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2023 Ram 2500 Rebel Combines Towing and Off-Road Performance

Think Power Wagon lite, but with a diesel

2023 Ram 2500
  • New Rebel trim to offer enhanced off-road performance and towing
  • Part of the fifth Ram 2500 generation introduced for 2019

Ford and Chevrolet recently released major updates to their heavy-duty pickups. Not to be left out of the mix, Ram is adding a new Rebel trim to its Ram 2500 lineup for 2023. While the update isn't quite as massive as Ford's or Chevy's, the Rebel looks like it'll be a real sweet spot for HD pickup buyers who want something off-road-ready that's also a luxurious place to spend time. Starting at under $70K ($68,940 including destination, to be exact), the Rebel is nearly as capable off-road as the iconic Power Wagon while still boasting a tow rating close to 17,000 pounds. Managing a giant ranch just got a lot easier.

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2023 Ram 2500

What's under the Ram 2500 Rebel's hood?

Prospective buyers have the choice of two engines for the Rebel, one gas and one diesel. The standard gas engine is a 6.4-liter Hemi V8, the same engine that's used in the Power Wagon. In both applications, it makes 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The optional diesel engine is a 6.7-liter Cummins inline six-cylinder engine that cranks out 370 horsepower and a mammoth 850 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a six-speed auto. As if you couldn't tell by looking at the Rebel, four-wheel drive with low range is standard and features either an electronic or manually selectable transfer case and lockable rear differential. Ram has reserved the locking front differential for the Power Wagon.

2023 Ram 2500

How does the Ram 2500 Rebel drive?

Owners of the lighter-duty Ram 1500 might find the Rebel to be, well, a bit trucky. The big Rebel, which comes only as a crew cab with a 6-foot-4 bed, lacks the softer, more accommodating ride of its smaller sibling, but the trade-off is a pretty impressive combination of all-terrain capability and towing. As far as heavy-duty trucks go, the Rebel is very easy to drive on both the open highway and twistier roads, offering easy steering with decent accuracy. You'll never forget just how big the Rebel is, but it never feels ponderous or clumsy.

The 6.4-liter V8 powered Rebel has enough pickup for daily driving, and certainly sounds good doing it, but higher-speed passing did reveal the limits of the engine's 410 horsepower and we can't help but wish it had just a little more sauce, especially for climbing longer grades. But if you want more grunt, the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel has you covered. Thanks to its 850 lb-ft of torque, the diesel engine rushes the Rebel down the road with almost zero effort. The low-revving diesel doesn't sound nearly as good to our ears as the V8, but it certainly has the measure of the V8 everywhere else.

2023 Ram 2500

Off-road, we prefer the lighter front end and the better ride quality you get with the V8. The torque of the diesel makes it easy to motor up steeper inclines with less throttle, but once you engage low-range four-wheel drive, either engine provides more than enough torque and throttle control to make light work of serious climbs and bigger obstacles. Currently, only 20-inch wheels will be offered on the Rebel, but 18-inch wheels (we'd select the 18-inchers to allow for tires with a more flexible sidewall) will be available in 2023.

How comfortable is the Ram 2500 Rebel?

The more robust frame of a heavy-duty truck, combined with the Rebel's solid front axles and beefed-up off-road hardware, mean the Rebel will never ride as smoothly as its 1500 series sibling. The ride is unmistakably stiff but there's some suppleness to the way the big Rebel traverses undulating pavement. This is especially true when you opt for the 6.4-liter V8 gasoline engine. Being about 500 pounds lighter than the diesel model, the V8-powered Rebel runs a softer spring rate up front and feels noticeably lighter and more responsive both on- and off-road.

We could make a joke and say the HD stands for Heavy Diesel, because you really can feel the extra mass and different suspension tuning used to keep the extra weight of the diesel engine in check. The difference on smooth roads is minimal, but as soon as the pavement gets rough, or disappears altogether, the diesel-engine Rebel will pound its way down the road. If the diesel is your preferred engine option, you're likely willing to take the extra stiff ride as part of the experience.

2023 Ram 2500

Our time in the Rebel was spent in fully equipped models with the front bucket seats. The seats are wide, firm and fairly flat but offer good comfort, even after a few hours behind the wheels. Heating and ventilation worked well, but if you do more off-roading, you might wish the seats had more supportive bolsters. Another item on our wish list is a telescoping steering wheel. The lack of this extra level of adjustment is a bit puzzling and would make finding a perfect driving position much easier for taller drivers. We could still find a decent enough seating position, but we'd like to see Ram add that extra adjustability sooner rather than later.

How's the Ram 2500 Rebel's interior?

Heavy-duty Rebel models have a number of options for the interior, including three seat choices to pick from. The standard setup is cloth with the option for a bench seat up front. A step up from that are seats trimmed in a faux leather material; this choice also offers the option for two seats up front or a bench setup. The highest-end Rebels get full natural leather bucket seats up front, but this option can't be had with a bench up front.

2023 Ram 2500

Thanks to large windows and adequately sized mirrors, the Rebel offers fairly good visibility, except out the front and over its massive hood. It's certainly not a problem on the open road, but the broad, bulging hood makes judging tighter distances a real guessing game. Thankfully there's a 360-degree camera setup to help you see right in front of the grille, as well as down the sides when you're towing, parking or off-roading.

How's the Ram 2500 Rebel's tech?

The 12-inch vertically oriented infotainment touchscreen is now a Ram signature and we like its quick responses and overall excellent functionality. Smartphone integration through both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is fully supported, and there's an abundance of USB charging ports as well as a wireless charging pad. There's also a solid 750-watt, 17-speaker Harman Kardon audio system available.

2023 Ram 2500

Safety technology has come a long way on heavy-duty trucks and the Rebel is a great example of that progress. The 360-degree camera system not only aids in parking and low-speed off-road maneuvers, but it's also capable of displaying real-time footage from either side of the truck as well as behind your trailer, thanks to a camera that connects via a long cable to the rear of the truck. When the appropriate camera mode is selected, that footage appears conveniently in the digital rearview mirror. The Rebel can also be equipped with a semi-automated trailer reversing system to help take the guesswork out of backing up when you're towing.

Other advanced safety tech includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning systems.

How are the Rebel's towing and hauling?

Towing and payload are the main reasons why you'd choose the Rebel over the more rugged Power Wagon. The Power Wagon tow rating maxes out at 10,590 pounds, which is impressive, but not by heavy-duty truck standards. The beefier Rebel can pull up to 16,780 pounds. Payload capacity is also up almost double, from 1,630 pounds on the Power Wagon to 3,140 pounds on the Rebel. But there's a trade-off. Changes to the Rebel's suspension, tires and other load-carrying characteristics increase payload and towing over the Power Wagon but limit its off-road capability.

2023 Ram 2500

Edmunds says

Few vehicles on the road are as capable and are available in as many trims and configurations as the Ram 2500. Adding the Rebel to the Ram 2500's already deep lineup gives buyers a rare combination of towing and off-road capability and finally puts a diesel engine in an overlanding-ready truck.

2023 Ram 2500