Base Price: $47,195
Price as Tested: $56,775
EPA City/HWY: 15/21 mpg
Engine: 5.7L HEMI V8
Power: 395hp, 410lb-ft
Drivetrain: 4X4


WRITTEN/PHOTOGRAPHED BY: ANTHONY HERTA

Raised suspension. Massive tires. After-market bumpers, wheels, exhausts, decals, you name it. It's common to see custom parts on trucks. Usually, these additions are excessive, obnoxious, ugly and can completely ruin the truck aesthetically and mechanically.

The 2017 Ram Rebel is like that customized dream truck, but done cleanly by the manufacturer. It’s raised an inch over the regular Ram 1500, has massive 33-inch tires, a base-heavy Alpine audio system ($445), an available HEMI V8 engine ($1,450), but most importantly, hood stripes.

I know many may argue the Ford Raptor is the ultimate “dream truck.” At a glance, the Rebel and Raptor appear to be on the same mission. They’re both the most badass version of the 1500 trucks. But the Rebel takes a tamer, more realistic approach to what truck buyers actually do to their trucks.

The Rebel doesn’t have fancy racing shocks, a really wide body kit or 10 million auxiliary switches on the center console, but a Rebel (equipped with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8) sounds far better than the coughs of the Raptor’s EcoBoost V6 engine. 

The Ram Rebel wants you to know what it is.

RAM is written in HUGE font at the front and back. There’s a whole bunch of blacked out badges, headlights and mirrors. A twin-snorkeled hood — which isn’t actually functional, but looks cool. The front and rear bumpers are even solid steel.

The press vehicle I had for the week also had the sweet Mojave Sand Rebel package ($595), which unlocks the Mojave Sand exterior color and hood decals. If you want this package, Ram is only making 1,500 Ram Rebel Mojave Sand editions — so you better act fast.  

Driving around a college campus, it’s comical how much attention this truck attracts. Heads turn like there is free pizza rolling by.

Owning a 2015 Chevy Silverado myself, I constantly hear complaints about having to climb in the cabin with the relatively high step-in height. Once they get to the summit, a deep exhale is released. With the Rebel, the optional tubular side steps ($425) alleviate some stress. Most notably, the standard four-corner air suspension on the Ram Rebel can also lower the truck right from the key fob to ease ingress and egress.

On the inside, unlike the typical Rebel, the Mojave Sand package replaces the radar red accents on the dash and seats with more subdued black and grey elements — creating a stealthy, all-black appearance.

I love the attention to detail. Stitching on the dash, door panels, and armrests. Embedded on the vinyl and cloth thrones of the Rebel is the same exact tire pattern as the Toyo tires used on the truck.

For the most part, materials are soft to the touch and appear high quality, but some cheap plastic is found below the elbow or in front of the passenger seat. 

One detail I’m not the biggest fan of is the rotary shifter.

Everything about this truck is brash, strong and loud. Instead of a column or center console shifter, there is a knob for the good ol’ PRND — something that wouldn’t look out of place on a washing machine. It’s fine to use and I’m sure it’s not going away, but in a truck that is trying so hard to be masculine and tough, this rotary knob found in other FCA products — such as the Chrysler Pacifica minivan — feels out of place. 

What’s also really nice about the Rebel’s interior is how easy the technology is to use. A big 8.4-inch touchscreen houses FCA’s Uconnect system — one of the easiest interphases to use in the auto industry.  It’s nicely laid out, the graphics are crisp and it’s really quick to respond to inputs. Categories such as “Nav” or “Phone” are consistently at the bottom of the screen — similar to a doc on an Apple computer — to allow easy access.

Thankfully, real knobs and buttons remain below the screen for radio and HVAC controls.

Behind the steering wheel also sits a configurable 7-inch screen in the middle of the gauge cluster.

On the road the Ram Rebel feels massive. No matter if you’re in the lowest setting on the air suspension or in full on jerk mode — I mean off-road mode, you have a commanding view of the road. This sounds cliché but the commanding hood in front of you and wide stance make you feel like you own the road.

Handling is not the Rebel’s strongest attribute. At times it feels like there’s mud stuck in the steering rack. There’s a slight delay between turning the wheel and the wheels responding to the input.

I do have to say that I’ve been lucky enough to drive the Ram Rebel and Power Wagon off road on some technical trails in the mountains of Arizona, and it felt completely at home. On the road, I can’t say the same thing. But it’s not meant to live its life on the tarmac.

Stepping out of my Chevy Silverado however, the Ram rides miles better. On roads I’d be jostling around and wishing I never brought a truck on, the Rebel takes most bumps with stride. For a truck, the ride is relatively smooth.

It’s also fairly quiet inside. Some wind noise makes its way in at highway speeds — probably coming from the massive side mirrors — and a tiny bit more tire roar than the average half-ton truck, but it’s fairly subdued considering they are serious off-road tires.

Easily my favorite part about driving the Ram Rebel is the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine under the hood. Packing 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, the Rebels moves with authority and makes all the right HEMI V8 noises. Luckily, it’s paired to a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic ($500) that promptly responds to throttle inputs.

A 3.6-liter V6 comes standard with the Rebel, but I wouldn’t bother with that engine. In the regular Ram 1500, I can see a case for it. In the Ram Rebel, it just doesn’t quite fit the bill. It’s almost like ordering a pizza without sauce — it’s not pizza anymore, it’s just cheese bread.

The HEMI V8 has all the drama, muscularity, power and audible pleasure the Rebel’s personality calls for. 

If you want a Ram Rebel, the only configuration available is the Crew Cab with a 5’7” bed. 

Out back, there are two Ram Boxes ($1,295) to put stuff in, which, depending how you look at it, aide or hinder overall bed practicality. Compared to the regular 5’7” bed, it’s a lot less comfortable to pack friends in the back with the Ram Boxes eating into the overall bed space. With the Mojave Sand color, these two boxes above the rear wheel arches almost look like a RAM 1500 with cargo pants — adding to the Rebel’s adventurous appearance.

A handy cargo divider/extender is also included with the Ram Boxes. It’s intuitive to use and significantly increases the flexibility of the bed space. 

On the inside, there are all sorts of clever storage cubbies found all over the cabin. Two glove boxes. A deep two-layered center armrest. An extremely configurable backseat floor. Hidden cubbies under the rear seats and rear floor mats.

Upfront, the center console is carved specifically to fit two smartphones (presumably iPhones). From all the cars I’ve been in, this is easily one of the best smartphone integrations I’ve seen. It’s so convenient it’s almost distracting. With the phone tilted up, if a notification pops up, you can glance down and see who liked your photo on Instagram — taking your eyes off of the road. I guess you’ll just have to display some self-control when placing your phone where the Ram Rebel wants you to.

Overall, the Rebel is one beast of vehicle to drive on and off the road. This truck just has an imposing personality and presence on the road. It may not be as capable as a Raptor off-road, but it’s not really trying to be. The Ram Rebel feels like something special. It’s probably all the truck you will ever need plus a whole lot more.