Drive Time: 2017 Ram Rebel a joy to drive | MyWindsorNow.com

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Drive Time: 2017 Ram Rebel a joy to drive

The 2017 Ram Rebel 4X4 with Hemi V-8, 8-speed automatic.

A "For Sale" sign in an old coupe along the way as I cruised the countryside south of Johnstown in the 2017 Ram Rebel raised in my mind the question, "What's a 1940 Chrysler worth?"

I parked the Rebel and walked around the old car, a dark blue. Its price is "$15,000 or best offer." That is probably not too out of line, though I'm helping a friend sell a 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider convertible with only 49,000 miles, and asking considerably less than that. The Chrysler is tainted a bit by the fact a Chevy V-8 engine sits beneath the hood in place of the original straight-6 Chrysler block.

My dad was a dealer for new Chryslers and Fords in Wray in 1940; prices off the showroom floor were $1,000 to $1,400 for Chryslers and $750 to $950 for Fords.

The Rebel 1500 is joy to drive. An off-road-enhanced pickup, it is a new competitor of the tough Ford Raptor.

The sturdy-looking Rebel crew cab with a 5-foot-7 bed delivers a comfortable ride, while building a strong off-road reputation.

Highlighting the Rebel's second year on the Colorado scene is one finished in Mojave-sand exterior color; the first of only 1,500 to be built in that paint scheme came off the production line three months ago. With the limited run of those of Mojave sand, few consumers will have an opportunity to own one. The Rebel, though, is being sold in six other colors, too.

One of the rare Rebels with Mojave sand finish was delivered to me a few days ago. I'd already driven one — my son and daughter-in-law, Dale and Sandy Wells, purchased one of them several weeks ago.

Lending appeal to the Rebel as a challenger to the Raptor is the Ram's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 8-speed automatic transmission, turning out 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. Push-buttons on the dash engage four-wheel-lock and four-wheel-low range. In place of paddle shifters to do a manual-mode upshift and downshift of the gears are two buttons within reach of the driver's right thumb on the front of the steering wheel. The Hemi/8-speed power is complemented with smooth delivery.

With its four-corner air suspension and coil springs, the Rebel probably outrides its competition. The height of the truck can be raised or lowered 3 inches with push of a button, lowering to aid entry and exit and lifting for off-roading.

An Alpine premium sound system delivers pleasant entertainment, including integrated voice command with Bluetooth. Navigation and rear-view camera also benefit from a large 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen display. Also inside, along with lots of storage compartments are two deep bins, one on each side of the rear-seat floor beneath the floor mats.

The Rebel, on a wheelbase of 140 inches, is 229 inches in overall length and its curb weight is approximately 5,400 pounds. It carries an EPA fuel estimate of 15/21 miles per gallon. My overall average was 17.3. The Rebel is built in Warren, Mich.

Helping to push the Rebel's price from a base of $47,095 to sticker of $56,250 are RamBox cargo areas built into the bed sides. These cut into load capabilities inside the main pickup box.

Base engine is a 305-hp, 3.6-liter V-6. The Hemi, though, seems better suited to the Rebel, considering its size and performance expectations.

Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at budwellscars@comcast.net.