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  • 2017 Ram Rebel  Review and Test Drive

    2017 Ram Rebel  Review and Test Drive

    Clad in desert-sand tan, my rowdy, raw-boned Rebel always appeared ready for a bare-knuckle brawl.

    Just keep me out of this one, OK? I’ve still got knots from the last big-foot showdown.

    The bellicose, black-trimmed 2017 Ram Rebel I had recently certainly seemed well-suited for serious, roll-around-in-the-dirt scuffles.

    Standing a little taller than regular Ram pickups, the off-road-oriented Rebel stomped around on fat mudder-type tires, glowering with back-woods attitude.

    My rowdy, raw-boned Rebel always appeared ready for a bare-knuckle brawl.

    All of which is just fine with Ram as it seeks to amass all the warrior-trucks and armament it can these days.

    Don’t say this too loudly in Detroit, but Ram – the traditional No. 3 pickup in the U.S. – continues to close in on the proud long-standing No. 2 truck, the Chevy Silverado.

    Through June, Ram had sold 250,443 full-size pickups, according to Automotive News, compared with Chevy’s 262,652 Silverados.

    Here’s the kicker: Ram’s sales increased 7.3 percent during that period, while the Silverado dropped 3.9 percent – a trend that may be keeping the lights burning late into the night at Chevrolet’s headquarters in Detroit.

    As you probably heard, all of the Detroit Three have major skin and metal in this truck game – possibly earning as much as $10,000 profit per pickup.

    The Rebel lumbered out of this steamy muck about three years ago when Ram followed Ford’s lead and began introducing more high-profile specialty trucks to increase sales and beef up its image a bit.

    In many ways, the Rebel seems a competitor to Ford’s vaunted 450-horsepower off-road racer, the Raptor, but in reality, is not as capable – or so say the off-road experts, but it sure dresses the part.

    My Rebel had “bad boy” written all over it, starting with two-inch tall silver letters splashed across its enormous black grille shouting “RAM.”

    Butchy tow-hooks protruded from the center of the bumper, while angry-looking projector headlamps cut hard into the Rebel’s front fenders.

    The truck kind of made my palms itchy and my feet heavy just looking at it.

    Meanwhile, the truck’s raised hood wore flat-black racing stripes of sorts, as well as fake intake scoops.

    For those of us who only got served a half-cup of height, the truck also flashed really nifty black tubular running boards to ease its 10-inch ground clearance.

    The truck kind of made my palms itchy and my feet heavy just looking at it.

    Its massively flat, faintly chiseled sides sported black trim and fender flares, while a black tonneau cover shielded the bed from sandstorms and varmints, I guess.

    Best of all visually, the pumped-up Rebel flattened dirt and asphalt alike on slotted 17-inch black-and-silver wheels shod with 265/70 knobby tires.

    Though the four-wheel-drive Rebel lacks the trick suspension and absolute power of the Raptor, it packs its own punch with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 spewing out 395 horsepower.

     

    Aided by a well-sorted 8-speed automatic and 3.92 gears, the smooth, faintly old-school Hemi boiled up a wave of torque (410 lb.-ft.) to get the three-ton Rebel moving briskly.

    Put your spurs to it and the throaty Hemi will rap hard and clean to 5,500 rpm, propelling the Rebel to 60 mph in a fleet 6.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver. Ram says the Rebel also will get 15 miles per gallon in town and 21 on the highway, but I mostly stayed in the teens.

    A bigger concern may be the truck’s flinty ride.

    Just tell the cops I recommended that you drive fast.

    Any pickup with a taste for mud needs a stiff set of springs, but the Rebel will keep you closely in touch with every imperfection, hitting small bumps hard and suffering a little body-on-frame squirm with the big ones.

    In all honesty, I got a little tired of it, but then, I didn’t take the truck off-road where some of that may have real value.

    In addition, things smoothed out some at speed. Just tell the cops I recommended that you drive fast.

    Moreover, the steering was kind of truck-slow, but it felt nicely weighted and fit the Rebel fine.

    Although my Rebel – a four-door crew-cab – lugged a fat $57,000 window-sticker, you couldn’t put some sissy high-end luxury interior in a truck like this.

    Black cloth seats embossed with tread patterns supplanted any leather, while heavy-duty ribbed black mats protected the floors. I liked both.

    As in all full-size pickups, a giant squared-off black dashboard wrapped around an extremely prominent 8.4-inch display screen – this one with integrated voice command and Bluetooth.

    Square, thick-plastic black door panels added to the truck’s scuff-me-up attitude, which was topped by a classy black headliner.

    Leg- and headroom in back, incidentally, were limousine-like.

    One of my favorite touches: grab-handles on both the driver’s and passenger’s sides to ease getting into the 6-foot, 6-inch tall beast. (Some trucks offer the handles only on the passenger’s side.)

    Leg- and headroom in back, incidentally, were limousine-like, so could become the camo-attired off-road Uber driver if you wanted to earn a few extra bucks.

    Even if the rancorous Rebel flashes a bit more off-road attitude than it can back up, gnarly tough looks are a big part of the full-size truck segment.

    Believe me, it will make most of the dogs in your neighborhood bark – sitting still.

    2017 Ram Rebel

    • What I liked most: The Rebel’s off-road stance and attitude.
    • What I would change: The suspension, which is far less competent than the Ford Raptor on paved surfaces.
    • MSRP: Base price, $47,095; as equipped, $56,595.
    • Fuel economy: Rated at 15 mpg in the city, 21 on the highway and 17 combined with filler on the left.
    • Official color: Mojave Sand.
    • Odometer reading when tested: 11,776 miles.
    • Weight: 5,855 pounds.
    • Length-width-height: 229 inches long/ 81.5 inches wide/78.1 inches tall.
    • Fuel-tank capacity: 26 gallons.
    • Towing capacity: Up to 10,140 pounds.
    • Spare tire: Full-size.
    • 2017 Ram Rebel in a few words: An already tough-looking truck with a lot of attitude.
    • Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
    • Final assembly location: Warren, Mich.
    • Manufacturer’s website: Ram trucks
    • E-mail me at terry@carprousa.com

     

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