Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins / Photos by Garvin St. Villier
As an automotive journalist and publisher, I’ve been fortunate enough to test drive a new vehicle every week for the last 25 years. So naturally, I never really had to purchase a car or truck to get around in. I know, it’s a privileged disposition to be in. However, I felt it was finally time to saddle up with a piece of metal I could call my own. After two years of deciphering between RAM, Tundra, and F-150, I finally pulled the trigger on “Soul Rebel 22” by Mopar and Automotive Rhythms.
First things first, I spent quite a bit of time in the new 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, but its lack of tow hooks and rear under-seat storage due to the hybrid’s battery pack ruled out that possibility. Ford’s F-150 seems to be the best-selling vehicle year after year. However, the styling is too rudimentary for me unless you rock with the Raptor. Yet, if I were thinking about a Raptor, I’m immediately going for a RAM TRX. Plus, I’m not a fan of the SYNC infotainment system. Ford builds amazing trucks, but the blue oval is not my theme. RAMs are the most menacing trucks on the market, and, the name fits my persona. I’m a former Georgia Tech running back who continues to work out daily. Rams in the wild are fast, large, quick on their feet, and hard-hitting like my Jersey number 22 halfback days in Atlanta.
Next up was finding the perfect build in stock without ordering from RAMTrucks.com and waiting months. Thankfully, Criswell Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM in Gaithersburg, MD had a 2022 RAM 1500 Rebel GT in Hydro Blue Pearl-Coat on the lot that had yet to be claimed. The GT package came to light in the summer of 2021 and replaced the rotary dial shifter with the TRX’s traditional gearshift lever and steering wheel paddle shifters. This was a gamechanger because I am no fan of dials on trucks unless they’re for volume and radio tunning! The $2,995 GT package also blesses your pickup with a cold air intake and cat-back exhaust system by Mopar, power-adjustable metal pedals, and interior and exterior badging.
The other pivotal reason I leaned on RAM was due to the Mopar connection. The fact that they custom manufacture hundreds of accessories for RAMs is priceless. From running boards and bed steps to vinyl decals, lift kits, and tonneau covers, you can’t go wrong with Mopar. Of course, the Rebel model is already rugged and features an aggressive front fascia, performance-tuned shock absorbers, skid plates, 1” higher suspension, Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, 18×8” off-road rims, and a bulged performance hood to house the stalwart 5.7-liter V8 HEMI e-Torque engine. However, I tapped into Mopar’s massive inventory to outfit “Soul Rebel 22” with a few essential parts that included:
- Cold Air Intake System
- Cat-Back Exhaust System
- Spray-In Bedliner
- Utility Rails & Hide-a-Hooks
- Deployable Bed-Step
- Cargo Bed Divider
- Matte Black Front Air Deflector
- Mopar Accessory Kit featuring:
- Stainless Steel License Plate Cover
- Stainless Steel Keychain
- Mopar Valve Stem Caps
Start her up, and the HEMI/cat-back pairing rumble like mammal herds in the jungle. My truck enthusiast friend Leon Brittain has a HEMI on his red 1500 Laramie minus the exhaust. Upon hearing “Soul Rebel 22” growl with authority, he immediately went to www.mopar.com to put in an order. Leon will also outfit his RAM with the Mopar 2″ lift kit, which doesn’t fit the Rebel. If you’re wondering about my pickup’s nickname, I am a devout Bob Marley fan, and one of the “King of Reggae’s” most influential and meaningful songs is Soul Rebel. Plus, my Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4×4 is the Rebel model. Add in my #22 playing number and wallah.
Another overarching forte RAMs have over competitors is their bold, technological, and comforting interiors. The nucleus of the cabin is the upgraded 12” Uconnect 5 touchscreen infotainment screen. Here, I have easy access to Performance Pages, Apple CarPlay, 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, RAM Connect, and the 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system. A dual-pane panoramic sunroof, rear floorboard storage compartments, remote starter key, heated steering wheel and seats, and 115-volt rear power outlets add to the Rebel’s amenities.
To touch up “Soul Rebel 22” a bit more, I swapped the wheels for Black Rhino 18×8.5” Rapid Forged rims in Matte Brushed Gunmetal and wrapped them in my tire of choice, BF Goodrich all-terrain T/A LT285/65/R18 KO2s. I didn’t want to go too wide because of gas mileage and rubbing. The adventure wheels are engineered using a highly advanced production technique called Flow Form Technology (FFT) which enhances the strength of the alloy while reducing weight.
The next add-on was the premium BAKFlip MX-4 hard tri-fold tonneau cover that is the best in the business and Rough Country HD2 running boards, which increased the exterior flavor and step width I was looking for. Lastly, a Go Rhino hitch-step works in unison with the Mopar deployable bed-step for more convenience. Trick Trucks in Kensington, MD executed all my installations at a far more reasonable labor price than what the RAM dealerships were quoting.
Yes, my dream truck has finally come to fruition after years of conversational enthusiasm with fellow auto journalists like Brian Armstead. Whether hauling mulch, moving a neighbor’s oven, or hitting the trails, I’m now ready for action and primed for the brand’s battle cry, “Guts, Glory, RAM.” Let’s ride!