One of the best road trips of my life was part of MotorTrend’s Trans-Labrador Highway pickup truck comparison test. Not only was Northern and Atlantic Canada breathtaking in its beauty, but our three off-road pickup trucks were also pretty awe-inspiring in their capability—none more so than the test-best Ram 2500 Power Wagon.
A few weeks later and back home in Los Angeles, I couldn’t shake the impression the Ram Power Wagon made on me; this tremendously capable pickup was comfortable on-road, unstoppable off of it, and capable of hauling 1,466 pounds or towing 9,910. Was it just a vacation romance, or was there more to it? Thankfully, Ram helped me scratch that itch, and a few months later we took delivery of our Bright White 2018 Ram 2500 Power Wagon.
Over the past 12 months and 22,264 miles, the Power Wagon has proven itself to be one of the best off-road-oriented pickup trucks on the market. Powered by a trusty 410-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with a six-speed auto, four-wheel drive, locking front and rear differentials, electronically disconnecting anti-roll bars, and a Warn winch rated for 12,000 pounds, there wasn’t much the Power Wagon wasn’t capable of. At the start of its stay with us, it helped my wife and me explore remote stretches of Arizona, it yanked stuck SUVs and motorhomes from sand and snow, and it was even quite the commuter, with its exceptional visibility and responsive powertrain making this sky-riding pickup far better in L.A.’s tight traffic and narrow streets than I’d ever expected it to be.
And whereas many of our long-term vehicles inevitably end up taking it easy their last month in our garage as other editorial projects take precedence, the Power Wagon has instead gone out with a bang. For example, it towed a 20-foot flatbed trailer carrying a 1949 Cadillac 62 Sedanette for a story celebrating our 70th anniversary. The Power Wagon hardly noticed the extra weight of the classic Cadillac; its ride remained composed, its brakes strong, and engine and transmission cool, even when towing up an incredibly steep 4-mile-long hill. The extra torque from a diesel engine option would have been nice up that slope, but the new eight-speed automatic on the 2019 Ram Power Wagon could achieve similar results.
Not long after its day towing a Cadillac around the valley outside of L.A., our Power Wagon got to stretch its legs on one of the Southwest’s best overland trails: the Mojave Road. This 140-ish-mile off-road trail stretches from Fort Mohave, Arizona, to Barstow, California, and includes a huge variety of terrain as it crosses the desert. The Power Wagon was primarily there to transport our four-person photo and video team (plus all of their gear), but we also picked it because of the extra peace of mind it brings off-road. All that the Ram brings to the table gave us no doubt that if one of our start trucks had gotten stuck, that the Ram would be able to free it.
The Ram tackled the abusive trail without serious issue. It lost a tire at one point—the trail’s poor condition and an older tire are equal parts to blame—but it was good as new once its full-size spare was mounted. The Power Wagon also got home with a misaligned driver-side rear door; one of the video guys had hopped out of the truck when the Power Wagon’s axles were crossed up, and after that the door would close with a cringe-inducing metallic thunk.
The door and an outstanding recall regarding the rear tailgate were easily addressed within a couple hours at our local Ram dealer once the Power Wagon returned to civilization.
Maintaining our Ram has been dirt cheap. Our three scheduled oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and an air filter change cost us just $272.52. Our last three-quarter-ton long-term pickup, a 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty King Ranch equipped with a Powerstoke diesel V-8 cost us $236.80 over an easier duty cycle and a few thousand fewer miles. Before that, our 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X equipped with a Cummins diesel V-8 cost us $1,506 in routine maintenance over 31,000 miles.
What hasn’t been cheap is fueling our Ram. Power Wagons are only available with an 89-octane-drinking 6.4-liter V-8, and our truck averaged 10.9 mpg over its stay with us. (A more efficient Cummins diesel I-6 is available on the rest of the Ram Heavy Duty lineup but isn’t offered on the Power Wagon because it doesn’t leave enough room for the winch.) Using the current $3.022 national average for midgrade gasoline (instead of the California figure, which skews closer to $4.00), that means you’d spend about $6,200 per year fueling the Power Wagon, assuming similar mileage and duty cycles. Certainly pricey, but I imagine most Power Wagon buyers know what they’re in for once they bring one of these home.
Ultimately, “home” is the word I most associated with our Ram Power Wagon during its stay with us. I always looked forward to getting into it, whether it be to simply commute to the office in the morning or to head out into the California wilderness with my wife and dogs in tow. I started out this year wanting to learn whether my fondness for the Power Wagon was just a vacation fling or if it really was true love. I’m happy to report that it’s definitively the latter. My next long-termer is going to have mighty big shoes to fill—both literally and figuratively.
Read more on our long-term Ram 2500 Power Wagon here:
- Update 1: Escape from L.A.
- Update 2: Dealership Dilemma and Shifty Steering
- Update 3: Catching You Up on Testing
- Update 4: Subaru Support System
- Update 5: Rescue Wagon
- 3 Reasons Why the Ram Power Wagon is My Favorite City Car
- Update 6: What I Like and Don’t Like
|SERVICE LIFE||12 mo / 22,264 mi|
|OPTIONS||RamBox ($1,295: RamBox, cargo hooks, bed divider/extender, LED lighting); Convenience Group ($395: auto high beam, auto windshield wipers); Uconnect with 8.4-inch display ($745); Spray-in bedliner ($495); Center stop lap with cargo view camera ($345); CD player ($295); Remote start ($245); Rear window defroster ($195); Power folding tow mirrors ($195); Keyless Enter ‘n Go ($195); Power adjustable pedals ($195)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$63,280|
|AVG ECON/CO2||10.9 mpg / 1.78 lb/mi|
|MAINTENANCE COST||$272.52 (3 x oil change, inspection, tire rotation)|
|3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*||$48,300 (76%)|
|*IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years|
|2018 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Power Wagon|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD|
|ENGINE TYPE||90-deg V-8, iron block, alum heads|
|VALVETRAIN||OHV, 2 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||391.6 cu in/6,417 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||410 hp @ 5,600 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||429 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||17.8 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Multilink, live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar; Multilink, live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||14.2-in vented disc; 14.1-in vented disc|
|WHEELS||8.0 x 17-in cast aluminum|
|TIRES||285/70R17 121/118Q D (M+S) Bridgestone Wrangler Duratrac|
|TRACK, F/R||68.3/68.2 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||237.4 x 79.1 x 77.7 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||43.9 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||7,316 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||58/42%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||41.0/39.9 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.0/40.3 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||66.0/65.7 in|
|PICKUP BOX L x W x H||76.3 x 66.4 x 20.1 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||57.5 cu ft|
|WIDTH BET WHEELHOUSES||51.0 in|
|PAYLOAD CAPACITY||1,660 lb|
|TOWING CAPACITY||10,620 lb|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||4.3|
|QUARTER MILE||16.5 sec @ 85.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||139 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.70 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||29.8 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,500 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$63,280|
|AIRBAGS||6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/100,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||31.0 gal|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||11.6/15.3/13.0 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||Not rated|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||Not rated|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||Not rated|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular|
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