2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel compromises for capability

By automotive-mag.com 12 Min Read

Ram Power Wagon buyers have always had to compromise on hauling capabilities. Ram’s solution came late in 2022 in the form of the Ram 2500 HD Rebel, an off-roader with more work capability.

Unfortunately, the solution to Ram Rebel buyer’s problem comes with a list of compromises that gives the competition an edge.

The idea was to make a truck that was more capable as a work vehicle while maintaining Power Wagon’s off-road prowess. Instead, for about the same price,  just $100 less than a Power Wagon at $73,730 including $1,995 destination charge, Ram HD Rebel has compromises of its own to achieve that goal.

I spent a week with a 2023 model year Rebel, but it carries over unchanged for 2024 except for a $2,570 price increase. 

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel can get turbodiesel power

Power Wagon owners lust over the Ram HD’s optional Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline-6 that cranks out 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. The diesel engine comes at a $9,795 premium over the standard gas 6.4-liter V-8, which makes 410 hp and 429 lb-ft and is the only engine option for the Power Wagon. The Rebel HD’s lack of an electronic disconnecting front sway bar allows the diesel to fit. That off-road upgrade can’t be packaged with the turbodiesel’s oil pan, according to Ram engineers.

The 6.4-liter V-8 comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Ram’s V-8 is old at this point compared to the 7.3-liter V-8 available in the Ford Super Duty Tremor and the 6.6-liter V-8 in the Chevrolet Silverado HD ZR2. Both of those engines hook to 10-speed automatic transmissions and have more torque than Ram’s V-8. 

The turbodiesel pairs with an old 6-speed automatic and is down on power compared to the available diesels in the Chevy and Ford. It also feels a generation behind with its loud diesel clatter at idle, lack of glow plugs requiring long cold-cranking times, and noticeable turbo lag. Despite all this, no one will call the Rebel HD underpowered. While not as quick as the competition due to the more prevalent turbo lag, the Rebel HD is a momentum machine on the highway with thrust that builds as the turbo spools.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel rides like a pickup truck

Most pickup trucks, including some heavy duties, no longer ride like the lumber wagons of yesteryear thanks to advances in engineering and suspension tuning. The Rebel HD rides exactly like it looks, rough and tumble. You’re going to know this is a heavy-duty pickup truck at all times.

Over broken pavement the Bilstein off-road shocks don’t fully absorb the impacts and lots of movement translates into the cabin and then to your body. It’s a bumpy, at times jittery, ride unlike the Power Wagon with its softer suspension. Ram firmed up the Rebel HD’s Bilsteins to make the truck better at hauling and towing larger loads than the Power Wagon. The compromise makes it perhaps the worst riding Ram 2500. Automatic self-leveling air shocks can be optioned in the rear for $1,705 for those hauling extremely heavy loads, but I haven’t tested those. The latest Ford Super Duty Tremor bucks less than the Ram and absorbs broken pavement closer to the way the Power Wagon does. I haven’t driven the Silverado HD ZR2 yet. 

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel can fit 37s

The Ram HD Rebel rides on 33-inch Goodyear DuraTrac All-Terrain tires, the same tires found on the Power Wagon. Like on the Power Wagon, these tires are loud and a thrum is ever-present when driving on the highway.

A Stellantis spokesperson confirmed to Motor Authority that 35- and 37-inch tires will clear on the Rebel HD should buyers opt to upsize.  The latter will be “snug” according to the spokesperson. The Super Duty Tremor comes standard with 35s and will also fit 37s.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel balances angles with hauling capabilities

Every Rebel HD comes as a four-door crew cab with a 6-foot-4-inch bed. That bed is capable of hauling up to 3,140 pounds of payload while the truck itself can tow up to 16,870 pounds. Both numbers eclipse the Power Wagon’s 1,630-pound payload and 10,590-pound tow ratings. 

But the Ford is the champ with the ability to tow up to 18,200 pounds and haul up to 4,384 pounds of payload. Chevy bests the Ram too with up to 3,397 pounds of payload and an 18,500-pound tow rating. 

The Rebel HD comes close to matching the Power Wagon’s angles. The Rebel HD checks in with a 26.6-degree approach angle and a 21.8-degree breakover angle compared to the Power Wagon’s 29.4-degree approach angle and 22.0-degree breakover angle. Both Ram off-roaders share a departure angle of 26.0 degrees. The Rebel HD’s 13.3-inch ground clearance is substantial, but it’s still less than the Power Wagon’s 14.2-inches, mostly due to the suspension packaging. The Super Duty Tremor checks in with only 10.8 inches of ground clearance, while the Silverado ZR2 has 11.6 inches, and that can increase to 11.8 inches when optioning the Bison package. Higher ground clearances let these trucks roll over off-road obstacles, but also create more lean in corners on the road.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel off-road hardware

One of the defining features of the Power Wagon is its standard winch. Rebel HD buyers get a 12,000-pound Warn Zeon-12 front winch, but only as a $2,500 option and only with the gas engine. The winch restricts airflow to feed the turbodiesel engine.

Chevy’s Silverado HD ZR2 can only be optioned with a winch in top Bison form with the AEV-supplied front bumper. Ford’s Super Duty Tremor can be optioned with a winch regardless of which trim or engine is selected.

Every Rebel HD features part-time four-wheel drive, a limited-slip rear differential, and an electronic rear locker. Ram also bolts skid plates under the Rebel HD to protect vulnerable bits like the fuel tank and transfer case.

Ford leads the pack with off-road driving modes that custom tailor the truck’s powertrain, braking, and stability control systems. Chevy equips the Silverado HD ZR2 with off-road driving modes, but they are far simpler and there are fewer of them. Ram takes the less-is-more approach with no off-road driving modes. It’s like the Jeep Wrangler of this pack in that it requires the driver to handle most of the controls when off-roading.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel blends in

It’ll take more than a quick glance to pick out the Rebel HD in a parking lot. For the most part, it looks like a standard Ram HD, but a closer look will reveal key differences. The 20-inch wheels are Rebel-specific, it gets the Power Wagon’s grille, and there’s a two-tone appearance thanks to black bumpers, black lower body paint, and blacked-out trim. It’s the Rebel-specific hood that’s annoying. It features a TRX-like power dome that translates to a taller hood, which makes forward visibility noticeably worse. 

The Rebel HD’s front end features curves unlike the brick-like front ends on the Chevy and Ford, which translates to a truck that’s less intimidating. It’s a chore to get into and out of the high bed despite the afterthought of a bolted-on drop-down step mounted on the driver side beneath the rear bumper. GM and Ford’s bumper corner steps are genius, and Ford’s tailgate-mounted slide-out drop-down step makes my body less achy. Seems I’m getting old. 

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Inside the cab, Ram’s interior remains the nicest in the segment with leather-wrapping on the grab handles, gear shifter, dashboard, and door panels, along with tasteful metal bits. The Rebel HD comes standard with cloth bench seats, but my tester featured leather-trimmed front bucket seats (part of the $7,800 Level 2 Equipment Group). The automaker’s new 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster sits front and center. The standard 8.4-inch touchscreen was swapped for the available 12.0-inch touchscreen on my well-equipped tester, also as part of the Level 2 Equipment Group. The system runs Stellantis’ UConnect 5 system, which is easy-to-use and operates mostly like an iPad. But the previous system allowed for split-screen capabilities on the large touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and the vehicle’s climate controls or infotainment pages. This latest operating system kills that and displays a full screen of CarPlay. 

As equipped, my tester would cost a whopping $96,850 as a 2024 model thanks to options like the Safety Group package ($2,240) that adds adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors, the aforementioned Level 2 Equipment group ($7,800) that adds power-folding mirrors and a rear window defroster, as well as the bigger screen and leather upholstery. 

The 2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel isn’t the best off-road truck or the most-capable hauler, but it balances off-road capability with the requests Power Wagon buyers have been shouting loudly about for years. Unfortunately, it took long enough to arrive that Ford and Chevy quit waiting on the sidelines and jumped into the off-road arena with newer, more capable trucks.

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