In the stiff competition among full-size light-duty pickups – otherwise known as “truck wars” – the Ram 1500 makes a strong case to be king of the mountain. There are two good reasons why: a good selection of strong engines and dynamite styling inside and out.
Ram 1500 buyers have three engine choices. The first is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gas engine that develops 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque, and can tow up to 7,290 pounds. An EcoDiesel V6 produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, and can tow up to 9,210 pounds. And finally, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 kicks out 395 horses and 410 lb.-ft. of torque with a maximum towing rating of 10,640 pounds.
You can get a 6-seed or an 8-speed automatic transmission for 2016, but for the 2017 model year, the 8-speed automatic will be the only one available.
Ram offers a wide variety of trims in regular cab, quad cab or crew cab. Trim levels include the entry-level Tradesman, Express, HFI, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Sport, Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and the top end Laramie Limited.
Locally, Salsbury’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram has a good selection of most Ram 1500 trims, according to New Car Sales Manager Jerry Sperier. “We’re ready for Christmas,” he said, adding buyers really like the EcoDiesel V6, but “the HEMI outsells them all.”
Ram trucks are known for longevity and durability, but they get pretty good fuel economy as well. The V6 gas engine gets 25 mpg on the highway, the big 5.7-liter HEMI V8 promises up to 22 mpg on the road, and the diesel V6 offering comes in at 29 highway mpg. And those mileage figures are legitimate, Sperier said, adding some customers have reported even better mileage.
Our test truck for the week – a 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 – represents a dramatic style change from previous Ram trucks. The Rebel gets an all-new grille, replacing traditional crosshair designs from Ram.
For my money, the new 2016 Ram Rebel with its twin hood scoops and standard 33-inch tires on 17-inch wheels is one of the best-looking pickup trucks on the road today. The company wants everyone to know it’s a Ram too, with pronounced “RAM” lettering across the blacked-out grille and even bigger “RAM” letters across the tailgate.
“The Rebel has a lot of eye appeal,” Sperier said. “A lot of thought went into that vehicle.”
Our Rebel test truck attracted lots of looks and thumbs-up during our weeklong test drive. Designed as an off-roader, the Rebel has distinctive design elements including unique badging, a skid plate and front tow hooks.
The Rebel also has an air suspension system that allows the driver to raise and lower the truck with the push of a button, improving ride, handling and ground clearance. Sperier said the air suspension system is standard on the Rebel trim.
Inside the cabin, our Rebel test truck had heated seats finished in Radar Red and black with Sedoso fabric inserts embossed with a really cool Toyo tire tread pattern that matches the Rebel’s actual footprint on the ground. Lines of red and gray accent stitches cross the top of the dash.
Our test truck had a 115v outlet conveniently located in the dash, and had USB, AUX and an SD card in a separate compartment atop the center console storage bin. Ram 1500s have lots of technology inside as well, including Uconnect, which is one of the best connectivity and infotainment setups on the market. Even the transmission shifter is high-tech – a rotary dial on the dashboard.
Finally, Ram has a winning formula in the truck bed with available “Ram Boxes,” as well as a cargo management system with tie-downs and a cargo divider/extender. Truck box sizes are 6-foot-4 or 8-feet in regular cab, 6-foot-4 in quad cab and 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-4 in crew cab.
2016 RAM 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4X4
5.7-liter HEMI V8
8-speed automatic with rotary shifter
$45,200 ($56,195 as tested including freight)
EPA mileage estimates:
15 mpg city/21 mpg highway/17 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: