2017 Ram 1500 Rebel

2017 Ram 1500 Rebel

Ram 1500 RebelStory and photos by Jordan Allan

When asked to write a story on the Ram 1500 Rebel, a large majority of people would first think to compare it to Ford’s F-150 Raptor, and at first you can understand why. On first thought, both are basically souped-up versions of the trucks they are derived from, having added a ton of exterior upgrades and greatly improving the off-road capability. However, once you really delve into it, you’ll find that although the trucks do share the same ideology, they really both saw different approaches taken.

The Raptor truly is an off-road-capable machine that really doesn’t have too much in common with its F-150 brethren other than its basic platform, while the Rebel is more of an off-road appearance package which, while not completely void of capability upgrades, shares many of the same characteristics of the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup. All of this is to say that while both trucks do offer something very different, they are both done well and bring something completely unique to the table.

The Rebel shares the same basic look as many of the other Ram 1500s but does add a few extras that would really make it stand out at your local Ram dealership lot. The bold grille is Rebel-exclusive and sees the big and bold ‘RAM’ letters prominently displayed, while underneath sees an off-road-oriented skid plate added to the mix. The truck sits on a set of 33-inch Toyo Open Country A/T tires that perform excellently both on- and off-road, and are wrapped around a set of Rebel-exclusive 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels with matte black pockets. All of this, combined with the awesome Granite Crystal Metallic exterior colour found on our tester, provide the Rebel with a unique look that is definitely bolder and overall more aggressive than anything else Ram currently offers.

Ram 1500 RebelThe interior of the Rebel doesn’t stray too far away from a regular 1500, save for some red accent material found throughout, high-back front bucket seats, and some tire tread embroidering on both the front and back seats. This means that, yes, the dial-based gearshift is featured and is still something that I will have to get used to in what is an otherwise good-looking and functional interior.

The 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine does come standard for the Rebel, but luckily for me, our tester was fitted with the much cooler 5.7L Hemi V8 engine pushing out an impressive 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, paired with an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The Hemi gives the Rebel an almost hot-rod-like feel on the road with its great acceleration and aggressive exhaust note, and would surely be the engine of choice should I ever decide to purchase one of these.

Now, during my test in the Rebel, I was able to get quite a bit of seat time but mostly on the road, as one might expect. Although it would’ve been nice to take it to a setting where I could really see what it was made of, I had to settle for a bumpy gravel road where, as expected, the truck performed admirably. Utilizing the air suspension’s ride height settings, I put the truck in off-road mode, which brings the front end to a more level stance and provides 1-inch more lift than a standard Ram with air suspension would. The truck was able to navigate even the roughest patches of the gravel road and almost had me forgetting that I was on one.

Ram 1500 RebelThroughout my time driving in the city or on local highways, I found that the Rebel carried the same on-road prowess as the rest of the 1500 lineup by providing an ultra-smooth ride, ample passing power, and a comfortable and luxurious cabin. This, I believe, is where a huge difference in philosophies takes place between the Raptor and the Rebel in that, although you certainly wouldn’t say the Raptor performs poorly on the road (far from it, in fact), it’s plainly obvious that it was built to run off-road in just about any situation and that good performance on pavement is more of a bonus. The Rebel appears to be more the opposite of that in the sense that while it would almost certainly perform better than most vehicles when the pavement ends, highway driving is still on the radar and it does so in a way few other trucks can.

If I was asked to choose between the Raptor and the Rebel, I don’t think I could quickly or easily come up with an honest answer. Price points definitely would have to be considered and our testers saw an almost $20,000 difference with the Raptor coming in around $89,000 as tested with the Rebel costing around $69,000. If money wasn’t the deciding factor, the next thing I would consider would be lifestyle. If I’m going to be seeking out and going on all sorts of challenging off-road adventures, the Raptor is probably the way to go, but if I want a truck that I would be more comfortable driving to work during the week with the capability to transform into something of a weekend warrior (albeit an expensive one), I would probably choose the Rebel.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to make that choice. After spending some significant time with each one, I have gained an even larger appreciation  for what they can both individually offer and would suggest that no matter which one you go with, you won’t be disappointed.