Will the 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Be a Raptor-Killer?
I got excited when I laid eyes upon the truck you see above. I thought, “Oh yeah, Ram is taking on the Raptor!”
It seems I was only partially correct.
Visually, this new Ram has the Raptor in its sights. Notice I didn’t say “cross-hairs.” That’s because the signature grille design was thrown out in favor of a mostly black face with big billet silver letters that shout who makes this truck. Ram states, “Rebel’s blacked-out front-end continues on the flanks, where black Power Wagon wheel-arch moldings, flat-black badge, mirrors and lower body panels create a distinctive trail-ready presence.” On the tailgate, huge black letters leave no doubt about which of the Big Three manufacturers created this special-edition pickup. They remind me of something I recently saw.
Seventeen-inch one-piece wheels wrapped in 33-inch Toyo Open Country A/T all-terrain tires join forces with a one-inch factory suspension lift, uniquely tuned front and rear Bilstein shocks, a rear anti-spin differential, and 10.3 inches of ground clearance to equip the Rebel for off-road travels.
Although the looks and some of the gear on the Rebel hint that it’s marked the Raptor as a target, its powertrain options and the marketing language used to describe it indicate otherwise. I have a sense that Ram isn’t going after the exact same capabilities or image as the 2017 Ford Raptor.
True, the next Blue Oval beast will use a V6. However, that EcoBoost-ed engine will make more horsepower than the current 6.2-liter V8. The Ram Rebel will be available with either the 305-horsepower/269-lb.-ft. 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that pumps out 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s great to have options, but I think the fact that Ram is offering the Rebel with a regular, off-the-shelf V6 means the automaker is trying to make the Rebel appeal to a broader set of buyers than the Raptor, which, in comparison, seems to be a more niche and focused product. Plus, HEMI-powered Rebels can be purchased with either two- or four-wheel drive.
Also, take a look at Ford’s press release about the 2017 F-150 Raptor. It uses phrases such as “the ultimate high-performance off-road pickup.” Yes, the Rebel does have plenty of gear for the rough stuff, but Ram doesn’t send us the same very-pointed marketing messages Ford does. The Dearborn crew mentions that the next Raptor’s “redesigned, larger FOX Racing Shox with more suspension travel and all-new terrain management technology help F-150 Raptor tackle America’s toughest trails” and that its “exterior design is inspired by Ford’s performance heritage in off-road racing that includes Best in the Desert, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and the famous Baja 1000.”
Ford also goes into detail about all of the off-road-focused equipment the 2017 Raptor will have, such as a six-mode Terrain Management System and a Torsen front differential for increased traction in the rough stuff. New Fox Racing Shox with bespoke internal bypass technology will keep the pickup from bottoming out at your local OHV park. “Front and rear shock canisters have grown from 2.5 inches to 3 inches in diameter for improved performance. They feature more suspension travel than the current Raptor’s 11.2 inches at the front and 12 inches at the rear.” On top of all that, the Raptor is six inches wider than a regular F-150 for better off-road stability. Ford’s intentions of making Mother Nature its bitch are undeniably clear.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the Ram Rebel will be a fine truck that will be able to hold its own when the trails get tough. I just don’t think it will be the off-road-obsessed animal the Raptor will be. I don’t think Ram wants it that way. I’m convinced it wants to offer Rebel customers similar over-the-top butch looks and plenty of capabilities in a more attainable, (relatively) mass-market package. It’ll start doing so through its dealers early in the second half of this year.
Ford, on the other hand, won’t start selling its 2017 F-150 Raptor until fall 2016.
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Raptor image [Ford]