As the 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon climbed the jagged rocks I’m not sure I could climb with my own two feet, it seemed an unstoppable force.
Seeing any truck make this climb would be impressive, but there is something about the massive 6,996-pound heavy duty pickup scaling the rocks that truly seems to defy physics.
For 2017, the Power Wagon is all grown up, offering new looks and a few small tweaks to make it even better. Up front, the truck borrows the grille from its little brother the Ram Rebel and rids itself of the childish graphics that were offered on the previous truck, offering a much cleaner “Power Wagon” graphic on the sides of the box. A new powder coated front bumper has also been added to protect it from the scraping of the winch cable.
Besides these small upgrades, the recipe for this big brute hasn’t changed. Powering the wheels is a 6.4-liter V8 good for 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, sent through a six-speed automatic transmission. A total of 14.3 inches of ground clearance helps to clear everything on the ground along with a 33.6-degree approach angle, 26.2-degree departure angle and 23.5-degree breakover angle.
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But the real off-road wizardry comes from a few special systems and components, not the least of which is a disconnecting sway bar. This allows the truck a massive 26 inches of wheel articulation, making sure that all four wheels stay in contact with the ground, despite undulating terrain. A BorgWarner 44-47 transfer case helps with crawling duties, allowing the truck to run in two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive high and four-wheel drive low, with a crawl ratio of 2.64. Best of all, there is still a manual transfer case handle in the cab, allowing the driver the satisfaction of pulling the truck into four-wheel low with a great ka-thunk of the lever.
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A 12,000-pound Warn winch is also fitted as standard to every Power Wagon on the front end to help with recovery because every off-roader gets a little over zealous now and again. Plus, when you’re out off roading with your buddies, you’ll be everyone’s best friend on the trail.
A set of 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires grip the ground, while new Bilstein monotube shocks help to soak up the terrain.
And finally, a pair of locking differentials, one on the front axle and one on the rear make sure that power can be evenly distributed to all four wheels when the conditions demand it.
Power Wagoning On Road
Setting out on the streets, the Power Wagon can’t hide its size, with the 6.4-liter’s 410 horsepower feeling like just enough for this truck. Handling the corners and curves of the road were no issue for the Power Wagon, which stays stiff and flat, while the steering wheel has heavy weighting that communicates well with the driver’s hands and is befitting of driving such a big rig.
The ride is still somewhat stiff and jittery, although the five-link coil spring suspension in the rear keeps much of the chatter of traditional leaf springs out of the equation. As heavy duty trucks go, this Ram 2500 rides smooth. The only big downside of the truck on the highway is the excess wind noise, made especially bad considering that the new Ford F-250 is whisper quiet on the inside.
Fuel economy is another sore spot with this truck, another trait that’s not surprising considering its size and 6.4-liters of displacement. During our time with truck, we were managing around 15 or 16 mpg while cruising on the highway, but an average of closer to 11 to 12 mpg was showing after we got back from the trails.
Power Wagoning Off Road
But the second the wheels hit the dirt, the thoughts of the burning fossil fuel gives way to joy, and awe at the immense climbing power of this truck. Starting on soft sand trails, the Bilsteins were put to work and proved to keep the ride fairly calm, even when running over chatter bumps and whoops at close to 30 mph.
But let’s be clear about something before we proceed: this thing is no Raptor and it’s not trying to be. Instead, the Power Wagon looks to crawl over its obstacles while the Raptor looks to fly over them.
Power again felt adequate through these quicker sections, but it was when crawling that the engine seemed best suited for the task. The throttle is sensitive and can take small inputs well, a great trait when you’re powering over the rocks inch by inch. If there was a torque-laden diesel under the hood, it would be much harder to delicately control the throttle inputs at slow speeds, but that’s not so with this V8.
While climbing sections of jagged rocks, with a spotter leading the way, the Power Wagon feels incredibly sure-footed. There wasn’t a single instance of a wheel trying to lift off the ground, it stays planted like an oak tree, allowing the transfer case and locking differentials to work their magic. Everything works so well in sync, making this truck climb like a mountain goat, despite its massive size.
In the U.S., the 2500 Power Wagon starts at just over $52,000, a fairly good deal considering all of the off-road goodies you get. A $4,500 package can be added to bring along the better infotainment system, leather seats and other niceties that make heading into the dirt a comfortable experience.
In Canada, the Power Wagon starts at $58,945, while the Leather and Luxury package is available for $4,995.
The Verdict: 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon
There are a ton of excellent specialty off-road pickups for sale right now, but there’s a problem: these rigs are limited to half-ton trucks and smaller.
If you’re looking for the capability of a heavy duty with the climbing power of a mountain goat, there is simply no other heavy duty pickup on the market that comes close to the 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon.