It’s finally time to drive the new 2023 Ram HD Rebel off-road truck. Is it really the new Ram Power Wagon with a diesel engine? To get to the bottom of this I compare these three heavy-duty 4×4 trucks on the same trail near Big Bear California. The trucks are a new 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel with a Cummins turbo-diesel engine, a new 2023 Ram HD Rebel with a gas V8, and a new Ram Power Wagon (also with a gas V8).
2023 Ram 2500 Rebel
The new Ram HD Rebel is built on the same 2500-series platform that underpins the Power Wagon. This includes the multi-link rear suspension system with coil springs. However, there are many differences between the Power Wagon and the Heavy Duty Rebel. Most of the differences involve the front axle and the front suspension—more on this in a minute.
One of the reasons why there is no ram HD 3500 Rebel (aka. 1-ton Rebel off-road truck) is that the 3500-series trucks use a different leaf-springs-based rear suspension (not coil springs). According to Ram, producing a Ram 3500 Rebel would require an additional development cycle to tune and set up the truck’s suspension for a more comfortable ride and off-road capability. This is not in the cards, at least not now. Ram did not make any future-looking statements about a 1-Ton Rebel off-road truck.
While the Power Wagon has a lifted front suspension, Articulink front control arms, a disconnectable front sway bar, and a front locking differential – the HD 2500 Rebel does not have any of these features. The HD Rebel does have specially tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, a selectable rear locker, and very capable 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires.
The HD Rebel’s goal is to combine comfortable highway ride, with increased off-road capability, and heavy-duty payload and towing capacities. Thus, the gas-powered HD Rebel is rated at up to 3,140 lbs of payload and 16,870 lbs of towing capacity. The Cummins-powered HD Rebel is rated at up to 1,970 lbs and 14,920 lbs of towing.
After driving all three of these trucks back to back, I am impressed with the off-road capability of the HD Rebel (both gas and diesel).
The tires provide great grip in most conditions, and the suspension offers enough articulation to tackle fairly extreme obstacles. However, the HD Rebel is not as capable or easy to drive off-road as the Power Wagon. The Power Wagon offers greater articulation and keeps its tires on the dirt in most situations for maximum traction. The front locker enables the truck to climb over larger rocks at slower speeds and more control.
Take a look at the video below for all the details, and another video below that going through the Ram HD Rebel in more detail: