Taking your truck off-road used to be such a rite of passage. You had to climb out and manually lock the hubs, put the truck in 4×4 (again, manually), check your tire pressure and then, only then, were you really ready to tackle the trails. If you have ever done that, you know it sucks. Really sucks. Ram has an elegant solution: the 2019 Ram Rebel.
This pickup is so well equipped with its fancy push buttons for 4×4 and locking rear differential, you could literally off-road in your bathrobe and a pair of slippers. Not that we would know anything about that …
Look, the pickup is really freaking amazing with lots to like, but you really only need to know these top 5 things.
Electronically locking rear differential
When it comes time to get dirty, really dirty, every off-roader knows they need a lot of traction. Spinning tires may look cool on YouTube videos, but they can cause a lot of problems trying to climb a hill.
New for the 2019 Rebel is a standard electronically locking rear differential. At the push of a button, located near the 2WD and 4WD selector push buttons, the rear wheels are locked together. This makes them work together to maintain grip, even as one lifts off the ground or slides into slick mud.
The reality is 4WD is great and 4WD low is even better. But a push-button electronically locking rear differential is icing on the cake.
Upgraded air suspension
Another change for 2019 has to do with the air suspension – the hiss you might have heard on other Rebel pickups. And no, that wasn’t a tire losing air. It was the four-corner air suspension.
The prior generation Ram Rebel 1500 made air suspension standard, while the 2019 model will have it as an option. You can now choose between the standard coil suspension and the air suspension.
Ram says the four-corner air suspension system itself has been improved with a new load-leveling feature. The pickup can automatically detect when there is a payload in the bed, or a load on the suspension from a trailer. After it senses a load causing the pickup to sag, the system increases gas pressure to bring the pickup back up to level.
Plus, the air suspension can now be operated from the key fob. Yeah, the key fob. Press a button, raise your pickup and impress the ladies.
Or if you are vertically challenged (see: stature, short) the system can literally drop the entire cab to help you get in.
You can also activate an aero mode, which lowers the pickup .6 inches to improve fuel efficiency when driving faster than 35 mph. Brilliant right? Go faster, get lower and keep the wind off.
Spending a long day on the trail can wear you down, and a noisy cabin only adds to your crankiness. Nobody likes a cranky person, so Ram engineers have zeroed in on this problem. They added frame-mounted active-tuned mass modules (ATMM) to fix this problem. Really, these things exist.
ATMMs are small cylinders that looked like black cans and are bolted on the side of the frame on the outward side underneath the cabin on both sides. Inside these cars are solenoid-activated weights.
The ATMM works by shaking its internal weight in response to when the engine creates more vibration during cylinder deactivation, which the 5.7L V8 Hemi in this truck uses. By shaking, any additional vibration coming from the engine is vastly reduced and the pickup delivers a smooth riding experience.
Crazy right? Well, they work. We know.
New shocks make for a longer day
Another new item for the 2019 Rebel 1500 is a set of Bilstein remote-reservoir shocks, which will allow you to play longer than before.
These remote reservoirs address the problem of “shock fade.” This is when the oil inside the shocks gets heated to the point where the shocks can’t operate like they normally do. The shocks get soft and don’t respond as fast as they used to. This means that small bump you hit a while ago feels like it is now a crater. No bueno.
With remote reservoirs, this oil is cycled through the shocks and an external cylinder to keep the oil cooled longer. This way the small bumps stay small like they should, and hitting them all day doesn’t wear your body out.
The remote reservoir shocks are an upgrade over the prior-generation Bilstein monotube shocks, which suffered from shock fade. Those suck. The new ones are much better.
Massive skid plate
OK, maybe it’s not a “tech” feature, but the massive skid plate is a great feature and really should be mentioned. Every off-roader knows the dread from hearing a “crunch” from under the pickup. If this hasn’t happened to you, just wait. It is going to happen eventually.
The crunch means you hit something you shouldn’t have and it is likely going to cost you lots of money.
The skid plate starts at the front bumper and literally goes all the way under the cabin. It covers all the essentials like the transfer case, steering, engine and gas tank. Most stock off-road skid plates just cover the engine.
This additional coverage should help avoid hearing the crunch sound and keep you from putting money into repairs. Nothing ruins a fun day on the dirt than breaking your pickup. Again, don’t ask us how we know.
The 2019 Ram Rebel 1500 should be on dealers’ lots in the fall of 2019. Our fully loaded test model came was priced at $59,850 and base models begin at $47,495. That may sound like a lot of dough, but off-roading in your bathrobe comes at a price.