Few vehicles have such broad appeal as a full-size pickup, and the Ram, with nearly three dozen configurations, is no exception. It comes in rear- or four-wheel drive; regular, quad, or crew cab; and 5’7″, 6’4″, and 8.0′ bed lengths. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V-6 making 269 lb-ft of torque; a 3.0-liter, 420-lb-ft turbo-diesel V-6; or a 5.7-liter, 410-lb-ft V-8 with which you can tow up to 10,700 pounds. A smooth ride and an intuitive infotainment system make the 1500 a pleasure to live with.
In an era of increasingly civilized trucks, the limited-edition Mopar ’16 Ram 1500 pickup strikes a moderately defiant note, announcing its presence with a basso profundo exhaust note that’s subdued enough to be legal but is an unmistakable reminder that yes, this thing has a Hemi.
This merits some explanation. There’s a distinction between this Mopar-massaged Ram 1500 Rebel and the standard version. The base engine in the Ram 1500 Rebel is Chrysler’s 305-hp 3.6-liter V-6. The 500 copies of the Mopar ’16 Rebel package all include the 395-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, reflected on the window sticker as an $1150 option that is also available without opting into all the Mopar business. The V-8 is paired with a $500 ZF eight-speed automatic (with a manual shift mode but no paddles), the same transmission as in the regular Ram Rebel. The Mopar edition also includes the same satin black 17-inch wheels as the Rebel, wearing a set of semi-knobby Toyo A/T Open Country tires, sized 285/70. And four-wheel drive is standard.
The Mopar Package
While this test truck included nearly $8000 in non-Mopar options, the essence of the thing is the Mopar ’16 Custom Shop package, which includes a blacked-out lower front fascia; Mopar hood- and side-panel graphics; black bolt-on wheel flares; and a powder-coated front-end skidplate. With the exception of the additional skidplate, none of this is actually functional but adds $2800 to the bottom line.
A glance at those tires and the add-on flares suggests that the Mopar ’16 is intended as a sort of desert runner, in the vein of the Ford F-150 Raptor. Standard ground clearance for the Ram 1500 Quad Cab is 9.2 inches, but the air springs add about an inch more and could handle desert whoop-de-dos at a modest pace. And those tall Toyos look like they’d be pretty capable in the rugged dirt and sand, the sort of desert environment where the Raptor made its reputation by virtue of suspension developments that go far deeper than adding another inch of ground clearance.
But as with the previous Mopar specials—there have been a half-dozen, one per year since 2010, Mopars ’10 through ’15, with the Rebel the first based on a Ram truck—the real point here is to showcase some of the goodies in Mopar’s vast warehouse. But the 2016 package doesn’t do much for the Ram Rebel besides making it look even more macho. The only exception is Mopar’s cat-back exhaust system and cold-air intake, which are dealer-installed options beyond the ’16 package. The exhaust makes the most of every power pulse from the 5.7-liter V-8, creating a seductive internal-combustion opera when the driver opens the throttle and a pleasant remote rumble in cruise mode. Surprisingly, for all its mellifluous exhaust note, this cat-back system is the essence of refinement at highway speed. Our test truck measured two decibels quieter than the standard Ram Rebel at a steady 70 mph.
Other elements of the Mopar ’16 Rebel’s performance are less compelling. Getting nearly three tons of truck to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds is impressive, but a V-8–equipped standard Rebel we tested last year made that sprint in 6.6. That Rebel was also quicker in the quarter-mile run.
Those gnarly Toyos didn’t do much for either truck on pavement. The non-Mopar model held a slight edge at the skidpad, where both trucks were festivals of understeer, and that version also stopped 14 feet shorter from 70 mph. However, stopping distances in the vicinity of 200 feet are nothing to brag about.
We weren’t able to exercise the Mopar ’16 on the kind of surfaces it probably likes best—Baja-style outback. On pavement, the big Rebel is, predictably, deliberate in transient response. Generous suspension travel and a high center of gravity add up to lots of body motion and lazy directional changes.
On the other hand, that suspension sops up everything poorly maintained Frost Belt roads and highways have to offer, delivering a creamy ride. And it’s quiet, too, until the driver summons that seductive engine symphony.
The comfort-convenience features—a lengthy list—include a very good nine-speaker Alpine sound system. But for V-8 power junkies, that Hemi backbeat may be all the audio that’s needed. The dealer-installed exhaust system goes for $1175, and it’s probably all the additional equipment any Hemi-equipped Rebel really needs.