It’s easy to fall for the sporty Rebel G/T, a rugged off-road version of the new Ram 1500 full-size pickup. Try to resist the temptation of a 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi, bulging performance hood, black grille, beefy 33-inch tires and oversized black wheel flares.
And it’s rugged-ready with 9.2 inches of ground clearance, underbody skid plates just in case, and electronically locking rear differential. Inside, performance pages measure g-force, vehicle dynamics and 0-60 mph times.
The problem is, no one wants to give up the amazing ride quality that made the Ram 1500 a top-rated pickup truck since this generation began in 2019. Well, worry not. Even in rugged form with all-terrain tires, the Rebel 4x4 offers a surprisingly gentle ride on asphalt, too.
Credit an available four-corner air-suspension system that tames rough patches for a smoother ride. But it also offers adjustable ride height (raising ground clearance to 10.7 inches) for off-road, improves fuel efficiency on the highway, and makes easier loading and unloading from the cargo bed.
The 2023 Ram 1500 has three drivetrains (the EcoDiesel departs after this year) but only the best for a Rebel: the iconic Hemi, which gets 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Plus, there’s an optional 48-volt hybrid system to improve fuel economy and add a quick kick in certain driving conditions.
The beast can tow up to 12,750 pounds, which beats the competition except for the mighty Ford F-150. Trailer sway control is standard, but a trailer brake controller is an extra $295.
On the road, the Rebel rumbles on throttle, but quiets down under way. Steering is firm and responsive; the Rebel is no sports car, but offers above-average handling for a big truck.
With the mild-hybrid option, the V-8 Rebel manages an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in town, 22 highway, for a combined 19 mpg.
Access to the Ram’s cargo bed is eased with an automatic tailgate release. Another helpful option is the RamBox storage bins ($995), built into the side of the bed for tools and such.
Getting inside the raised Rebel takes a hoist without available running boards or nerf bars, but there are thick grab handles front and rear, and the doors open wide. Inside you’ll find a roomy, comfortable cabin accented with leather seats, available wood accents and a twin-pane sunroof. Be aware that much of the good stuff comes in options packages.
One package has G/T logos on the front-seat backs, and 12-way power and 4-way lumbar adjustment for both driver and passenger (so be sure to holler shotgun). Head, shoulder and legroom is exceptional throughout — even the rear seat offers a best-in-class 45.2 inches of leg room. The heated/ventilated rear seats also recline a bit.
For the driver this year is a 12-inch digital display that is reconfigurable to include a ton of data. Multiple menus are offered as well as a choice of five windows of at-a-glance info. Instruments can be configured in analog or digital form.
The steering wheel is heated, tilts and telescopes, and has paddle shifters for the control-hungry. Above, a digital rear-view mirror looks beyond any obstructive cargo. Pedals are power-adjustable.
A gorgeous 12-inch vertical touchscreen houses Ram’s superb UConnect system, depicting a large navigation map, sharp icons and graphics, while the performance pages monitor engine data and vehicle dynamics. The system connects with travel and traffic services, and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A premium Harman Kardon system is enhanced with nine speakers and a subwoofer.
Like the interior goodies, much of the active-safety tech comes in optional packages. An advanced Safety group includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-keep assist, head-up display, 360-degree camera, emergency front braking, and parallel and perpendicular park assist.
Rebel’s plenty tough but, for those looking for something more menacing, there’s the Ram 1500 TRX. It has a bit more power with 702 horses and 650 pound-feet of torque. With this immense strength and a 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the TRX is the one to challenge Ford’s Raptor for global monster-truck dominance.
For the rest of us, the Rebel G/T can play rough or give the family a comfy ride to dinner or Sea World.
Barry Spyker was the automotive editor and columnist for the Miami Herald
Base Price: $55,285
As tested: $74,800 (Options include 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi, Technology Group, Bed Utility Group, Night Edition with 8-way power seats, G/T Package, Rebel Level 2 Equipment Group with remote start and park assist, air suspension, dual-pane sunroof)
What’s all the excitement about: Off-road prowess with on-road comfort and handling, aided by air suspension
Powertrain: 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi puts out 395 hp, 410 pound-feet of torque; optional link to 48-volt motor; mated to 8-speed automatic transmission
How’s the performance? With 33-inch all-terrain tires and underbody skid plates, it’s highly capable at climbing rocky hills, but retains the ride qualities for which the Ram 1500 is known
Fuel economy: EPA-estimated 18 mpg city, 22 highway, 19 combined