Originally introduced as a weapons carrier during World War II, the RAM Power Wagon certainly has some history behind it. Although it’s no longer providing troop support, the truck – based on the Crew Cab 2500 Heavy Duty – is all new for the 2019 model year and is being dubbed as “the benchmark for performance, capability, technology and luxury.” Is it? Epoch Times attended a media drive up in Whistler to find out.
“It’s Canada’s most capable full-size off-road pickup, and is the only RAM with true rock climbing ability,” said Mike Szymkiewicz, senior manager of product planning at FCA Canada, adding the vehicle also features the only factory-installed winch in the industry.
So what makes a Power Wagon a Power Wagon, you ask? First of all, you’ll notice that it sits higher than other products in the lineup thanks to a purpose-built suspension. Utilizing Bilstein shocks, modified control arms – with Articulink high-movement joints at the axle mount – higher spring rates and more than two inches of lift, the setup is designed to take abuse.
When scaling over logs or small boulders, as we did ascending to the top of a local mountain, a conventional sway bar is bound to get in the way. When in 4WD high or low at speeds below 29 km/h, the front unit can actually be electronically disengaged at the press of a button, allowing more front axle flexibility. Several times throughout the day I was sure the pickup wouldn’t clear certain obstacles yet we didn’t encounter an issue even once.
Another handy new tool is a 360-degree camera. Setting it to a forward view is particularly useful when cresting a hill and the view from the windshield is just the sky. On-screen gridlines helps give spatial awareness.
As mentioned above, there’s an onboard winch, custom built by off-road equipment specialists Warn Industries, capable of supporting up to 12,000-pounds; perfect for getting itself or others out of trouble. The line is made from a synthetic lightweight material that does not kink, fray or build up tension like conventional offerings.
The truck’s exterior has an appropriate level of aggressiveness to it. A good example is the big blacked out grille, resembling a pair of Storm Trooper goggles, and incorporating “RAM” in big chrome letters across the centre. The head and taillamps, bumpers, fender flares and 17-inch wheels are similarly finished in black. A full eight-colour paint palette selection is available (Bright White is my favourite), and bold Power Wagon decals are applied to the side of the bed and tailgate.
For such a mean, all-business appearance, one might not expect a very premium interior. However, optional packages add leather upholstery heated and ventilated front seating, heated steering wheel and backbench, Uconnect infotainment system and a 17-speaker audio system. While the 12-inch portrait layout touchscreen, when equipped, is gorgeous, navigating the menus may be a little tricky wearing gloves.
All models are spec’d as 4×4 boasting the company’s proven 6.4L HEMI V8 engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Pumping out 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque, getting going is certainly not a problem. Though the main purpose of our drive was to evaluate off-roading rather than towing, the powertrain is rated to haul a maximum of 10,620 pounds.
The 2019 RAM Power Wagon is in stores now and starts at $64,245.
Benjamin Yong is a freelance writer from Vancouver, B.C. and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Follow him on Twitter @b_yong.