Rugged But Refined: Driving The 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

Since its release in 2015, the Ram 1500 Rebel has been a very strong seller in Ram’s line-up. Combining well rounded city driving manners with off-road capabilities, the Rebel truly is the best of both worlds. The Rebel is filled with goodies that will allow you to go off-road more than a regular 1500 while still maintaining better than expected gas mileage and full towing capabilities. When Ram announced they would be re-designing all of their 1500s for 2019 (and their heavy duty trucks for 2020), we were nervous as we felt those Rams, especially the Rebel were the perfect combination of beauty and brawn and it really couldn’t be improved upon.

The new 2019 1500 is different in all ways from the previous model years. Practically every square inch and almost every single part of this new truck has been massaged in some way or another right down to the frame. One of the biggest changes for the 2019 Rebel is the choice of either a Quad Cab or Crew Cab. The previous Rebel came only in a Crew Cab configuration with a 5’7″ box. Now, the Quad Cab with a 6’4″ box is standard or you can opt in for the Crew Cab and 5’7″ box.

While Ram’s Active-Level Four-Corner Air Suspension used to come standard on the Rebel, it is now an optional additional cost item coming in at $1,795 USD. The decision to change the air suspension to an option on the 2019 Rebel seems to be pleasing Rebel enthusiasts and owners as the 2015-2018 Rebels have notorious air suspension issues, especially in colder climates. In fact, it seems that a good chunk of 2019 Rebels are being ordered without the air suspension which gives you a coil spring suspension and a factory one inch lift. That being said though, we have heard of no problems with the air suspension systems in the 2019s but time will tell. The air suspension still has four settings to choose from: Entry/Exit, Aero, Normal and Off-Road. Regardless if you get air suspension or not, the Rebel rides on a set of Bilstein monotube off-road shocks. Overall, the ride quality of the new Rebel is fantastic.

The Ram 1500 Rebel comes standard with FCA’s Pentastar 3.6L V6 engine producing 305 horsepower and 269 ft. lbs of torque and features E-Torque technology for a supplemental 90 ft. lbs of torque. The optional engine is the 5.7L Hemi MDS V8 producing 395 horsepower and 410 ft. lbs of torque and comes with or without E-Torque. E-Torque when equipped gives the Hemi another supplemental 130 ft. lbs of torque. To order the Hemi, it’s an additional $1,395 USD over the V6 and the E-Torque option almost doubles that at $2,645 USD. We have heard though that there is a current hold at the plant right now for Rebels ordered with the E-Torque equipped Hemis.

The 3.6L V6 comes standard with FCA’s 8 speed automatic 845RE transmission while the 5.7L Hemi (with or without the E-Torque option) equips you with the proven 8 speed automatic 8HP75 transmission. Both transmissions are tuned for both heavy hauling while maintaining fuel efficiency. The 8 speed automatic is shifted by a turn dial knob on the dash like the previous generations. You are able to shift manually via buttons on the steering wheel but we find we don’t use them.

Standard in the Rebel is 3:92 ratio gears in the rear axle. Other gear choices like 3:21s or 3:55s are no longer available on the Rebel. The electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case is a BorgWarner unit and features “2WD, 4WD High and 4WD Low” settings. All new and standard equipment for the 2019 Rebel is an electronic-locking “ELocker” rear differential for those that plan to do more heavy off-road use.

For 2019, towing and pay-load capacities have also been bumped up. When a Quad Cab 4×4 model is equipped with the 3.6L V6, it has a towing capacity of 7,290 lbs and a pay-load capacity of 1,560 lbs. When equipped with the 5.7L Hemi, it has a towing capacity of 11,460 lbs and a pay-load capacity of 1,950 lbs. When a Crew Cab 4×4 is equipped with the 3.6L V6, it has a towing capacity of 7,160 lbs, and a pay-load capacity of 1,530 lbs. When equipped with the 5.7L Hemi, it has a towing capacity of 11,290 lbs and a pay-load capacity 1,800 lbs. When the Hemi is equipped with the E-Torque system, all of the capacities are brought down slightly (approximately 60-90 lbs) but nothing drastic.

The previous 17×8” wheels and Toyo Open Country tires have been replaced with new 18×8” wheels with 275/70R18 Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires for the 2019. The DuraTracs came standard on the recent 2500 Power Wagons and are reported to be fantastic tires with previous generation Rebel owners actually switching their Toyos out for them in some cases. These tires are absolutely awesome for traction and grip off-road while at the same time giving you comfort cruising down the highway and give almost no road noise.

Like the previous generation of Rebel, the exterior of the 2019 Rebel features many “Rebel only” parts that give it an easy to spot quality when comparing it to other Ram 1500s. For 2019, the designers updated the front end to match the new overall redesign of the 1500 while keeping it similar to the previous Rebel. First, you will notice there is almost no chrome what so ever on the truck. The bumpers, badges, trim; everything is black. The Rebel only blacked-out grille houses silver “RAM” lettering. The usual Ram plastic and chrome/ painted front bumper assembly has been replaced with a heavy duty steel unit that has been powder coated black for durability. Again, another Rebel only feature. Underneath the front bumper, you’ll find a heavy duty silver powder-coated steel skid plate for added off-road protection.

In amongst all the blacked out pieces are matching blacked out LED automatic reflector headlamps and LED fog lamps. Completing the front end is Ram’s new Sport Performance Hood that comes standard on every Rebel. Being honest though, we can’t stand the new Sport Performance hood, it’s the weak spot on the entire exterior design. The Sport Performance Hood on the previous Rebel was absolutely nicer. The new hood features a lot of black plastic and screams “older Chevrolet Duramax”. Also, when sitting in the front seat, all you see is an ugly seam line between the back of hood and the plastic “scoops” where they clip in. We honestly feel that they should of used a similar design to the old Sport Performance Hood; it would of been a perfect finishing touch to an otherwise beautiful truck.

Continue down the side of the Rebel and you’ll find matte black fender flares and black badges to continue the dark theme. You’ll also find body-colored door handles and matte black 6×9” power heated mirrors. Full size heated tow mirrors are an option with the trailer tow package however they are manual fold units. We still don’t understand this as the 2500s and 3500s have power folding trailer tow mirrors that are the same part and have the same control unit.

On the rear of the Rebel, Ram’s signature “Rams Head” badge on the center of the tail gate has been replaced with large “RAM” letters done in black. The new dampened tail gate feels a lot lighter than the old one and will be available with Ram’s new multi-function split tail gate option. The back bumper matches the front with a black powder-coated finish and feature dual black chrome exhaust tips. The redesigned taillights are LED and feature a black surround.

Exterior options for the 2019 Rebel include a deployable bed-step, tri-fold tonneau cover, black tubular side steps, spray-in bed liner, RamBox cargo management system (only on Crew Cab and 5’7″ box configurations), bed utility group and a larger 33 gallon fuel tank. Going on the same route as Ford, if you want rear wheel-well liners, you’ll have to pay an additional $195 USD for those as they are no longer standard however they do come with other options such as the air suspension.

Open the door and step into comfort with the truck’s exclusive Rebel only interior. The cabin of the truck is huge and will fit four large humans easily with head and legroom to spare thanks to the slightly larger cab for 2019. The interior is all black and features Dark Ruby Red red accents everywhere; from the laser-ingrained trim pieces to the red stitching on the dash and the leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The high back bucket seats up front are bolstered to keep you in place. They are finished with black and Dark Ruby Red heavy duty vinyl and feature tire tread seat inserts to match the tires. For 2019, the designers opted for sport-mesh seat inserts with the tire tread printed on them. The previous Rebels had cloth inserts with the tire tread pattern actually embossed in them for a “real feel” however numerous owners were having problems with their inserts either wrinkling (we’ve had 3 front seat covers replaced in our 2017 because of this!) or the embossed tread pattern actually going completely flat. This new seat insert design should solve that. Standard on the Rebel is heated front seats and a heated steering wheel but once again, there is no cooled seat option with the vinyl/sport mesh seats which is a disappointment.

The Rebel’s interior is loaded with creature comforts to ensure you enjoy those long road trips. Standard is a full length center console with storage and plug-ins galore. The center console has been totally resigned and features even more storage room than the last one as well as a sliding tray and a standard single-disc CD player. Open the console lid and you will discover a couple cool “Easter Eggs” such as the conversion and angle charts on the bottom of the lid and the historic Ram line-up at the bottom of the console.

The small storage tray above the Uconnect unit has been made deeper and features a 12V plug so it’s actually useful now. All of the push buttons for the air suspension, traction control and ParkSense systems have been replaced with attractive toggle switches. In the back, the cab on the Crew Cab models has been slightly extended for more room. When the rear seats are folded up, the rear floor of the truck is completely flat for tons of room to load boxes and the like-wise. The rear in-floor storage bins have also been made slightly larger.

Technology wise, the new Rebel is loaded! Standard is the Uconnect 3 system with a 5-inch display. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, there are 3 other choices available which include the Uconnect 4 system with an 8.4-inch display, Uconnect 4C system with an 8.4-inch display and navigation (as optioned in our test Rebel) and the highly anticipated Uconnect 4C with a 12-inch display and navigation. All of the systems except for the basic Uconnect 3 come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The new six-­gauge, gauge cluster is beautifully designed and very functional with it’s 7-inch color reconfigurable TFT display. The designers even went the extra mile and made the Rebel logo light up red! Options for the interior include the new power dual-pane panoramic sunroof (only available on the Crew Cab), a single pane power sunroof (only available on the Quad Cab), a 9 speaker sound system with subwoofer, Blind-Spot monitoring with Cross-Path Detection, ParkSense Front and Rear Park-Assist with Stop and remote-start. The Parkview rear back up camera is now standard. Ram has also packaged certain items together in two different packages; the Level 1 Equipment Group is $2,000 USD and the Level 2 Equipment Group is $3,000 USD.

The 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel starts around $44,940 USD for the Quad Cab 4×4 and $47,740 USD for the Crew Cab 4×4 plus a $1,695 USD destination charge. Two-wheel drive versions are available and are cheaper but that totally defeats the purpose of this truck. Our test Rebel as optioned worked out to be around $55,600 USD before any discounts. Available colors are down from the previous generation with Diamond Black Crystal, Maximum Steel Metallic, Granite Crystal Metallic, Billet Silver Metallic, Flame Red and Bright White being your choices and all are available in one solid monotone color or you can get a Diamond Black Crystal two-tone along the bottom of the truck.

When the new Ram 1500 was released, we were on the fence with the new exterior design and quite frankly, still are. However, the new Rebel is really growing on us. That being said, in our opinion the interior in the new 2019 is quite the upgrade over the previous generation of Rebel. In a perfect world, we’d be able to get a previous generation Rebel with the new interior to create the ideal Rebel! Overall though, the new 2019 is well deserving of holding the Rebel name and will most certainly turn out to be as popular as it’s predecessor.

We’d like to give a huge thank you to Kyle Sethi and the team at Abbotsford Chrysler in Abbotsford, British Columbia for allowing us to take their brand new Rebel out.

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Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

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