Luxury Cars

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel compromises when it comes to performance

Ram Power Wagon Buyers have always had to compromise on portability. Ram’s solution came in late 2022 in the form of the Ram 2500 HD Rebelan off-roader with more work ability.

Unfortunately, the solution to the Ram Rebel’s buyer problem lies in a list of compromises that give the competition an edge.

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

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

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

The Ram 2500 HD Rebel can get turbodiesel power

Power Wagon owners rave about the Ram HD’s optional Cummins 6.7-liter inline-six turbodiesel, which makes 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. The diesel engine costs $9,795 more than the standard 6.4-liter V8 gasoline engine, which produces 410 hp and 429 lb-ft and is the only engine option for the Power Wagon. The lack of an electronically disconnectable front stabilizer bar on the Rebel HD allows the diesel engine to be installed. According to Ram engineers, this off-road upgrade cannot be combined with the turbodiesel oil pan.

The 6.4-liter V8 is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Ram’s V-8 is old at this point, compared to the 7.3-liter V-8 in the Ford Super Duty Tremor and the 6.6-liter V-8 in the Ford Super Duty Tremor Chevrolet Silverado HD ZR2. Both engines are mated to 10-speed automatic transmissions and have more torque than Ram’s V-8.

The turbodiesel is mated to an old 6-speed automatic and has less power compared to the available diesels in the Chevy and Ford. It also feels like it’s a generation behind due to the loud diesel clatter at idle, the lack of glow plugs that require long cold start times, and the noticeable turbo lag. Despite all this, no one will say that the Rebel HD is too weak. While the Rebel HD isn’t as quick as the competition due to more pronounced turbo lag, on the highway it’s a dynamic machine with boost that builds as the turbo spins.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

The Ram 2500 HD Rebel drives like a pickup truck

Most pickup trucks, including some heavy-duty trucks, no longer drive like the logging trucks of yesterday, thanks to advances in technology and suspension tuning. The Rebel HD rides exactly as it looks, whether bumpy or stormy. You’ll always know it’s a heavy-duty pickup truck.

On broken asphalt, the Bilstein off-road shock absorbers do not fully absorb the shocks, and a lot of movement is transmitted to the cabin and then to your body. Unlike the Power Wagon with its softer suspension, it’s a bumpy, sometimes nervous ride. Ram reinforced the Rebel HD’s Bilsteins so the truck can haul and tow larger loads better than the Power Wagon. The compromise makes it perhaps the worst Ram 2500. For those hauling extremely heavy loads, optional automatic self-leveling rear air shocks can be ordered for $1,705, but I haven’t tested these. The newest Ford Super Duty shaking Jerks less than the Ram and absorbs broken pavement more like the Power Wagon. I haven’t driven the Silverado HD ZR2 yet.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

37s fit into the Ram 2500 HD Rebel

The Ram HD Rebel rides on 33-inch Goodyear DuraTrac all-terrain tires, the same tires as the Power Wagon. Like the Power Wagon, these tires are loud and a booming noise is common when driving on the highway.

A Stellantis spokesperson confirmed to Motor Authority that 35- and 37-inch tires will be available on the Rebel HD should buyers opt for a larger size. According to the spokesman, the latter will be “cozy”. The Super Duty Tremor comes standard with 35s and also fits 37s.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

The Ram 2500 HD Rebel balances angles with hauling capabilities

Every Rebel HD features a four-door crew cab with a 6-foot-4-inch bed. This bed is capable of hauling up to 3,140 pounds of payload, while the truck itself can tow up to 16,870 pounds. Both figures surpass the Power Wagon’s 1,630-pound payload and 10,590-pound towing capacity.

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 also tops the Ram with a payload of up to 3,397 pounds and a towing capacity of 18,500 pounds.

The Rebel HD comes close to the angles of the Power Wagon. The Rebel HD checks in with an approach angle of 26.6 degrees and breakover angle of 21.8 degrees, compared to the Power Wagon’s approach angle of 29.4 degrees and breakover angle of 22.0 degrees. Both Ram off-roaders have an approach angle of 26.0 degrees. The Rebel HD’s ground clearance is respectable at 13.3 inches, but it’s still lower than the Power Wagon’s 14.2 inches, largely due to the suspension packaging. The Super Duty Tremor only has 10.8 inches of ground clearance, while the Silverado ZR2 has 11.6 inches of ground clearance. With the option of the Bison package, this can be increased to 11.8 inches. The greater ground clearance allows these trucks to roll over off-road obstacles, but also ensures more lean angle when cornering on the road.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel off-road hardware

One of the standout 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 limits the airflow to supply the turbodiesel engine.

Chevy’s Silverado HD ZR2 can only be optionally equipped with a Top Bison-style winch with the AEV-supplied front bumper. The Ford Super Duty Tremor can be optionally equipped with a winch, regardless of which trim or engine is chosen.

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

Ford is leading the way with off-road driving modes that customize 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 a “less is more” approach with no off-road driving modes. It is similar to the Jeep Wrangler from this package in that the driver must operate most of the controls when driving off-road.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Ram 2500 HD Rebel fits in

It takes more than a quick glance to spot the Rebel HD in a parking lot. Overall it looks like a standard Ram HD, but closer inspection reveals key differences. The 20-inch wheels are Rebel-specific, it gets the Power Wagon grille, and it gets a two-tone appearance thanks to black bumpers, black underbody paint, and blacked-out trim. It’s the Rebel-specific hood that’s annoying. It features a TRX-like power dome that results in a higher hood, which significantly reduces forward visibility.

The front end of the Rebel HD features curves, unlike the brick-like front ends of the Chevy and Ford, resulting in a less intimidating truck. Getting in and out of the loft bed is a hassle, even though there is a bolted, fold-down step on the driver’s side under the rear bumper. The GM and Ford bumper corner steps are awesome, and Ford’s tailgate-mounted extendable folding step makes my body hurt less. Seems like I’m getting old.

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

2024 Ram 2500 HD Rebel

Inside the cabin, the Ram’s interior remains the nicest in its segment, with leather trim on the grab handles, shifter, dashboard and door panels, as well as tasteful hardware. The Rebel HD comes standard with cloth bench seats, but my tester was equipped with leather-trimmed front bucket seats (part of the $7,800 Level 2 trim group). The automaker’s new 12.0-inch digital instrument 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 part of the Level 2 Equipment Group. The system runs Stellantis’ UConnect 5 system, which is easy to use and works mostly like an iPad. However, the previous system allowed split-screen functionality on the large touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and the vehicle’s climate control or infotainment pages. This latest operating system negates that and displays CarPlay in full screen mode.

Equipped, my tester would cost a whopping $96,850 as a 2024 model, thanks to options like the Safety Group package ($2,240), which adds adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors, and the aforementioned Level 2 Equipment group ($7,800), which adds power folding mirrors and a rear window defogger, as well as the larger 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 demands that Power Wagon buyers have been vocal about for years. Unfortunately, it took so long for Ford and Chevy to stop waiting on the sidelines and enter the off-road arena with newer, more capable trucks.

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