Making a statement is now more important than who you actually are. This is why people lease upper-trim luxury cars ever though they’ll never truly exploit the 400+ horsepower lurking beneath the bonnet, if they even know what they’ve got to begin with. They selected the car because they’ll look the part.
In the pickup world, it’s more or less the same. People will opt for the Platinum, Denali or Laramie Limited but never take it off-roading, load something in the bed and possibly barely even tow. Amongst the trucks, there are bigger and more badass versions but you’ll never see owners parading around in them as there’s more than just a financial cost involved.
Super hard-core heavy-duty pickups like the Power Wagon (PW) or Ford Raptor are purposely designed to do a job, or many at once. Actually, Raptor owners are likely to never put the Fox Shox to work but if someone ticks the Power Wagon box out of the 2500 HD’s lineup, that’s because there’s all kinds of work to be done.
Pickups are canvases that can go from plain commercial white to stripes, decals, mad oversized wheels and tires, a raised ride height and countless add-on accessories. Well, there you have it, that’s the Power Wagon.
More specifically, the PW differs visually with its black powder-coated front and rear bumpers. You’ll not need to look too closely to find a Warn 12,000-lb. winch up front for those times when you go too deep. Remember, the more capable the truck, the deeper in sh*t you get.
The massive decals are impossible to miss and if you can select to optionally delete the badging. That would be a mistake, in my opinion. The black and silver 17” wheels sport 33” Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, which are huge, but the temptation to go bigger would be impossible to resist if the big galoot was mine. The extra ground clearance, over an HD, is evident and further demonstrates that this is no toy.
There’s no mistaking the Power Wagon for what it is up close. From a distance, it could be confused with the very RAM 1500 Rebel but there’s no shame in that. On board however, the PW mimics what you’ll find within a RAM 2500 HD with the exception of stitched “Power Wagon” letters in the front seat side bolsters.
The dashboard is functional collection of controls. Despite the number buttons, the ergonomics are good with simple acces to the important accessories.
Comfort and space
Most Crew Cab pickups can easily double as people and cargo carriers. This Power Wagon is configured as a 6-seater where the front armrest foldups and reveals the extra spot. It’s not the most comfortable as lower limbs must be twisted over into the front passenger’s footwell.
The 2nd row also accommodates three passengers without any particular compromises. The lower bench can fold up to reveal useful storage for smaller items. The optional RamBox management system does more or less the same job for dirty items. Depending on your needs, they do chew up on the bed’s width. The depth is unchanged at 6’4” but the width goes from 66.4” (total) to roughly 51”, or the distance between the wheelhouses.
A base 2017 RAM 2500 Power Wagon retails for $59,195. This amount gets you all the important mechanical bits, namely the V8, the locking differentials, 4:10 rear axle ratio, disconnecting sway bars, tires, wheels and more.
My tester’s price of just over $71,000 is representative of the luxuries that can be tacked on this work horse. The Leather & Luxury Group is responsible for $5k in options alone and includes a 9-speaker Alpine audio system, power heated leather front seats, heated steering wheel, park sense, Uconnect with navigation and more. The $950 Comfort package (heated front seats and steering wheel) is a better investment in my opinion. The extra $4k can be used on a set of 40” X 13.5” Pro Comp Tires and a Flowmaster cat-back dual exhaust system to make the 6.4-litre roar. Now that’s a plan!
Nothing can stop the Power Wagon. Nothing, except for human error… Evaluating a Power Wagon on the road is like taking a McLaren to the grocery store – you can, but you’ll not learn anything new. In my infinite wisdom, I drove out to the country and found a gravel road that led to what looked like a snowmobile trail. I went through it one way, turned around, set up my phone/camera and off I went…to disaster.
The Power Wagon is a single-minded purpose-built and designed tool for working or playing hard. The standard 6.4-litre V8 (aka 392) develops 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. Between it and the front and rear differentials is a 6-speed automatic transmission connected to a part-time Borg Warner transfer case. The Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials are activated by a dash-mounted switch, just above the controls for the electronic disconnecting sway bar. Ready for anything I tell you! Anything, except…
The suspension is a far more complex setup than you would imagine for such a truck. Up front, the PW features a three-link design while the rear gets a five-link coil suspension, and not plain leaf springs. This combination translates into improved ride and handling. Mind you, we are talking about a Heavy-Duty pickup that, in this case includes front and rear Bilstein dampers that are designed for work, not to pamper. Unladen, the ride is bouncy especially over rougher roads at speed. Steering corrections are occasionally necessary and this is where I’d love a new steering wheel design. On smoother surfaces, the only thing I noticed was that I towered over everyone. My brief stint off-road did nothing to upset to PW’s intended path.
This is a direct result of the Power Wagon’s 14.3” of ground clearance, which should have been enough. With 33.6-degree approach, 26.2-degree departure and 23.5-degree breakover angles, I never thought I’d face a challenge from the terrain I was crossing. Know that the RAM has loads of underbody protection with fore-aft bars with skid plates protecting the transfer case and fuel tank. With my luck, they weren’t enough.
So, as I crawled about at 2 km/h shooting my video, I deviated from the path by roughly a meter thinking I’d get to experience more wheel articulation. The tall grass all around me blanketed everything, making me all but blind the surface ahead. Given that I’d encountered nothing on the way in, I assumed quite incorrectly that all would be the same for the way out. Had I been 50cm over to one side or the other, I would have avoided or even put a wheel over the large sharp rock that was jutting likely 15” out of the ground. Where did it end up under the truck? Right up against the driveshaft’s tube, just ahead of the yoke, punching and bending it. And that was the end of my Power Wagon off-road adventure.
So, I messed up doing mild, to put it mildly, off-roading but still managed to screw up. The 2017 RAM Power Wagon performed flawlessly but FCA never accounted for the “Matt-effect”. Perhaps they’ll smarten up for the Power Wagon’s future refresh…