A lot of truck with big-time off-road credentials, bold looks, and a powerhouse under the hood.
The Power Wagon is a heck of a name that Ram has proudly used on the off-road version of their heavy and medium-duty trucks, dating back to 1945. It’s a name that tells you just about everything you need to know about the truck. It’s brash, in-your-face, and of course, powerful. It also happens to be new for 2020, putting it on our must-drive list for the year. Does the latest model live up to the nameplate’s storied past? We put a 2021 Ram 2500 Power Wagon through our weekly gauntlet to find out.
The new truck picks up the rounded Ram styling that debuted on the 1500-series truck, which has quickly become my favorite new pickup truck. Applied to the HD series trucks the styling only improves with much more real estate to work with. The Power Wagon gets a long list of unique exterior features to very clearly set it apart from any other Ram on the road. Starting with a big factory 2-inch suspension lift which gives the Power Wagon a simply commanding stance.
It also comes with a huge 12,000-poound Warn winch hung on the front bumper, Ram’s big ‘handlebar mustache’ style grille, unique front and rear fascia, tubular step bars, and a bold graphics package with “Power Wagon” stamped across the front sides of the bed and across the tailgate. To round out the package, the Power Wagon rolls on 17-inch matte black wheels wrapped in massive 285/70/R17 rubber – which is just shy of a 33-inch tire. Our tester came finished in Hydro Blue Pearl, which looks fantastic in contrast to the black, and certainly gets a lot of attention.
Making the climb up into the cab reveals the luxuries you’d expect in a highly trimmed Ram; a heated and ventilated leather 40/20/40 bench, heated second row seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, LED lighting, an awesome 17-speaker sound system, and more. The interior is very dark with acres of black leather with white contrast stitching and splashes of polished metal trim. The dash is dominated by the massive 12-inch Uconnect touchscreen, which remains one of the most user-friendly systems in the industry. Of course, it’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Ram trucks typically score top marks on the interior and the same holds true here. It has comfortable seats, room to sprawl out in the front and back, easy to use controls, clean dashboard with clear gauges, nice materials, and possibly the most important piece, tons of storage. There are storage bins and cubby holes everywhere in the truck, all of them well thought out to keep stuff contained, not rattling around, and out of sight.
Unlike the other models in the Ram 2500 range which can be optioned with the famous Cummins 6.7-liter diesel workhorse, the Power Wagon is only available with the big 6.4-liter HEMI V8. The HEMI puts out 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft. of torque at 4,000RPM. It’s not light on power, and the eight-speed automatic does a great job putting it down smoothly. The gasser doesn’t pull as aggressively as the diesel, but feels great under hard acceleration with plenty of thrust for passing, pulling, or just having fun. As an added bonus it sounds great under load.
The Power Wagon is built for taking on tough work in tough conditions, so it comes equipped with some very serious off-road kit. Starting with the two-inch suspension lift, the truck gets proper front and rear locking differentials with a manual transfer case, Bilstein off-road shocks, electric sway bar disconnects and that big Warn winch. As a result, the Ram is at home on dirt and rough roads, and with the suspension working hard underneath, the cabin remains very well settled in these conditions. While I did not get the opportunity to do any serious off-roading, by all accounts, the Power Wagon is ready to take on whatever you dare throw at it.
Off-road prowess does come with a bit of a price though. The Power Wagon is rated to tow 10,290-pounds and hits a payload of 1,510-pounds. These numbers are well within the range of what the average buyers would need, but they’re a lot closer to what you’d expect from a light-duty (1500-series) pickup truck. This is because the Power Wagon’s suspension is setup for maximum grip and articulation, not weight capacity, so you get a fantastic off-road pickup, but not the best work-truck.
The Power Wagon doesn’t exactly escape all the typical downsides to an HD truck either. Due to its heavy-duty chassis and weight; the un-loaded ride on the highway is quite choppy, steering is vague, and the big HEMI is thirsty averaging 17.8L/100km over our week of mixed driving. These are expected and widely accepted traits of an HD truck, and frankly the Ram 2500 is probably the most livable daily driver of the current lot, but without the capability the Power Wagon loses a lot of its lust.
Pricing is where it should be for an HD truck, if maybe even a little lighter than expected given the equipment on our tester. The Power Wagon, which comes only in Crew Cab, starts at $65,295 and that gets you a fairly basic truck, but with all the off-road equipment and attitude. Our tester came pretty well loaded with the Level 2 equipment group ($5,095) which adds a long list of luxuries such as the leather heated and cooled seats, power tow mirrors, proximity key, dual-zone climate control, adjustable pedals, remote start, LED interior lighting, and more.
Our Power Wagon also got the Safety Group ($2,100) which adds electronic safety aids such as lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot and cross path detection and more. The test truck also got a bunch of stand-alone options such as the upgraded 12-inch infotainment ($2,020), power sunroof ($1,425) , RamBox cargo system ($995), etc. In total, the MSRP on our test truck came to $81,255.
The new 2021 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is a lot of truck with big-time off-road credentials, bold looks, and a powerhouse under the hood. It’s the perfect truck for hauling your camper out to those remote hunting locations, or a fishing trip way off the beaten path. Those who need true hauling or towing capabilities might want to consider other Ram 2500 models. If you don’t need the boosted capacities and do a lot of un-loaded highway driving, a Ram 1500 Rebel delivers a similar attitude but with much more livable on-road manners.