- The 2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel aims to offer maximum capabilities when it comes to both sport and utility – a sweet spot, if you will. With the Power Wagon
already in the family, you know that Ram wasn’t about to let the HD Rebel eat its rock-crawling lunch. But with the 6.7 L Cummins (as an option) and a payload and towing capacity more in line with the other 2500 series trucks, Ram is betting that it doesn’t need to, since it can basically lug an entire diner (and then some) to your desired playground.
Climbing into my Diamond Black, Cummins-equipped tester takes some effort. It’s no secret that trucks stand taller than ever and this one with its 8.5-inches of ground clearance is no shrinking violet. A bit more than a slight tug on the A-Pillar mounted grab handle lands me and my 838mm inseam into the HD Rebel’s cabin.
Riding shotgun for the first stint of our morning on the road, I’m greeted by a sprawling transmission tunnel that forces my left leg akimbo. I thought this may be a diesel-only issue, due to its larger displacement, but sadly even the Hemi-equipped beast has the same cramped footwell. I debated moving to the rear seats, as there are acres of room back there, but ultimately decided to suck it up.
The atmosphere inside the Rebel is upscale and in keeping with current luxo-truck themes. Natura leather seats are heated, cooled, and cradle nicely. Materials around the dash and doors all feel good to the touch and there’s a minimal smattering of piano black around the big, vertically mounted screen. I’d prefer if there were dedicated buttons for the seat and steering wheel heaters, but am happy to report HVAC and radio essentials get the physical touch.
Response time on the 12-inch UConnect 5 screen is a touch laggy, especially using its native Navigation app, but visuals are crisp and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto are present and accounted for. There is an optional 17-speaker Harman Kardon audio system but, outside of some tire noise from the 33’s, you could probably make do without it as the cabin is nicely insulated and quiet.
The 850 lbs-ft of torque from the 6.7L Cummins hustles the Rebel to speed with appreciable quickness. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, power feels at the ready, all of the time. Despite being a $9,450 upcharge and eliminating the ability for the factory installed winch (while also costing its own weight in towing and payload), the diesel feels like the better option for the Heavy Duty Rebel.
It’s not that the 6.4L Hemi V8 is a slouch. There’s 410 horsepower and 470 lbs-ft of torque on tap and the 8-speed automatic does a great job of sorting through its cogs for the right one, but the robustness of the diesel makes the entire truck feel like a more complete package.
Running the HD Rebel through winding hills that surround the Calabogie area, the truck remains planted. While designed to help the Rebel traverse off-road, the five-link rear and three-link front suspension does a great job of working its way through the smoother stuff too. Much credit goes to the Bilstein shock absorbers at all four corners, that iron out road imperfections.
Of course, those Bilsteins (and the fancy suspension set-up) are really the big reason to have the HD Rebel in your crosshairs. These are basically the same underpinnings that allow the Power Wagon to amble up and over everything. In fact, the only real trade off in terms of off-road mechanicals is that the HD Rebel doesn’t come equipped with the front locking diff or the Articulink suspension, so it loses the disconnecting sway bar which, unless you call Moab your backyard, probably won’t pose too much of a problem when it comes to getting dirty.
Our foray into the wilds with the HD Rebel wasn't exactly the most challenging (sadly, Moab has yet to relocate to Southern Ontario) but the truck didn’t baulk at anything, either. Iced-over, axle-deep, water crossings rewarded with clouds of steam but there was no sweat. Popping the truck into 4wd low and locking the rear differential allowed it to just cruise effortlessly – almost zombie-like – up, over and down rocky and rutted berms.
That Mopar hood might look great at the trailhead, but it does nothing but block vision when you need it most. Thankfully the Rebel is equipped with cameras-a-plenty to act as a digital spotter. These did a great job of helping as the combination of that hood and the sun’s afternoon position essentially had us driving blind in some situations. My only real complaint about the camera is that the forward-facing one turns off automatically if you eclipse 15 km/hr and then you have to tap at the screen again to get it back. This was annoying, considering our conditions, and something that could hopefully be remedied via a firmware update.
You do feel the HD Rebel’s size on the trail though. Even the fanciest suspension and punchiest mill in the world cannot hide 24 cubic-metres of truck. Sojourns through an expansive hydro field were still greeted with branches caressing the Rebel as we moved through, so keep that in mind if tight and technical trails are your jam.
Of course if they are, the benefit of the HD is that it can easily bring the toys that can. And that monstrous size means that there’s plenty of space for everyone in your party to come along. Which really is the point of this truck. It’s eight-tenths of the Power Wagon’s off-road prowess with twelve-tenths of its hauling capabilities: a sensible compromise for truck buyers looking to do it all, just not all with their truck.
2023 Ram Rebel 2500
: 4-door, 5 passenger, pick-up truck
Price as tested
: Gas – $89,595. Diesel $103,625
: 6.4-litre Hemi V8 gas / 6.7-litre Cummins Turbo Diesel inline 6
Transmission / Drive:
8-speed automatic & Four-wheel drive / 6-speed automatic & Four-wheel drive
Gas – 410 HP / 429 lb-ft of torque. Diesel – 370 HP/850 lb-ft
Towing / Hauling:
7,652 kg / 1424 kg (gas)
: Ram Canada