Ram has updated the 2500 Heavy Duty lineup for 2023 with the introduction of the Heavy Duty Rebel model. The 2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel is positioned between the Laramie and the famously capable 2500 Power Wagon. The 2500 Rebel is an off-road focused truck that blends rugged off-road capability with towing and hauling capability.
Rebel vs. Power Wagon
While there are many similarities between the 2500 Rebel and Power Wagon, there are some key differences between the two models that give them each a unique footing in the model mix. The Power Wagon, for instance, is only available with the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine. The 2500 Rebel is available with the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 (410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque) and the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel (370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque) engines.
Some compromises come with the available Cummins diesel engine. While the HEMI V8-powered Ram Rebel 2500 can tow 16,870 pounds and has a payload capacity of 3,140 pounds, the diesel is rated for a towing capacity of 14,920 pounds and a payload of 1,970 pounds. The available factory-installed 12,000-pound Warn Zeon-12 winch is only compatible with the HEMI V8 because of a clearance issue with the Cummin’s charge-air cooler.
Both engines in the Rebel best the Power Wagon’s maximum towing capacity of 10,530 pounds and a max payload of 1,730 pounds.
The 2023 Ram Rebel 2500 shares much of the off-road focused bits with the Power Wagon, with a few big exceptions. The shocks and springs are the same. Both are only available in 4×4 models and have Articulink three-link front suspension. The Rebel 2500 drops the front axle locker and electronic sway bar disconnect. The Rebel 2500 also has an optional rear air suspension, which is standard on the Power Wagon.
Also missing from the Rebel 2500 are the Power Wagon’s 17-inch wheels with beadlock capability. At the time of the test, the Rebel is only available with 20-inch wheels. Supposedly 18-inch wheels will be an option on the Rebel 2500 in the future.
The Rebel 2500 and Power Wagon are very similar, but there are differences. The Rebel is definitely more focused on a good mix of off-road capability AND towing/hauling capability, whereas the Power Wagon is more focused on the off-road aspect. Pricing for the 2500 Rebel starts at $67,320 and pricing for the Power Wagon starts at $68,625.
Rebel 2500 Ride and Drive
Both of the 2023 Ram Rebel 2500 examples I tested, gas and diesel, were exceptional to drive on good highway road surfaces and country backroads that are pockmarked with potholes. The available rear air suspension does a lot of the heavy lifting in improving the ride quality. I would have liked more sidewall to help smooth out the ride even further, and 18-inch wheels vs. the standard 20-inch wheels would help a lot with this.
The Ram 2500 Rebel interior is a familiar Ram family interior. That’s fantastic, as the Ram interiors are the best in the pickup truck industry. Five adults will fit comfortably in the cab, with enough legroom in the back for passengers to cross their legs. The rear seat lifts to give access to in-floor storage, which is helpful as a quick cooler solution or hidden storage. All cabin materials are high quality, and deviated stitching is found throughout. The seats are embossed with the Rebel logo.
The Rebel’s instrument cluster is a 12″ LCD screen, and a massive 12″ vertically oriented UConnect touchscreen dominates the center stack. There is a great mix of buttons, knobs, and switches on the center console and steering wheel for most of the frequent functions a driver or passenger might need, which is very welcome from a user experience standpoint.
The 17-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo system in the Rebel gave me my own great Taylor Swift virtual concert because who wants to spend $2k on actual concert tickets? Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot rounds out the infotainment tech stack.
The Rebel also has power heated and cooled seats, an adjustable steering wheel, power sliding and folding tow mirrors, and the Ram trailer reverse steering system. A 360-degree camera, lane keep assist, collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive steering round out the safety features of the Rebel 2500.
I’ve always had a soft spot for off-road-oriented trucks, and I have always enjoyed the Ram Rebel 1500 for being just that. Expanding the Rebel offering to the 2500 Heavy Duty trucks is smart on Ram’s part, and we suspect there will be a huge demand for these models. While being a large and capable truck, the Ram 2500 Rebel is still very easy to live with on and off the road, in the suburbs, or in the city. It drives well, is extremely comfortable, and looks fantastic.
The two Ram 2500 Rebels I tested fell in the $80k to $84k range, the key difference being the Hemi gasoline engine or the Cummins diesel. Both are fantastic options, and I enjoyed driving both. If I had to pick one to spend my money on, I’d go with the diesel-powered 2500 Rebel for its added efficiency and driving characteristics from the low-end torque. If I were to go with the gasoline model, I’d go ahead and step up into the Power Wagon, as the price difference isn’t too much between the two. I’d lose towing, but I’d gain more of the off-road capability. Either way though, the Ram 2500 Rebel is an excellent truck and will make their owners very happy over the years.