Part of the Power Wagon's off-road agility comes from the improved wheel travel -- 10.9 front and 10.7 rear, compared to 7.9 front and 10.7 rear on the standard 2500. The improvement was definitely noticed when we were asked to test out the Power Wagon's suspension by launching it off a rise on a high-speed section of dirt road. At 85 mph, the heavy Dodge soaked up the landing without hitting the bumpstops. After a day of hard 'wheeling, the Power Wagons proved to be bulletproof steeds without vehicle failures to mention.
Part of the Power Wagon package is bold badging indicating this is no ordinary Ram.
On the highway, the Dodge Ram -- already one of our favorite fullsize trucks -- is only made better with the Power Wagon package. The ride is surprisingly smooth while still retaining its trucky character, which is what we like in a big truck. Bilstein 45mm monotube shocks replace standard 35mm twin tubes, and the softer spring rates soak up road imperfections better than a standard Dodge Ram 2500 4x4. As with all Dodge Rams, the brakes are top-of-the-class with excellent fade-free performance and a solid pedal feel.
If there were any complaints to levy against the Power Wagon, they would be minor ones. The first lies in the Hemi's peaky nature, making its 345 hp at 5,400 rpm and 375 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm. Feeling fine in Low range on the trail, the throttle did have to be dipped into for good passing power on two-lane roads, however, most people would find the Hemi power more than adequate in day-to-day use. While we are told there are no plans for a diesel at this time, we think it would be a natural progression for this truck, and we bet it won't be long before it is an option. The other complaint, aimed at its size, is that it takes some time to learn where the corners of the truck are, especially when trying to judge distance over the massive hood.
Maneuverability on the trail is exceptional for such a large machine, but the Power Wagon is what it is and will never be mistaken for an agile Jeep. Dodge has brought back the Power Wagon not only for those who prized the unstoppable nature of the Power Wagons of yore, but for a new generation of truck owners who truly love off-roading and have a need for fullsize capability and dependability. There is just nothing else on the market today that even comes close to it in terms of off-road competence, cargo carrying, and all-around livability.
Since we never leave anything alone, we would add an on-board air compressor, mild suspension lift, and some 35s for a slightly better break over and departure angle. This would make this one of the most capable trucks on the planet. Prices start at $37,085 for a regular-cab model, with the Quad Cab starting at $39,970.
The sway bars and lockers are controlled via switches on the dash.
One of the technical achievements of the Power Wagon is the use of an electronically disconnecting sway bar. The sway bar works by resisting lateral weight transfer in corners, making the handling more predictable and stable. However, while stabilizer bars are excellent on the road, they have the distinct disadvantage of limiting suspension articulation, which hurts low-speed off-road performance. To get around this problem, many off-roaders add manual disconnects or remove their sway bars altogether, which can make for sketchy highway handling. With the Power Wagon, Dodge engineers tackled the problem and have come up with a solution in the form of the Electronic Disconnecting Stabilizer Bar, or Smart Bar in Dodge parlance.The Smart bar works with the touch of a dash-mounted switch and can be disengaged by the driver in 4-Hi or 4-Lo at speeds below 18 mph. In case the driver forgets the sway bar is disengaged it automatically re-engages at speeds above 18 mph and will automatically disengage at speeds below 14 mph when selected. In case of failure, the system has a safe mode that returns the bar to the engaged setting.
The sway bar mechanism can be clearly seen underneath the front of the Power Wagon.
The RTI was 460 on the ramp with the sway bar connected.
The RTI was 655 on the ramp with the sway bar disconnected.
As the pictures above illustrate, the suspension is at its most effective when the sway bar is disconnected. With the sway bar connected, the Power Wagon is capable of a 460 score on the Ramp Travel Index, or RTI, which gives a maximum score of 1,000. With the bar disengaged, the Power Wagon is capable of an impressive score of 655 on the RTI.