2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon: Worth the Money?

RM017_016TFL II

By G.R. Whale

It's fair to say the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is a class of one — a three-quarter-ton pickup truck designed to go farther up the trail than any other while maintaining some semblance of comfort and practicality.

In our recent 2017 Monster Factory Off-Road Challenge, the 2017 Power Wagon finished sixth of six and plenty of readers (me included) didn't see it that way. Full disclosure: I served as one of the judges for the Challenge.

PickupTrucks.com Challenges do not weigh categories, leaving it up to readers to find their own winner. As a result, when I did my own weighting, throwing out a few categories irrelevant to me and matching it up against competitors with similar options, my finishing order changed considerably.

The Power Wagon's closest competitors are "off-road" versions of the Nissan Titan XD, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, GMC Sierra 2500 and Ford F-250. As with the Ford F-150 Raptor, the Power Wagon doesn't carry or tow as much as the less-focused challengers (roughly 1,500 and 10,000 pounds, respectively) and the price premium is greater. At roughly $4,600 to $4,800 more than the most similar Ram 2500, the Tradesman Power Wagon's premium is not insignificant.

What You Get

For that extra cost, the primary upgrades are a unique front suspension and axle shafts, a winch, 33-inch tires, locking differentials at both ends and a disconnecting front anti-roll bar. Three of those are not offered on any other factory pickup, and when I searched you couldn't buy the lockers, winch and "smart bar" for $5,000, never mind have them installed at the factory.

And those 33-inch tires are unique in the heavy-duty pickup realm; they're the only manufacturer-provided load range D tire where squish, flex and sidewall protection are favored over maximum carrying capacity.

 

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There are other features I like, too, such as hill descent control (one of the quietest we've ever tested), trim pieces and, if you want them, wallpaper and dual alternators for a 380-amp output. I prefer the forged-aluminum five-spoke wheels and small-logo tailgate on the stealthier Tradesman version of the Power Wagon, but the cast-aluminum eight-spoke wheels on the other versions suit those who desire matching spoke and lug-nut counts. However, feature options on the Tradesman are limited; you cannot get the 7-inch dash display, 8.4-inch Uconnect or the cargo-view camera. At the other extreme, the Laramie Power Wagon doesn't offer the rubber floor option, so I advise sticking with an optioned mid-grade trim level if you require leather and such.

While the Tradesman Power Wagon keeps the Ram crosshairs grille, other Power Wagons get the Ram 1500 Rebel's grille design and full Ram lettering on the tailgate. The bumpers are powder-coated, the surface resembling a fine-grain spray-on bedliner; dash trim is meant to look like cast aluminum — looks yes, feels no — and the Power Wagon logo is added to instrumentation and seats.

How It Drives

My drive began on the highway where the Power Wagon's height delivers a visibility advantage, as it does on off-road trails. Of course, the extra step-in height makes it tricky for many drivers, but those grumbling about that probably haven't been in a new Ford F-250.

On the highway, the Power Wagon's ride is quite plush when compared with other pickups in this segment with its softer-than-standard coil springs. Performance was perfectly stable towing 9,000 pounds without a weight-distributing trailer hitch, and the integrated trailer brake controller made quick work of comfortable threshold braking. To the extent that heavy-duty, tall 4x4s "handle," body roll was no more evident than in stiffer trucks; the empty rear axle was far less prone to skittering about; and the truck tended to understeer, generally preferable for hauling and towing.

This Power Wagon was quiet, with the 6.4-liter V-8 bristling when dropped in gear. It sounded a bit flatulent, though, as cylinders occasionally dropped out for improved fuel economy. Cruising at normal speeds kept the engine at moderate noise levels; however, romping on the throttle delivered a throaty howl. According to the onboard computer, after hundreds of miles split evenly between pavement and dirt, we averaged in the high 15 mpgs on the highway, about 9 mpg towing, about 10 mpg in 4-High and closer to 5 mpg slogging through sand and muck in 4-Low.

Off-road adventures included sandstone steps and climbs, silt and sandy washes, a few rocks, graded hard pack, plenty of washboard, some mud and an open lakebed.

 

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At speed the Power Wagon never felt like it was running out of shock travel or damping, though it wasn't as quiet because of little pebbles being thrown up from the trail and antilock brake engagement.

Traction during the trail drive was only limited by surface friction coefficient, never by a wheel off the ground thanks in large part to the Power Wagon's flexible suspension — unless you count when all four tires went airborne. Drivers who stopped in the soft, sandy wash using their brakes occasionally needed to engage the rear locker to get free, but we discovered that a little throttle modulation got us as far as the locking differential. The Power Wagon only allows you to lock the front after you lock the rear and only when in low range.

Another feature we made use of on our trail drive was the front electronic disconnecting anti-roll bar that functions only when in four-wheel drive (high or low range) and at slower than 18 mph. Front axle articulation improves about 20 percent based on Ram's ramp travel index numbers (a measurement of a vehicle's suspension articulation), letting the front axle do more work with the tires on the ground.

We spent more time in 4-High with the front anti-roll bar unlocked on the trail to improve the ride and lessen our fatigue. With the bar engaged, we found the Power Wagon was essentially fighting to keep the front of the truck flat, completely unnecessary at 10 mph in undulating terrain. Unlocking it allowed the truck to roll gently side to side, absorbing bumps rather than arguing with them, thereby eliminating a lot of head toss for those inside. We spent two days and 120 miles doing that and, despite the fairly luxurious cabin, we have no doubt that we felt better after our trail drive than we would have if the sway bar was connected.

The Power Wagon isn't for everybody, whether you want a $46,000 work truck or a $64,000 luxury trail dominator. Certainly, utility workers could be spoiled by it, and friends of mine will simply buy it because they want to go wheeling, right now, anywhere they want.

Manufacturer images; Cars.com images by G.R. Whale

 

PW PUTC 3 GRW II

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PW PUTC 2 GRW II

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PW PUTC 1 GRW II

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Comments

Excellent dissenting opinion piece. Do more of these in the future!

That was a enjoyable read. With the unique features and added capability they offer, this vehicle certainly deserved an higher ranking than 6th. With respect to value proposition, I doubt the frame will ever need to be straightened on this unit.

If you want a better off-roader, you need to build it yourself!

A good or solid base is good to start, but building it yourself is way better!

And paying that much and still a solid front axle?

If the federal military is not using much solid axles anymore, why should you?

Finally a piece worth reading. Shows likes and dislikes. Advantages and disadvantages. The way all articles should be. Not one sided bullheadedness. More of these please. And more control over stupid comments. Look below in a few minutes for examples

Nice job Ram. Lose the tacky grill. Can't wait until you overtake GM.

Would like to have seen more details.

There really isn't much if any "value" in an offroad package UNLESS you take it off road... ALOT. So just like Raptors that never go off road, diesel trucks that never tow, or trucks with spotless beds these packages especially the ones that really do deliver real capability like the PW represent a significant expenditure (often integrated into the financing so youre also paying interest on them) and also come with additional long term costs that are higher (like the bigger more special tires or the repairs from overconfidence/stupidity that can be inspired by these packages). One can justify all of that if it really is needed and gets used enough but if one doesn't need it and doesn't use it with frequency then its not value its waste.

Hey Dave, the grills my favorite part, I threw one on the tailgate as well.

For me this truck is perfect. I use it to tow my toy hauler with quads out in the dunes. No fear of getting stuck out in the middle of no where. It tows very well. I can go just about anywhere. Love it.

IS THE RAPTOR WITH LOW TOW HAUL NUMBERS WORTH 70 TO 75,000.00????????? FOR ME HELL NO! CANT TOW MY TRAILER.

If the federal military is not using much solid axles anymore, why should you?
Posted by: oxi | Mar 1, 2017 8:31:41 AM

Yeah, cuz everything the federal govn't does is better for you, yep we should be like govn't motors. Take your Obamacare medicine, oxi.

I wonder where the military would be today if they didn't choose the Humvee and instead chose a solid axle truck instead. Perhaps a lot of money would've been saved by not constantly having to upgrade, improve, and rebuild the old humvee to be more capable at missions it wasn't intended for. Perhaps more lives could've been saved because more protection could've been more easily added to a solid-axle truck than a humvee.

I bought mine 2017 red ,,, I paid cash and got the best extended warranty. I love mine. Chevy man all my life. Never owned a dodge. So far so good. I love it. Its heavy. I think better brakes are needed. First 10 mins driving it home was a real learning experience on how not to blow thru red lights and kill about 4 people. Truck is awesome but the brakes really do suck. On a scale if 1 to 10 I'd rate it about a 12.

@oxi,

I'd rather look at what the private sector is doing. The private sector innovates, not the government. The truth is that outside of a few functions, government does nothing as well as the private sector.

The 13 most terrifying words in the English language should be, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you with your truck.'

No vehicle is worth what their asking for nowadays.

Maybe a truck only for HEMI V8 only; but for the rest of us who do occasional weekend off-road trips with more serious slow crawl needed; this truck is an over priced toy. For an average joe who wants a similar 4WD truck setup with off-road capabilities; all the brands offer it at far lower price point but are much more daily driver/street friendly & of course much faster (this thing is slow as a snail in comparison).

But of course if you want a truck that can do it all in style & be a daily driver with all the off-road capabilities when you need it but at the same time, can be street truck beast 0-60 at the same time - there is no other choice but the '17 Raptor.

My 2 cents...

Junk jus like garbage motors.

@Lionel, I'm ready for the Zombie apocalypse, I call her the Mercenary, MY 15 Murdered out Prospector Power Wagon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0Uk2VQNRno

POWER WAGON, Combat Proven trucks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-kJil21-1g


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntPHFVWDIqM

Hey, this is a very good ideal discussion:

h**********
And BOOM! That’s reality, Raptor fans. It has a payload that renders it to strictly a city boy’s toy only.

The Raptor is making the PowerWagon look better and better.

Or better yet, GM ought to make a One ton Off road version.

No, I got it!. Toyota ought to make a one ton off road version, and then we can have something quality enough to be worth its high price

Well, make that a Toyota one ton off-roader that is autonomous, electric propelled plug-in hybrid supported by a diesel on board generator engine and an electric outbound power plug(i n h a l e), AND THEN WE WOULD HAVE A TRUCK WORTH THESE HIGH PRICES.

Not this toy junk. ??
**********
Not true, for that much money, there are designs that do both payload and off-roading. The real questions are; do us consumers have the will to demand better, and, do the United States voters have the wits to set the auto industry free?
*********
Stop thinking inside the box.

O.K., I’ll give you a hint. Think military. OR, think also German But not all German. Also other military. I don’t wan to throw you off.

Its very doable. Its been done for a long time. Payload AND travel. Not rocket science truck guys.

When you truck guys get smart and start demanding better and voting wiser, the auto industry won’t keep taking all your money and just giving you shiny toys that are junk.’

And you thought you were so cool driving around that expensive junk toy.

Well, it’s shiny. Men are so easily made fools.

DON’T BE FOOLS. DEMAND THE RIGHT TOOLS.
*******
That’s our problem. People are still thinking OEM / AVAILABLE / US.

Think outside the box. Change the box.

And stop buying these junky toys, otherwise, we will never get good tools.
************
Don’t you see, if everyone gets wise, and demands cake and demands to eat it too, then you will have suppliers to mass produce them at a lower cost.

But people are too stupid to value the right thing, so the auto industry has to put shiny toys in front of you to convince you that is what you want.

Look to my earlier post. What you want is this:
“Well, make that a Toyota one ton off-roader that is autonomous, electric propelled plug-in hybrid supported by a diesel on board generator engine and an electric outbound power plug(i n h a l e), AND THEN WE WOULD HAVE A TRUCK WORTH THESE HIGH PRICES.”

Additionally, make the body out of aluminum or magnesium or composites or something that won’t rust out from underneath you. A steel frame is fine, because a heavy duty frame is thick enough to not rust for a very long time.

And remember, wise demand is only one part of the problem. You have to vote to set the auto industry free to more exactly match demand.

You all are getting stuck on the engineering part of the problem. THAT IS NOT THE PROBLEM.

Oh, and when I say a Toyota, you can take that to mean “toyota like quality”. The actual companies competing to make that level of quality can be whatever.
***********
Is there a good reason to buy such an expensive, low quality (think Toyota instead), toy made for boys and girls who are suckers for shiny things?

Rather, we could demand a different kind of tool. One that is quality, reliable and can do more than carry a couple of loaves of wonder bread.

Then we would get real trucks made for real men and women for less.
*********
1. Make it a one ton hauler with off road suspension and a diesel generator with an electric outbound plug.

2. Make it as good quality as a Toyota.

3. So we can afford it, build it in Timbuktu, or change America’s laws so we can build it here.

4. Oh yeah, and make the frame steel, but the body out of aluminum or magnesium or composite so it doesn’t rust out from underneath us.

5. Autonomous.

6. Otherwise, it will just be for the stupid masses and cost too much.

Isn’t it time we demand real tools and stop playing with these toys?
*******
No, you guys still aren’t getting it.

Its only incongruous to stupid people. For instance, a steel frame of a one tone is so heavy duty, that it takes forever for it to rust, so no problem. But the body is thin, so can’t be steel.

Also, its not going to run out of energy, it has a diesel motor that generates power for the batteries and electric motors. Like a locomotive. and since it is a one ton heavy duty, it has five to 8 thousand pounds of payload to carry plenty of fuel among other things of course.

There is nothing stopping us from getting machines like this but stupid consumers and voters who want to play like boys and girls rather than be men and women.
******
I should say, at least some of you are starting to get it.

Think a mix between a Via Motors truck, a diesel heavy duty PowerWagon, a military truck, and a Tesla.

I’ll keep hammering it into your skulls with my electronic handkerchief.
****

The power wagon is a fantastic truck.
A 8' bed would be great too .

No one mentioned the Power Wagon is Snow Plow ready. Just bolt her on. Try that with your Raptor. lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVLsUKPjsdI


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3NBmSyznQ8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZesXt6Tdjo

If you add up the cost of a winch, suspension lift, aftermarket tires, full length skid plates,and rerouted venting to yield 30 inch fiording depth along with some features unavailable from the aftermarket like electronic sway bar disconnect, then YES it is worth it.
Only a fool would NOT take those features into consideration.

One needs to be realistic, if you don't need those features, buy a regular truck.

Would prefer a HD version of a half ton Ram with some of the most popular off road widgets. The three quarter ton rigs beat you up in street mode, where most of us live anyway.

the Ram really looks the part though. As I've said before, there isn't another truck brand in showrooms today that looks more dominating than the full size Ram trucks.

papajim - every review I've read says the Power Wagon rides pretty good. The payload is only 1,500 lbs so that is right in line with a 1/2 ton anyways. I view the PW as a 1/2 ton with HD axles.

@Lou

I'm thinking about what a brake job costs on those HD hubs! I bet it's twice as much per wheel as a half ton.

papajim - every review I've read says the Power Wagon rides pretty good. The payload is only 1,500 lbs so that is right in line with a 1/2 ton anyways. I view the PW as a 1/2 ton with HD axles.


Posted by: Lou | Mar 5, 2017 11:56:26 PM

I was worried about the harsh ride going from a leaf spring half ton to my 3/4 ton Power Wagon. I have a 37" spare in the bed with some wood tools winch kit chains ice chest. Stock 33" spare tire under the bed. With the softened ride for the power wagon and the five link coils it honestly rides better. Doesn't jump sideways on some bumpy roads. Absolutely love my Ram truck. Goes anywhere with my 10,000lbs trailer with three 450 racing quads.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQUHuQYbdXw

I view the PW as a 1/2 ton with HD axles.


Posted by: Lou | Mar 5, 2017 11:56:26 PM

You think your 1/2 ton Ford is gunna handle weight better than my 3/4 ton Power Wagon. Please.

Stay thirsty my friend.

"What You Get"...is a truck with the worse reliability, most recalls, and the most shop time in the industry. But I can guarantee you will get to become on a first name basis with the dealer!!!

TUNDRA's ARE THE BEST!!!

Google "Million Mile Tundra". NO Big 3 even can come close to a TUNDRA.

TUNDRAs are the BEST!!!

https://www.farmshow.com/view_articles.php?a_id=646

This is for the "Tundra" guy. 1.7 million miles on a STOCK 2000 dodge 3500. Dummies.



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