Like the Jeep Wrangler is to the Willys MB, the 2014 Ram Power Wagon is a modern-day interpretation of the WWII-era workhorse built from 1945 through 1980. The original trucks were based off the WC series of Dodge three-quarter ton military trucks that helped fight the Axis powers in Europe, Asia, and Africa. After a long hiatus from 1980 to 2005, the Power Wagon returned. Now based off a Ram 2500 Heavy Duty, the Power Wagon is up-fitted with beefier tires, upgraded shocks and springs, electronic-locking front and rear differentials, an electronic-disconnecting front sway bar, and a winch mounted inconspicuously behind the front bumper capable of pulling 12,000 pounds.

The Power Wagon has grown along side the Dodge and then Ram 2500 Heavy Duty pickup truck lineup, getting exterior redesigns, improved interiors, new equipment options, and updated powertrains.

I recently got behind the wheel of the Power Wagon during the Texas Auto Writers Association’s Truck Rodeo competition. Like its predecessor back in the war, the Power Wagon’s competition was fierce. Some 70 other vehicles were there to win, but the Power Wagon showed up wearing war paint.

The forbidding terrain of the off-road course included two water crossings, dirt paths, muddy and rock-strewn hill climbs, and surfaces that would shake a normal vehicle apart if not driven slowly. So how did the Power Wagon fair? Skip past the jump for the full rundown.

Click past the jump for the full review

  • 2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    410
  • Torque @ RPM:
    429
  • Displacement:
    6.4 L
  • 0-60 time:
    8.4 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    99 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; RWD; 4WD
  • Price:
    44495
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 572435
2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven Exterior
- image 572413
2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 572412

It’s plainly obvious there is something different about this truck versus a regular Ram 2500. The tall, 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires and a two-inch suspension lift are the first indications. The steel winch cable protruding from the front bumper is the next. However, if the truck is dressed in its SLT trim with the optional appearance package, the in-your-face stickers and POWER WAGON lettering are the first attention-getters.

The Power Wagon still enjoys all the classic styling of the Ram HD lineup. The large crosshair grille, bright headlights, and sloping fenders are still present. While Ram’s HD lineup includes numerous cab and bed configurations, the Power Wagon is only available with the Crew Cab and short bed. The two testers Ram had on hand included the clever RamBox system as well.

Looks are always subjective and everyone has their own opinions, but the clean lines and purposeful look of the Laramie-trimmed Power Wagon were downright respectable. No crazy graphics or specialized grilles like its main competition, the Ford Raptor, just a bold truck that walks softly and carries a big stick.

Interior

2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven Interior
- image 574135
2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven Interior
- image 574137
2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 574136

Things inside the Power Wagon are familiar to those used to Ram interiors. Only the rotary knob for the locking differentials and the two buttons for the swaybar disconnect on the center stack tell a different story. Otherwise, the Power Wagon is a great place to sit. Soft-touch leathers abound on nearly every surface and the other trim pieces are high quality.

The Power Wagon can also be had with Chrysler’s 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system, one of the best factory in-dash systems currently on the market. Its ease of use and simple layout means even those cowboys not used to technology can navigate its menus quickly.

The rest of the interior is just as easy to use. Controls are placed in the right spots and outward visibility is pretty good, despite the truck’s size. Operating the manual transfer case is met with a satisfying clunk as large masses of spinning gears mesh together. Locking the rear and front axles is as simple as turning the rotary dial. The same goes for disconnecting the electronic sway bar.

The Ram’s Crew Cab offers more than ample room for rear seat passengers. The seats also fold up, allowing a foldout storage tray to hold all sorts of cargo.

Powertrain

2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven Drivetrain
- image 574108

All new for 2014 is the 6.4-liter, HEMI V-8 in place of the less powerful 5.7-liter HEMI. This monster puts out 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. While the engine shares the same displacement as the 6.4-liter mill that’s in a few SRT-branded products, the Ram’s engine is specifically designed for truck duty.

For those truck owners needing to tow, the Power Wagon is SAE J2807 certified to tow 10,000 pounds. That’s an impressive amount considering the off-road-biased springs and shocks under the Power Wagon’s frame.

Along with the new engine comes new gears in the rear end. Gone is the super low 4.56:1 ratio in favor of a more well-rounded 4:10 ratio. Not only does this help highway cruising, but fuel economy as well.

Suspension

2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven Drivetrain
- image 574130
2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven Drivetrain
- image 574129
2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven Drivetrain
- image 574133

Following the changes in the rest of the 2500 HD lineup, the Power Wagon now has a five-link coil spring setup out back instead of leaf springs. The front axle forgoes its old five-link setup for a new three-link system with Ram’s innovative Articulink connector that allows for more articulation between the axles.

The difference is easy to feel. Compared to the rest of the competition, the Power Wagon was the smoothest riding truck. The rutted, rock-strewn sections of the off-road trails were conquered with ease. The body stayed very composed as the suspension soaked up all the undulations. Its on-road manners were another welcomed treat. The knobby tires and lifted suspension didn’t seem to bother the Power Wagon as it moved down twisty country roads. It laughs at mid-corner bumps, even with an empty bed, and uneven pavement doesn’t even transmit into the cab.

Driving Impressions

2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 574141

Like I alluded to before, the Power Wagon is a great driving truck despite its size and off-road prowess. Its steering is properly weighted yet feels light under turns. Its 6.4-liter HEMI accelerates to 60 in roughly 8.5 seconds, though it feels quicker. Off-road, the commanding view outside the windows inspires Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Wayne-type confidence to tackle any terrain. That confidence shrivels up when attempting to navigate tight quarters around town. Then again, this isn’t meant to be a city car.

I look forward to hopefully spending more seat time in the Power Wagon and exploring it do-it-all personality that much more.

Pricing

2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 574126

The Power Wagon’s capability comes at a price. The base level Tradesman trim commands a $44,950 starting price. That’s roughly a $14,000 increase in price over a standard 2500 Tradesman. Opt for the SLT Power Wagon, and the price grows to $49,145. Topping the list is the Laramie trim, commanding a $55,020 sticker price.

Competition

Ford Raptor

2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor High Resolution Exterior
- image 462681

The Ford Raptor has been a standout competitor in the off-road truck segment since its debut in 2010. Now powered by the 6.2-liter V-8 putting out 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. Specialized Fox Racing shocks hold the truck off the ground and give the Raptor its distinctive high-speed desert running capabilities.

While the Raptor is now discontinued with the demise of the 2014 F-150 to make way for the all-new 2015 models, we suspect Ford will be bringing the Raptor back to market for 2016.

Pricing for the Raptor starts at $44,995 and rises with options.

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

2014 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro High Resolution Exterior
- image 541211

The Tundra TRD Pro is the newest entry into the off-road truck game. Siding with the F-150 Raptor, the Tundra is based on a half-ton truck. Heavy duty shocks, different spring rates, heavy duty skid plating, and a locking rear differential make the TRD Pro a worthy off road competitor. The Tundra does lack the prestige of the Raptor and capability of the Power Wagon, but does offer a solid package.

Power comes from Toyota’s venerable 5.7-liter iForce V-8 making 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and an electronic transfer case are assigned shifting duties.

Pricing for the Tundra TRD Pro starts at $40,500 for the Double Cab version and $42,500 for the larger CrewMax.

Conclusion

2014 Ram Power Wagon - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 574125

The Ram Power Wagon is perhaps the manliest, most no-nonsense truck on the market today. Its combination of hard-core off-road prowess and smooth on-road manners make it a great truck to drive. Sure, its 6.4-liter HEMI is somewhat thirsty, but the burnt fuel goes to a good cause.

While the changes to the Power Wagon weren’t enough for the voting journalists to crown the it the Truck of Texas, the Power Wagon did walk away with the top honors in the Off-Road Truck category — a position that is well earned.

  • Leave it
    • * Gets pricy with options
    • * V-8 is likely thirsty
    • * Can’t be had with the diesel thanks to the winch
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: