It was totally fitting that I starting testing a well equipped 2020 Ram Rebel just before the Fourth of July weekend. With its bright red and black paint scheme, the full-size, half-ton pickup looked ready for an Independence Day parade — and then go-your-own-way drive home with its four-wheel-drive, factory lift and beefy tires
The Rebel is one of six trim levels available on the completely redesigened Ram 1500 pickup which first debuted last year. Fiat-Chrysler's truck division totally hit out the ballpark with the newest version of its light duty truck. It is larger, more powerful, more comfortable, better handling, and yet more economical than the previous 1500.
An optional 3.0-liter turbo-diesel has joined the lineup for 2020. It offers 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque through 8-speed TorqueFlite transmission. The diesel came in our test Crew Cab 4X4, providing more than enough power for off-the-line and freeway passing acceleration. Other engine options include the base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with the eTorque mild hybrid system and a 5.7-liter V8, with or without the eTorque hybrid package.
Inside, our Rebel has an incredibly roomy and quiet cabin, with the rear seats easily able to carry three adults in comfort. Ours also had a leather interior and an excellent 8.4-inch touchscreen, athough a massive 12-inch vertical screen is also available. And it also came with tow and recovery hooks, an electronic locking rear differential, and an option package that included integrated trailer brake control, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking assistance, dual-pane sunroof, and a Harman Kardon stereo.
Other trim levels for the 1500 range from the base Tradesman starting at $32,145 to the top-of-the-line Limited starting at 55,110.
In a week of test driving, we found that despite the comfort and luxury, our Rebel was a very capable work truck. It had lockable covered RamBox spaces on each side of the bed walls. And the tailgate could either fold or split open sideways in "barndoor" fashion to increase access to the bed. The only drawback was the high step up to the bumper to get into the bed with the split door open because of the lift.
I know some people think nearly $71,000 is a lot to pay for a truck. To that I say, I recently tested a car that won't be named that cost $100,000 more and couldn't do half the stuff the Rebel can, from serious off-road driving to towing up to 11,500 pounds to looking good during a dump run. And the Ram's diesel even gets better mileage.
In fact, consumers are so impressed with all versions of the revised Ram 1500 that its sales were up 7% in the first quarter of the year when the COVID-19 pandemic was dealing an otherwise crushing blow to much of the auto industry. One test drive will show you why, especially if you try out the Rebel version.
2020 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4X4
Base price: $47,990
Price as tested: $70,680
Type: Full-size pickup
Engine: 3.0-liter turbo-diesel (260 hp, 480 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 21/29
Overall length: 232.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,971 pounds
Final assembly: Sterling Heights, Michigan
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