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  • 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Review and Test Drive

    2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Review and Test Drive

    Belligerent Big Red can bull its way up a rocky canyon pass in Arizona, dragging a Jeep behind it.

    Ten-thousand-pound tows barely elicit a deep growl from the brawny 2019 Ram Power Wagon.

    Take it from me: Don’t try to squeeze the ponderous beast into a tight downtown parking-space in Dallas at night. You might still be marooned there come daylight.

    Although the 7,000-pound Power Wagon may be the most capable heavy-duty work-truck/off-roader on the market, it needs space – lots of it – for mundane things like driving, parking and maneuvering.

    So, uh, if I happened to bunt your Versa onto the sidewalk all I can say is sorry, but do I look like a truck-driver?

    Actually, you won’t need a Class 8 license to drive the 22-foot long, 7-foot tall Power Wagon, but it may require some serious adjustments in your cornering and drifting skills.

    Nonetheless, the deep-red Power Wagon I had wore its considerable, concrete-cracking bulk proudly.

    It sported an enormous black grille so aggressive it looked ready to inhale anything smaller than a tractor-trailer rig.

    The imposing grille pushed hard and blunt against hefty headlamps, towering over a big gray hook and Warn winch protruding from a slot in the black-steel bumper.

    Meanwhile, a nicely shaped hood with a raised center-section gave the truck more Mad-Max persona, while the top of the cab flashed five amber big-rig lights.

    Unlike the smaller light-duty 1500 Ram pickup, Big Red’s entire front section looked sort of heavy and awkward – almost bulbous -- while the slightly curved sides seemed muscular and athletic.

    Call it multi-faceted, I guess.

    Fortunately for those of us who are a bit altitude-challenged, the Power Wagon arrived with a black-steel running board to ease the 18-inch step up from the street to the board.

    Moreover, a thick black stripe at the base of the Power Wagon’s doors softened the visual jolt of its sheet-metal acreage, as did an equally large vertical stripe on its pickup-box proclaiming “Power Wagon.”

    It also had handy Ram Box tool compartments on the sides of the pickup box, reinforcing its heavy-metal masculinity.

    Fittingly, my four-wheel-drive, crew-cab Wagon rolled on 285/70 semi-mudder tires that dwarfed its black-and-alloy 17-inch wheels.

    The truck relied on a salty 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 to get things rolling, twisting out 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque through an eight-speed automatic.

    The big V-8 spun out loads of low-end torque that could lift the front fenders a little under hard acceleration, pushing the over-sized ground-pounder to 60 mph in a reasonable 8.1 seconds.

    Corners, though, were kind of a joke as I fought just to square them up with the Power Wagon’s slow, somewhat numb steering.

    Suffice it to say body lean was present in any curve over 5 mph.

    It also had the ride of a semi-civilized chuck-wagon, bouncing over and crashing down on potholes while occasionally swaying side-to-side on uneven city pavement.

    However, that’s often the price you pay for great off-road capability, as well as five-figure towing strength.

    Among the Power Wagon’s many features for dancing in the dirt were locking differentials, Bilstein shock-absorbers, hill-descent control and anti-sway bars that could be disconnected with the push of a button.

    Despite its lofty $66,000 window-sticker, the Wagon offered a basic black interior that looked appropriate and used pretty decent material.

    A flat dashboard in textured black plastic, for example, dropped down and around an enormous 12-inch display screen that seemed a bit out of place in the bruising, big-hammer Power Wagon.

    Hey, it mostly functioned well with knobs and switches for the audio system. Unfortunately, the climate system relied on tabs that had to be tickled on the gi-normous screen.

    At least the rotary shifter on the dash was handy and freed up space on the huge console, which had decent storage beneath a black-vinyl lid.

    Likewise, the door-panels featured more of the textured plastic on their tops with “carbon-fiber” trim up high and a gray panel beneath it.

    Grab-handles, incidentally, were located on all four corners of the five-passenger pickup.

    Though the black-leather seats looked a bit coarse, they fit well in the tough-guy interior, offering plenty of leg- and head-room in back, too.

    The options on my well-equipped Wagon included the Towing Technology Group with surround-view camera ($1,425); the Power Wagon Equipment Group ($5,595); and the Ram Cargo Management System ($995).

    Even with all its virtues, though, the Power Wagon – a brand that dates back to 1945 – is not for everyone, nor was it ever intended to be, but as a niche brute, a truck that can be used for serious work during the week and equally hard play on weekends, the Power Wagon has few peers.

    2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

    • What I liked most: The Wagon’s immense capabilities and its stout, always willing Hemi V-8.
    • What I would change: Could we soften the ride just a tad without compromising the Power Wagon’s off-road abilities?
    • MSRP: Base price, $53,150; as equipped, $66,260.
    • Official color: Flame Red.
    • Fuel economy: Not rated because of its status as a heavy-duty truck; filler on the left.
    • Odometer reading when tested: 2,518 miles.
    • Spare tire: Full-size.
    • Weight: 7,055 pounds.
    • Length-width-height: 261 inches long/80 inches wide/81 inches tall.
    • Fuel-tank capacity: 31 gallons.
    • Towing capacity: 10,350 pounds.
    • 2019 Ram Power Wagon 4X4 in a few words: An enormous, likable heavy-duty pickup with more capabilities than most drivers need.
    • Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain protection.
    • Final assembly location: Coahuila, Mexico.
    • Manufacturer’s website: www.ramtrucks.com
    • E-mail me at terry@carprousa.com
    • Up next: 2019 Kia Stinger GT

    Credit: Ram Truck

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