I can’t believe it took Ram this long to make a Heavy-Duty Rebel 2500

The most surprising thing about the new heavy-duty 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel is that it didn’t exist yet. Trader, Big Horn, Laramie, Power Wagon, Limited. . . wasn’t Rebel already among them? The half-ton Ram 1500 series has had a Rebel trim since the beginning of time. Of course there is a heavy Ram Rebel. Hasn’t there always been?

But no, the heavy-duty Rebel crew cab is new for 2023. It’s the Ram Heavy Duty for those who aspire a Power Wagon but need a slightly more civilized ride or who want the Cummins turbodiesel engine, an almost translucent part from the market . Micro segmentation – a great system for slicing garlic with a razor blade so thin that it liquefies in the pan with just a little oil.

Hemi V8 with a big plastic cover…

Stellantis

2023 ram heavy duty rebel with the optional 67 liter cummins turbo diesel i6 engine

or big diesel six under a plastic cover.

Stellantis

As Ram explains it, the Power Wagon is only available with the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 because the standard 12,000-lb capacity nose-mounted Warn winch takes up the space needed to mount the Cummins 6, 7-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel. Also, the Power Wagon’s off-road suspension sacrifices some pulling prowess in exchange for rock-crawling ability. So the Power Wagon can tow 10,520 pounds, which seems tame compared to maximum carrying capacity for other Ram 2500 models of up to 20,000 pounds – 10 full tons. The heavy-duty Rebel has a towing capacity of 16,870 pounds when piloting the 410 horsepower Hemi.

Perhaps frustratingly for some would-be Reb owners, when the Cummins is ordered—which puts out 370 horsepower and a pounding 850 lb-ft of peak torque—the towing capacity drops by about a ton. The Cummins has nearly twice the total torque output of the gas-powered Hemi V-8, but it’s also so heavy that it uses much of it to pull itself along. The high-performance version of the Cummins – with a maximum torque of 1075 lb-ft – is not offered with the Rebel package. So much for the four-digit boasting of flock production.

The Hemi is tethered to Stellantis’ licensed version of the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed automatic, while the Cummins feeds a Stellantis-made six-speed automatic. A dial on the dash controls the Hemi’s eight-speed transmission, while the Cummins’ six-speed has a reassuringly old-fashioned column shifter. Dials will dominate any electrified future, so having such a large lever attached to the Cummins’ transmission is almost nostalgic. And it’s probably one of the last chances to indulge in such throwback technology.

2023 ram 2500 heavy rebel

The HD Rebel 2500 comes only as a crew cab with the six foot bucket.

Stellantis

As the only three-quarter-ton pickups with a coil-sprung rear suspension, every Ram HD has a ride quality advantage. With that in mind, the Rebel is still a three-quarter-ton truck, and that means the cush factor only goes so far. The cab is finished like a Chrysler Imperial, but it sits atop a chassis built to replace teams of bullocks. Work trumps luxury.

It’s an improvement over the dang-almost-mil spec Power Wagon. The Rebel’s springs are paired with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler 285/60R20 tires for a comfortable, if not quite balanced, ride on pavement. Unladen you can feel the tail squirming on the waves of the road, and cornering isn’t something this 149.3-inch wheelbase beast does eagerly. But point this thing toward the horizon with a toy truck behind it, and you’ll be fine. And it’s astonishingly quiet, despite the deep off-road tire treads.

A rear air suspension system is optional, but back-to-back comparisons on the road were not possible at the press event in glamorous Pioneertown, California. The rebels who were present were always wheeled aboard behind a few journalists without cargo and never with a trailer. This is limited exposure.

As for off-road capability, what’s present on the Power Wagon but missing on the Rebel is an electronically detachable front sway bar for better wheel articulation and a locking front differential to match the rear trunk. The transfer case, an electronically controlled low- and high-range unit, operates almost invisibly. The basic suspension design is also the same with solid axles front and rear, the front axle stitched to the chassis with three solid links and the rear with five links.

2023 ram 2500 heavy rebel

Stellantis

In light off-road riding at this introduction, the big Rebel performed perfectly. The hydraulic power steering is slow but precise, the suspension never went crazy, and the structure never creaked or groaned as it was tightened between boulders. A truck of this size is unlikely to make its way through a forest, but rather over more open terrain. Ram trucks have long been good at this, and so has the Rebel.

2023 ram 2500 heavy rebel

It’s not a Raptor or TRX competitor, but Power Wagon lite.

Stellantis

While the Hemi V-8 will be replaced by the new Hurricane twin-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder in some lighter Rams during the 2023 model year, the big iron nugget will live on indefinitely in the heavy-duty line going forward. Commercial customers rely on this simple engine to deliver without interruptions. The naturally aspirated V-8 doesn’t have the low-end thump of modern turbocharged engines, but it runs quietly and modulating power delivery is easy. And it’s the only engine that can be had if the Rebel is fitted with that huge Warn winch.

But the Cummins is more impressive. Dodge started installing the Cummins for the 1989 model year, when its trucks were also raced (and still Dodges). That first Cummins straight-six had a displacement of 5.9 liters, had no turbo or supercharger, produced only 160 horsepower and almost made the Ram relevant again for its famed longevity. Now, 34 years later, the turbocharged 6.7-liter version is rated at 370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque.

That diesel output is thick, but what’s even more astonishing is how well-behaved the Cummins have behaved. Banned are that drone of the fishing boat and the rough clatter of the valvetrain. This is a sweet twink of compression-ignition goodness. With its reputation for quality and longevity, Cummins was able to get away with a less refined unit and still have satisfied customers. Instead, the Cummins’ steady evolution has paid off with an engine that’s usable every day, whether that’s towing, crawling over rocks, or running to Walgreens to pick up a prescription. All it takes is the commitment to spend $9595 on the diesel option, the stomach to handle current diesel fuel prices, and a willingness to top up its diesel exhaust fluid.

2023 ram 2500 heavy rebel

Pickup outside, Chrysler Imperial inside.

Stellantis

Like any modern pickup truck, the Ram Rebel 2500 can be ordered with enough cameras, screens and sensors to irradiate Iowa and then track any mutated cattle that flee it. A new tech feature is a video cable outlet in the center of the rear bumper, which allows an available 22 meters of cable to be connected and routed over a trailer to a camera that sends video to the car’s digital rear-view mirror. truck. Aftermarket cameras relaying signals to monitors in truck cabs make this system, well, clunky. Does anyone really want to thread a long cable over their trailer and secure it so it won’t flap in the wind? What a hassle. Instead, Ram should open up access to the digital mirror to aftermarket cameras, including those that deliver photos wirelessly. After all, wire is so 1977.

2023 ram 2500 heavy rebel

Stellantis

The cabin can be styled into anything from a tasteful country home to an indulgent, leather-clad pleasure palace. The list of options is long and restraint isn’t necessarily something American pickup buyers are known to practice on a regular basis. So while prices start at $68,940 for the Hemi and $78,535 for the Cummins, most of these Rebels will carry final stickers near (or over) $90,000.

This is a truck built for a thin market segment. But that price is damn thick.

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