Off-road Rebel: Ram pickup version takes route less traveled

There is certainly no shortage of varieties of the 2018 Ram 1500. Eleven trims. Three cabs. Three bed lengths. Three engines. Rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive. Picking a pickup is one thing. Finding the exact fit is another.

We won’t pretend to sort out all the opportunities that range in base pricing from $27,095 to nearly double that number. We can tell you there are new Harvest and high-end Limited Tungsten Edition models and then advise you to visit a Greater Dayton dealer to look at the options.

Our test vehicle was a five-passenger Rebel Crew Cab. A hard-core 4x4, the Rebel is built for off-roading but is at home in the city, too. A four-corner air suspension provides a comfortable ride and automatically lowers at higher speeds to improve gas mileage.

While the exterior design dates back to 2009 and might seem to be getting dated to some, the 5.7-liter V8 HEMI engine on the Rebel will never get old. With 395 horsepower and 410 lbs.-ft. of torque, there is performance galore, although its 0-60 mph tests come in slower than some of the competition. Still, EPA mileage ratings of 15 mpg/city and 21 mpg/highway are reasonable.

The interior of the Rebel gets dressed up with leather upholstery for the first time. The user-friendly Connect infotainment system with an 8.4-inch display puts the driver in control of multiple functions. There are also two 12-volt outlets and two USB ports within easy reach. The front seats and steering wheel are heated. Function is found in the second row where there is folding-flat load floor storage and in-floor storage bins.

Well-purposed storage is a mainstay in the bed area. Our Rebel came with a 5.7-foot box that had an option cargo area divider/extender, tie-down hooks and lockable, lighted boxes in the rear fenders. We found this useful coming back from the grocery. The boxes do reduce the bed width, however.

Pickup brands become deeply personal with Ford, Chevrolet and GMC all having diehard followers. Ram, does too, and with the Rebel can attract a new rowdy bunch.

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