2015 Ram Rebel: Is It Going for the Raptor? [First Drive Review]

Ram Rebel volcanic rock front
2015 Ram Rebel

If the 2015 Ram Rebel represents an off-road package and NOT a competitor to the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, it’s a damn good effort. Ram went through a lot of trouble to make this pickup extremely capable without sacrificing any of the Ram 1500 attributes and capabilities. The 2015 Ram Rebel’s closest competitor is the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, Nissan Titan Pro 4X, Chevrolet Silverado Z71 and the Ford F-150 FX4.

All of these trucks have upgraded suspensions, under armor, tires and visual upgrades, separating them for their standard 4X4 cousins. The 2015 Ram Rebel is unique as it has air-bag suspension in place of conventional springs. This air-bag setup allows an additional one-inch lift off-road (the 2015 Ram Rebel is already lifted an inch over a regular Ram 4×4).

You can also use the air-bag suspension to lower the ride height on the highway, aiding aerodynamics. The air-bags can lower and raise when hooking up a trailer and to assist ingress/egress. No competitor offers this flexibility.

2015 ram rebel exhaust
Three are three flavors available for the 2015 Ram Rebel. You can get a (Pentastar) V6 4X4, a 2WD Hemi V8 or a 4X4 Hemi V8. The Torque Flight eight-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission available. A 3.92 rear-end is standard on the V6 models and optional on the V8 (a 3.21 rear end is available for the Hemi). The 2015 Ram Rebel matches the payload (1,600 lbs), towing (10,210 lbs) and 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway of the regular Ram 1500 4X4.

Visually, the 2015 Ram Rebel is a mixed bag. The bumper, intergraded skid-plate and lights look awesome. The new grill seems a tad over-the-top with a big “RAM” right in the middle. The front end height might irk a few fans. With that being said, a lower drag coefficient grill and an improved approach angle (by four-degrees) is nothing to sneeze at.

The tire and wheel combo look great and I’m a big fan of the Toyo Open Country 33-inch rubber. The silhouette, black lower body paint and thick wheel-arch extensions are a nice touch too. The wheels are interesting and unique, but they look a bit Jeep-ish to me. The mono-tube Bilstein shocks would look more purposeful if they weren’t painted powder blue.

2015-ram-rebel-interior-steering

The interior is unique to the 2015 Ram Rebel. Flame red materials, accents and stitching combine nicely with the grey and black interior. The “Rebel” name is everywhere and Ram even embossed the tread of the Toyo Open Country tires on the seatbacks – front and back. It looks cool, unless you opt for a different tire in the future. Even the tire tread featured in the IP’s digital display is from a different tire. Still, the interior is familiar to Ram drivers and it’s nicer than most of its competition.

Despite the raised tire-tread look, the seats are very comfortable. You can’t feel much of the seatback when you’re back’s full weight is on it. Padding on the doors is a welcome sight as is the well laid-out, and comfortable to grip, steering wheel. Not a fan of the rotary knob gear selector. For some of us, we want to tug, slam, yank or bang a badass off-road machine into gear. It’s preferable to dialing a gear with two fingers.

The 2015 Ram Rebel is only available in a Crew-Cab configuration with a five-foot, seven-inch bed. This is NOT a 1500 version of the Ram Power Wagon. The 2015 Ram Rebel is more of a trim package for a daily-driver truck instead of a heavy duty, purpose-built truck. The proof is in the driving characteristics of the 2015 Ram Rebel.

2015 ram rebel event arizona
Driving impressions: Ram retuned the steering to be slightly heavier than the standard Ram; it’s a worthy change. Unlike the lumbering Ram Power Wagon or desert-running Ford Raptor, the 2015 Ram Rebel feels fairly nimble on most terrain. We were lucky enough to drive it on volcanic pebbles, dirt, mud, highway and snowy-gooey ruts. It never missed a beat and its steering feel is some of the best I’ve experienced in an off-road truck.

Throttle response is good, not as sharp as a Raptor, but it’s not as lethargic as the Power Wagon either. Keep in mind: we only drove the 2015 Ram Rebel with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 4X4 with the 3.92 rear end. It makes 395 horsepower and 410 lbs of torque, just like the regular Ram 1500. I suspect the V6 (305 hp and 269 lb-ft) will need to be hammerd to get the juices flowing. Still, in this package, the Rebel did a great impersonation of a desert runner.

2015-ram-rebel-interior-dash
The suspension was the biggest surprise. I expected a firm, bouncy ride like I get in the air-bag-equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was much more forgiving and it never felt overly tight, even on washboards and whoop-de-doos. It felt just like a regular Ram 1500 4X4 during the rest of the ride, giving credence to the Ram folk’s assertion that the 2016 Ram Rebel keeps all of the capability of the 1500 without sacrificing anything.

I agree. It’s a kickass ride with few compromises. Sure, a diesel or SRT power-plant would be awesome, but that would kill its price-point. Prices will be announced closer to its July 2015 sales date; however, we expect the base price to be in the low-to-middle $40,000 mark.

Here is the complete Ram Rebel first drive video.

Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed  worldwide.
Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed
worldwide.
Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.