Toy, hauler | 2017 Ram Power Wagon Video Review

  • Engine
    6.4L V8
  • Power
    410 HP / 429 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    6-Sp. Auto
  • Drivetrain
  • Curb Weight
    6,996 LBS
  • Towing
    10,030 LBS
  • Seating
  • Cargo
    57.5 Cu. Ft.
  • Base Price
When you're bouncing along in a 2017 Ram 2500 Power wagon over the washboard silt roads of the Valley of Fire, just outside of Las Vegas, it's a bit of a shock to realize how comfortable you are. We'd driven a convoy of brand new Ram Power Wagons out from a city improbably emerging from the scrub into a land of red rocks and sand. Inhospitable territory full of thrill-seekers in Jeeps and four-seat ATVs, flinging sand and bouncing their tall signal flags about. The varied terrain, transitioning from hard-packed silt to rocky paths to deep sand at any point, provided the perfect environment to see if the Power Wagon can live up to its billing – check out the video above to see how it handled the gnarly stuff.

Back in 1945, the Power Wagon and comfort were not really thought of together. Like the Jeep, these thoroughly mil-spec trucks were heading home from overseas, where they'd served as weapon carriers and utility rigs. The all-business truck was a bit like a heavy-duty Willys Jeep with a bed, and instead of the convertible military cab, Dodge bolted on a pre-war civilian cab. They had more amenities than a tractor (windows! A roof!), but no one would call 'em coddling. The advertising of the day shows them digging ditches, plowing fields, erecting utility poles. You could use the rear power take-off to run a portable sawmill – pure denim and dust work.

The brief has clearly evolved a bit – the PTOs disappeared as the truck evolved from a dedicated platform for serious work to more of a heavy-duty trim on Ram's conventional pickups, and then disappeared for a quarter-century until reemerging in 2005. To put it succinctly, the latest 2500 Power Wagon has off-road chops that pass the laugh test, and real working payload and towing capabilities, all in one package. We didn't tow or haul with the Power Wagon on this trip, but we really didn't have to. The Power Wagon is mostly standard 2500 fare: solid axles front and rear, taking power from the familiar truck-spec 6.4-liter Hemi V8. It'll haul up to 1,510 pounds in the bed, and tow up to 10,030 pounds. We know these trucks; they do this kind of work easily and without complaint.

What's surprising is how well it does the work without much compromise. As you can see in the video above, the ride's as stiff as on a normal 2500 pickup, maybe a hair stiffer, but plenty tolerable for a long haul on the interstate. Off-road, the front axle's party tricks (an electronic front sway bar disconnect inherited from Jeep, and the Articulink control-arm-to-axle-mount joint) help this wide, long truck shove itself over obstacles.

While things haven't changed too much mechanically from the previous model year, there are some cosmetic differences. You can see one in the video above, which compares the cheaper Tradesman trim equipped with the Power Wagon's functional goodies to the full-bore Power Wagon, with its bold graphics and Ram Rebel-inspired fascia. Both machines share a factory Warn winch, a 12,000-pound unit that's cleverly hidden behind the grille, with the cable exiting through the bumper.

This isn't a specialty machine; it doesn't trade the ability to haul a useful load for extreme articulation or vice versa. Instead of being slightly lousy at everything, it's capable of handling the chores you'd want to throw at it. So while it's not going to be powering a portable sawmill like its tractor-like ancestor, it does share its remarkable versatility.

I tried to imagine a typical Power Wagon use case while out at the Valley of Fire, and I kept seeing side-by-side ATVs blasting about. I realized the Power Wagon offers the right blend of capability to, say, haul three or four ATVs out to the off-road park – or, leave the ATVs at home and play in the dunes in the Power Wagon. Or do both. It can haul your toys, or be the toy. And it can double as a daily driver, albeit a huge one.

Make sure to check out the videos embedded in this post for more neat factoids and impressions of this bruiser.

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