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  7. 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4X4 EcoDiesel

Derek Shiekhi | Oct 28, 2020


Exterior view of the 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4x4 EcoDiesel

RAM's 2500 and 3500 models are the definition of "work trucks." They're handsome, heavy duty rigs with available Cummins turbo diesel power that provides up to 1,000 lb-ft of stump-removing, sheetrock-hauling, trailer-pulling torque. The 1500 Rebel is a hardcore off-road version of RAM's 1500 light-duty truck. With its factory lift, all-terrain tires and locking rear differential, it's made for rock-crawling, mud-slinging adventures. But I used it as a work truck.

Sort of.

When RAM dropped off a 2020 Rebel 4X4 with the new third-generation EcoDiesel in it, I knew I had a job to do. Make that two: I had to put a lot of miles on it to test its fuel economy and take it off-road to evaluate its performance. Luckily, my pal Bryan knew just the place that would allow me to do both. I climbed into the Rebel and drove a few hours from Austin to Ft. Worth, Texas to meet him at his friend Tony's property so I could do some work that felt a lot more like fun.

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2020 RAM 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel Exterior

Exterior view of the 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4x4 EcoDiesel

It was going to take me a while to discover just what kind of real-world fuel economy the EcoDiesel Rebel was capable of getting, but I knew with just one look that my Flame Red and black test truck was ready for some down-and-dirty action. The vented sport hood sloped toward the blacked-out grille with bold R A M lettering in the middle. Down low, a pair of black tow hooks jutted out of holes at each end of the silver aluminum bash plate.

RAM uses a tried and true method for preparing the Rebel for rough terrain: a lift and new wheels and tires. They raise the Rebel one inch, then install a set of 18-inch wheels surrounded by meaty 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac all-terrain rubber.

As a Crew Cab model, my press loaner came with a 5'7" cargo box. RAM protected it with an optional spray-in bedliner. They also added the Multi-Function Tailgate, which could swing down as one piece like a traditional tailgate or open outward as two differently sized doors to make loading items into the bed easier.

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2020 RAM 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel Interior

Interior view of the 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4x4 EcoDiesel

Good thing my Rebel test truck was so comfortable because I spent a lot of time in it. My trip to Ft. Worth wasn't exactly as straightforward as it sounds. I met Bryan at his condo in Richardson first, grabbed lunch in Dallas, drove out to Ft. Worth, then made the trek all the way back to Austin. The ride quality was impressively refined, and my test truck wasn't even completely loaded. RAM configured it with the standard steel springs instead of the optional four-corner air suspension. I had no complaints. I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly a full-size off-road truck could convert open road into miles traveled.

One option RAM did add was the Rebel 12 package. That 12 means it includes the Uconnect infotainment system with an impressive 12-inch touchscreen that can display two functions at once, such as the included navigation system and the dual-zone climate controls. But there's more to the package than just that. It also comes with a 900-watt, 19-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system and leather seats.

Whenever I head out to shoot photos or video, I always travel with a bulky hard case that contains my gimbal, camera, batteries, cables and cleaning supplies. I usually put it on the floor of the second row because I don't like it sliding around on the rear seat. I had no problem putting it where I wanted in the Rebel thanks to its flip-up back seats and spacious, flat load floor.

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2020 RAM 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel Performance

View of the engine block of the 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4x4 EcoDiesel

The 2020 model year marks the first time the Rebel is available with a diesel engine. The third-generation version of the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 incorporates several upgrades and enhancements that separate it from its predecessor, including a new variable-geometry turbo, new EGR system, revised compression ratio (16.0:1) and redesigned intake ports, direct-injection fuel injector nozzles and pistons. Output is up to 260 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. That, along with an eight-speed automatic and a 3.92:1 rear axle ratio, gives a Rebel equipped like the one you see here a payload rating of 1,800 pounds and maximum towing capacity of 9,710 pounds.

Once Bryan and I got out to Tony's land in Ft. Worth, it was time to use the Rebel's off-road hardware. I pushed a button to put the BW 48-12 part-time transfer case into its 4WD HIGH  setting, pointed the Rebel's nose toward the peak of a rocky hill, then put my right foot down slowly. A stock Rebel would've been able to make it up and over without an issue. But my tester had a pair of optional off-road running boards on it that hung a little lower to the ground than the rest of the cab. The outer edge of the one on the passenger side ended up digging into the mud and grass at the top of the incline. I got stuck and couldn't back up and try a different line (which would've greatly helped in the first place). My only option was to shift into 4WD LOW, lock the rear axle and power out and down the other side. The trip the way back up was effortless and free of snags.

By the time my week with the Rebel was over, I had put 685.7 miles on its odometer and averaged 21.6 mpg. That number is a little north of the 21 mpg a four-wheel-drive 1500 with the EcoDiesel is supposed to get, but below the 24 mpg combined and 29 mpg highway ratings the EPA gives it.

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2020 RAM 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel Safety

View of the safety features of the 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4x4 EcoDiesel

Considering how much highway I put under the Rebel's tires, it was good to know I was surrounded by safety features such as the Rebel Level 2 Equipment Group's front and rear parking assistance system with stop capability and rain-sensing wipers. RAM named the Safety and Convenience Group well. Its automatic high beams, Full Speed Collision Warning Plus and Lane Keep Assist took care of the first half; its Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go covered the second.

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2020 RAM 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel Overall

Exterior view of the 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4x4 EcoDiesel

You don't have to travel hundreds of miles like I did to get some time behind the wheel of the 2020 Rebel. All you need to do is go to your nearest AutoNation RAM dealership, where prices start at $44,490.

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2020 RAM 1500 Rebel 4x4 EcoDiesel Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, 4x4

Engine/Transmission

3.0-liter V6, 260 hp, 480 lb-ft
Eight-speed automatic 

Mileage

24/29 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.