2017 Ram Power Wagon is one mean machine
Although it’s unlikely to the point of inconceivability, should anyone think the Power Wagon -- Ram’s badass, go-anywhere HD pickup -- is lacking in the macho department, this update should put those concerns to rest. Introduced at the Chicago show as a 2017 model, the latest iteration of this iconic nameplate is butch from the ground up. While it may not be quite as primal as the 1945 original, which began as a civilianized (barely) version of the rugged three-quarter ton Dodge weapons carrier, its capabilities far exceed those of its WW II military namesake.
HD and then some
The latest Power Wagon is based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4x4 Crew Cab, with a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 (410 horsepower, 429 pound-feet of torque) under the hood. For HD applications, it’s fortified by stainless steel gaskets and fasteners, oil jets squirting the undersides of the pistons, and a high-volume oil cooler. The big Hemi is paired with a Ram 66RFE 6-speed automatic transmission and Borg Warner manual transfer case controlling the 4-wheel drive system, which includes Hill-descent Control.
Front and rear axles are supplied by American Axle Manufacturing, and like the rest of the hardware they are robust: 9.25 inches front, 11.5 inches rear, with a 4.10:1 ring and pinion. Rear axles shafts are 38mm, a little bigger than the previous version, and both axles include electronically-locking differentials.Like other HD Rams, the front axles automatically unlock when they’re not needed, reducing system drag and increasing efficiency.
Front suspension components -- a three-link system with specific control arms, spring rates, a 2-inch lift it, anti-roll bar, and Bilstein shocks (Ram refers to the combo as “Articulink”) -- are unique to the Power Wagon, a setup aimed at increasing roll stiffness. The anti-roll bar has an electronic disconnect feature that allows even greater suspension articulation in rocky terrain.
The Power Wagon’s 5-link coil rear suspension is shared with other Ram 2500 Heavy Duty pickups -- competing HD rigs are equipped with rear leaf springs. According to Ram, this setup still provides respectable payloads -- up to 1,510 pounds -- and towing capability that maxes out at 10,300 pounds. That’s more than enough to accommodate your WWII howitzer, for example, if you happen to have one. As you’d expect, the design of the forged aluminum 17-inch wheels is unique to the Power Wagon. They wear 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires obviously conceived for dirty driving.
As you’d also expect, the Power Wagon doesn’t make a secret of its identity. The cosmetics were inspired by the 1979-’80 “Macho Power Wagon,” according to the design team, as well as by the recent Ram Rebel off-roader. There’s no shortage of Power Wagon and Ram graphics as well as lots of blackout trim, including the all-new grille, surmounted by a billet silver Ram logo big enough to be seen from a passing airliner. The logo stamped into the tailgate is even bigger, and possibly visible from low earth orbit.
Front and rear bumpers are powder coated, and the front one protects a big Warn winch with 125 feet of steel cable, capable of snatching up to 12,000 pounds. The cable is attached to a big heavy duty hook, for dragging your neighbor’s bulldozer out of the mud, and the same goes for its pair of massive front tow hooks.
The Power Wagon will be assembled at the FCA plant in Saltillo, Mexico, and should reach showrooms this fall.