Impression: 2014 Ram Power Wagon
If you’re wondering whether or not the new 2014 Ram Power Wagon is right for you, it’s probably not. This isn’t the type of truck you have to think twice about, weigh whether you truly need all of its capability, or decide if you’ll get guff from the Mrs. when she finds out the price is in line with her luxury SUV.
If any of these questions cross your mind, the Power Wagon probably isn’t your next truck. Ram offers a number of powertrain and package options in its 1500, 2500 and 3500 trucks that are worth perusal. But the Power Wagon wasn’t built to be an option. It’s a conclusion. It’s a statement. It’s not a period – it’s an exclamation point. Ram built this truck for one thing and one thing only: capability. This is a badass truck for someone who wants a badass truck. Hesitant buyers need not apply.
The 2014 Ram Power Wagon comes to the table with a host of changes for 2014. Built on the 2500 chassis, the Power Wagon comes standard with the new 6.4-liter HEMI engine. Ram engineers also outfitted the Power Wagon with new “Ram Articulink” front suspension that offering improved flexibility and axle articulation off the pavement thanks to high-movement joints and an electronically controlled sway-bar-disconnect system. Ram also uses a new five-link coil rear suspension in the rear to provide “best-in-class ride and superior axle control.”
The Power Wagon was reintroduced back in 2005 after originally being produced by Dodge from 1945 through 1980. It was originally based on the Weapons Carrier (WC) series of Dodge 3/4-ton military trucks, but it went on to become a iconic truck that highlighted the best of what Dodge, and now Ram Trucks, has to offer. That ideal still remains true today, as the engineering crew feels this specialty truck is a very special vehicle in its lineup.
“The Ram Power Wagon’s heritage dates back to 1945. It holds a special place in the lineup as an example of engineering innovation and off-road capability,” said Mike Cairns, Director of Ram Truck Engineering. “It may look similar to a Ram 2500 Heavy Duty but under the skin is a unique story, giving the Power Wagon its best-in-class off-road pickup competence.”
“Under the skin” doesn’t refer to merely lifting the hood on the Power Wagon, as the undercarriage offers a plethora of upgrades and changes on this year’s truck. Then again (using your best Tim “The Toolman” Taylor voice), maybe the engine isn’t the worst place to start, “Argh, argh, argh.”
Ram first introduced the new 6.4-liter HEMI for the 2500 and 3500 last year when it also introduced the new EcoDiesel 1500. This new best-in-class HEMI is a 16-valve V-8 that produces 410 horsepower (at 5,600 rpm) and 429 lb.-ft. of torque (at 4,000 rpm). The 90-degree V8 features exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) to provide added efficiency and refinement, which Ram says helps to lower emissions and reduce pumping loses (which is also reduced by the engine’s variable-valve timing, or VVT). To help improve fuel economy, the Power Wagon features Chrysler’s cylinder-deactivation Fuel Saver Technology, which will shut down four cylinders at highway speed to conserve fuel when possible.
Ram officials note the engine calibration of the 6.4-liter HEMI is unique on the Power Wagon to accentuate its off-road manners. For instance, Ram says that when driving in 4WD Low the throttle response softens and the idle speed increases 100 rpm (up to 750 from 650 rpm) for added control when crawling up or down steep slopes or obstacles. Speaking of crawling around at low speed where engine temperatures can get their hottest, Ram engineers addressed engine cooling by providing the 6.4 with a high-volume oil cooler, oil jets to aid in piston cooling, and stainless-steel gaskets and fasteners for added durability at high temperatures. Ram also says “computational fluid dynamics was employed to optimize the cooling circuit in the block, heads and water pump.”
The 6.4 HEMI is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission (66RFE), and truck fans will appreciate the fact that it is connected to a part-time, lever-activated manual Borg Warner BW 44-47 transfer case. To show it fully stands behind this monster motor, Ram says the 6.4-liter HEMI comes with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
A logical question one might ask is why no Cummins in the Power Wagon. For one, Ram noted at our presentation that more than half (55%) of the heavy-duty market is still gas, so they are playing to the larger audience. The heavier diesel motor for the Power Wagon would also present additional challenges for off-road capability, so ultimately the new 6.4-liter HEMI was a more logical fit for Ram.
Underneath the Power Wagon are American Axle Manufacturing axles front and rear. The front AAM axle is 9.25 inches, while the rear was increased over the previous version from 10.5 inches up to 11.5. Ram engineers fitted 4.10 gears in the AAM axles, while the axle shafts were upgraded to 38mm. The front and rear axles feature electronically controlled locking differentials that are controlled via push buttons from inside the cab. Ram also notes the Power Wagon features its new front-axle disconnect system that will disconnect front drivetrain components to reduce parasitic loss and improve efficiency to the tune of up to 1 mpg.