Believe it or not, running boards are not even an option on the 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon and when your heavy-duty pickup boasts 14,3 inches of ground clearance and an additional foot or more just to reach the floor of the interior unless you have got the legs of a basketball player or runway model, you’re going to want to have running boards. But why do not you want running boards on a serious off-road truck? Because they’d inevitably get damaged or ripped off completely by a rock.When you spend a week and almost 1,000 miles in a pickup truck for America’s birthday bash, you and your passengers start to get real tired of having to vault into the vehicle you are driving. Passengers will complain and you will make a fool of yourself trying to slide into or out of the massive truck that somebody in the spot next to you parked too close to while you were in the store.
It is Piping Plover mating season on the shores of Cape Cod, just about the only place near me on the holiday weekend that was offering short term over-sand vehicle passes. As it turns out, these little birdies are a protected species nesting on National Park Service land, so they had every right to shut down basically the whole beach to cars on the busiest weekend of the year just so the Plovers could get their groove on.
The funny thing about off-roading is that you usually have to drive on actual roads to get to the good rocks, mud and sand and I did plenty of that in the Power Wagon, so let’s instead focus on what it is like to live with a truck this hardcore rather than how good we already know it is at climbing boulders. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Power Wagon is Ram’s most extreme off-road offering straight out of the box. Where the Ford F-150 Raptorexcels at dune-bashing and high-speed desert driving, Power Wagon blows it away in rock climbing ability and go-anywhere readiness.
The name Power Wagon dates back to just after World War II, when Dodge turned its half-ton military truck technology into the original Power Wagon, a 4 wheel drive, half ton pickup truck that was the first iteration of the format so many Americans drive around in today, but while that truck set a benchmark, this truck says “screw this bench” and throws it through a window.
Over 14 inches of ground clearance. Approach, departure, and break-over angles of 34, 23,5 and 25,5 degrees. 30 inches of water fording ability. A 12’000 pound winch with 90 feet of cable built into the front bumper. A mighty 6,4 liter Hemi V8 pushing out 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque and a towing capacity of over 10,000 pounds. Lockable front and rear axles with disconnecting sway bars for max wheel articulation. If you can not clear an obstacle with all of these tools at your disposal, brother, you were not meant to clear it in the first place. And it looks badass because the 8-lug wheels, black Power Wagon vertical badging on the bed and hood, imposing new grille from Rebel and the world’s largest automaker badge on the tailgate really give this truck some serious presence. So much presence, in fact, that you will be genuinely surprised when a driver that’s impeding your progress does not move out of the way.
Despite its standard hardware and tough guy looks, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is still a truck above all and that means it is got to do the everyday tasks its buyer will inevitably ask of it with ease. Thankfully, Power Wagon delivers on these fronts as well. The front seat has a foldable center console that becomes a sixth chair with a lap belt, but there is hardly any space to put your feet because multiple cupholders, cubbies, and the 2-speed 4X4 transfer case shifter lie right beneath. Plus it is got leather seats, automatic climate control with heated and ventilated front seats, USB ports, a 115 volt outlet up front, more cupholders than you could ever hope to use, an 8 inch UConnect touchscreen with navigation and 3G Wi-Fi available and a full-color driver information display with access to pretty much everything you would want to know about how your truck operate.
Trailer brake controls are integrated into the console and the 6 speed automatic transmission has selectable gears with a small button on the column shifter. Long story short and performs daily tasks admirably like you would expect, but there are a few caveats you should consider if you intend to pick one up. For one, ride is rougher than usual and road noise is immense from the standard Goodyear Wrangler 31 inch tires. Also, it is got the aerodynamics of an apartment building and I averaged less than 14 mpg over the course of week despite spending an inordinate amount of time on highway. Despite cheap gas, filling up the 30 plus gallon tank becomes an expensive affair very quickly depending on where you live. One of Ram’s famous Cummins diesel engines would help quell some of this, but the weight and length of one of these 6 cylinder engines would keep Ram’s engineers from having enough space to incorporate the winch and keep weight down to a somewhat respectable level. If you buy trucks like people buy meat, then the Power Wagon is a half-off sale on Filet Mignon. This 7’000 plus pound truck, with more off-road capability than you could ever hope to reach the limits of, rings in at $51’695 before destination charge or options, putting it just below Raptor’s $52’250 base price for the SuperCrew cab. With a slew of options like $4’995 Leather and Luxury group that adds pretty much all of the comfort and convenience features you could want including the upgraded UConnect touchscreen, an Alpine 9 speaker stereo system and parking assist technologies and the handy $1’295 RamBox storage lockers on the side of the bed, the total cost for my Power Wagon tester came in at $62’610. That’s a serious chunk of change for a pickup, but a straight-up bargain for one of the most off-road capable cars on planet. Still, unless you have the opportunity to go rock climbing or mudding on a regular basis or really care about the appearances, it may be in your best interest to consider a garden variety Ram 2500 for your daily needs.