When you are an outdoor writer that writes about trucks, summer is season of wish lists, and this will be no exception since Ram is introducing a new 2017 Power Wagon.
I expect to be first in line to drive this when I am at the company’s Chelsea, MI, proving grounds and will share the experience with you as soon as any embargoes are lifted.
Since I know you want to know about the power plant first, Ram says the standard 6.4L HEMI 16-valve V8 with 410-hp; and a torque rating of 429 lb.-ft. is best in class. A unique engine calibration enhances off-road maneuverability and when driving in 4-wheel low, the throttle response softens and idle speed increases by 100 rpm for better ascending and descending control at slow speeds.
A 70-year history
The Power Wagon was introduced as a response to returning GIs who wanted a Dodge truck that was similar to the 3/4-ton military weapons carrier with a 126-inch wheel base and a closed cab. It features a 230-cubic-inch flathead six engine, two-speed transfer case four-speed transmission and a tow capacity of 8,700-lbs. Max payload was 3,000-lbs. That’s a long way from the new pickup.
In 1957, Power Wagons were reintroduced with styling that was more conventional, and — until 1980 — when the Power Wagon went out of production. As a nameplate, it was reintroduced falling under the Ram Truck Brand.
New Styling on the exterior
The new Power Wagon reflects the popular styling of the Ram 1500 Rebel with an all new larger black-out grille and prominent Ram badging. On either side there are black bezel bi-functional projector headlamps with LED marker lights There is a gloss black graphic on the vent-stamped hood. Optional in-your-face graphics come in two color variations depending on paint color. White, red, blue and graphite crystal get gloss black and the black Power Wagon gets bright silver.
Powder-coated front and rear bumpers, and the front bumper hides a Warn 12,000-lb. winch, roller fairlead and 125 feet of line. When it is not in use, only a single heavy gauge steel cable and dozer-size hook are visible. Unique to the Power Wagon are 17-inch forged multi-surface aluminum wheels paired to 33-inch tires with exposed lug nuts.
Along the sides there is more black-out harmony and wheel-arch moldings, badges, mirrors and lower body panels are coordinated with the rest of the design. Blacked-out RAM lettering is again featured on the stamped tailgate and black bezel tail lamp housings keep the theme going. A Power Wagon decal acts as a punctuation mark at the bottom of the tailgate. There is nothing timid about this truck.
Options include a backup camera in the tailgate and an exclusive cargo-view camera which allows monitoring of the bed load without turning around. The image is shown on the Uconnect 8.4 screen alternating the view from the tailgate to the bed. There is also an optional Ram-embossed tri-fold tonneau cover available.
For the more price-conscious customer there is a Tradesman Crew Cab 4×4 available without the exceptional design elements, but including all of the functional features.
On the inside
The 2017 Power Wagon is offered with two interiors and features major upgrades to a number of the design elements. There are new seat fabrics and finishes with gray and black technical grain and Sedoso fabric in serts embossed with the Goodyear DuraTrac tread pattern that matches the actual tread of the Power Wagon’s tires. Optional heated front seats have light gray accent stitching and Ram logo embroidery on the headrests and a Power Wagon nameplate on the upper seat bolsters.
At the premium level, leather seats are provided with Power Wagon and Ram logos embroidered on the bolsters and Ram logos on the sides of the headrests. There is matching slate gray stitching and an upscale interior lighting upgrade with ambient illumination overhead, and in the door panel and foot wells.
Both trims share a black headliner and upper pillars, instrument panel, armrests and the spacious console armrest. Gray metallic gives a cast iron look to the center stack and doors, combined with satin chrome vent rings and cluster surround. The leather-wrapped semi-perforated steering wheel can be ordered heated or not. The Power Wagon logo is tastefully used throughout the cabin. You and your passengers will never forget what they driving.
Powertrain to delight gearheads
In addition to the enviable numbers posted by the HEMI V8, intensive efforts have been taken to deliver greater efficiency. Cooled exhaust-gas recirculation provides reduced pump losses, particularly when combined with variable valve timing and fuel saver deactivation technology. When possible, the system shuts down four cylinders to conserve fuel. There is also an active dual-runner-length intake manifold with an integrated positive crankcase ventilation system.
Recognizing that heat can be an issue with a truck like this, the engine boasts a high-volume oil cooler, oil jets for piston cooling and aircraft grade stainless steel gaskets and fasteners. Computational fluid dynamics help to optimize the cooling circuit in the block, heads, and water pump.
The specially-designed suspensi8on system includes Bilstein shocks, modified control arms, spring rates and more than 2-inchs of lift. It will take a drive –both on-road and off — for me to evaluate the suspension system performance which is quite complex. Ram, and its stablemates at Jeep, has made huge leaps in their top-notch approach to comfort, ease of towing and hauling and other functions.
If this whets your appetite for the 2017 Power Wagon you are not alone. I look forward to being able to share driving impressions as the year progresses, and you can be sure that I will give that winch a tryout.