What it’s like to drive the 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon anywhere but off-road – New York Daily News


Monday, July 10, 2017, 10:22 AM

Running boards (n.): a footboard extending along the side of a vehicle for use as a step when entering or exiting the vehicle.

When used in a sentence: Where are the damn running boards on this thing?

Alternatively: You have to get a running start just to board this truck.


Believe it or not, running boards arent even an option on the 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon, and when your heavy-duty pickup boasts 14.3 inches of ground clearance and an additional foot or more just to reach the floor of the interior unless youve got the legs of a basketball player or runway model, youre going to want to have running boards.

But why dont you want running boards on a serious off-road truck? Because theyd inevitably get damaged or ripped off completely by a rock, obviously.

If youre wondering why I decided to begin a review with a definition and discussion of the merits (and demerits) of running boards, consider this: when you spend a week and almost 1,000 miles in a pickup truck for Americas birthday bash, you and your passengers start to get real tired of having to vault into the vehicle youre driving.

Passengers will complain (or at least mention it every time), and youll make a fool of yourself trying to slide into or out of the massive truck that somebody in the spot next to you parked too close to while you were in the store.

But you know what? Screw it. Who cares?

Im glad I had to exert effort every time I entered or exited the Power Wagon, because it speaks to just how hardcore this truck treats everyday life.

Now, before we get into the nitty gritty, I must make a disclaimer: I did not, in fact, get the chance to drive the Power Wagon off road.

Before you cry blasphemy! and call the state of New York to formally request revoking my drivers license, I have a very good excuse for why this is the case: horny birds.

Thats right, its Piping Plover mating season on the shores of Cape Cod, just about the only place near me on the holiday weekend that was offering short term over-sand vehicle passes. As it turns out, these little birdies are a protected species nesting on National Park Service land, so they had every right to shut down basically the whole beach to vehicles on the busiest weekend of the year just so the Plovers could get their groove on.

But the funny thing about off-roading is that you usually have to drive on actual roads to get to the good rocks, mud, and sand, and I did plenty of that in the Power Wagon, so lets instead focus on what its like to live with a truck this hardcore (especially in the overcrowded Northeast) rather than how good we already know it is at climbing boulders.

For those of you who arent familiar with it, the Power Wagon is Rams most extreme off-road offering straight out of the box. Where the Ford F-150 Raptor excels at dune-bashing and high-speed desert driving, the Power Wagon blows it away in rock climbing ability and go-anywhere readiness.

The name Power Wagon (power it has, wagon it is not) dates back to just after World War II, when Dodge turned its half-ton military truck technology into the original Power Wagon, a four-wheel-drive, half-ton pickup truck that was the first iteration of the format so many Americans drive around in today.

But while that truck set a benchmark, this truck says, screw this bench! and throws it through a window.

Need proof? Lets look at the raw facts.

Over fourteen inches of ground clearance. Approach, departure, and break-over angles of 34, 23.5 and 25.5 degrees, respectively. Thirty inches of water fording ability. A 12,000 pound winch with 90 feet of cable built into the front bumper. A mighty 6.4-liter Hemi V8 pushing out 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque, and a towing capacity of over 10,000 pounds. Lockable front and rear axles with disconnecting sway bars for maximum wheel articulation.

If you cant clear an obstacle with all of these tools at your disposal, brother, you werent meant to clear it in the first place.

Oh, and did I mention it looks badass? Because the 8-lug wheels, black Power Wagon vertical badging on the bed and hood, imposing new grille from the Rebel, and the worlds largest automaker badge on the tailgate really give this truck some serious presence. So much presence, in fact, that youll be genuinely surprised when a driver thats impeding your progress doesnt move out of the way.

Despite its standard hardware and tough guy looks, though, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is still a truck above all, and that means its got to do the everyday tasks its buyer will inevitably ask of it with ease. Thankfully, the Power Wagon delivers on these fronts as well.

The 64 box easily handled an inflatable dinghy and a holiday weekends worth of firewood, and I was even able to fit the entire 6-person Daily News Autos team (including myself) into the cabin for a lunch excursion. The front seat has a foldable center console that becomes a sixth chair with a lap belt, but theres hardly any space to put your feet because multiple cupholders, cubbies, and the 2-speed 4X4 transfer case shifter lie right beneath.

Plus, its got leather seats, automatic climate control with heated and ventilated front seats, USB ports, a 115-volt outlet up front, more cupholders than you could ever hope to use, an 8-inch UConnect touchscreen with navigation and 3G Wi-Fi available, and a full-color driver information display with access to pretty much everything you would want to know about how your truck is operating.

Trailer brake controls are integrated into the console and the 6-speed automatic transmission has selectable gears with a small button on the column shifter.

Long story short, its still a pickup, and performs daily tasks admirably like youd expect, but there are a few caveats you should consider if you intend to pick one up.

For one, the ride is rougher than usual and road noise is immense from the standard Goodyear Wrangler 31-inch tires. Also, its got the aerodynamics of an apartment building, and I averaged less than 14 mpg over the course of the week despite spending an inordinate amount of time on the highway. Despite cheap gas, filling up the 30-plus-gallon tank becomes an expensive affair very quickly depending on where you live. One of Rams famous Cummins diesel engines would help quell some of this, but the weight and length of one of these thrifty six cylinder engines would keep Rams engineers from having enough space to incorporate the winch and keep weight down to a somewhat respectable level.

Oh, and good luck piloting it through New York City. It took every ounce of skill and patience I had to keep from hitting anything and everything around me.

If you buy trucks like people buy meat, though, then the Power Wagon is a half-off sale on Filet Mignon. This 7,000-plus-pound truck, with more off-road capability than you could ever hope to reach the limits of, rings in at $51,695 before destination charge or options, putting it just below the Raptors $52,250 base price for the SuperCrew cab.

With a slew of options like the $4,995 Leather and Luxury group that adds pretty much all of the comfort and convenience features you could want including the upgraded UConnect touchscreen, an Alpine 9-speaker stereo system, and parking assist technologies, and the handy $1,295 RamBox storage lockers on the side of the bed, the total cost for my Power Wagon tester came in at $62,610. Thats a serious chunk of change for a pickup, but a straight-up bargain for one of the most off-road capable vehicles on the planet.

Still, unless you have the opportunity to go rock climbing or mudding on a regular basis or really care about appearances, it may be in your best interest to consider a garden variety Ram 2500 for your daily needs.

But be warned, youre going to want the Power Wagon anyways. I know I do.

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What it’s like to drive the 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon anywhere but off-road – New York Daily News

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