I'm a sports car man. A year or two ago, I couldn't even fathom having a truck as my primary vehicle–massive, slow, fuel-guzzling, and lumbering are not traits I want in a daily driver. But thanks to pickups like the Ram Rebel 1500 EcoDiesel, I think I'm starting to get why so many love them.
Over the past few months, I've put around 3,000 miles on our longterm 1500 EcoDiesel. The plan was for the truck to live at our shop in Knoxville, Tennessee with an Aerovault trailer hitched up so it could serve as our Caterham kit car project's official hauler. R&T Deputy Editor Bob Sorokanich and I drove the truck from Los Angeles to Knox in early March, with a quick stop outside of Las Vegas to pick up the trailer from the kind folks at Brock Racing Enterprises.
That all went down without issue. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, progress on our Caterham project has slowed, and the Ram hasn't gotten the use we planned. Instead of letting it sit, I snagged it while changing quarantine locations, and have been using it as a supply-getter while cooped up in Texas.
Through all those miles and my continued semi-daily use of the Rebel, I can safely confirm it is beyond capable as a multi-use, single-vehicle people and object mover.
As someone who has owned more than 15 cars—almost all of them sports cars—it would take a lot for me to be happy living with a pickup truck as my only vehicle. This Ram comes very close.
It probably helps that our truck is stacked with options. As a four-wheel-drive, crew-cab model, its base price is $47,990, but as optioned, it rings up to $71,300. That gets you a handful of technology packages, a punchy diesel engine, and a well-sorted air suspension. Those options are core to what makes it surprisingly satisfying for me.
The 260-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine isn’t the quickest thing in the world, but it’s fun. There's 480 lb-ft of torque and a 12,560-lb tow rating, which means it doesn’t shy away from most consumer-level haul tasks. The Ram is also EPA-rated to get 32 mpg highway and 22 mpg city, but with my heavy-footed suburban driving, I’ve been seeing around 20 mpg combined. And, don’t forget the DEF refills.
At $5,000, the engine is the most single most-expensive option it has, but it's worth it. It's not the quietest thing in the world, but there's something so soothing about that diesel chug.
When I hear the gravelly diesel echo off barriers and walls, it makes me feel like I'm doing Big Important Adult Industrial Business. Not, well, bringing two weeks worth of bagels and lox back from the local market with my girlfriend and her small dog Fred. And with all this pandemic stuff going on, even that little imaginative escape is a welcome getaway.
As much as I love to pretend, and as fun as the engine is, it's not completely perfect. Sometimes while moseying around at lower speeds, it feels a bit laggy. But I've managed to get used to that. It's not the end of the world.
The Rebel package also adds some flair. It's not quite packing Raptor-levels of off-road goodies, but the trim does come with 33-inch all-terrain tires, an electric-locking rear differential, a one-inch suspension lift, and a blacked-out grille. I haven't driven through any wild weather or been off-road with the Ram, but if nothing else, the Rebel trim is the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch.
On the inside, it's airy, comfortable, and surprisingly aggressive with tech. The first thing I noticed was the massive, Tesla-like, 12-inch infotainment screen. I really can't stress just how massive this piece of gadgetry is. It's intimidatingly large.
Though it's scary at first, the screen, paired with Fiat Chrysler's Uconnect system, is actually pretty friendly. Or at least it starts to feel natural after driving three-quarters of the way across America while battling your co-driver's satellite radio choices.
On top of The Big Screen, our Rebel has adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, blindspot and cross-path detection, cozy leather-trimmed heated seats, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, a few real electric plugs, and a seemingly endless number of USB ports. It is loaded, and I love it.
Oh, and then there's the barn-door tailgate. All those options don't come cheap. The Ram's $71,000 MSRP is a lot. Especially for a half-ton pickup.
Pickup trucks are the perfect only-vehicle for many. But a city-living performance car lover who rarely hauls things does not need a big rig. Or even a little rig. And the thought of not having access to some sort of sporty car makes me feel embarrassingly anxious.
But if I had the resources to obtain a $71,000 second or third vehicle, and I needed a race car hauler that could double as a daily driver, this Rebel 1500 EcoDiesel, as optioned, would be at the top of my list.
In the meantime, I sure don't mind pretending I'm a Big Important Diesel Person.
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