With the somewhat recent debut of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor off-roader, it's tempting to draw parallels between it and the Ram Power Wagon. But for all their similarities, these are beasts of a different breed.
Debuting on the previous generation (Dodge) Ram Heavy Duty to much less fanfare than the Raptor, the Power Wagon is just as much a hard-core off-road machine, but the target audiences share only their distaste for pavement. For the Raptor, home turf is the low-lying deserts, places where it can flex its suspension at 100 mph over sand washes and scrub. The Power Wagon, though, answers a higher calling and makes its home climbing mountains and patrolling the back roads of our highest altitudes, not our lowest.
The recipe to build a Power Wagon is rather simple. Start with a $39,430 Ram 2500 SLT Crew Cab 4x4 and mark the $6,350 option box innocuously titled "Customer Preferred Package 26P." For a base price of $45,780, you walk out the door with an old-school manual transfer case on the floor, lockable front and rear axles, a remote-disconnecting front stabilizer bar, skid plates on the fuel tank and transfer case, a Warn winch up front and a high-output alternator to run it, Bilstein shocks, a trailer brake controller and tow hitch, 17-in. wheels wrapped in 32-in. all-terrain tires, a 2-inch lift, and a 4.56 rear axle ratio.
For everything the Power Wagon offers, though, there are a few options we're left pining for. The package can only be ordered with the Crew Cab four-door body and 6.4-ft. bed, making the truck simultaneously too long for the most serious off-roading while handicapping customers who need the load space of the 8.2-ft. box. The Power Wagon also is only offered with the 5.7L 383-hp Hemi gasoline V-8 engine and its 400 lb.-ft. of torque. The combination is more than enough to pull the rig through most any situation, but we can't help but wish the legendary Cummins turbodiesel were available.
Still, considering how much else the Power Wagon offers, engine, cab and box options are small potatoes. Our tester came loaded up with the leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a rear parking assist system, a 506-watt, 9-speaker Alpine audio system with touchscreen navigation, satellite radio and a 30-gB hard drive, power-adjustable pedals, an alarm, a sun roof, remote start, and a bed liner. Add it all up and our rig cost a cool $50,530 with the $950 destination charge.