There are a million versions of this story. You’re on a trip. Somewhere far away—the polar opposite of where you live—and you fall in love. It could be with the place, it could be with the food, the person you’re with, or even the car you’re driving. You adopt this new thing once you get back home, only to discover, disappointed, that it was only a vacation romance.
Last year, I went to the far reaches of northeastern Canada to trace the (largely unpaved) Trans-Labrador Highway with the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Ford F-150 Raptor, and Ram 2500 Power Wagon to determine which American off-road pickup was toughest. Not only did I fall in love with Atlantic Canada during the comparison, but I also fell in love with the winning Ram Power Wagon.
Back home in Los Angeles, with the story published and in my rearview mirror, I kept thinking about that Power Wagon. Was it just a road trip love, or could the Ram Power Wagon really be the ultimate, be-all, end-all off-road pickup?
I’d be a really crappy journalist if I didn’t attempt to find out—so please join me in welcoming this 2018 Ram 2500 Power Wagon to the Motor Trend Garage.
The Power Wagon was the winner of our Trans-Labrador Highway comparison because it was downright unstoppable in mud, sand, gravel, and dirt. Where we doubted the abilities of the other trucks, the trusty Ram never gave us pause. Looking at the Power Wagon’s standard feature list, it’s pretty obvious why. Each Power Wagon starts life as a 2500 Heavy Duty Crew Cab, equipped with a 76-inch bed and four-wheel drive. Under the hood, the base 5.7-liter V-8 is swapped out for a 6.4-liter V-8 that makes 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque paired with a six-speed automatic. The Ram then gets a suspension lift with Bilstein shocks, beefed-up new axles featuring locking front and rear differentials and 4.10:1 gear ratios, and an electronic-disconnecting front anti-roll bar to increase articulation—basically all the goodies the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon gets in a far larger package. The Power Wagon is then rounded out with graphics, steel front and rear bumpers, and coolest of all, a Warn winch rated for 12,000 pounds hanging off the front bumper.
Power Wagons are available in a couple flavors—there’s the Power Wagon package available for $7,950 on the base Ram 2500 Tradesman, which nets you all the off-road hardware of the stand-alone model but with a spartan cabin and feature set that’ll allow you to blend in just about anywhere. Then there’s our truck. The dedicated Power Wagon model gets loud ’70s-inspired graphics that it shares with the Ram 1500 Rebel, cloth bench seats front and rear with an off-road tire tread pattern, projector headlamps with LEDs, and clearance lamps for a starting price of $51,940. We added a fair amount of options to our Bright White test truck. The most expensive is the Leather and Luxury package, which for $4,995 adds power leather upholstered bench seats (three up front and three in back), heated and cooled front outboard seats, a heated steering wheel, Uconnect infotainment with navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, front and rear parking sensors, and power folding mirrors—the latter two will be incredibly useful when parking in L.A. Some other select options on our Power Wagon include the ever-useful RamBox ($1,295), a spray-in bedliner ($495), and power-adjustable pedals with memory ($195) for our shorter staffers. Total price out the door for our 2500 Power Wagon is $63,280.
In the month since the Power Wagon arrived in our garage, it’s already seen a fair amount of action. It tackled an off-road expedition in the San Francisco volcanic field near Flagstaff, Arizona, hauled some motorcycles and cars, and unfortunately even had a short stint at our local Ram dealer. Clearly, love back home is going to have its ups and downs, but I’m excited to see where this roller-coaster takes us.
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