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2019 Ram Rebel Review: Both Beauty & Beast

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In This Review:
Ram won a number of awards in 2019, and the Rebel is arguably their coolest truck. However, the specialty off-road nature will likely only appeal to a specific buyer, and it won't come cheap.
Exterior Styling
Interior Layout
Driving Dynamics
Safety & Tech Features
Everyday Functionality
Smooth Ride
Off-Road Treatments
Won Numerous Awards
Steering Feel
Fuel Economy

The 2019 Ram Rebel is the truck enthusiasts dream about – the one on their desktop background; the one they save their pennies and dimes for. It’s an awesome truck, but how bright does Ram’s torch glow in a market slammed with offerings from Ford, GM, Nissan, and Toyota. That’s what we wanted to find out when we jumped behind the wheel of a Flame Red, 2019 Ram Rebel.

Point of Consideration

In the interest of fairness and journalistic integrity, let me say I am a diehard truck enthusiast, and a fan of Ram and FCA in general. I love that big engine, rear-drive Detroit mantra and admire the classic Mopar muscle just as I do the Chargers and Challengers of today. I tried to remove my personal preferences so you could see an unbiased review. Professionally speaking, the Ram Rebel is a solid truck, but has a few characteristics that would turn off a potential buyer.

Ram Rebel: What’s New For 2019?

The Ram 1500 was completely redesigned for 2019. The revisions start at the core with the truck’s frame, 98 percent of which is high-strength steel. Compared to previous generations, the 2019 Ram sheds nearly 225 lbs. When properly equipped, it tows up to 12,750 lbs. and will cart around another 2,300 lbs. worth of payload. A new eTorque system improves fuel efficiency in both V6 and V8 trucks.

Tech features include FCA’s latest Uconnect system with a 12-inch reconfigurable and split-screen display. Upgraded Alpine and Harman Kardon audio systems are available to accompany the SiriusXM with 360L. Safety and security features are numerous as the 2019 Ram 1500 offers more than 100 of them.

2019 Ram Rebel in Flame Red.
2019 Ram Rebel in Flame Red.

What Engine Does The 2019 Ram 1500 Have?

The eTorque version of the Pentastar V6 is standard for most trim levels. It produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft. of torque. Mopar fans will instantly recognize the second engine, the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Complete with variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, the Hemi cranks out 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft. of torque.

Our Rebel tester came with the 5.7-liter Hemi, but included a few extras as part of its off-road DNA. Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs; unique rear suspension geometry; one-inch factory lift; and Hill-descent Control are among the off-road goodies.

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel: Standard Features

Our test truck came so loaded to the gills we thought the kitchen sink was in there somewhere. Standard equipment included a Class IV receiver-hitch, seven-pin wiring harness, and a dampened tailgate with an ajar indicator light. Per the Rebel’s brawny nature, the truck has three separate skid plates: one for the front suspension, another for the transfer case, and one more for the fuel tank. These provide vital protection while traveling off-road or through deep snow and ice.

2019 Ram Rebel
The 2019 Ram Rebel has three underbody skid plates.

Optional Packages For The Ram Rebel

The Rebel 12A package ($2,495) gave us eight-way power front seats with leather trim; Uconnect 4C with a 12-inch navigation display; and a healthy SiriusXM package that included Guardian, Traffic Plus, and Travel Link. The Level 2 Equipment Group ($3,000) includes a remote start; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; heated front seats and steering wheel; universal garage door opener; power adjustable pedals; and – get this – a single disc CD player!

Features & Options: Enjoyable & Useful Treats

Our Ram Rebel tester came with a large, panoramic sunroof. It was too cold to open, but we did retract the shade and let the afternoon light in. It was nice to look up and see the changing leaves on the trees above. Useful, everyday features include a tri-fold tonneau cover; deployable bed step; bed liner; trailer brake controller; and the Ram Box cargo management system.

How Much Is The 2019 Ram Rebel?

Base price for our tester was $47,990. With all the options, plus the destination charge of $1,695, total MSRP came in at $63,875.

2019 Ram Rebel interior layout.
2019 Ram Rebel interior layout.

Interior Highlights: Tall & Tech-Focused

The 2019 Ram Rebel has a commanding view of the road, made even more so by the 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires and optional 4-Corner Air Suspension. The four suspension levels, in order, are: Entry/Egress, Aero, Normal, and Off-Road. Even in the lower Aero mode, we found ourselves looking down at other trucks and SUVs, let alone in Normal mode!

The 12-inch central touchscreen resembles a tablet and is easy to use. With a couple of quick taps, we paired our phone up for the drive. The on-board navigation works like a charm too, and the large map makes for a slick default screen. We punched in an Italian place in Toledo and the navigation never missed a beat as it guided us out of Detroit.

Interior Highlights: Convenience & Storage

The Rebel’s center console is multi-purpose and flexible, and will move to accommodate a driver’s preferences. The cell phone holders tucked just under the navigation screen are really handy. The center console houses five USB ports, three up front and two in back. There is a three-pronged, 115-volt household plug in the center stack, and another at the rear of the center console. Those on the job will appreciate the units and conversion chart on the underside of the console lid.

When transporting valuable or fragile items, the Rebel’s rear floor is flat. Flip up the rear bench for an extra 20 liters of space with under-seat compartments. Acting as bookends for the load floor are the RamBins. These extra compartments can hold a four-inch drop hitch and have two tie-downs to help secure cargo.

2019 Ram Rebel interior layout.
The navigation map makes for a nice default screen.

Date Night Is Covered

One of the Rebel’s little joys is the upgraded Alpine stereo. On our Saturday night drive home from dinner, we tossed on Watercolors (SiriusXM 66) and let the warm jazz fill the cabin. Between the stars filtering through the panoramic roof, the Hemi’s soft purr, and the silky trumpet sounds, the Ram Rebel is ideal for hitting the town.

Danielle and I felt like we were first dating again.

2019 Ram Rebel: Engine & Transmission

Our test truck came with the engine most true to the Ram’s roots, the 5.7-liter Hemi. The engine is married to a next-generation TorqueFlite 8HP75, eight-speed automatic. The TorqueFlite includes more than 40 individual shift maps to better optimize fuel economy and performance, especially when towing. Our Rebel demo had a beefy 3.92 axle ratio with an electronic locking differential.

2019 Ram Rebel

Aerodynamics & Weight Reduction

Fuel economy was a major focus of Ram’s redesign. Engineers cut weight in almost every area, from the chassis and suspension; to the steering and body. Nothing was overlooked: like using aluminum for the exhaust hanger brackets to cut nine lbs., while the steering’s electric motor shed another six. In terms of aerodynamics, the elevated hood and roof design help move air over the truck. When approaching higher speeds, the Rebel’s 4-Corner Air Suspension lowers another 0.6 inches.

What Is The Gas Mileage of The Ram Rebel?

EPA fuel economy estimates come in at 15/21 city/highway and 17 combined, right in line with the rest of the market. We always hovered around 17.3 combined, no matter how gentle we drove. By EPA estimates, you will spend $2,450 yearly on fuel. It’s not an ideal vehicle for anybody on a budget.

2019 Ram Rebel
Three final drive ratios are available for the 2019 Ram 1500: 3.21, 3.55, and 3.92.

How Does The 2019 Ram Rebel Drive?

We were surprised how loose the steering felt. Despite the Rebel’s rugged nature and dominating view of the road, there is more play in the wheel than we were comfortable with. Among the Big Three, GM and Ford seem tighter and more dialed-in with regard to steering. It’s not exactly a deal breaker for the Rebel but the flimsy steering does not match the truck’s appearance.

Gone are the days when trucks rode like lumber wagons, and the 2019 Ram Rebel is proof. On the highway, the 4-Corner Air Suspension makes this off-roader smooth. The cabin is large but quiet enough so all passengers can hear each other. Active noise cancellation, acoustic glass, and improvements to the HVAC system have really made a difference. The 5.7-liter Hemi has a deep purr and really pulls around 2,000 to 2,500 rpm. Getting up to speed to join traffic on the interstate isn’t an issue.

2019 Ram Rebel

Running Wide Open

The 2019 Ram Rebel will find favor with those who like a little extra factory flair. The sporty yet muscular exterior will appeal to off-road and truck enthusiasts alike. On the inside, it’s easy to fall in love, our gripes with the steering aside. We could see hitching up a boat or camper and letting the 5.7 Hemi run uninterrupted across vast, open states like Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, or Wyoming. The 2019 Ram Rebel would be fun to take camping for the 4th; to a tailgate party on Saturday afternoon; or to the NFR in Vegas in December.

Conclusion: For Enthusiasts Only

The 2019 Ram Rebel is no doubt a dream machine for those who love Ram and Mopar in general. It may have enough swagger to convince even the most committed Chevy or Ford fan. However, be ready to spend the money for all the Rebel offers. It’s not a base model and putting gas in it will require a deep wallet. If you’re more for traditional trucks, pass on the Rebel and opt for a lower trim.

However, if you like to fly your inner pirate flag and wear your truck enthusiast lifestyle on your sleeve, the Rebel is your ticket. It doesn’t get any better for those who love cool trucks.

Carl Anthony studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. Before going back to school, he simultaneously held product development and experiential marketing roles in the automotive industry.

2019 Ram Rebel Gallery

Awards Won By Ram In 2019

  • 2019 North American Truck of the Year.
  • Edmunds: 2019 Best Family Truck Award.
  • Autotrader: Best New Cars for 2019 Award.
  • Institute for Highway Safety: Top Safety Pick+ 
  • Green Car Journal: 2020 Green Truck of the Year.
  • U.S. News & World Report: Best Truck Brand for 2020.
  • Texas Motor Press Association: Texas Off-road Truck of the Year.
  • New England Motor Press Association: Official Winter Truck of New England.
  • AutoPacific: Highest Satisfaction Popular Brand, 2019 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.

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