What’s new at Ram and Jeep for 2016?

Today we stopped by the Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, California, to get a sneak preview and wheel time in the 2016 vehicles from FCA, including the Ram Rebel, the Cummins diesel Ram 3500 with 900 lb-ft of torque, the Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition, Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, and of course the 707 horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat, among other vehicles.

The big news from Ram is the off roady looking Rebel and 1-ton 3500 Cummins truck with 900 lb-ft of torque. The Rebel is based on a Ram 1500, but it features standard air suspension, which provides a small lift to clear 35-inch Toyo all-terrain tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels. A Rebel specific interior, grille, and other bits make it stand apart from a typical Ram 1500. Don’t mistake it for a Ford Raptor competitor, it’s not. The Rebel is more of an image vehicle with slightly less off road capability than the now discontinued Ford, but with a more palatable price tag. The Rebel also comes with a real, rumbly V-8 engine, something the new Raptor is rumored to be missing.

The 2016 Ram 3500 is now available with a 6.7L Cummins diesel punching out a class-leading 900 lb-ft of torque, besting the second place Ford Super Duty 6.7L Power Stroke that currently spins out at 860 lb-ft of torque. If you’re in the market for a 1-ton, you’ll be shocked at how smooth the optional self-leveling air-assist suspension on the Ram is. Take it for a test drive before you buy anything.

Also new for Ram is the Limited luxury trim level available for 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks. The Limited trim gives you all of the accoutrements like fine stitched leather without the gaudy cowboy theme of the Laramie Longhorn package. We’ve seen many people get up in arms about the high-dollar trim levels available in modern pickups. They need to keep in mind that over half of the trucks Ram sells have a luxury interior, and the luxo trimmed trucks spend less time on dealer lots than the base models. You may not like them, but the numbers prove that a lot of buyers do.

Yet another new feature for Ram is the new and improved top tier Uconnect navigation system. It now plays much nicer with Apple iPhones, allowing you to access Siri via steering wheel switches and voice commands. Talk to text also now works for iPhone users. Perhaps our favorite new head unit feature is the ability to toggle from bed view to tailgate backup cam on the big nav screen. It’s much better than the tiny screen in the rearview mirror for the tailgate camera on 2015 models.

Jeep brought out the new Black Bear Edition Wrangler. It’s themed after the mountainous Black Bear Pass trail in Colorado. The Black Bear Edition features a satin black grille, a Wrangler first. It also comes with a Black Bear map hood sticker, a Dana 44 rear axle, rock rails, and Goodyear Silent Armor tires with Kevlar. The Black Bear Edition Wrangler is basically an upfitted Sport model. It’s a limited edition, so don’t expect more than 5,000 or so to roll off of the assembly line.

The Wrangler Willys Wheeler edition is no longer a limited production model. It is a full-fledged trim level for 2016. The option adds $6,100 to the $22,695 base price of a two-door Sport model.

The Jeep Wrangler Sahara model now features body-color painted bumper centers front and rear as well as chrome accented grille bits for 2016.

No official word on the rumored and much anticipated 707hp Grand Cherokee SRT Hellcat / Trackhawk, but we did hop in the 2016 SRT Grand sporting the 475hp 6.4L Hemi, which enables the Grand Cherokee to accelerate from 0-60 mph in an impressive 4.8 seconds and run the quarter mile in the mid 13s. Top speed is 160 mph. It’s certainly no slouch. We took the 707hp Dodge Charger Hellcat for a spin on the track to get an idea of what a Grand Cherokee version would feel like. The all-wheel-drive capability will make it a pavement-eating monster for sure.