The Ram Rebel is more than just a truck, it's a feeling.
Getting lost isn't hard. That notion became all too real as I was standing stranded in the bowels of the Florida Everglades with nothing more than vague idea of north from south. Looking out into the nothingness, trying to find my bearings, I turned back in admiration to the truck that had gotten me there in the first place.
The Ram Rebel acts as the second most rugged vehicle in the Ram lineup (next to the almighty Power Wagon). It gets its off-road chops from Jeep, but does so in a more adult, civilized fashion, for lack of a better term. There's a powerful Hemi under the hood, and a tried and tested off-road suspension that's able to go toe-to-toe with its Wrangler and Cherokee siblings. The day started out innocently enough. I packed my camera gear, and prepped for the hour or so drive with some really bad fast food. This is a place I had been before — not the fast food restaurant, the park.
Somewhere between the glitz and glamor of South Beach, and the multi-millionaire retirees of Naples sits true paradise. Rarely explored, unforgivingly tough Florida Everglades. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is only a small part of that, tailored to those looking for a pure, unfiltered nature experience. An 11-mile rocky road cuts the park in half. On either side is swampland and forest filled with enough alligators to make up a large municipality.
Skipping over the rock and the mud, smiling all the while, it's easy to forget that. With a Hemi and a hefty amount of bug spray, I made my journey through the trail, soaking up the brilliance of it all. A deer walked cautiously in my path, and eventually scattered away into the brush before I could jump out and get close enough for a picture. Alligators lined the banks after a particularly rainy month, unfazed by this monster truck or any human presence at all, for that matter. That rain not only meant more wildlife, but more tough terrain, too.
The Ram Rebel delivers on its capability promise with 17-inch wheels, and some big, knobby, 33-inch tall 285/75 Toyota Open Country tires. Both of which made traversing the swampy terrain akin to a walk in the park. The interior, meanwhile, is coated in comfortable leather, not forgetting the totally necessary rubber floor mats that were decidedly dirtier after the trip than when I had started. Then the trail ended.
Let me set the scene for you at this point: you’re staring down a vast, open wilderness dotted with patches of forest, swampland, and some abandoned dirt trials, the likes of which haven’t been used in months. At this point, the Ram showed its true colors. Lakes, overflown from the heavy rains, lined most of the drivable paths. Trees and shrubs brushed onto the windscreen and side sills. The wipers tried to keep up with the rainfall and the vast amounts of water splashing up from the ground. Cell service: none. It was true man, machine, and nature collision course type moment, strewn together into something reminiscent of a Rudyard Kipling novel...if Kipling was a Mopar bro.
Exhilarating is the least affective way to describe it. Very few vehicles would have been able to stand up to such a bellowing from nature. The Rebel did, and did so without so much as a shrug. The defining moment came when I realized I was deep in the heart of the Florida Everglades without any idea where the hell I was. It was about six in the afternoon, and the sun had begun to set over the west coast. Formations of birds flying overhead likely were heading to their nests to roost. Stopped on some abandoned dirt road, I got out to see if I could find my bearings—jumping in the bed, and onto the roof to see if civilization was anywhere close to what I could see. It wasn’t. I sat at the end of the bed, slightly disheartened, slightly afraid…and then it hit me.
The silence. The only thing audible for miles was the sound of birds, bugs, and frogs chirping a song to the setting sun. My cell phone sat in the center console, useless. Everything around me pure and untouched…well, except for the collision course I had just paved in a $50,000 wrecking ball. It was peaceful. No car I had driven previously gave me that same sort of ‘back to nature’ feeling as the Rebel did. In that long afternoon, it was easy to lose track of where I was given the absolutely blast I was having in this rugged truck.
I went into this review thinking, "trucks aren't really for me." I left it wondering "how can I afford one of these things?" Eventually I retraced my
footsteps tire marks and made my way back to where I had initially started. Sorry, this story doesn’t end with me dying in the Everglades. But for those few hours, truly disconnected from society, staring down one of the most beautiful sceneries known to man, the Rebel showed me exactly what it was built to do.
Engine: 5.7-Liter Hemi V8
Price (as tested): $52,525
Photos: Jeff Perez