Fi­nal re­port: trails, a hur­ri­cane, and good­bye

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Fi­nal re­port: trails, a hur­ri­cane, and good­bye

OUR 2016 PICKUP TRUCK OF THE Year–win­ning Ram 1500 Rebel long-term test truck has com­pleted its year­long stay with Four Wheeler, and it has most likely re­turned to the Ram moth­er­ship in Auburn Hills, Michi­gan.

If the Rebel could talk, it would re­gale the Ram folks with sto­ries of trails, cargo, trails, a hur­ri­cane, trails, tow­ing, trails, long trips, and trails. As a mat­ter of fact, it’s safe to say that the Rebel saw more trail use than any other long-term Four Wheeler test ve­hi­cle in re­cent mem­ory, and it han­dled the trails, as well as all the other tasks, with great aplomb.

Dur­ing our year with the Rebel we wheeled it almost weekly, which may seem hard to be­lieve, but it’s true. That’s the beauty of living very close to ar­eas open to wheel­ing. The Rebel’s trans­fer case shift ac­ti­va­tion was flaw­less, the ad­justable four-cor­ner air sus­pen­sion al­lowed us to in­crease the ride height at the touch of a but­ton, the rear Anti-spin lim­it­ed­slip dif­fer­en­tial worked well, and vis­i­bil­ity from the driver seat was very good. As a mat­ter of fact, we never got stuck while off-road­ing the Rebel. The Rebel got through even on the worst (mean­ing best) trails. The truck went back to Ram with un­used and like-new front towhooks. Did we wish for a lock­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial in the Rebel? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, the Anti-spin lim­ited slip never let us down. On the other hand, we like be­ing able to man­u­ally con­trol when to send power to both rear wheels. Of course if we could have the An­tispin char­ac­ter­is­tics with the op­tion of lock­ing the rear diff at will we’d be ec­static.

On the paved road the Rebel was a plea­sure to drive, and we did a bunch of on-road driv­ing. In ad­di­tion to stan­dard com­mut­ing, we took the Rebel on some long trips—in the end, the truck was driven through 10 states. Some of those states were crossed mul­ti­ple times. Dur­ing sev­eral of those trips the bed of the truck was loaded with heavy cargo or the truck was tow­ing a trailer of some sort. Re­gard­less of whether it was loaded or empty the Rebel was solid and planted. Seat com­fort was out­stand­ing, the cabin was quiet and re­fined, and the truck’s ride and han­dling were very good. And of course we would be re­miss if we didn’t men­tion the in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile Ram­box Cargo Man­age­ment Sys­tem op­tion. The ease of use and space cre­ated by each Ram­box is im­pres­sive and worth ev­ery penny of the $1,295 price tag for this op­tion.

Near the end of the test, just when we thought we had learned ev­ery­thing there was to know

about the Rebel, we learned more. We were spend­ing time in Florida when Hur­ri­cane Irma swept through the state and the Rebel be­came our evac­u­a­tion tool. A few days be­fore the hur­ri­cane made land­fall we left the cen­tral part of the state, point­ing the Rebel north. Traf­fic was ter­ri­ble and fuel was hard to find, so we opted to uti­lize back­roads. This is when two things about the Rebel be­came clear. First, we ap­pre­ci­ated the op­tional 32-gal­lon fuel tank (a 26-gal­lon tank is stan­dard). That ex­tra six gal­lons helped to get us far­ther north to gas sta­tions that had fuel. Sec­ond, with a pur­pose­ful ef­fort of try­ing to max­i­mize fuel econ­omy we logged a best-ever tank of 18.8 mpg. This was with two adults and hun­dreds of pounds of cargo in the cab and bed. The com­bi­na­tion of a larger fuel tank and de­cent fuel mileage gave us peace of mind, at least in re­gard to fuel, as we evac­u­ated.

Now that our year­long test with the Rebel has con­cluded, we re­flect, and we simply don’t have any­thing to com­plain about regarding ei­ther de­sign or dura­bil­ity of our Rebel. The truck simply did what it was de­signed to do with no fail­ures. Early on there was a brief TPMS sen­sor glitch, but it went away on its own and never re­turned. With almost 20,000 miles on the Rebel at the end of our test, many of those miles off-road as well as tow­ing and haul­ing, the truck was as tight as it was the day it was de­liv­ered. No trim de­fected from the truck in­side or out, there were no in­tes­lid­ing rior or ex­te­rior rat­tles or squeaks, and the en­gine and trans­mis­sion went about their job per­fectly. We looked for prob­lem ar­eas such as seat wear (there was none) and how the op­tional spray-on bed­liner held up (just fine, even af­ter the abuse we threw at it, in­clud­ing heavy metal items across the floor).

The year­long test of the Ram 1500 Rebel was a very plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence, and it proved be­yond ques­tion that the Rebel de­served to be the Four Wheeler 2016 Pickup Truck of the Year.

|> We did a lot of trailer tow­ing with the Rebel, and thanks to the op­tional built-in trailer brake con­trol ($280) and the four-cor­ner air sus­pen­sion, trai­ler­ing was an easy, no-drama af­fair.

|> The Rebel was shod with Toyo Open Coun­try A/T tires, and they worked great on the sand and soil trails we ex­plored as well as on pave­ment.

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