A Diesel Truck for Most Situations

by  Anthony Fongaro

When you look at certain vehicles, you know exactly who the audience is. Take a look at the Toyota Supra or Porsche 911 which are built for the track but can be daily driven. Almost every SUV is made to have a higher seating position and to have the illusion that they can drive well in the snow. Minivans are known for just transporting kids but have high styling appeal. Finally, we have pickup trucks and the audience of these vehicles is...anyone. After taking a drive in the 2020 RAM 1500 REBEL, I found out that this thing is great in most situations.

Confession: this drive was different for me because there were two new experiences for me. The first: driving a full-time pickup. The first every pickup I’d ever driven was the Jeep Gladiator but it’s only a mid-size pickup truck more for the deserts of Mojave. When the RAM 1500 REBEL was delivered to my driveway, I also had a Mazda3 hatchback. They’re just a little different in terms of size and basically everything else. The second new experience: driving a diesel. Not really a surprise, there aren’t a plethora of diesel vehicles in the United States. Even another quarter-ton pickup such as the Ford F150 recently received diesel engines.

Let’s start with the engine. I have to warn you: it isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s a $5,000 option. It’s a 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel producing 260-horsepower and 480 lb-ft. WIth a standard automatic transmission and adjustable four-wheel-drive system, 60 MPH comes in around six seconds. Although there is the typical noise of a diesel engine, it really isn’t intrusive. The diesel felt like it had power anywhere in the powerband. Diesel’s are known for their torque and mileage. With the $450 optional 33-gallon tank, the truck estimated it had 670 miles on a full tank. Getting half-way empty, I drove around 330 miles so I absolutely can see this going a full 670 miles, especially at around 19-21 MPG. All I can is: I love this engine and will get more into detail in my recommended specs. 

The 1500  REBEL, RAM did a great job with the styling. The front-end houses a huge downward U grille with a hood that use a few intakes. Just so you know that this is a diesel, there’s badging on the hood that says “1500 ECO DIESEL”. You’ll see that mostly everything is uppercase because why not? My test truck had the $200 Billet Silver Metallic Clear-Coat Exterior Paint. RAM also gives the REBEL a standard lift-kit and 33” tires along with 18” wheels. All lights are LED and optional automatic high beam headlamp control are nice and bright. 

Moving to the rear, there are a few tricks that RAM utilizes that showcases the utility. First, my test vehicle was a Crew Cab that had a good 6’4” bed which I actually used! Second, there was the $1,000 RamBox Cargo Management System. These are “boxes” on either side of the truck that can utilize small tools. Finally, there was the Multi-Function Tailgate with Ram’s head badge. This tailgate has a 60/40 opening that makes it so much easier to place items in, such as a plethora of duffle bags and luggage. That may not make sense so I’ll explain later, I promise. 

Although the REBEL has a tough-looking exterior, the interior surprised me even more. There’s one thing that absolutely dominates the interior. This is the massive Uconnect 12.0” infotainment system with Navigation. Not only are the graphics bright and the controls are easy to do, but it also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I do need to say that this is apart of the $3,000 Rebel 12 package. This package has a lot of features such as power seats, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and HD Radio. Another large feature is the $1,500 Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof. 

I appreciate just how easy the controls and entry/exit is for the REBEL. It may be high, but this had the $1,800 Air Suspension and this helped immensely with entering and exiting the cabin. A simple switch gets the truck from Entry Mode to Aerodynamic Mode, Normal Mode, and Off-Roading mode. Steering wheel controls are simple to use as is the infotainment system since there are physical buttons. Since this has an automatic, there is a simple rotary knob which helps give a generous amount of space in the cockpit. All passengers get a large amount of legroom as a large pickup gives.

When I tested the 1500 REBEL, I drove it in every situation. It went off-roading on mud, was driven in the city, on the highway, and used as a proper truck. As a stroke of luck, my friend was moving during the time I had the truck and, surprise surprise, I was roped into helping in. Ah, the life of owning a pickup! We filled the entire truck bed and backseats full of items that the movers didn’t put in the moving truck. Needless to say, the truck performed like a champ, especially having the multi-usage tailgate. The diesel engine was quiet while coasting on the highway and using the optional adaptive cruise control.

Speaking of safety, my 1500 REBEL had the $900 Safety and Convenience Group package which I love in any vehicle. The adaptive cruise control was just one feature in this package. Other features included advanced brake-assist, and lane-keep assist. Although blind-spot monitoring isn’t necessary because the mirrors are massive, it’s still a feature I would have in any vehicle. There is a backup camera, but I wish the REBEL had a 360-degree camera. All of these features give a driver confidence, especially driving in Chicago and if you’ve never driven a full-size pickup.

As much as I loved the 1500 REBEL, the $70,000 price tag with options was a little steep. That said, the options were well worth it. Do I recommend it? Yes, but as with the Gladiator Mojave, most drivers won’t use it for the full-capability it has. The styling is cool, but for a luxury truck, go all-out and get the Limited. You do get the option of getting a 360-degree camera along with ventilated front and rear seats. Even though the Limited is more about luxury, I would still get the impressive 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6. The 1500 REBEL felt comfortable in every situation so the Limited should be even better with smaller wheels. 

At the end of the day, the 1500 REBEL is a fantastic vehicle. Yes, it’s still a large truck so driving it around the city is a pain and a bit difficult at first. I liked the RamBox system but I don’t see many people actually using it. If you’re someone that is a tradesman or will utilize the REBEL to its full potential, get it with the diesel. It’s a riot. For everyone else, take a look at the Limited. It’s about the same price with a more upscale feeling interior. For my first ever diesel and full-size pickup drive, I came out impressed. If you’re looking for an upscale feeling truck with plenty of power and some great features, check out the RAM 1500 and look like a boss in the REBEL.