Ram Rebel

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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.”

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About Author

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Graham Heeps is a regular contributor, and knows the dynamics industry well, having previously edited the title. Graham also writes regularly on automotive and motorsport subjects for other magazines from Vehicle Dynamics International’s publisher, UKi Media & Events (as well as editing Tire Technology International), and contributes to a range of online and print publications in the UK, USA and Canada.

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