Impression: 2014 Ram Power Wagon

May. 22, 2014 By Josh Burns
 

2014 Ram Power Wagon

SUSPENSION SWAP
One of the biggest highlights on the 2014 Power Wagon its all-new suspension. Starting up front, the Power Wagon gets the same treatment as the rest of the Heavy Duty line with a new three-link front suspension designed to ensure roll stiffness to reduce body roll.  Ram engineers fitted the Power Wagon with upgraded Bilstein monotube shocks in the front to compliment the new Ram Articulink three-link that features what Ram calls ďhigh-movement jointsĒ on the mounts from the control arm to the axle mount. The Power Wagon then gets added flexibility thanks to an electronic-disconnecting sway bar, allowing the front axle to move more freely when the truck is off the pavement. The sway bar disconnect, or ďSmart BarĒ disengagement, will function in 4WD High or Low as long as speeds are under 18 mph (otherwise, it will automatically reconnect at speeds above 18 mph).

Ram engineers veered away from leaf-sprung rear suspension, opting instead for a new five-link coil design that is designed to provide improved articulation on the trails while still tackling heavy payloads when needed.

For the rear suspension, Ram features its exclusive five-link coil design that is constructed to offer a payload up to 1,490 pounds and a towing capacity of 10,810 while still providing a great ride on road and off. As opposed to a leaf-spring system, the five-link setup is designed to resist axle rotation and provide superior lateral support. The suspension will also provide a smoother ride and a smoother range of motion that reduces vibration in the driveshaft and u-joints of the Power Wagon. Bilstein monotube shocks designed for the package are fitted on the rear of the Power Wagon. Maybe the best part of the new five-link rear suspension is that it weighs in at 40 pounds less than a leaf-spring setup.

Four-wheel disc breaks with dual-piston calipers provide stopping power for the Power Wagon, with 14.17-inch front rotors and 14.09-inch rotors for the rear.

There are three different trim levels for the 2014 Power Wagon, including the Tradesman, SLT and Laramie, though each models shares certain features such as chrome front and rear bumpers, a tucked-away 12,000-pound Warn winch in the front, 17-inch forged aluminum wheels with new 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires. Aside from the aggressive tread pattern designed to aid in off-road traction, the 33-inch tires help contribute to the 14.5-inch ground clearance of the Power Wagon, which is 2.5 inches higher than the 12 inches of clearance found on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty. Ram says the Power Wagon has an approach angle of 34 degrees, a departure angle of 23.5 degrees and a breakover angle of 25.5 degrees. The truck also has water-fording capability up to 30 inches. For trail protection, the Power Wagon is fitted with transfer tank and fuel tank skid plates.

We took the 2014 Power Wagon to task on some challenging trails outside of Sedona, and we didnít note any signs of struggle on the steep, rocky slopes thanks to the standard front and rear lockers found on the truck.

DIRT & PAVEMENT
The Power Wagon is no-nonsense truck both on the road and off, and Ram put together an all-encompassing ride to highlight just what this truck can do. We were invited out to the scenic area of Sedona, Arizona, and we traveled out of town up into hills and trails around the area.

Joining us for our day on the trail was local 4WD trainer Nena Barlow, owner of Barlow Adventures thatís based in Sedona. Weíve been on a few trail runs with Nena over the years at Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, so we know firsthand that she knows her stuff. It was great to get some trail guidance from someone who knows the area quite well, and she even took our ribbing in stride during our full day on the trail Ė especially at the end when we all got a little punchy. If youíre in the area and want to hit the trails, look up Barlow Adventures Ė itís the proper off-road alternative to the along-for-the-ride Pink Jeep tours.

We hit the road and ventured up into the hills outside of town. We started climbing a few thousand feet up into the mountains, starting out in two-wheel drive on some bumpy trails and shifting into four-wheel-drive High to smooth out the ride a bit. We eventually got into some considerably bumpier terrain, and moving into four-wheel drive Low made the crawl a little easier. Since we were cruising under 18 mph, we disconnected the sway bar (simply done with the push of a button from inside the cab) to loosen up the front end even more.

The Power Wagon is outfitted with sturdy D-rated Goodyear Duratrac tires designed to run at a higher PSI to handle the larger 2500 frame as well as any load it might carry. For our trail ride, our tires werenít aired down at all from the stock 60 PSI in front and 65 PSI in the rear. In all honesty, it was way too aired up for some of our ride, and we would have benefitted in terms of a softer ride by airing down. With that said, Ram engineers tuned this truck at those stock levels, and although it was a little bumpier than we would have liked we canít say the truck operated poorly. Whether running in four-wheel high or low, the truck tracked straight in uneven terrain, never getting thrown off by larger rocks, and the suspension never felt soft in the corners. Even on the pavement in windy sections, the Power Wagon takes turns well and isnít lacking in spite of the duality of its on- and off-road capability. No doubt the new suspension on the Power Wagon aids in these areas.

Speaking of the new suspension, our afternoon section offered a bit more challenge that allowed us to push the truck a little more. We were faced with off-camber corners, steep uphill climbs, weatherworn ledges and a few decent-sized rock mounds and the Power Wagon didnít skip a beat. The electronically controlled front and rear lockers standard on the Power Wagon help gain additional traction for obstacles and the tougher climbs we tackled on our run, and having operated the truck both with and without the sway bar disconnect, we can say that when disconnected the truck handles low-speed off-roading with improved front-end mobility. 

On the pavement, the Power Wagon canít hide the fact that itís a full-sized truck. It feels large and in charge on the highway like it should, but we were pleased to find its road manners pretty refined in spite of its off-road capability. We took some pretty windy roads through the mountains on our way to the city of Jerome, and Power Wagon neither feels overly stiff in turns of wobbly and loose. The back-up camera on our Laramie was useful when backing in and navigating parking lots, and itís something we can see owners appreciating with this larger truck.

WHATíS THE WORD?
Stepping into every new truck, itís only natural look at it through the eyes of a consumer. Itís logical that some might compare the Power Wagon to other off-road packages such as the Ford Raptor or maybe even the new TRD Pro Tundra, but the comparisons are not apples to apples. Both the half-ton F-150 Raptor and Tundra TRD Pro are trucks with built with off-roading in mind Ė and thatís not to say they shy away from truck-like activities, but thatís clearly a main focus. The Power Wagon, however, is designed for off-road use but itís also a 3/4-ton truck intended to be used as such, offering up a nearly 1,500-pound payload and 10,810-pound towing capacity. This true blend of on-road dynamics, off-road prowess, and work-truck capability is what makes the Power Wagon a truly unique package.

The all-around setup the Power Wagon offers is what puts it in a class of its own, and itís why truck buyers looking for the best of both worlds in a manufacturer-supplied package will give this truck a long look. It offers them a very capable off-roader that is backed with a dealer warranty (3 years, 36K; 5 years, 100K powetrain) Ė which is pretty amazing considering this type of manufacturer-backing didnít exist to this extent even 10 years ago. The MSRP for the three trim packages varies considerably, with the Tradesman starting at $44,495, the SLT starting at $49,145 and the Laramie at $55,020. Price wonít be a huge factor for a true buyer, however, as the Power Wagon will resonate with the owner who wants to have the most badass truck on the block. For that title, many would argue that price is no object.


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