Despite the segment’s newfound infamy thanks to rock stars like the Ram TRX and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2, the full-size off-road pickup isn’t a new invention. In fact, the entire breed can trace its roots to a single vehicle: the Dodge Power Wagon. Introduced after World War II and based on military specifications, the Power Wagon was the first mass-produced 4x4 pickup offered to regular customers – no conscription needed.
The Power Wagon name appeared on several different Dodge truck generations and weight classes until 1980, even including medium-duty trucks destined for deep forest service duty. Since its reappearance in 2005, the Power Wagon has been exclusively a three-quarter-ton pickup based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty, built to give big-truck customers a genuinely capable off-road machine. But unlike the Ford F-150 Raptor or the aforementioned TRX and ZR2 models, the Ram Power Wagon is built not for outright speed but for slow-going, easy-does-it rock crawling courtesy of big articulation and robust solid axles front and rear.
The end result is 14.2 inches of ground clearance – up 1.1 inches over lesser Ram 2500 4x4s and 2.2 inches more than the Raptor – as well as handy off-road features like a disconnecting front sway bar, locking front and rear differentials, and a standard front winch. Powered by a torque-rich 6.4-liter V8, it all adds up to a very tough, very tall, and very thirsty truck. That makes it a less-than-ideal vehicle for most suburbanites, but if your vacation calendar includes the Moab Fullsize Invasion, you’ll probably love the Power Wagon.
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Gallery: 2022 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Review
|Quick Stats||2022 Ram 2500 Power Wagon|
|Output:||410 Horsepower / 429 Pound-Feet|
|Drive Type:||Four-Wheel Drive|
|Ground Clearance:||14.2 Inches|
|Towing Capacity:||10,590 Pounds|
Exterior Color: Hydro Blue Pearlcoat
Interior Color: Black
Tire Size: 33 Inches
There’s absolutely no mistaking this vehicle for anything but a Ram Power Wagon. The mustachioed grille and sculpted tailgate proudly declare this truck’s parentage, and a vertical decal on the bedside carries the Power Wagon logo from the 1970s for a cool, retro vibe. With the same cab structure that debuted back in 2010 – though strengthened and revised for 2019 – the Ram Heavy Duty has familiar proportions, but LED head- and taillights and a brash grille strakes keep things current and fresh.
My only complaint stems from the 285/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler tires. In spite of their 33-inch overall diameter, they look like roller skate wheels compared with the Power Wagon’s hulking ride height. For a vehicle that looks like it runs on protein shakes instead of gasoline, it could stand to do a few more deadlifts and lunges to beef up those scrawny legs.
The Power Wagon’s cabin is likewise mostly impressive, especially on my well-equipped tester. Black leather seating with light contrast piping and stitching looks premium – though the upholstery feels more utilitarian than luxurious. Contrast-stitched leather and padded vinyl appear on the door and center armrests, steering wheel, and dashboard fascia, as well as a knee bolster on the center console. Like any full-size truck, the Power Wagon has plenty of hard plastic at about hip-level and below, but overall, materials feel above average for the class, and the 2019-era dash design still looks handsome.
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- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 57.5 Cubic Feet
Those nice materials help contribute to the Ram Power Wagon’s comfortable cabin. The supportive leather seats offer good comfort, and thanks to the Power Wagon Level 3 equipment group, they’re heated and ventilated on this tester. It’s also easy to keep stuff organized thanks to the massive center console and its abundant trays, slots, and cubbies. There’s a little rail with built-in cable guides for your phone, the bin under the armrest has enough space for a small notebook computer, and the cupholder and tray keep snacks and drinks within easy reach.
The rear seat is less hospitable, in spite of heating for the outboard positions. That aforementioned architecture, though hidden behind modernized styling, results in a lack of headroom for tall passengers. The aging bones also mean that, unlike the redesigned-in-2019 Ram 1500, the Power Wagon and all other Heavy Duty trucks miss out on a telescoping steering wheel, limiting driver comfort somewhat.
In spite of its solid front and rear axles, the Power Wagon is reasonably comfortable on bad pavement and rough terrain – Ram engineers have done a good job of balancing hardcore capability with adequate on-road comfort. The big, blocky shape doesn’t even yield much wind noise, although the rugged off-road tires sing out louder and louder as speed rises. It’s not terribly bothersome, especially for the Power Wagon shopper who knows what they’re getting into.
- Center Display: 12.0-Inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 7.0 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto: Yes / Yes
When it arrived for the 2019 model year, the significantly updated Ram Heavy Duty boasted a class-leading tech suite that includes an available, portrait-oriented 12.0-inch touchscreen and an analog-digital gauge cluster with a reconfigurable 7.0-inch dispay. The competition is catching up – a redesigned Ford F-Series Super Duty should bring a horizontal 12.0-inch screen, while the revised 2023 Chevy Silverado HD will likely get the same 13.2-inch screen as its 1500 sibling. But for now, no 3/4-ton truck can touch the Ram’s pixel count.
For 2022, the Power Wagon gets Uconnect 5, the Stellantis infotainment software that’s easy to operate, attractive to look at, and responsive to touch. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. If it were my money, I think I’d save some money and go with the Power Wagon’s base 8.4-inch display, which is as wide as the 12.0-inch screen but leaves space beneath it for physical climate controls – the 12er is kind of a pain to adjust in that respect.
- Engine: 6.4-Liter V8
- Output: 410 Horsepower / 429 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic
The Ram Power Wagon feels every last bit of its 6,939-pound curb weight when driving down the road. Positioning the big truck in the lane is a challenge, and there isn’t much in the way of handling prowess on pavement. The big, 6.4-liter V8 under the hood is characterful and fun though, and its 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet get the pickup going with only a little prodding. Plus, the Hemi sounds great when flogged.
Unlike many off-road trucks, the Ram retains some decent towing and payload capacity – 10,590 pounds and 1,630 pounds, respectively – but I wonder how responsive and muscular it might feel loaded down. Unfortunately, the tow-champ Cummins 6.7-liter diesel isn’t available in the Power Wagon.
As impressive as those ratings might be, the big Ram really excels off-road. With solid axles front and rear (each housing a genuine locking differential), the Power Wagon is made more for rock gardens and obstacle-strewn mountain trails than wide-open desert running – think of it as a plus-size Jeep Gladiator Rubicon rather than a Ford F-150 Raptor rival. Aiding in such conditions is a slick “Articulink” front suspension that allows for more up-and-down movement than on other Ram 2500s, as well as an electronic sway-bar disconnect that works at low speeds for even more flex.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 1 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Four Stars
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
The Ram 2500 Power Wagon doesn’t come standard with much in the way of active safety. A $1,940 option package brings automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control (though not automated stop-and-go assistance), and a lane-keep assist system (but not lane-centering tech). The package is a must-order for anyone even remotely intimidated by the Power Wagon’s size, as it helps keep the truck spaced from surrounding traffic.
The truck’s incredible visibility does a lot to help ease the learning curve too. The high seating position within the cabin compounds the already-high ride, helping the driver spot upcoming hazards on the road ahead, and there are big windows and big mirrors that make those over-the-shoulder glances easy.
Like every three-quarter and one-ton truck, the Ram Power Wagon isn’t rated for fuel economy by the EPA, and that requires a fuel economy score of zero. I saw single-digit indicated fuel economy on some urban runs, and freeways brought that unscientific number to about 15 or 16 if I was gentle with the throttle.
- Base Price: $42,775 + $1,795 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $57,755
- As-Tested Price: $72,275
With a base price of less than $60,000, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is one of the cheapest ways into the high-performance off-road space without dropping down to a mid-size truck such as the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. The Power Wagon doesn’t have the wide-body swagger or high-speed desert-running ability of its kid sibling, the TRX, or the aforementioned Raptor, and it is much longer thanks to a mandatory crew cab/6.5-foot bed combination. But its old-school capability is undeniably charming, as are its brash, retro graphics and highboy stance.
My well-equipped, $72,275 tester featured a leather-upholstered interior with front bucket seats, replacing standard cloth and a front bench. A $1,195 towing package includes a roof-mounted camera facing the cargo box, a surround-view camera, and a trailer-reverse guide – essential if you plan on hitching up the boat or Airstream. The aforementioned safety equipment is another nice-to-have. The $1,995 for beadlock-capable wheels and rock rails is probably important if you're a Moab native, less so if you spend most of your time in suburban Los Angeles. And you can save some cash if you settle for the 8.4-inch navigation screen instead.
By being judicious with the options list, it’s possible to get away from your Ram dealer with a usefully upgraded Power Wagon for less than $70,000. The Raptor starts at $72,350, while the TRX is much pricier at $80,585. Personally, I like low-speed, hump-and-bump off-roading more than all-out Baja running, so I’d rather save the cash and get the P-W. But your mileage may vary.
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2022 Ram 2500 Power Wagon