Gallery: 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel The Ultimate Off-Road Workhorse

For many moons, the Power Wagon has been the first choice for Ram buyers who want a heavy duty truck that can handle the roughest off-road conditions, but potential buyers have voiced concerns about a couple issues with the Power Wagon. Most notably, the 2022 Ram 2500 Power Wagon has a towing capacity of 10,590 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,630 pounds.

Those numbers are fine for many truck owners, but many heavy duty truck owners need to tow and haul more weight. As a result, those Power Wagon buyers who spend lots of time towing and hauling have to compromise working ability for off-road mettle. Also, along similar lines, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is only offered with the 6.4-liter Hemi, although many HD buyers would prefer diesel power.

That is why Ram introduced the 2500 Rebel. In terms of off-roading abilities, this new package ranks a bit below the Power Wagon, but what the HD Rebel lacks in off-roading it gains in working abilities. Not only is the 2500 Rebel available with either the 6.4-liter Hemi or the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel.

It offers substantially higher working abilities than the Power Wagon in gasser form, offering a towing capacity of 16,870 and a payload capacity of 3,140 pounds. Those numbers put the 2500 Rebel in the same range as the rest of the 3/4-ton class, providing Ram buyers with a truck that shines off-road while still being right at home on the job site.

Spending a week driving the new Ram 2500 Rebel and having tested the Power Wagon in the past, it would be interesting to see whether this new package could deliver on being both a great work truck and a great off-road toy. Fortunately, owning a large horse farm would put the new 3/4-ton Rebel to work in the middle of a harsh Michigan winter with impressive results.

The new Ram 2500 Rebel shares many components with the Power Wagon, such as the off-road rated tires, underbody skid plates, the locking rear differential and an off-road-ready suspension setup. However, while the Rebel has a suspension setup that was engineered for off-road fun, the system is a bit stiffer than what is featured in the Power Wagon.

The stiffer suspension, coupled with the lack of the disconnecting front sway bar or the front locking differential, makes the Rebel slightly less capable than the Power Wagon when you leave paved roads. The softer dampers and the added wheel articulation that comes with the disconnecting sway bar allows the Power Wagon to tackle more treacherous trails, but the stiffer suspension of the Rebel still makes it far better in the dirt than most heavy duty trucks.

While testing the new Ram 2500 Rebel, no ORV parks were attended, but some of the roughest public dirt roads and hunting trails in the area were drove. During the winter months, these roads become terribly torn up, with some sections freezing while others turn to mud, leading to deep holes and trenches along the way.

These roads are completely unpassable for any car, truck or SUV that doesn’t have lots of ground clearance and, in some places, four-wheel-drive is a must. These roads and trails are not as extreme as off-road parks, but they are rough enough that most people avoid them.

The good news is the 2500 Rebel handled these paths every bit as well as the Power Wagon. Even though the Power Wagon has an off-road advantage, you need very extreme obstacles to find the capability difference between the two 3/4-ton Ram trucks. The new 2500 Rebel performs just as well in the mud as the Power Wagon.

While the 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel is engineered to be fun in the mud, this is the more work-friendly option of the brand’s two off-road trucks. That was the main focus during testing of the Rebel 2500. During the course of the week, a standard two-horse trailer was towed over 600 miles, driving from one farm to a few others to pick up and drop off a few horses.

The stiff suspension of the Rebel leads to a pretty rigid ride in normal driving conditions. While some people who are not accustomed to heavy duty trucks might not love it, this 3/4-ton truck still offers a smoother ride than trucks from other brands thanks to the standard coil spring setup.

That stiff suspension leads to some bounce in the back under normal driving conditions, but as soon as you add weight, the ride becomes smoother. Whether pulling a horse trailer or hauling grain, the weight on the back end eliminated that bouncing. The same two-horse trailer was used for all of the towing exercises because a two-horse trailer is one of the most common types of trailers in the United States, and is a relatable situation for most truck owners.

When loaded, the trailer weighed around 5,500 pounds with two thoroughbred horses and some supplies. That is well below the maximum towing rating of the Rebel and most other new trucks, but the standard trailer load allowed for the best feel for how different vehicles perform under the same circumstances.

Not surprisingly, the Ram 2500 Rebel pulled the test trailer as well as any other gas-powered truck that we have tested – including the Power Wagon. The stiffer suspension of the Rebel makes it more stable when pulling the trailer while also carrying the weight more effectively. The would lead to little-to-no sag when the trailer weight hits the ball. That stiff suspension also leads to a more stable feel when going around turns at speed, reducing body roll and preventing the nose from diving when braking.

Along similar lines, the stiff suspension of the new Rebel made it more capable of hauling weight in the bed. That is an area where the limits would be pushed. Hauling 42 bags of grain, which added up to 2,100 pounds would be too much weight for the Power Wagon, but it is well within the payload range of the Rebel.

That extra weight in the bed had a similar impact on the suspension as the trailer, effectively smoothing out the ride through the rear end, but that was the only impact that the weight had on drivability. The Rebel accelerated, cornered and slowed just as comfortably with the grain in the bed as it did without a load, while the Power Wagon isn’t rated to carry anywhere near that much weight.

Ram gave the 2500 Rebel stiffer suspension to make it a better work truck and their efforts were a success. It tows beautifully and it easily carries more payload than the Power Wagon, so for someone shopping for a work truck that performs well off-road, the new Ram 2500 Rebel is the perfect option.

The Ram 2500 Rebel test truck was equipped with the Level 2 Equipment Group, which adds all of the premium goodies that you could want in a heavy duty pickup. This includes the massive 12-inch infotainment touchscreen, the 12-inch TFT gauge cluster, leather seats with power control, a leather steering wheel, the Harman Kardon 17-speaker sound system and a long list of other features. Seriously, the list has almost 60 items on it, so you should check that out yourself on the Ram Trucks website.

In short, it has a premium sound system, a premium infotainment system, a high tech gauge cluster and a booming sound system, with power-everything inside and out. The test truck also had the Towing Technology Group, which adds a surround-view camera system that I love when it comes to navigating the truck in tight spaces.

The 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel that was tested had a price tag of $82,805. Some people might scoff at such a high price for a “work truck”, but this the kind of work truck that the boss would drive. He would be a cool boss, too, who uses the truck to tow his wife’s horse and a racecar on the weekend when he isn’t off-roading.

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Patrick Rall

Industry News Editor Patrick entered the Mopar world when he bought his 1983 Mirada back in 1994, installing a mild 340 a year later that would eventually be built up into the range of 500 horsepower. Today, Patrick daily drives a Hellcat Challenger, but he still has his 340-powered Mirada, as well as a 1972 Demon 340 and a Hemi Ram.

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