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.
For the latest model year, the Power benefits from a reworked suspension and a new 410-horsepower 6.4-liter HEMI V8.
Those revisions come in addition to the new frame, cushier interior and extra technology that arrived last year.
Don't let the familiar exterior fool you - the latest Power Wagon has received big changes underneath the sheetmetal that make it one of the most appealing heavy duty pickups on the market.
Last year, 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.
On top of recent chassis revisions to enhance roll stiffness and ensure confident handling, Ram has equipped the Power Wagon with a new five-link rear rear axle and rear coil springs, the latter of which results in a noticeably comfortable ride when the pickup is unladen. Up front, a modified three-link setup provides greater axle articulation than before.
What hasn't changed, however, is the Power Wagon's mud-plugging mission. To that end, it comes equipped with a plethora of feature designed to help it excel in extreme off-roading situations. Locking front and rear front differentials help ensure maximum traction, as do monstrous 32-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires, while an electronically disconnecting sway bar permits a substantial bump in suspension travel.
Ground clearance measures 14.5 inches, while approach and departure angles - the maximum angles that an obstacle can have while still clearing the front and rear bumpers, respectively - check in at 34 and 23.5 degrees. Unlike in the standard 2500, there are solid axles at both ends for improved wheel articulation, and rugged Bilstein shock absorbers are also part of the package.
Of course, even with aftermarket-style shocks bottoming out is inevitable on tough terrain, which is why the Power Wagon features numerous skid plates located in strategic locations to protect key components, like the front and rear electronically locking differentials. Speaking of diffs, to make sure the Power Wagon has plenty of low-end grunt, Ram equipped the truck with a viciously low-geared 4.56 ratio.
Outside, the Power Wagon advertises its identity loudly and proudly with decals mounted on the hood and tailgate. Red-and-black black trim on the hood and flanks helps to further set it apart from the standard 2500, while a 12,000-pound winch adds a bit of functional flair. Atop the truck is a set of cab clearance lamps that further the heavy-duty look while simultaneously meeting DOT regulations.
That Thing Gotta 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". Two trim levels are available - an eponymous base model and the luxed-up Power Wagon Laramie.
The Power Wagon comes standard with A/C, full power accessories, a six-speaker AM/FM with AUX and USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, cruise control, fog lamps, power heated mirrors, rear power sliding window and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
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-pated mirrors, bumpers and grille as well as unique badging.
While the Power Wagon is obviously built for off-roading, plenty of attention was also paid to safety. Dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags are all fitted as standard.
As a factory-prepped off-roading pickup Power Wagon has only one rival - the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. It isn't quite a direct comparison, as the Raptor is designed for high-speed, Baja 1000-style desert antics, while the Power Wagon is in its element when scrambling through mud or clawing over rocks.