaviest snowfall of the year, blanketing my town in more than a foot of snow. When a storm hits late at night like this one did, the town will wait until the snow has slowed or stopped before clearing some of the lesser-used streets, so towards the end of the storm late at night – there were places in town with close to a foot of snow piled on the road. I took the Rebel out to see if anyone on the road in front of our house was in need of assistance while also checking to see just how well this truck would handle a massive snow storm. I didn’t see any stuck vehicles or any vehicles for that matter, but I found some streets in the awful conditions that I had hoped to see. In one point, I could see where a steep hill had proven to be unpassable for a few vehicles, some of which had made it halfway up the hill before seemingly giving up – leaving the snow at the top of the hill untouched.(More on the next page)
I approached this steep hill from the side, making a 90 degree right hand turn into the deep snow on the grade, with the Ram Rebel in 4WD high. For just a second, the Rebel spun the tires, but as soon as I got the truck pointed straight up the hill, I had no issues powering clear to the top of the hill. Even when I hit the deepest snow, the Rebel didn’t struggle, so I came to a complete stop to see if I could get the truck stuck on this hill. Not surprisingly, the Rebel spun the tires for a few seconds, but it began to get forward motion and I was able to climb to the top of the hill. After that, I spent some more time driving around the snow-covered roads and at no point did the Ram Rebel even need to be shifted into 4WD Low.
The Rebel passed the snow test with flying colors, and two days after that huge snowfall, the temperature rose into the mid-40s, causing the snow to melt. This turned every local dirt road, which are plentiful, into treacherous mess of mud and ruts. The cold temps at night freeze the melting snow, so depending on the time of day, these roads are a troubling mix of mud of ice. These are the kinds of roads where people with little SUVs putter along at 10mph because if they go any faster, the road will batter their vehicle. However, they are the perfect roads for testing an off-road truck, and when I took the Ram Rebel up and down the roughest, muddiest roads in my area – the Ram didn’t break a sweat. Thanks to the Bilstein suspension and the Ram air suspension setup, which is uniquely tuned for the Rebel to yield more stock ground clearance, even the deepest ruts were no challenge for the Rebel and the standard Toyo Open County tires made pushing through the thickest, iciest mud a breeze.
The next day, I took advantage of the warm weather once again, heading to the sloppy property of a friend who doesn’t mind me digging up some mud with a test truck. It is not extreme off-roading by any means, but getting into his mud pit requires a drive up over a very steep hill with a very steep drop off on the other side. This hangs many trucks up on their frames, but the Rebel’s air suspension setup with an off-road mode that lifts the truck 2 inches higher allowed me to easily clear that tight entry to the muddy fun. Of course, the mudding went smoothly, with no issues getting through his muddy pastures.
Finally, I hooked up the Ram Rebel to my 5,000 test trailer. I tow this same trailer and load with every test truck with proper capabilities and once again, the Rebel shined. The power of the Hemi made low-end and mid-range acceleration with the added weight without any issue, so this is a truck which I would definitely recommend to anyone looking to do lots of towing with a 2-horse trailer.
The Ram Rebel has a nice, smooth ride during “normal” daily driving, it handles a heavy snowfall with unplowed roads, it traverses rough roads like a truck modified for off-road use, it proved itself to be more capable than many factory trucks thanks to the adjustable suspension and it pulled my standard test trailer like a champ. In my opinion, no other half ton truck I have tested will do all of this as well as the Ram Rebel for under $50,000 – making this the best truck for the money on sale today.(More on the next page)
The Final Word
The Ram Rebel is not the only off-road ready half-ton truck sold in America, but among the pool of trucks under $50k, there is nothing that offers the same level of interior space, interior amenities, power, working capabilities and off-road capabilities like this Ram 1500.
The Mopar 16 package and the exterior upgrades (side steps, tonneau cover, bedliner) make this an even nicer truck, but those goodies aren’t required to get the most fun and functionality out of the Rebel. Those also bring the price up, so someone who wants a more premium-looking truck can get those features, but for someone looking for the most truck for the least money – the standard features of the Ram Rebel with the minimal upcharges for the infotainment packages make the Rebel the best truck for the money on the market today.
If you want a truck that is great on-road, great off-road, comfortable inside and capable of doing plenty of work without running you $60k – the Ram Rebel is the perfect option.