Dodge resurrected the Power Wagon moniker back in 2005 to denote its top-spec 4×4 2500 HD and it has rolled on since, through the Daimler-Chrysler divorce, through the lash-up with Fiat, and through the Ram brand’s split from Dodge.
Don’t let the familiar exterior fool you – the latest Power Wagon has received big changes underneath the sheet metal that make it one of the most appealing heavy duty pickups on the market.
Ram comprehensively redesigned the Power Wagon’s ladder frame with high-strength 50 KSI steel, including eight separate cross-members, hydroformed main rails and fully boxed rear rails. The changes add up to a stronger, more mass-efficient foundation for towing and hauling.
A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, and the standard two-speed transfer case includes a 2.64:1 low range and an old-school manual shift lever on the tunnel.
This is no desert-running Ford SVT Raptor. With a two-inch lift over normal Ram 2500 4x4s, an electronically detachable front anti-roll bar, and solid axles front and rear, the Power Wagon is a traditional, multipurpose 4×4.
Based on the 2500 4×4 Crew Cab, all trim levels ride on 33-inch Goodyears mounted on 17-inch wheels, and have 14.5 inches of ground clearance (up 2.5 from a standard Ram 2500). Approach angles have been increased to 34 degrees, departure is now at 23.5 degrees, and the breakover angle has been nudged to 25.5 degrees. Ram claims the new trucks can ford 30 inches of water, which is just 10 shy of fording a Ford GT-40. Fore-aft bars link the transfer case and fuel-tank skid plates, affording a measure of underbody protection for when the ground clearance isn’t quite enough.
This brute, though, is nearly as refined on pavement as a regular Ram 2500, except for the light hum generated by its off-road tires. At 7324 pounds, the Power Wagon is about 300 pounds heavier than a comparable Ram 2500 HD. The dash to 60 mph takes an additional half-second at 8.4 seconds, and the off-road meats stretched the 70-to-0-mph braking distance to 211 feet.
The 33-inch-tall Goodyears afford excellent traction on loose, rocky trails. Locking front and rear differentials provide additional low-range mobility over boulders and up sharp climbs.
Three Power Wagon trim levels offer a wide range of entry points: The mid-level SLT ($50,340) has a flashy grille and stickers, but the simpler Tradesman ($45,690) and range-topping Laramie ($56,215) are more reserved, even if the latter has additional chrome bits and interior amenities, such as leather seats. If you’re worried that a fancy trim level has somehow wussified the Power Wagon, don’t—even the Laramie is worthy of the venerable badge.
The new Power Wagons also feature a significantly upgraded electrical system with twin alternators. One is rated at 220 amps, while the other is rated at 160, offering a combined 380 amps of stump-pulling current. No, really. You can pull stumps. There’s a 12,000-lb Warn winch hidden in the bumper. If the battery starts to run low, computers will selectively shut off systems to preserve it.
That Thing Got a Hemi?
Indeed, the Power Wagon is available only with 6.4 liters of rumbling Hemi V8 glory. The powerplant teams with a six-speed automatic and produces 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. A Multiple-Displacement System (MDS) shuts off four cylinders under light load conditions to conserve fuel.
The 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel available in the standard 2500 – which produces up to 850 lb-ft of torque – isn’t offered in the Power Wagon.
As one would expect, four-wheel-drive comes standard. Maximum towing capacity is rated at 11,200 pounds, and the truck boasts a 1,903-pound payload.
The Power Wagon is just one year removed from a significant cabin overhaul. The same basic cabin design remains but some materials were upgraded, while new color themes are present throughout. More soft touch materials are spread throughout the truck’s interior, and the HVAC and multimedia controls were redesigned.
A Uconnect infotainment system with a 5.0-inch touchscreen (not to be confused with the more sophisticated optional Uconnect access system) provides voice command control for cell phone users via Bluetooth – including voice text reply – in addition to streaming audio and USB charging.
Ram’s gauge cluster features a 3.5 or 7-inch (depending on trim level) information screen, and a Sprint-powered wireless system is available for buyers who need to remain connected.Those who need extra stowage space can spec Ram Box storage bins capable of being locked and unlocked remotely.
The Power Wagon is available with Chrysler’s Uconnect Access infotainment system (for a complete description of Uconnect Access, check out Leftlane’s Spotlight On: Uconnect in-depth article). Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the truck’s audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network – for an additional monthly fee – and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Power Wagon is offered only as Crew Cab (four-door) model with a bed measuring 6’4″. Three trim levels are available: Power Wagon Tradesman, Power Wagon and the luxed-up Power Wagon Laramie.
The Power Wagon Tradesman comes standard with A/C, a six-speaker AM/FM with AUX and USB inputs, power heated mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels, a front winch, tow hooks, a black radiator grille, black door handles and fog lights.
The Power Wagon adds Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, cruise control, full power accessories, a power-sliding rear window, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a trim-specific radiator grille.
The Power Wagon Laramie adds leather seats, a premium audio system, Uconnect Access dual-zone A/C and woodgrain dash and door panels. On the outside, the extra features include body-colored fender flares, chrome-plated mirrors, bumpers and grille as well as unique badging.
The Power Wagon is build for low-speed crawling; where the ground is wet and sticky and there are a lot of rocks that want to keep your oil pan as a souvenir of your visit. The Ram’s also a three quarter-ton truck that’s made to tow and haul.
Ford and GM have both offered off-road trim packages for their pickups. Like, with “off-road” actually in the name. Ford’s FX4 Off-Road featured modestly more robust shocks, skid plates, and some dress-up items. Chevy and GMC’s Z71 Off-Road trucks featured (and continues to feature) modestly more robust shocks, skid plates, and some dress-up items.
Rough, tough and ready to rumble off-road, the Power Wagon is a special variant of the heavy-duty Ram 2500 that’s optimized for climbing over boulders and muscling through deep ruts. Like the rest of the Ram’s HD pickup lineup, it’s received several updates over the past few years that added significantly more output, capability and technology to the big truck.