The Power Wagon is the top of line off-road truck from RAM. The truck starts out as a heavy-duty 2500 RAM crew cab with the 6.4 Liter V8 Hemi engine. If the half ton RAM Rebel isn’t enough for you then the Power Wagon is where it’s at.
I remember a hunting trip in the Laramie Range Mountains of Wyoming in a RAM 1500 Laramie (how ironic!) and the truck was superb. It hauled the 10,000lb camper no problem and on separate trips in the snow performed well. Especially for being equipped with factory highway tires. Then we got stuck. High centered to be precise. On a snow drift. A really big snow drift. So looking back on that situation now, I wish I had a Power Wagon.
The Power Wagon has a factory 2″ lift kit, giving the truck 14.3″ of ground clearance. Ground clearance being important to make it easier to navigate over rough terrain and rocks. The disadvantage to this is that it makes the truck slightly more difficult to get in. Lifted trucks in Wyoming are ten a penny so I didn’t find this an issue and at 5’3″ I just hopped right in without even noticing. I’m used to it. My granny might need a step though. During the Off-Road course at CORE in Colorado, there weren’t any obstacles or terrain that came close to hitting the bottom of the truck. Talking of the bottom of the truck, just in case you do get close to something underneath, there are skid plates. The Power Wagon has complete under-chassis armor.
She tastes pretty good on the rocks too. Did I say taste? I meant test. We tested the truck over a small rock garden. The ‘smart bar electronic disconnecting sway bar’ meant that the truck could take any line over the rocks. Other 4x4s that were there that day such as some SUVs could not make it over the rocks or had to be guided through a particular path. The Power Wagon made it look easy. If we did get in a tricky situation, there are locking front and rear differentials available by the touch of a button. Or use the standard 12,000lb Warn winch (enough to pull the entire weight of the truck with a little left over!).
After the rock garden on the course came a series of moguls. 26 inches of wheel travel made the moguls appear easy.
Hill climbs were easy, the terrain was a dirt ‘road’ with a covering of sand. I didn’t feel any slipping at all going up the hill. On the descent, downhill assist made it effortless being able to remove my feet from the equation. 9 different speeds are available that can be controlled through the manual ± gear selection on the lever to the side of the steering wheel.
Through the Baja section of the course, the Power Wagon has no problems with speed. Even in 4 low, 60mph wasn’t an issue. The Bilstein shock absorbers soaked up the bumps like pebbles. Nick Cappa from Ram trucks (who rode shotgun with me around the course) told me the monotube shock set up will dissipate heat better, “..and you can run ’em hard all day long”.
There has to be a comprise for off-road performance and with the Power Wagon, it’s fuel consumption. It’s not terrible (I’ve experienced worse) but it’s not that of a diesel either. If you can live with the fuel consumption, the 410hp, 429lb-ft torque Hemi engine is a lot of fun and makes this truck extremely capable off-road. Towing Capacity is at 9,960lbs*, which isn’t as good as some other RAM model trucks but I wouldn’t call it a complete compromise, it’s still good enough to haul a small camper.
The 2017 model gets a new grille design (similar to the half ton Rebel model). The tailgate gets the RAM stamp so there’s no missing what kind of truck it is. I really love the new retro style graphics on the side. New for the interior is ‘tire tread embossed’ cloth seats with the Power Wagon logo stitched on the bolsters. A leather and luxury package is available as an optional extra.
If I could describe this truck in one word it would be… ‘MERICA. Overall I was very impressed with the 2017 Power Wagon on the course we were on. Of all the vehicles I drove around that course, this truck came out top for me. I would, however, be keen to test this truck on some more demanding obstacles, gravel roads, snow and during a particular season that runs from Oct-Dec.
In the video below, Nick Cappa from RAM Trucks tells us about some key features on the truck as we go around the course.
*RAM Towing guide.