“To say we put the RAM Rebel to the test is an understatement. We attached a travel trailer to it, packed a ton of gear, iced up the RAM Boxes, and headed into terrain that’s normally accessed on four-wheelers. What could go wrong?”
2016 RAM 1500 Rebel – The Bold, Cool & Capable Family Truck
Last year we set off to test the ‘big four’ pickup trucks in the market; the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Tundra, and the RAM. Unfortunately, no RAM trucks were available at the time, so we had to chug along without it. This time though, not only did RAM send us a truck, but they sent us their bolder, meaner and more capable off-road model—the RAM 1500 Rebel.
The Rebel stands out from the rest of the lineup by offering more than the others. More ground clearance, more power, more exhaust pipes, more badging, and more attitude. The Rebel’s matte-black grille and robust front-end varies wildly from its siblings, and the huge R-A-M on the tailgate lets everyone know you’re not messing around, and that you’re certainly not afraid to get a little dirty.
With a 5.7 liter HEMI V8 pumping out 395 horsepower, and an extra two inches of ground clearance, the Rebel pays self-homage to its name. But let’s not forget why we’re here, to find out if this truck can survive multiple kids and adults on a wild camping vacation. That means accommodating luggage, bicycles, food, toys, and all kinds of other crap most families need to survive in the “wild.”
After record-breaking rain hammered the midwest throughout spring and into summer, it was time to pack up and get out of the house for a bit. What a better way to catch some fresh air than by avoiding stuffy hotel rooms and do a little camping. But not in a tent, that’s a bit too hardcore for my girls (they made sure to let me know multiple times). So we decided to rent a small travel trailer instead.
It was time to choose the camping venue, and after the kind folks at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) confirmed a Rebel’s availability, I knew the perfect place to do so. An off-road park near the Indiana-Illinois border with nearly 300 acres of sand dunes, muddy trails, rock quarries, and more.
The day came and it was time to pack up, but first I had to hook up the trailer. Our Rebel was equipped with towing basics like a receiver hitch, built-in wiring harness and trailer brake balance. Another feature that made hooking up a breeze, was the Uconnect 8.4 inch screen, which allowed me to back up with confidence and without the need to get in and out of the truck multiple times, or ask someone else for help.
Once we began the long and painful process of loading up, the Rebel’s clever storage compartments and features quickly highlighted just how family and trip friendly this truck really was. For starters, the backseat is wide and comfortable enough to fit Josephine’s massive car seat, my 9 year old son, and thanks to its split-folding seat and flat load floor, a few grocery bags that needed to be kept at cooler temperatures. Also, there’s a genius phone/tablet holder by the armrest, and two other secret-ish compartments underneath the floor mats, which are great for roadside stuff like flashlights, tools, or perhaps even… Shopkins.
On the Road
Driving the Rebel is a hoot, and it all begins before you set foot in the truck. Push a button on the key fob, and the four-stage air suspension (entry, aero, normal, off-road) will lower the truck to entry/exit mode so the kiddos don’t have to perform tricks to get in. Or so Dad doesn’t have to strain after a big meal at the Chinese buffet. Not that I would know…
Once on the road, the Rebel is mighty smooth, comfortable and powerful with or without a trailer. In fact, our 1,800 pound travel trailer didn’t tickle the 10,160 pound towing capacity, but our fuel consumption did increase from approx. 13.6 mpg combined average to about 10.5 mpg. Still, you can’t really expect maximum fuel-efficiency when towing a trailer in an off-road biased truck.
At the Campground
Once settled in, the RAM Rebel assumed the role of cooler due to its two massive RAM Boxes, which I discovered can each hold about 80 pounds worth of ice. We decided to use one RAM Box for drinks, and the other for meat and other items that didn’t fit in the trailer’s tiny fridge.
Another benefit of having a truck attached to a cooler, is that once we hit the off-road trails we didn’t have bulky coolers bouncing around in the truck bed. All we had to do was hop out; grab an ice cold drink from the RAM Box, and get back to driving!
While I could go on about the off-road prowess of the Rebel, its many tech features, and of course, the interior and exterior touches that grant it its super-cool truck status, my goal was to follow up on last year’s project and find out how family-friendly the RAM Rebel is.
In the end, it’s the variety of cargo features that allow it to adjust to your needs, and not the other way around. It’s the small and large storage compartments that help you to carry everything you need, and not just what “you can fit.” Whether it’s grocery bags, toys or luggage, the seating and cargo combinations are endless. And let’s not forget about the RAM Box—it just rocks.
If you want a cool, capable, and family-friendly truck that can handle whatever mother nature and crazy kids throw at it, then the 2016 RAM 1500 Rebel is the truck you need.
- Starts at:$43,965
- Price as tested: $47,700
- Awesome styling
- Height-Adjustable air suspension rocks
- RAM Box is pure genius
- Rotary E-Shift knob is awful for off-roading
- Could really benefit from a front camera
- Lack of Blind Spot Monitors at this price range