The 2500 Rebel is the perfect Ram compromise

It’s not just BMW filling niches these days. Ram’s 2500 Rebel further expands on the brand’s Heavy Duty lineup, combining choice components from other Rams to create a truck that lives between the workhorse, street-oriented standard 2500 and Power Wagon off-roader. We recently spent a week daily driving a 2500 Rebel, which created with a question: Does a middle child in the Ram 2500 model line make any sense? You bet it does, and it’s goddamn glorious.

Diesel + Rebel = No-brainer

We’ve long said that a diesel-powered Power Wagon would be the best of the heavy-duty truck world. While that unicorn still doesn’t exist, thankfully Ram allows the 2500 Rebel to be optioned with the Cummins diesel. The 6.7L straight-six makes 370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque which helps it tow 14,920 pounds and carry 1,970 pounds of payload. Meanwhile, the base 6.4L Hemi gas engine 2500 Rebel has 410 hp and 429 lb-ft, and can tow 250 pounds fewer while touting a massive 3,140-pound payload capacity. Of note, the Power Wagon is only available with the 6.4L Hemi. It has a payload capacity of 1,560 pounds and a towing capacity of 10,520 pounds. Rebel versus Power Wagon is obviously a huge difference on the workhorse front.

The 2500 Rebel gets a bunch of model-specific points. Those worth noting are an electronically locking rear differential, 11.1 inches of ground clearance, and an available Warn Zeon-12 winch (available only with the Hemi). There’s plenty of visual differentiators to separate it from other 2500s, too. Part of this appearance upgrade comes from 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires. However, we’re not convinced this tire is the right choice for this application. The DuraTrac came out in 2010 and practically invented the segment of all-terrain-meets-mud-terrain crossover tires, but its time has come and gone. Today, it has a relatively short treadlife and still struggles with notoriously soft sidewalls. But hey, the DuraTrac still looks badass. Sex sells.

A looker and a driver, too

And man, is this truck sexy. As sexy as a ~7,000 pound pickup can be, anyways. In this reviewer’s opinion, the Ram is decidedly better looking than any comparable Ford or GM. The hood and headlights are a big part of that, the sides falling away in a manner vaguely reminiscent of the original Power Wagons.

Thanks largely to good visibility and surprisingly light steering, the 2500 Rebel feels relatively nimble around town. It’s light on its feet, like it wants to be driven rather than just get the job done. Purposeful, but somehow oddly playful. And for a truck of this size and mass, and riding on such aggressive tires, the ride quality is simply unbelievable. It’s so smooth, so composed; it rides better than most 1500s and probably as well as my own Lexus GX460. You could easily live with the 2500 Rebel as a daily driver, should you have the space to do so.

It would be an enjoyable vehicle to pilot every day, too. The Cummins engine is a torque monster that makes Freightliner-esque noises which increase in volume and ferocity with the prod of a right boot. The sound is divine, easily one of the most pleasing in the truck world.

Nicer on the inside than a heavy-duty truck should be

As with other Ram products, the 2500 Rebel’s livability goodies are excellent. The 12-inch digital gauge cluster and 12-inch UConnect 5 touchscreen are both head-of-class in both resolution and usability. The power-extending tow mirrors have power adjustable blind spot mirrors. The trailer reverse controller is outstanding. The front seats are thrones, the back seat is enormous, the stereo is decent, and on the highway it’s near-luxury comfortable. Cruising long stretches of open American countryside in this truck with a trailer in tow would be fabulous.

If it’s so good, what’s the catch? The compromises, of course. The 2500 Rebel doesn’t get the Power Wagon’s front locker or Electronic Sway Bar Disconnect. But really, who’s wheeling trucks this big that hard, anyways? That rear locker will likely only be used to help get the truck out of deep mud or snow. In that instance a front locker would help, but these situations are few and far between. In practice, hardcore crawlers will opt for the more reliable choice of manually disconnecting their truck’s sway bars, and a front locker is relatively easy to add in the grand scheme of things. So is a winch, even on the diesel truck.

All it takes is money

The other catch is the money factor. The 2500 Rebel’s base price as per the information provided at the time of my loan was $68,840 (Ram’s Build & Price tool now shows a 2023 MSRP of $67,320), and our 2500 Rebel test unit’s final price was a sky-high $91,070. You can get away with fewer niceties (press vehicles usually have nearly every option), but if you go the way of a 6.4L Hemi-powered 2500 Rebel, the money comes out about even with that of a Power Wagon (The Power Wagon starts at $68,625 and a well-optioned model is around $75k).  Picking between the two will come down to whether a buyer wants the Power Wagon’s better off-road capability or if they need the Rebel’s better towing and payload capacities.

And then there’s the elephant, er dinosaur, in the corner: The Ram TRX. It’s faster, better off-road, thirstier, worse at truck stuff, and, in my limited week-long experience driving both of these pickups, no more satisfying to drive. It’s a decidedly different truck for a decidedly different buyer, one that will certainly know which they want or need, but they do coexist. On the front of the competition, there’s the Ford Super Duty Tremor and the all-new, soon-to-be-released Chevy Silverado HD ZR2. Like 2500 Rebel versus TRX, buyers will probably know which they want before they even test drive the trio of heavy-duty off-roaders.

Not a runaway success, but close to it

Building the 2500 Rebel must have been a no-brainer for Ram, and they picked the right components from their toolbox to make it an all-around winner. It’s a great balance between the standard 2500 and Power Wagon, and really does serve a different purpose than its stablemates. It looks great, drives better than it should, has an excellent interior, and the sound the engine makes never gets old. It’s pricey, but so is everything today. The 2500 Rebel really is a hell of a truck.

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