If you’re an outdoors person who really goes off-road to find out-of-the-way camping, hiking, hunting and fishing spots, Ram’s 2017 Power Wagon may be for you. As Ram engineers say, “It’s the most capable off-road full-size pickup on the market.” And rightly so.
The Power Wagon prefers off-road to on-road. In fact, it can even ford 30 inches of water thanks to its 14.3 inches of ground clearance. But its off-road prowess can also handle rocks, ruts, tree limbs, nominally-girthed downed trees, sand and mud. How?
Well this all-terrain three-quarter ton pickup (that was in production from 1945-1980) has several suspension enhancements, burly tires and a proven manual engaging 4WD system with traditional 2H, 4H and 4L gearing.
Ram engineers went even further by giving the suspension a 2-inch lift over the standard 2500 Ram HD pickup from which it is derived. Then equipped it with an articulating three-link front and five-link rear live axle suspension that includes high-performance Bilstein monotube shock absorbers. And to negotiate these backcountry obstacles, an electronically disconnecting front stabilizer sway bar was added that can be disconnected up to 18 mph at the touch of a button. This feature allows the wheels to move up and down independently from one another and allows the axle to more freely articulate when traversing rocks, ruts and other off-road hazards. When the driver engaged electronic system disconnects the left side of the sway bar from the right, it enables up to 26 inches of front wheel articulation.
If snow, sand or mud becomes a problem, a rotary dial on the dash locks the front and rear differentials for true 4WD trekking. Engage all systems and the Power Wagon is one agile and nimble pickup.
Along with these two features, Power Wagon has an approach angle of 33.6 degrees, a departure angle of 26.2 degrees and a breakover angle of 23.5 degrees. This enables slipping over a 70 percent slope (the reason the truck doesn’t come with side steps or step bar).
Power Wagon’s high 28-inch step-in into the cabin requires that riders make use of the assist handles over all four doors. But if you’re short in stature, you may want to add four aftermarket steps that slide in and out of the frame.
If you should get stuck, Power Wagon comes with a 12,000 pound Warn winch that is spooled with 90 feet of cable. All of which is embedded within the front bumper and comes with a cable/controller for remote operation.
To move this 6,996-pound truck, Power Wagon gets its grunt from a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 generating 410-hp and 429 lb/ft of torque. It routs this torque to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Even with cylinder deactivation, fuel economy is far from good. And since it’s a three-quarter ton truck, mpg ratings are not posted or required.
So bestowed, Power Wagon has a payload capacity of 1,510 pounds and a tow capacity of 10,030 (the normal Ram 2500 is rated at 16,350 pounds). If you are going to tow, the truck comes with Tow/Haul mode which locks out overdrive on the trans, disables cylinder deactivation and changes the shift pattern that holds the trans gears longer. You will, however, need a goose-neck trailer hitch to compensate for the trucks’ high stance.
Highway ride quality with huge Wrangler 33-inch tires and coil spring rear suspension is truck-like, but softens when carrying a heavy load. With the deep lugged, all terrain tires, there is noticeable tire hum. But the ride is eased by heavily cushioned seats fore and aft. The front buckets form a bench seat of sorts when flipping the large center console upward. A third person could sit there, but there’s virtually no leg room.
The back seats split 60/40 and fold up against the bulkhead. Underneath them, are a pair of sturdy fold-out carpet-clad steel trays that form a flat load floor for gear. The cab floor is void of carpeting, but uses heavy duty, easy to clean rubber-type matting.
Power Wagons’ cockpit is sedan-like with an 8.4-inch touchscreen displaying navigation, audio, rearview camera view, optional cargo box camera view, satellite radio, UConnect infotainment system, Wi-Fi hotspot connect and much more. There’s also a 7-inch driver information display between the gauges affording pertinent operating situations like low tire pressure warning which occurred while we tested this superb truck. Seems the right front tire picked up a tiny slice of roadway shale that just managed to bite into the inner tread that caused leakage. While driving the front tire pressure could be seen slowly dropping as we drove our way to the nearest service station where the tire was plugged.
Back in the 6-foot 4-inch cargo bed, optional and lockable Rambox storage boxes come in handy to stow and lock fishing gear, long-guns, tools or gear. Included is a lightweight cargo bed divider/extender that uses pressure on the side walls to hold it in place. With the trucks’ tall stance, load height is a tall 39.5-inch lift.
Starting at a base price of $51,695 for the Crew Cab 4X4, the bottom line after a long list of options that included Leather & Luxury Group ($4,995); Convenience Group ($395); Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover ($545); Rear Window Defroster ($195); Power Folding Trailer/Tow Mirrors w/memory ($195); Cargo View Camera – can see if the load shifted or is loose ($345); UConnect 8.4-inch LCD/navigation, satellite radio w/rearview camera ($500); Power Adjustable Pedals w/memory ($195); Remote Start – nice to have in the winter ($295); Rambox/divider/extender ($1,295); Spray-in Bed Liner ($495) and delivery ($1,320), brought the bottom line to $62,905.
To its credit, Power Wagon received a four (out of five) star overall vehicle score in government safety tests. Plus, four stars each for driver/passenger frontal crash; five stars for front/rear seat side crash and three stars for rollover.
If off-road prowess is what you need, there is as yet no other full-size pickup as capable on the market.
2017 POWER WAGON SPECIFICATIONS
* Overall Length: 237.3 inches
* Overall Width: 79.1 inches
* Overall Height: 81.0 inches
* Tailgate Opening Width: 60.4 inches
* Distance Between Wheelhouses: 51 inches
* Turning Circle: 47.7 feet
* GCWR: 17,500
* GVWR: 8,510
5-year or 60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year or 30,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Warranty