2017 Ram Power Wagon Review

Power Wagon

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2017 Ram Power Wagon Overview

The story goes that U.S. soldiers returning home from World War II wrote letters to Dodge asking, “Where can we get a truck like the ones we used in the war?” The company's response was the Power Wagon. It was first built in 1945, re-invented in 1957, discontinued in 1980 (following the advent of Dodge Ram), reintroduced in 2005, and is now taking on new life as the 2017 Ram Power Wagon.

The Power Wagon is based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4x4 Crew Cab, which has had designated “Power Wagon” trims in the past; but for 2017, the Power Wagon becomes its own model once again, coming loaded with a number of rugged off-road enhancements. It will be built in Coahuila, Mexico, hit showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2016, and will be available only as a three-quarter-ton 2500 model with 4-wheel drive and a 4-door Crew Cab configuration.

There are plenty of new styling cues to distinguish the new 2017 Power Wagon from other 2500 Crew Cabs, including a new blacked-out grille (a super-sized version of the grille found on the Ram 1500 Rebel), a new “Power Wagon” lettering graphic on the side (inspired by the 1979-80 “Macho Power Wagon”), new exterior and interior colors, new cabin materials, and new 17-inch forged aluminum wheels with exposed lug nuts, a small center cap, and 33-inch tires featuring a beefy tread pattern for optimum traction in sand, mud, or snow. There’s also a new Tradesman trim, which reduces the price by eliminating most of the comfort and convenience extras, but keeps all the off-road equipment.

Those new features fit right in with the Power Wagon’s extreme, burly style. The vent-stamped hood features an enormous Ram graphic, a 324-point “RAM” is stamped into the tailgate, the front and rear bumpers get heavy doses of powder coating, and the wheel-arch moldings, flank badges, mirrors, and lower body panels all echo the blacked-out theme of the grille.

The Power Wagon more than backs up its tough-guy look with all the right hardware. Let’s start under that vent-stamped hood, where a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 has been uniquely calibrated for tackling off-road challenges. The 16-valve HEMI produces 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque, comes with HEMI’s Fuel Saver cylinder-deactivation technology, increases oil efficiency with positive crankcase ventilation, and, like all Ram Heavy Duty trucks, the Power Wagon comes with a front-axle disconnect system to further improve fuel efficiency. The V8 is mated to a 66RFE 6-speed automatic transmission, connects to a manual-engagement transfer case (that’s right, a real shift lever and not switches), and can tow up to 10,030 pounds and haul up to 1,510 pounds.

A specifically designed suspension with Bilstein monotube shocks, modified control arms and spring rates, Ram’s Articulink technology (high-movement joints in the control arms to create additional flexibility and axle articulation), and more than two inches of lift is a major factor in the Power Wagon’s off-road prowess. The unique-to-model suspension also helps reduce body lean, especially helpful when the truck is actually on a paved surface.

The Power Wagon's underbody is well protected with skid plates and the frame is built with high-strength 50,000-psi steel. It comes standard with a Class 5 receiver hitch with 4- and 7-pin connectors, as well as a 12,000-pound winch. The truck’s approach angle has been boosted to 33.6 degrees, the departure angle to 26.2 degrees, and the breakover angle to 23.5 degrees, and the Power Wagon can ford up to 30 inches of water.

This off-road hardware is the real star of the show for the Power Wagon, but the truck also features some capable technology in the cabin. There’s an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen to control the infotainment systems, and a 7-inch display screen in the center cluster. The electrical system has been wired to allow for easy aftermarket additions and to make sure the battery doesn’t get overloaded. Power-adjustable pedals, remote start, front and rear park-assist systems, LED bedlighting, a rear-view camera, and a cargo-view camera are all available.

All Power Wagons come standard with 4-channel electronic stability control and 4-wheel disc brakes with dual-piston calipers in the front and rear.


After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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