Drive: 2019 Ram Rebel is surprisingly nimble

The first time we laid eyes on the 2019 Ram Rebel Quad Cab 4×4 in our driveway, we decided it would ride like a buckboard, corner like a 1973 Buick Estate station wagon and guzzle gasoline like … well, like a 1973 Buick Estate station wagon. We were wrong on two of the three counts.

Ram Rebel

With its 18-inch all-terrain tires and tall stance, this redesigned Ram, a full-sized pickup truck, couldn’t possibly have the ride and handling qualities of other Rams we’ve driven, could it? We’ve been impressed with those we’ve driven in the past, but the Rebel has the look and personality of an off-road adventurer. But we couldn’t believe how smooth, quiet and nimble it was on pavement. Ram hasn’t lost a step where driveability is concerned.

We were right about the Ram’s fuel economy, however. Equipped with the optional 395-horsepower Hemi V-8, it’s rated at 15 mpg city, 21 highway. If only the real-world numbers were that good. We were unable to exceed 15 mpg in highway driving, even in rear-wheel-drive mode. Our test truck came with the optional 26-gallon fuel tank, and it needs the extra capacity.

The Rebel is one of many incarnations of the 2019 Ram 1500 line. Starting with the work truck, the Tradesman, the Ram can be had in a variety of trim levels ranging from practical to rugged to luxurious. The base Tradesman starts at $27,395. Our Rebel, loaded with performance, technology and comfort options, had a base price of $44,695 and a sticker price of $54,250.

In addition to its UConnect connectivity and infotainment, the Rebel had numerous appealing features. It had loads of space for small items in front — between the seats, in the map pockets, and in the dual glove boxes. The rear seats swing up easily to provide a flat space for luggage or cargo in the cabin. The lightweight fiberglass tailgate is easy to raise and lower.

Our truck was a quad cab, not a crew cab. So while it’s rated for five passengers, those in back don’t have much knee room. Quad-cab models also don’t have underfloor storage space. What the quad cab gives up in passenger room, however, it gains in bed length — about 9 inches more.

Competitors include the Ford F150 Raptor, GMC Sierra All-Terrain, Chevrolet Silverado Realtree Edition, Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

While we judged the power, responsiveness and sound of the Rebel’s Hemi V-8 to be among the best we’ve experienced, the standard V-6 engine is no slouch. It’s rated at 305 horsepower and can transport drivers, passengers and cargo a lot farther from the last gasoline station — thanks to its mpg rating of 19 mpg city, 24 highway.

The 2019 Ram 1500 received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s top rating of “Good” in every crash-test category, as well as a “Superior” grade in front crash protection (with optional equipment). It was rated “Marginal” in headlight performance and ease of use of the LATCH system for child seats.

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel QuadCab 4×4

Price: $54,250

Engine: 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, 395 horsepower, 410 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive: 4×4

Weight: 5,374 lb.

Suspension: independent front; multi-link rear

Ground clearance: 8.7 in.

Wheels: 18×8-in. alloy

Tires: LT275/70R18 all-terrain

Seating capacity: 5

Maximum payload: 1,810 lb.

Maximum towing capacity: 11,470 lb.

Fuel capacity: 26 gal.

Fuel economy: 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.