Many of the mountain trails in British Columbia are old logging access roads, long since abandoned and now offering a fun escape for the off-road enthusiast. It was halfway up just such a road in a 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon that I couldn’t help but imagine that each and every one of those loggers would have loved to have this truck.
The Power Wagon has long been in a class of one, offering a heavy-duty package with serious off-road equipment, perfect for the work crew that needs to get deep into the forest or up the mountain. Ford has finally joined the fray with the 2020 Tremor off-road package for its Super Duty pickups, but as of time of writing, the Power Wagon is still the only off-road-focussed HD on the market.
Ram has been updating the style on the Power Wagon since it re-emerged in 2008, and this year’s truck has to be the best-looking yet. A subtle yet strong “Power Wagon” graphic is plastered on the side of the truck, and buyers have the option to omit it if they like. Besides that, this truck gets its good looks from a sharp set of LED headlights, large 31-inch tires and a lift kit that gives it a towering appearance.
While official crash ratings don’t apply to heavy-duty pickups, Ram has still made an effort to make this truck safer thanks to a new 360-degree camera system that works great when off-road to help you see obstacles directly in front of the truck’s wheels. Beyond that, for 2019 Ram added adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and rain-sensitive wipers to its HDs, bringing more safety through technology.
Though it is a heavy-duty pickup, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is not nearly as practical as most HDs. On the model we drove, the payload rating came in at 1,354 lb, a paltry number for such a big pickup. Tow ratings on the Power Wagon are also pretty low for an HD pickup, measuring in at 10,620 lb. All of this is thanks to the added off-road gear and the unique suspension tuning, which gets the Power Wagon ready for the trail, but lets it down when it comes to hard work. You do still get a crew cab and 6.5-foot bed, the only configuration the Power Wagon comes in, but still, the numbers let this big beast down.
User Friendliness: 9/10
The innards of the Power Wagon were upgraded heavily for 2019, and now this truck packs a comfortable interior with some of the best technology going. Disconnecting the sway bar is as simple as a hitting a button located on the centre stack, same as the controls for the locking differentials. Controlling the transfer case is still an old-school affair in the Power Wagon, with a physical linkage hooked to a lever mounted on the floor. It’s a nice classic off-road touch in a world full of knobs, dials, and buttons.
There are no compromises in choosing a 2019 Ram Power Wagon when it comes to the features on offer. You can now get the 12-inch touchscreen in the dash of this truck, along with a premium interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury car. Beyond the creature comforts, all of the off-road features are also top-notch, and you have to give this truck credit for being the only vehicle on the market that comes with a winch directly from the factory.
The 6.4-litre Hemi V8 under the hood of the Power Wagon makes 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, numbers that remind unchanged for 2019. What did change though is the transmission, with Ram moving to an eight-speed automatic, helping with low-end torque off the line as well as fuel economy.
Power from the V8 comes on strong, and once low-range is selected it has tons of low-end torque. It’s on the highway and at the top end where the Power Wagon starts to show its weight, and passing can take a little bit of planning. But for its intended use – that being hitting the trail – this engine is well suited to the truck.
Driving Feel: 7/10
There is no getting around the size of the Power Wagon and how it defines the drive. On the tight mountain trails of BC, this truck feels like a giant just squeezing through. Out on public roads, the added ride height gives you a commanding view of the road around you; but there’s no denying that on city streets and in parking lots this truck is unwieldy. The Power Wagon drives heavy, though the off-road-tuned suspension offers a slightly more supple ride than its standard HD counterparts.
Being a 2500, the Power Wagon is a stiff-riding truck by nature, and it doesn’t entirely get away from that even with its upgraded suspension. On- and off-road the truck beats up its occupants a little bit – if you’re searching for a cushy ride, this truck is not the choice for you.
Fuel Economy: 6/10
The Power Wagon does not carry an official fuel economy rating, just like all HD pickups, but it’s safe to say that it won’t be a small fuel bill. With 6.4 litres of naturally aspirated power and a curb weight of just a little over 7,000 lb, don’t expect to bring a Power Wagon home without frequent trips to the pumps.
The Power Wagon doesn’t come cheap, starting at $64,245 in Canada, though it does offer features that you can’t find anywhere else, like a pair of locking differentials and a disconnecting front sway bar. When the Ford HD Tremor hits the road, the Power Wagon will have its first real competition, but still that truck won’t offer the same level of equipment as the Ram.
When it comes to heavy-duty pickup trucks heading off-road, the Ram Power Wagon is still second to none. And climbing up the muddy mountain trails in BC, it was clear that these trucks are built for climbing, clawing and crashing through, around and over everything that happens to be in the way – including the competition.
|Peak Horsepower||410 hp @ 5,600 rpm|
|Peak Torque||429 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|Cargo Space||76" box|
|Model Tested||2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon|
|Price as Tested||$71,235|
$4,895 – Connect 12-inch screen, $2,195; Level 1 Equipment Group, $1,100; Towing Technology Group, $1,600