Stomping the back 40 for 70-plus years and counting
Ram claims the original World War II army truck–derived Power Wagon was the first 4×4 pickup and that that truck’s successor remains the most capable off-road pickup on the market—fans of the 1913–1928 Jeffery Quad might debate that former claim, but we more or less validated Ram’s capability boast on a run across the Newfoundland Labrador wilderness. As the Ram 2500 line gets upgraded for 2019, most of those upgrades get applied to the Power Wagon while it carries over most of its previous unique features.
Retained features include the custom-tuned suspension with the 2-inch lift, electrically disconnecting anti-roll bar, and Bilstein shocks, the locking front and rear differentials, and the 12,000-pound (5,443-kg) Warn winch. A major upgrade involves that integrated front-mounted winch. The new Warn Zeon-12 model features “a unique fairlead and fairlead retainer with a new synthetic line that cannot kink, does not fray, and is more maneuverable.” The new line is also 28 pounds (13 kg) lighter. This winch, by the way, is one small reason why the Cummins diesel is not offered on the Power Wagon—it occupies space the Cummins setup needs for cooling. (The diesel engine is also too heavy and expensive to suit the “ultimate off-road pickup.”)
Another major improvement is a new 360-degree camera option, which provides a top-down view of the entire truck while forward cameras provide a close-up view to help place the tires when rock crawling. The standard 6.4-liter gas V-8 engine gets the MDS cylinder-deactivation system that launched on the half-ton version, along with all the noise and vibration countermeasures that allow these trucks to operate in four-cylinder mode more often—new engine mounts, vibration-canceling frame shakers, and active noise cancellation through the stereo plus all new exhaust hanging brackets that transfer less noise and vibration. Heavy-duty trucks don’t get an EPA rating, but internal testing suggests customers should see an 8–10 percent improvement in fuel economy. The engine is now teamed with an 8HP75R strengthened version of the eight-speed that has been powering the 1500 series trucks. The much shorter first gear ratio in this transmission reportedly improves the Power Wagon’s low-range crawl ratio from 35:1 to an impressive 51:1.
Like the rest of the Ram 2500 lineup, the 2019 model carries over much of the sheetmetal from the previous model (much of the cab, doors, and box) while face-lifting the design to resemble the 1500s, switching to an aluminum hood (saving some 27 pounds (12 kg)), and adding features such as the power-release tailgate with damped lowering. We still regard it as a new truck, however, because of the extensive powertrain improvements and the all-new frame, which is 31 pounds (14 kg) lighter and considerably stronger and less prone to transmitting vibration to the cab. The same is true inside, where the look resembles that of the 1500, borrowing some parts directly and modifying others to mount to the unique HD cab.
As before, the Power Wagon is offered in crew-cab 6.4-foot box configuration only, and the functional aspects of the package can be ordered on the Tradesman trim truck of that configuration. (The option added $7,950 USD in 2018.)
Production is ramping up now in Saltillo, Mexico, with sales beginning in the second quarter. Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect only a modest bump up from the $54,540 USD Ram asked in 2018.
Photos of the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty truck lineup are shown below.