2020 Ram Rebel EcoDiesel: Rugged looks, everyday-drive temperament
Whenever a pickup truck arrives at my home, I always play the “will it fit?” game with my social media followers, posing the truck in front of my city garage. When the 2020 Ram Rebel EcoDiesel arrived, the vote was pretty much a unanimous no.
They weren’t wrong.
Even with kissing the back of my garage, the Rebel EcoDiesel stuck out about 3 inches beyond the front of my garage.
So, that’s a roundabout way of saying the Ram Rebel is a large vehicle. Which is why I was surprised at how comfortable I felt driving it.
That’s not to say this truck is nimble. It’s not. No full-size trucks are. But the test vehicle was completely decked out with every option and topped $70K. Thus, there were a lot of driver-assist features such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which helped the Rebel EcoDiesel drive small — or, well, smaller.
Another huge help on the comfort spectrum: the level of driver-position customization, including a highly adjustable driver’s seat, telescoping steering wheel and power adjustable pedals. That latter item is a true luxury because Rebel is the only 1500 model to offer them.
REBEL VS SILVERADO TRAILBOSS
I drove the Rebel EcoDiesel back-to-back with the Chevrolet Silverado TrailBoss, and while both trucks have their own particular brand of exterior swagger, the differences in interior quality were staggering.
The Ram Rebel interior has a high level of customization and luxury-add features – such as the 12-inch vertical touchscreen infotainment display. The behind-the-wheel graphics and Uconnect images are up-to-date, and everything from the stitching to the feel of the materials used is high-end.
In fact, I’d say the interior of the Ram Rebel EcoDiesel looked like it could compete in the luxury car class with the high attention to detail, quality finishes, eye-catching graphics and pleasing tactile feel to all the surfaces within the truck.
In contrast, the Silverado interior looks old, used and tired.
And that’s without talking about seat comfort. The Rebel seats – in all positions – have cushioning that is somehow both supportive and squishy at the same time. In the Silverado, it’s almost like you’re sitting on a stiff cardboard box, and the leather surfaces feel like cheap vinyl.
To be fair, though both vehicles start at around the same price, the Rebel has a ton more optional features – and the test truck added them all – whereas the Silverado test truck added what it could and still only topped out at just more than $50K.
Another win for the Ram Rebel EcoDiesel is in the arena of interior quietness – and that’s huge because, you know, diesel. While I wouldn’t say the interior quietness was tomblike, it was certainly above and beyond what I’d expect from a truck with large side mirrors and an engine that should make a lot of noise.
But this EcoDiesel is all new for 2020, marking the third generation for this engine, and the folks at Ram put a lot of work into reducing the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Some of the tweaks include offsetting the piston pin by 0.3 millimeters from the center line to minimize mechanical noises and using a lightweight sandwiched polymer/metal material on the lower portion of the two-piece oil sump.
For this new generation, the EcoDiesel maintains a 3.0-liter, turbocharged V-6, but it has increased horsepower and torque, as well as the highest available half-ton towing capacity at 12,560 pounds.
In specific numbers, the Ram EcoDiesel delivers 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque – this accounts for 8% and 14% increases, respectively.
Overall, I was impressed by the smooth power this engine provides. While I didn’t tow anything during the test period, I did put the truck bed to use, filling it with items my husband and I were moving to storage. I didn’t notice any lack or lag over driving when the vehicle was sans cargo and passengers.
Merging into highway traffic is effortless, and I found that making a left turn onto a busy street was also fairly easy with excellent instant acceleration.
TACKLING THE URBAN JUNGLE
I also didn’t have the opportunity to take the Rebel EcoDiesel off road, but sometimes the potholes and speed bumps in Chicago can be worse than most obstacles you’ll encounter “in the wild.” The big knobby tires on the test truck handled the “moon craters” effectively, leaving little fear that I’d bottom out or somehow get a flat tire.
And rather than a teeth-clattering motion over the various urban obstacles, the Rebel EcoDiesel evened out the rough edges – which, frankly, had me speeding up each time I approached potholes to see how the truck would react. In most vehicles, I have to slow down to about 5 mph to handle the divots on my street. In the Ram EcoDiesel, I found I could go the speed limit (30 mph) without worry.
I didn’t chip any teeth, get car sick or otherwise injure the vehicle, so I’m considering it a win.
Back to those knobby tires for a minute, they do roughen up your ride a tinge on the highway, and you will also hear a little bit of tire noise enter the cabin at highway speeds. But overall, Ram has done a really good job lessening the harsh effect these tires could have in everyday driving situations.
One final word on the EcoDiesel needs to be about fuel economy. EPA estimates that you should get 21 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving. During my test period in combined driving, I averaged 20.9 mpg. While that’s really stellar for a pickup truck, it didn’t quite meet my expectations.
In comparison, when I drove the Ford F-150 PowerStroke diesel, I averaged 22.1 mpg.
As I wrap up this review, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about exterior styling a wee bit. I love the looks of the Ram 1500 in general and the Rebel specifically. I love the two-tone paint scheme and bold black grille as well as the word “Ram” hidden in the taillight. The bold and textured optional Ram Head badge on the tailgate is also a highlight.
I also very much appreciated the optional running boards for easy access to the driver’s seat.
The one quibble I have is with the lack of a step or grip that makes it easy to climb into the truck bed. Since I was loading boxes that needed to be pushed the back, I spent a fair amount of time stepping up and down. While I got an excellent glute workout, I couldn’t help but remember the cutout in the bumper of the Silverado and handgrip on the lip of the truck bed, which made the climb a little easier.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I like the Ram Rebel. I liked it when I first drove it at the press preview. I liked it when I had the gasoline model as a week-long test vehicle. And I really liked the EcoDiesel engine.
Though I didn’t use it as a work truck or go muddin’, I can absolute attest to the overall comfort of this vehicle as an everyday driver. It has excellent finishing touches comparable to a lux-level vehicle, and the highly customizable driving position makes it ideal for a wider range of drivers.