Mountain Wheels: Ram’s 1500 Rebel G/T earns some of the TRX’s swagger
If it seems like it has been a year (or two) since I spoke about Ram trucks, besides the amazing and ridiculous TRX super-off-roader, you’re right — the pandemic supply chain has made those vehicles quite the rarity in my drives, though I have seen a few Jeeps with shared tech.
So it was indeed quite a change to get a week in a crew-cab-sized 2022 Ram 1500, the Rebel model, upgraded to a new G/T grade. That’s a designation created to offer more of the high-end bits that come with the somewhat unearthly 700-plus-horsepower TRX, but still keep you grounded with 395 horsepower from a more standard 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine.
Even that’s no longer a boring option; my Ram had the eTorque version of the engine, which is rated for 410 pound-feet but uses a battery/generator system to allow up to 130 extra on-demand pound feet for short bursts — with regenerative brakes and a pretty intrusive start/stop system built in to corral the power.
The G/T also takes a bunch of TRX-derived bits including a cold air intake, paddle shifters, a rumbly cat back exhaust and even an on-the-console shifter, rather than some mysterious knob or buttons. As a maybe somewhat overstated ode to the TRX’s tire-melting powers, you also get the 0-60/quarter mile performance meters on the digital instrument display.
I say that because, well, while there’s a hell of a lot of truck here — a scale that’s actually longer than the Ford F150 Raptor I drove just before it, causing me to clip curbs and do seven-point parking jobs — I did not find myself particularly drag-strip-mortified by the Rebel G/T’s output. I was kind of hoping the eTorque would send me flying, but I just felt like I was in standard Hemi territory. (Actually, Ram often does the opposite, as its automatic braking system is so sensitive that you will often shudderingly lock up your brakes while trying to park or navigate, if there are any other objects in a 40-foot radius.)
Yes, it’s big and loud and relatively fast, but the turbo in the Ford really hustles, and … dare I say it, got better mileage, as well. I took the bulky Ram out on the same potholed gravel Platte River Road stretch as I did the Raptor and … good lord, I got 14 mpg during my travels. More typical all-around fuel economy is rated at 19 combined mpg, with highway rating as high as 22 mpg. That was not my experience.
You’re also back in more traditional truck suspension and ride quality here, even with an optional $1,805 adjustable four-corner air-suspension system and moderately pavement-friendly off-road tires. There was some huge bounce and wobble on concrete freeway sections, though the general ride was tolerable for the truck’s size.
It will clearly handle itself nicely in most real off-road situations, with massive wheel wells, tons of articulation, an industrial skid plate and oversized, easy-to-access 4×4 controls.
Speaking of options, this was not an inexpensive truck, despite having a very sedate and standardized look from the side (it’s the nose and tail that get the very TRX-styled ultra-aggressive treatment, with lots of stickers and a power-dome hood). Base price is $51,350 but two pages of G/T and Rebel extras escalated things to $71,995, which seemed to me to be a tall pile of cash.
This did include the complete laundry list of add-ons, such as a spray-in bedliner, a tri-folding tonneau cover, an absolutely massive full-cabin sunroof and tons of leather everywhere.
The semi-gigantic center touchscreen stack, not as overwhelming as it is in the 2500s, has display graphics and settings that are oddly plain in this model year, though things work, and the healthy array of hard buttons for air conditioning make it easier than poking through screens.
An in-cab brake controller speaks to the impressive towing capability that engine provides, with something over 8,000 pounds on the Rebel models and as much as 12,750 pounds on other Ram 1500 setups. Those numbers seem to get more impressive each year.
Should you also need to load an industrial-sized freezer into the rear seating area, I think you might be able to do so, as it’s still the largest seating area in any vehicle on the market.
Some hope for you EV diehards: Ram has announced its 2024 battery-electric pickup truck as a real project on the not-so-distant horizon. I’ll let you know when I hear more.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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