Just days ago, someone close to Ram's off-road efforts wagged their finger at Chrysler for passing on a production pickup with real off-road performance. Today balls'ing up and bringing back the Power Wagon; a truck they claim will own the title of "most off-road-capable" pickup out of the box.
With a 2" lift over a standard Heavy Duty Ram, 33" tires, a Warn winch as standard equipment, and a graphics package that can be seen from space, it certainly looks the part... how do these specs stack up to your truck?
Ground Clearance: 14.5"
Approach Angle: 34º
Departure Angle: 23.5º
Breakover Angle: 25.5º
Max Water-Fording Depth: 30"
The Power Wagon's secret is a new approach to suspension. Ram's "Articulink" design incorporates high movement joints at the control-arm-to-axle mount, allowing for serious flexibility and axle articulation.
Drivers can get even more suspension flex with an electronically disconnecting sway bar, which allows the front axle to move more independently of the truck's frame. Ram calls it the "Smart Bar," and it can be disengaged from the cockpit in four-wheel drive high or low-range below 18 MPH, hooking up again automatically when you exceed that speed.
Anybody that's got into much modification with their truck has probably experimented with removing their sway bar to get more suspension articulation. And that works just fine, for people that don't mind their truck handling like a retired Motel 6 mattress once they leave the trail. I don't care how quick you can drop you bar with a wrench and a hammer— being able to hook it up with the push of a button is damn nifty.
American Axle Manufacturing has been sourced to provide more of the running gear; with robust 9.25" diameter axles up front and 11.5" in the rear. Power is provided through a 4.10:1 ring and pinion ratio, out to beefy 38mm axle shafts.
The new Power Wagon packs a 6.4 HEMI V8 with 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, with an electronically controlled throttle that softens response for moving slow in low range. Ram's Variable-Valve Timing (VVT) system minimizes extraneous fuel consumption when less power is required. The 66RFE six-speed automatic is connected to a Borg Warner BW 44-47 Transfer Case for dropping into high and low ranges of four-wheel drive.
It can tow 10,810 pounds, and extract itself from trouble with a 12,000 pound Warn winch tucked behind the front bumper.
Enormous 14" rotors reel the Power Wagon back in before it consumes cars in front of it at stoplights.
Pricing starts at around 45 grand for the base-level Tradesman, on up to $56,000 for the blinged-out Laramie. That buys you one seriously intelligent 4x4, and a five-year warranty that's good for 100,000 miles. That's a lot of security on a vehicle born for hard use.
The interior is refreshingly conservative. Yes you can pass on the giant POWER WAGON text and red grille slats if you're not ready to come out to the world as a raging egomaniac, and all the useful Ram features like flat-folding seats and the "RAMBOX" are options on the Power Wagon too.
Ram's smartest move in all of this might have been to build an off-road beast of a truck that doesn't directly compete with the Ford Raptor. True, both trucks are dedicated dirt devils... but they're obviously bred for very different realms of trucking. The Raptor is a high-speed desert runner for hoons who want to hit jumps and bury their gas pedals into sand-caked floormats. The Power Wagon looks like it's meant to be more of a rock-crushing equipment carrier, I'm imagining it getting used to haul tools and beer into the woods to build an epic fort.
Ford fans will say the Raptor's better at this, Power Wagon will retort by being better at that. Maybe this is the way to go anyway. How many factory prerunners does the pickup market need?
Here's the Power Wagon in action, with commentary by Ram's Head of Engineering for HD Trucks Kevin Mets and Chrysler's Historical Services Manager Brandt Rosenbusch:
Official Power Wagon pricing, destination charge included:
Power Wagon Tradesman —- $45,690
Power Wagon (SLT) —- $50,340
Power Wagon Laramie —- $56,015