Ram Rebel 2500 — The master of towing, hauling, and off-roading

By Jim Meachen

Editor, MotorwayAmerica.com

(August 6, 2023) "Electric" and "hybrid" are the favorite automotive buzzwords these days. But getting equal billing — astonishingly? — is a word 180 degrees opposite the green monikers — off-road. Manufacturers are clamoring to create off-road vehicles even if off-road does not compute with electric, with the possible exception of the six-figure four-and-one-half ton GMC Hummer EV. 

Off-road is associated with big V-8 engines, massive turbocharged six-cylinders or giant diesel stump-pulling machines. All of which require massive doses of gas or diesel fuel, diametrically opposed to the people attempting to save the planet by abolishing all internal combustion engines (ICE).

How can this be?

Get behind the wheel of the new 2023 Ram Rebel 2500 heavy-duty pickup and you will soon see how this can be. The new Rebel is the vaunted Ram Power Wagon, but in a slightly different direction. The Rebel uses Power Wagon’s structure and off-road prowess as a base while offering an alternative that off-road truck customers have been clamoring for — an available 6.7-liter Cummins Standard-Output Turbo Diesel I-6 engine that produces 370 horsepower and 850 lb.-ft. of torque. It has a 3,140-pound payload and a massive tow rating of 16,870 pounds.

A disclaimer here — we did not take the Rebel off road with the exception of a muddy track down to a fishing hole on the river. But other reviewers who have experienced the Rebel on the rocks and wading through water, give it a big thumbs up.

What we did experience is 200 miles of paved surfaces including city streets and Interstate highways. Hit the throttle on the highway, and the big diesel ambles to its 3200-rpm redline in satisfying fashion, even if not quite up to Hemi horsepower standards. Think 0-to-60 unloaded in about 7.5 seconds.

The big guy handles well with no drama, and punching in the adaptive cruise control on our test vehicle gave us a very steady speed with — based on the gauges — the best mileage possible. Noise-canceling software keeps clatter in the cabin to a minimum, although at a steady 70 mph there's still the hum of the chunky Goodyears eating up the pavement.

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 ride can be a bit stiff and unyielding over broken pavement or on rutted gravel roads because of the trucks off-road suspension tuning and the 20-inch wheels and 33-inch off-road tires.

The Rebel offers fairly good visibility out the front over its massive hood. Not a problem on the open road, but the broad, bulging hood makes judging distances between vehicles a real guessing game. Thankfully there's a 360-degree camera setup to help see in front of the grille, as well as down the sides when you're towing, parking or off-roading. The cameras may have been the truck's best feature for us especially while attempting to access a parking spot between two parked cars.

The Ram 2500 offers a very appealing interior with buttons and controls laid out in a logical and easy-to-use manner. The Ram's top-end 12.3-inch touchscreen is as good as it gets in truckdom with an easy-to-learn structure. We have had the opportunity to experience the less-expensive 8.4-inch touchscreen in a neighbors Ram and it also effectively gets the job done. Both screens offer easy access to a connected smartphone and voice controls. The optional 17-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system is first class.

There is ample room up front for two passengers and stretch-our space in the rear seats for three adults. Storage cubbies are plentiful and USB ports are in a convenient location.

The 2500 HD comes in eight trim levels — Tradesman, Big Horn, Lone Star, Rebel, Power Wagon, Laramie, Limited Longhorn and Limited. Available in addition to the Cummins diesel engine is a 6.4-liter V-8 making 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. Gas mileage is required to be listed on Navy Duty trucks, but we observed an overall 19 mpg over 200 miles.

The price of the Rebel is not for the light of pocketbook. The Rebel starts at $68,840 and can climb into the stratosphere with the many available options. Our loaded test truck carried a bottom line of $92,875.

For those not needing a vast collection of off-road equipment, one of the other Ram HD trim levels including the Big Horn, and Laramie might be a better and slightly less expensive pick. The Rebel hits the sweet spot for HD pickup buyers who want something off-road-ready that's also a luxurious place to spend time.

Ted Biderman contributed to this review

2023 Ram Rebel 2500


Base Price: $68,840; as driven, $92,875
Engine: 6.7-liter inline six diesel
Horsepower: 370 @ 2,800 rpm
Torque: 850 pound-feet @ 1,700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: four-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 149 inches
Length: 238.6 inches
Curb weight: 8,300 pounds(estimated)
Turning circle: 48.2 feet
Payload: 3,140 pounds
Towing capacity: 16,870 pounds
Fuel capacity: 31 gallons (diesel)
EPA rating: not required (19 mpg observed)
Also consider: Ford F-250 Super Duty, Chevy Silverado 2500HD

The Good
• Diesel engine makes impressive power and torque
• Excellent off-road capability
• High towing capacity
The Bad
• Mrauvering in a parking lot can be daunting

The Ugly
• Loaded Rebel can approach 100 grand