Long before the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor was bounding over the dunes, Ram had the Power Wagon, which debuted for 2005 and immediately racked up an impressive number of awards. The accolades and recognition continued in the subsequent years, with it winning the prestigious Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year award in 2012 as well as 2005. Some believe the Power Wagon is the ultimate factory off-road pickup. How could perfection be improved upon?
Well, as good as the Power Wagon was and is, there is always room for improvement, which Ram acknowledged in its redesign of the truck for 2014, which is one of the Power Wagon's most comprehensive makeovers in its modern-day history. To get a closer look at what went on in the halls of Auburn Hills and on the trails of Moab to remake the icon, we talked with Mike Cairns, head of Engineering for Ram Trucks, and Kevin Mets, chief engineer for Ram HD trucks.
Although the Power Wagon is a relatively low-volume niche model in the Ram HD lineup, it has a passionate following with devoted fans and owners. The decision to continue to offer the model in the 2014 lineup was never a question, according to Cairns. Including the Power Wagon in the 2014 HD program may have never been in doubt, but some of the other changes made to optimize the HD trucks for towing and hauling were not optimized for the off-road performance that's traditionally been a Power Wagon hallmark.
The 2014 Power Wagon doesn't go on sale until January 2014.
The new three-link front suspension on the 2014 HD models was designed primarily to improve roll stiffness, a desirable trait when towing or hauling a heavy load on the road, but that lateral stability usually comes at the expense of axle articulation. The Power Wagon team was determined to maintain the essence of the truck's character, and vowed "no compromise" in off-road capability. To that end, the Power Wagon gets unique high-movement suspension links, enabling greater flexibility and articulation capability. Cairns said the Power Wagon's 2-inch-higher ride height than a standard Ram 2500 4x4, combined with the new rear coil springs, the swaybar disconnects, and front and rear locking differentials give the 2014 Power Wagon as formidable off-road capability as ever.
More Power, Better Economy
Two of the most consistent areas of feedback from Power Wagon owners was the desire for more power, as well as better fuel economy. The new 410-hp, 429 lb-ft 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine was designed specifically to address both those needs. On paper, the gains of 27 hp and 29 lb-ft over last year's 5.7-liter engine may not seem earth-shattering, but Mets said the seat-of-the pants difference is significant and noticeable. "If you look at the torque curve between the 5.7 and 6.4, it looks fairly consistent. But the key is the 6.4 gets to the same torque level as the 5.7 1000 rpm sooner," he explained.
The higher torque output of the 6.4 enabled a taller 4.10 axle ratio, compared with last year's 4.56, which, combined with the MDS cylinder-deactivation system, yields a significant improvement in fuel economy over last year's 5.7-liter engine, which was not available with MDS. How significant? We have no official numbers to go by, since the Power Wagon's over-8600 GVW rating exempts it from EPA testing.
Still No Diesel
One of the requests from Power Wagon owners and enthusiasts has been the availability of a diesel option. While the massive torque output of a diesel seems like it would be the perfect match for an off-road truck, the heavy weight of a diesel engine, combined with the aftertreatment equipment needed to comply with current emissions standards, as well as the long length of the Cummins I-6 made it a practical impossibility for the Power Wagon, with the built-in Warn winch necessitating the shorter packaging of a V-8. However, the Ram team acknowledged they've heard the diesel fans loud and clear, and they're not ready to count anything out. Nick Cappa, communications manager for Ram Trucks, said, "As you can see over the past few years, Ram has been on the gas with product updates. We're always looking at other options, but nothing we can comment on today." Could a V-8 diesel be in the Power Wagon's future? We'll just have to wait and see.
In a Class of One
When introduced, the Power Wagon was a unique offering among full-size trucks and, even today, remains a singular proposition. The introduction of the Ford F-150 Raptor in 2010 added some interest in off-road oriented full-size trucks, but Cairns said the Power Wagon stands apart with its uncompromising HD capabilities. "The Power Wagon is a useful, heavy-duty truck. It can tow, it's got ground clearance, it does what people expect trucks to do. What's really indicative of its capability are the official and emergency agencies that have bought them, such as the Border Patrol, fire service, and national parks. It's very versatile off-road."
You can rest assured that Truck Trend will get an up-close look at the 2014 Power Wagon as soon as we can, and we plan on putting it through its paces on the trail to see if it lives up to the vaunted reputation established by its predecessors. We're promised we won't be disappointed.
2014 Ram 2500 HD Power Wagon - New for 2014
- Standard 6.4-liter Hemi V-8, 410 hp@5600 rpm, 429 lb-ft@4000 rpm, +27 hp, +29 lb-ft from 2013 5.7L V-8
- 4.10 axle ratio (from 4.56 on 2013)
- New Three-Link Front Suspension
- New Coil Spring Five-Link Rear Suspension
- 380 Net Amp Dual-Alternator System
- Heavier-Duty Rear Axle Ring Gear
|2014 Ram 2500 HD Power Wagon 4x4|
|BASE PRICE ||$49,725 |
|LAYOUT ||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door pickup|
|ENGINE ||6.4L/410-hp/429-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8 |
|TRANSMISSION|| 6-speed automatic|
|WHEELBASE|| 148.9 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT|| 237.4 x 79.1 x 77.7 in (est)|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)|| 6700 lb (est)|
|GVWR ||8600 lb (est)|
|PAYLOAD CAPACITY ||1810 lb (est)|
|TOWING CAPACITY|| 11,300 lb (est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON ||Not rated|
|ON SALE IN U.S.|| January 2014|