Road Test: 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

Road Test: 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

Story and photos by Jordan Allan, additional photos courtesy of FCA Canada

The 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel is perhaps the most distinctive model in the redesigned pickup’s lineup, boldly featuring a large vented hood, blacked-out fender-flares and an overall off-road-oriented appearance that really helps it stand out from the rest of its Ram brethren.

First introduced back in 2015 during the Ram’s fourth-generation, the Rebel was an immediate success and not long after release, seeing one on the road became a daily occurrence, and for good reason. Although not a true Ford Raptor-fighter, the Rebel features not only upgrades to its appearance, but also to its capability with a 1-in. suspension lift, 3.92 rear axle ratio, skid plates, and 33-in. all-terrain tires. Being that this was my first opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of any model of the new Ram, I was excited to see how it looked and performed.

As I was a big fan of the overall look of the Ram’s fourth generation, this new version definitely took some getting used to, but I think I’m starting to come around, something that was definitely aided by the new version of the Rebel. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of the big RAM-stamped grille but will agree that it definitely suits this model which is meant to be bigger and bolder than the rest. The rear of the truck looks great and the Rebel-only 18-in. aluminum wheels wrapped in 33-in. Goodyear All-Terrain tires further add to its off-road presence.

The bold design theme continues inside, as the Rebel takes the Ram’s very luxurious, functional interior and adds distinctive red trim throughout including on the steering wheel, door panels and centre console surround. The seats come in a standard red-and-black cloth two-tone design that features a tire tread pattern on the backs and bottoms, which will definitely never let you forget that this isn’t just a normal Ram. The 5.0-in. Uconnect touchscreen comes standard, while our model featured the 8.4-in. unit which is still short of the iPad-like 12-in. screen offered on other models in the Ram lineup. All-in-all, the Rebel’s interior is easy to get used to and features some great storage space, but I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the dial shifter which seems to sit dangerously close to the volume knob.

The new Rebel is now offered in a quad-cab configuration with steel coil springs; however, our test model was much like the previous version that featured controllable air springs and a crew cab configuration. The always great 5.7L Hemi V8 sat under the hood, now producing 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque and a sound that distinguishes it from the rest, and is paired to a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission.

One of the big things that ups the Rebel’s off-road prowess and sets it apart from the rest of the Ram lineup, is the addition of Bilstein monotube dampers which, along with the air springs, provide the Rebel with 10.8-in. of ground clearance in its highest setting. This will allow you to tackle some pretty rough terrain with ease while still providing a great on-road ride which, let’s be honest, is where a truck like this will inevitably spend most of its time. 

Although I didn’t have the chance (or courage) to take the Rebel in any serious off-road situations during my time with it, I did have a chance to check out some very rough gravel roads and was amazed at how the truck easily handled it. If I were to find myself in some more challenging terrain, the transfer case’s 2.64:1 low-range gearing and the electronically locking rear differential would certainly be able to handle almost anything I could throw at it. As I mentioned, the Ram Rebel is more like a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro than it is a Ford F-150 Raptor, but is still truly one of the most off-road capable pickups to ever roll off the factory line.

As I previously stated, this was my first opportunity to drive one of the 2019 Rams and I  wondered if the off-road ability of the Rebel might hinder the overall on-road performance, but as I quickly found out, it didn’t. Aside from a bit of noise from the knobby tires, the truck performed exactly like I hoped it would. The electronically assisted steering allows the truck to feel extremely light even in tight, low-speed situations, while the air ride suspension system provided what has to be the smoothest ride I’ve ever experienced in a pickup truck. The Hemi V8 provides tons of pickup and passing power and is still able to break the rear end loose with a sudden jolt of the throttle which is great if you like to keep things interesting. All-in-all, the on-road experience in the Rebel, and likely all new Rams, is truly an enjoyable one.

As I said, it isn’t really fair to directly compare the Rebel to the Raptor, but it’s inevitable that it will happen given that they do share the same overall ideology albeit with very different approaches taken. The Raptor is a truly unique, off-road capable monster and is definitely priced as such, while the Rebel feels more like the truck it was derived from and thus, is likely better suited to everyday use and comes in at a more manageable price point. Our test model came in at just over $70,000 which is probably on the high-end in terms of half-ton pickups, but when you consider just how versatile the Rebel is, it makes it the price much easier to justify.