2023 Ram 2500 Rebel brings diesel power to the off-road workhorse
What is that: Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel 2023.
Why should you consider this: Off-road capability with an optional diesel engine in a pickup that can tow up to 16,870.
How much will it cost: Prices start at $67,045, excluding destination charges of $1,895.
When can you buy it? On sale end of 2022.
PIONEERTOWN, Calif. — Ram is about to add a tasty new flavor to its full-size pickup menu: the 2023 2500 Rebel.
The Rebel trim level is already a hit on lightweight Ram 1500s. The 2500 brings it to the mid-duty pickup line of Stellantis’ pickup brand.
Ram calls the 2500 a tough pickup, but that’s marketing. It is a medium-duty vehicle by official regulatory standards, as are almost all pickups that Ford, Chevy and GMC call heavy or HD. Don’t worry about that; they are all extremely capable vehicles. Please don’t email me asking why I’m calling them all medium duty.
The 2500 Rebel competes with off-road models of the Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Ford F-250 and GMC Sierra 2500.
2023 Ram Rebel Pricing and Option Packages
Base price: $67,045
Diesel Cummins: $9,995
Warn winch: $2,500 (with gas engine only)
Tier 1 Equipment Group: $4,220. Features include Uconnect 5 infotainment system, navigation and 12-inch touchscreen; emergency vehicle alert system; off-road and towing pages displayed; electrically adjustable pedals and mirrors; rain sensing wipers; selectable tire fill alert; SiriusXM with 360L
Level 2 Equipment Group: $6,920 and includes all of Equipment Group 1 plus everything listed above in Level 1 Equipment Group plus 17-speaker Harman Kardon audio; bi-function LED headlights; electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case; leather-wrapped bucket seats, steering wheel, grab handles and shifter
Prices exclude destination charge of $1,895
Off-road characteristics, but with a diesel engine
What matters is that the 2500 Rebel combines serious off-road hardware with the popular Cummins diesel engine that’s been a hallmark of Ram for decades.
Ram already has a mid-duty off-road model, the Power Wagon, but it costs about $2,300 more, doesn’t offer a diesel and trailer, and hauls less than the Rebel.
The Rebel intentionally borrows some design cues from the Power Wagon, including black powdercoat for the grille and bumpers and a Mopar Sport hood.
New features include an optional video rear view mirror with three views – conventional, from the outside mirrors for towing, and an auxiliary camera that can be mounted on the bumper or on trailers. The cameras can also provide a 360 degree view for parking.
Driving assistance functions:
- Automatic high beams
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind spot and cross traffic alert
- Forward collision alert and assistance
- Lane Keeping Aid
Undercarriage and interior features
The base engine is a 6.4-liter Hemi gas V8 that produces 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. The 6.7L Cummins inline-six diesel — a $9,995 option — produces 370 horsepower and 850 pound-feet of torque.
The diesel Rebel can tow up to 14,920 pounds and haul up to 1,970 pounds in its cab and bed. The Hemi can tow 16,870 pounds and haul 3,140.
The Rebel comes with 20-inch Trials, 33-inch tires and skid plates to protect the fuel tank and skid plates.
The pickup can switch from rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive on the fly. A transfer case provides a low range of gears for rough terrain. As with other pickups with advanced 4WD systems, you must stop and shift into neutral to activate the low gear range.
Features likely to be popular include:
- Rear axle lock
- Electronic limited-slip rear differential
- Independent rear suspension with coil springs
- Optional Warn winch (with gasoline engine only)
- Storage of the optional Ram box in the rear fenders
The spacious crew cab can accommodate five or six people, depending on whether or not you have a front bench seat. Materials range from cloth seats to leather.
Interior features include:
- 12-inch configurable instrument cluster
- 12 inch touch screen
- 17-speaker Harmon-Kardon audio
- Electric adjustable pedals and exterior mirror
On and off the road with the Ram 2500 Rebel
I spent a day riding a pair of 2500 California High Desert Rebels through the San Bernardino National Forest to the equally parched – thank you, climate change – Big Bear Lake, a mostly dry boating destination at times.
I spent most of the day in a Rebel diesel with features like 17-speaker Harman Kardon audio and towing and safety packages. It stuck to $89,835. All prices exclude destination charges.
Departing from Pioneertown, a 1940s recreation of the 1800s West that has been the setting for numerous movies and TV shows, the Rebel was surprisingly smooth and quiet on a series of winding, rolling back roads through the desert.
Despite beefy 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, there was little road noise at high speeds. The diesel was effectively muffled by the insulation of the engine compartment.
The diesel accelerated with confidence, especially going up some long gradients of up to 10%.
Off-road, the torque of the diesel combined with the low gear range and locking rear differential to aid in long hauls on forest trails as the pickup descended from 8,000 feet to Pioneertown’s 4,000.
The Ram 2500 is a big, long vehicle, so the Rebel is at home on wider trails without a lot of tight switchbacks. The narrow turns favored by recreational off-roaders are best suited for smaller vehicles. Ford electronically locks the inside rear wheel of some large SUVs to help them negotiate tight trails. The Rebel seems better suited as a work vehicle than a weekend warrior. Expect to see him heading into the backcountry to fix fences, wells, or watch livestock, not for family outings.
I also rode a Hemi-powered Rebel – sticker price $79,395 – for a few hours, including on narrow, deeply rutted dirt roads clinging to the sides of the mountain. It was more than capable and felt quick and pleasant when I reached paved surfaces.
The 2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel at a Glance
Base price: $39,950 (excluding destination fee of $1,895)
Five- or six-passenger rear-wheel-drive/four-wheel-drive crew cab pickup truck.
On sale end of 2022
Primary model tested: 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel diesel
Price as tested $89,835
Powertrain: 6.7L inline-six diesel engine
Power: 370 hp; 850 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: six-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy Estimate: Not available for medium duty vehicles.
Wheelbase: 149.3 inches
Length: 238.8 inches
Width: 83.4 inches
Curb weight: NA
Ground clearance: 8.5 inches
Payload: 1,970 pounds
Towing capacity: 14,920 pounds
Assembled in Saltillo, Mexico