As Ram and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles prepare to roll out a redesigned 2017 2500 Power Wagon this fall, they sent us a new 2016 version recently that we used for a weekend road trip visiting some out of the way places west of the sprawling Metroplex in North Texas.
When I first learned I was receiving the Power Wagon, I thought perhaps the paperwork had gotten shuffled as I had already reviewed the 2016 version less than a year ago. And truth be told, I was secretly wishing it was a pre-production unit of the 2017 that debuted earlier this year in Chicago. Alas, it was the MY2016, this time in the dark blue decal package, complete with big mudder tires and step rails.
With a couple hundred miles to endure, we hit the road in the beast of a truck headed west to “The Big Country” and areas once traveled by cattlemen of the old Chisholm Trail folklore. While we did not find ourselves driving down many old wagon routes, we did encounter highways and backroads loaded with a Texas-sized share of trucks hauling hay, horses, and cattle and performing all the modern-day duties required of the descendants of those early cattlemen (and women).
We encountered bouts of rain and shine during our trip, and the Ram Power Wagon was up to all the challenges. The higher seating position gave us the feeling similar to what the early settlers in this region must have felt from their positions holding the reins to their horses riding high in the saddle or in the seat of a covered wagon. To this day, there are still areas to our west where your breath is almost taken away as you crest a hill and view the countryside sprawled out before you. A Texas historic guidebook regales us with tales of yesteryear, when the early travelers to this region met with the longtime occupants. Some of those meetings were friendly…some were not.
We plodded on in the big Ram 2500, and as the miles ticked away we were amazed at just how smooth a ride this big truck offered. Shouldn’t a truck this size and with these capabilities be rattling our fillings loose? Not so, thanks to Ram engineers deciding to throw caution to the wind and change the rear suspension to a coil spring design as they had done in the light-duty Ram trucks years before. Blasphemy to truck traditionalists, but this new design offers the absolute smoothest ride in a three-quarter ton truck you will find. Some will counter that you lose towing capacity with this type suspension but in all honesty, not very many folks are towing heavy loads with their Power Wagons. Most of the farmers and ranchers we saw working with their trucks were using dual rear wheel trucks for those heavy loads.
The Ram Power Wagon is more than just a fancy package to make its owners feel like they have a macho truck. Sure, the decals and big tires add to the show, but with features such as a disconnecting front sway bar, 4.10 rear axle ratio, Ram Articulink suspension, fuel tank and transfer case skid plates, Tru-Lok front and rear axles, AND factory front electric winch, the Power Wagon is a true off-roading beast. Granted it is a little big for some of the public trails and parks open for such adventures but the Ram Power Wagon can hold its own and is designed and equipped better than the competition.
During our road trip, we got a chance to truly check out the fuel economy of this HEMI-powered beast despite such requirements not mandated by the feds. Under the hood of all Power Wagons is the 6.4-liter gasoline HEMI backed by a six-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul and manual shift modes. The Ram also includes a factory trailer brake controller. Around town, we averaged 10.5 mpg in the 2500 and on the open road that improved to 17 mpg with no payload. These are numbers we expected, so there was no surprise or disappointment in the fuel economy department.
Inside our tester was the SLT trim package consisting of cloth seating surfaces in a 40/20/40 bench seat up front and 60/40-split folding bench in the rear. The usual in-floor storage bins were found underneath the second row floormats and a few of the other amenities we liked were the LED cargo bed lights, cargo box camera, remote locking tailgate, spray-in bedliner, step rails, 17-inch aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires, and the Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system with large color touchscreen, navigation, premium audio system with satellite radio, and SiriusXM TravelLink with weather map that came in handy as we encountered bouts of precipitation during our travels.
Pricing for the 2016 Ram 2500 Power Wagon begins at $51,160 and is standard in Crew Cab 4×4 configuration. Our tester arrived with a final window sticker of $56,845.
The Ram Power Wagon is not the first vehicle that comes to mind when thinking “road trip”, but when following in the footsteps of the early settlers and the cattle hands moving livestock across a vast, open region it certainly can work to your advantage in the modern era. The Big Country beckoned, and the 2016 Ram Power Wagon answered the call perfectly.