2018 Ram 2500 Power Wagon
Class: Large Pickup Truck
Miles driven: 252
Fuel used: 24.6 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 10.2 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: Not rated
Base price: $52,295 (not including $1395 destination charge)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||A-|
|Fit and Finish||B|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Options on test vehicle: Leather and Luxury Group ($4995), Convenience Group ($395), rear-window defroster ($195), power folding outside mirrors ($195), keyless entry ($195), Cargo View Camera ($345), tubular side steps ($445), remote CD player ($295), navigation system ($745), power adjustable pedals ($195), remote start ($245), RamBox ($1295), spray-in bedliner ($495)
Price as tested: $63,725
The great: Off-road capability, interior room and storage space
The good: Off-the-line acceleration, control layout
The not so good: Step-in height, passing power, fuel economy
To step or not to step—that is the question when the subject is the rugged, high-riding Ram Power Wagon pickup.
The Power Wagon is the king of the Ram off-roaders with its 14.3-inch ground clearance, but that makes it more challenging to enter for folks who aren’t at least part giraffe. From Consumer Guide® editors’ experience, the proper sequence seems to be to grab the handle attached to the inside of the cab A-pillar, kick your inboard leg over the sill, and do a one-handed pull-up that would have brought a tear to the eye of your junior-high gym teacher.
Now, the ramrods at Ram could just add running boards or step bars and make this easy for everybody. However, in Mother Nature’s neighborhood, where clearances can be tight over and around rocks, stumps, and other obstructions, things that hang down or out pose a problem. That’s why Power Wagons don’t ordinarily come with them, unless an owner shells out $445 for a set of factory-optional tubular side steps.
The flat-black steps do make a clear improvement in passenger access, which CG folks found out when they finally got to drive a Power Wagon with this option. That was one of the few substantive differences between their 2018 test truck and the ’17 version they drove—and it probably won’t be much different from the one that comes behind it. Ram is shifting to a new generation of its big pickups in 2019, starting with the 1500, with the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 to follow, perhaps in 2020. It’s the nominally ¾-ton 2500 that is the basis for the Power Wagon.
In other respects, CG’s two most recent crew-cab Power Wagons were equipped quite similarly. (The 2017 job had an optional pickup-bed tonneau cover that wasn’t on the ’18 test truck, but the latter had the step bars and an extra-cost single-disc remote CD player that the former lacked.) Standard stuff that gives the Power Wagon its can-do bona fides includes a front-stabilizer-bar disconnect for increased improved wheel articulation, 33-inch-diameter off-road tires, 12,000-pound front-mounted winch, hill-descent control, locking front and rear axles, and chassis skid plates to protect the fuel tank and transfer case.
When passengers do climb Mount Power Wagon, they’ll find copious room in either row. Two big bench seats suggest 6-passenger room, but it’s pretty hard to imagine anyone filling that front-row middle seat, what with a substantial housing for cup holders and the controller for the shift-on-the-fly transfer case at that person’s feet. It’s better to just flip down the center back rest and take advantage of its potential as a wide armrest with internal storage and no less than three cup holders. The extra-cost Uconnect infotainment system—with an 8.4-inch screen, navigation, and satellite traffic information—is simple to use.
The big, nubby off-road tires ratchet up highway noise somewhat, and detract a bit from the ride comfort that otherwise is a hallmark of Ram pickups. A 6.4-liter, 410-horsepower Hemi V8 puts the power in Power Wagon, but exacts quite a toll at the gas pump, even with cylinder deactivation when the engine isn’t as stressed.
The Ram Power Wagon may not be the ideal choice for every truck buyer who sees an advantage to having 4-wheel drive. However, for those who have reason to make use of the Power Wagon’s distinctive traits, it’s a step up.