Ram’s latest product is the Rebel, a 1500 pick-up derivative aimed at the outdoor sports enthusiast. Central to the 18-month development program was the Rebel’s revised chassis, which features a 1in-higher ride height from the Continental air suspension, new Bilstein monotube dampers and new-to-Ram Toyo tires. The goal was to improve performance off road without detriment to the 4×4 truck’s on-road behavior.
“We’ve some really good off-road testing at our Chelsea Proving Grounds so we were able to do a lot of work in-house,” explains Mike Cairns, Ram’s chief engineer. “We also typically go out West, to Moab, Utah, because that is an awesome off-road venue where tires, ground clearance and angle of approach/departure make a big difference. On the Rebel the front bumper tapers up really tight so the angle of approach is improved quite a bit. The tires are wide open so you can get one side or the other up on a rock pretty easily and climb over obstacles.
The higher center of gravity and new dampers prompted the team to ensure that the Hemi-powered trucks’s ride and handling remained “safe and predictable”. The winding roads of Connecticut are a favorite with the Ram engineers.
“We changed the front suspension geometry a little to account for that [ride height increase]and worked with Bilstein, which is well known for its off-road shocks on the tuning because we didn’t want to give up ride quality,” says Cairns. “We think we’ve achieved that, even though it’s an off-road suspension.”
The Rebel’s chunky Toyo A/T Open Country M+S tires (285/70 R17) are an off-the-shelf product.
“With the short lead time, we looked at what was out there,” says Cairns. “Toyo was looking to do some business with us; we looked at theirs and some other manufacturers’ tires, but this one really stood out from the others. It had the look we wanted – a very aggressive tread and big sipes on the side that make it look like a great off-road tire. And it is – it performs really well in mud and snow – but Toyo did a nice job developing this tire because it still has pretty good rolling resistance and very little road noise, unlike a lot of knobby off-road tires. It also had really good handling characteristics on the road, so it hit all our needs.”