Ever since Ford introduced the F-150 SVT Raptor back in 2009, there hasn’t been a manufacturer that has built a true competitor to it. Models such as the Ram 1500 Rebel and Toyota Tundra TRD Pro seem ok playing underneath the Raptor by offering a middle ground between it and your standard four-wheel drive pickup. But there is another truck that shares the Raptor’s trait of not having a true competitor. What truck may that be? That would be the Ram 2500 Power Wagon.
The Power Wagon is based on the bones of the Ram 2500 heavy duty and features numerous upgrades to make it an off-road beast. The list of upgrades includes a beefy ladder chassis, solid axles, electronically disconnecting sway bar to allow for more flex when tackling difficult terrain; locking differentials, meaty off-road tires, and a new front bumper with a winch. The only powertrain on offer is the 6.4L HEMI V8 with 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive.
I really didn’t get the chance to put all of the Power Wagon’s upgrades to the test. But with the small amount of off-road driving I was able to do, I can say Ram has a very capable truck. The four-wheel drive system is activated by a floor-mounted shifter and has a nice solid feel when moving into 4HI or 4LO. Once activated, the system paired with the locking differentials keeps power flowing to all of the wheels, despite the conditions. The suspension has excellent articulation and helps the Power Wagon drive over logs or rocks. A set of Goodyear Wranglers tires provided decent grip on loose gravel. In the mud, the Wranglers were struggling. The tires were slipping around, giving the impression that the truck on ice. Keep that in mind if you plan on taking your Power Wagon to any muddy place.
Leaving the beaten path, the Power Wagon is surprisingly very refined. Despite the changes made to the suspension, the ride is very smooth and the truck glides over bumps. Ram’s engineers also did an excellent in noise isolation, a bit surprising considering the off-road tires fitted to this vehicle. The one thing that you notice is how big the Power Wagon is. Due to its size and slow steering, trying to navigate the Power Wagon into an average parking space was almost ‘Mission Impossible’.
The 6.4L HEMI V8 is used in a number of FCA’s performance vehicles such as the Charger R/T Scat Pack I drove a few weeks back. But don’t think this makes the Power Wagon into a speed demon. With a curb weight that tips over 7,000 pounds, a lot of the V8’s power is used to overcome this. Despite the weight, the V8 didn’t feel overwhelmed. It was more than able to keep up with traffic. There is the added bonus of a distinctive engine note. It should be noted that 2500 Power Wagon has a max towing capacity of 9,790 pounds.
In terms of fuel economy, I got an average of 12 MPG for the week. The EPA doesn’t provide fuel economy numbers since the Power Wagon is over a certain weight.
The exterior is a bit much with ‘Power Wagon’ decals on the doors and tailgate, and an interesting splatter pattern on the rear fenders. I found it to be a bit much. At least on the SLT trim, there is an option to delete the graphics. Also, you can order the Power Wagon in the Tradesman and Laramie that don't come with the graphics. Getting into the Power Wagon does require some athleticism as you’ll need to leap into the cabin, despite there being some entry rails. Once inside, you’ll find a decently finished cabin with supportive cloth seats for five passengers. No one will feel uncomfortable in the back as there is more than enough head and legroom. Infotainment duties are handled by Chrysler’s eight-inch UConnect system. The system is very easy to use and quite responsive when changing from screen to screen or choosing a various audio source.
The 2016 Ram 2500 Power Wagon starts at $50,715 and my tester came to a final price of $57,480 with a fair amount of options.
The Power Wagon is an interesting beast in the truck landscape. It offers a surprising amount of off-road capability while retaining a high tow rating and having a very comfortable ride. But it is built for a specific audience. One that will be putting all of the off-road parts to work and being ok with having a high gas bill.
It is in a class of one, much like the Raptor.
Disclaimer: Ram Provided the 2500 Power Wagon, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: Power Wagon SLT
Engine: 6.4L HEMI MDS V8
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 410 @ 5,600
Torque @ RPM: 429 @ 4,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - N/A
Curb Weight: 7,056 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Saltillo, Mexico
Base Price: $50,715
As Tested Price: $57,480 (Includes $1,195 Destination Charge)
Ram Box Cargo Management System - $1,295
UConnect 8.4 - $1,005
Cloth 40.20/40 Premium Bench Seat - $900
Luxury Group - $695
Spray-In Bedline - $475
ParkSense Front/Rear Park Assist System -$395
Center High-Mount Stop Lamp w/Cargo View Camera - $325
ParkSense Rear Back-Up Camera - $200
Remote Start System - $200
Front and Rear Rubber Floor Mats - $80