It’s a diesel Power Wagon on steroids

American Expedition Vehicles is well known in the aftermarket industry for its popular Jeep accessories, up-fits, Hemi swaps, and pickup conversions. But now the Michigan-based company has released its biggest product yet – the AEV Prospector XL. It’s based on the Ram Heavy Duty pickup and this turn-key package puts the Ram on 40-inch tires with a three-inch lift with beefed up gearing and capped with a stamped steel front bumper, massive fender flares, and all the accessories your wallet will handle. In short, it’s the diesel-powered Power Wagon the DOT won’t let Ram build.

It was back it 2013 that AEV expanded its product line with a host of upgrades for the Ram Heavy Duty pickup. Soon after, AEV began offering in-house, turn-key conversions of these trucks called the Prospector. Fitted with big tires, a suspension lift, a high-rise air intake, and the stamped-steel front bumper, the Prospector proved itself fully capable of off-roading with the hardiest of Jeeps. But folks still wanted more.

The Prospector XL takes the basic idea of the Prospector, and includes huge fender flares that open up the wheel wells, allowing for 40-inch tires while only needing a three-inch suspension lift. That translates into a low(ish) center of gravity and huge tractor-like tires for scaling obstacles, all while maintaining a comfortable driving experience in a truck capable of heading cross-country.

Let’s jump into all the modifications AEV is including on its Prospector XL package.

Continue reading for the full review.

Before we detail the truck, it’s important to understand what AEV is trying to accomplish here. The Prospector XL is designed to a be a heavy-duty overlanding vehicle capable of carrying people and their camping equipment into remote areas well beyond civilization and return them safely. All these modifications are designed with function presiding over form.

What’s more, AEV headquarters is full of ex-FCA engineers. That means these parts are conceived and built to OEM or better standards, working with the Ram’s existing components rather than merely tacking on some random aftermarket parts. Even Jeep has used AEV parts on its production vehicles. You’ll recall several special edition Wranglers came (and still do) with AEV’s front and rear bumper systems.

Needless to say, this isn’t your average aftermarket SEMA special.

Exterior

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The Prospector XL starts life at AEV’s shop just outside Detroit. AEV allows its customers to choose between the Ram 2500 and 3500 SRW platform equipped with the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel and 4WD. From there, the truck’s suspension is disassembled, front bumper removed, and stock tires discarded. AEV adds three inches of suspension lift using spacers and the truck’s stock springs. Believe it or not, the Ram comes with several different spring fitments depending on other options chosen, like cab and bed length, and transmission options. Keeping the original springs allows AEV engineers to maintain the factory ride characteristics, but at a taller height.

"AEV allows its customers to choose between the Ram 2500 and 3500 SRW platform equipped with the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel and 4WD."

The front and rear wheel wells are then modified with larger openings, allowing for the massive 40-inch tires. Let that size sink in… 40 inches… that’s two 20-inch wheels stack on top of each other. That’s taller than the hood of most sedans. The tires come mounted on AEV’s 17x10 Katla wheels offered in either Black or Onyx. They come wrapped with Toyo’s Open Country M/T tires. The widened wheel wells are then covered with AEV’s HighMark Fender Flares, keeping the truck legal and the bodywork protected from shooting gravel.

Up front, the Prospector XL comes with AEV’s heavy duty stamped steel bumper. It features a three-piece design made from 4.0 mm thick steel. Massive recovery points bolt directly to the frame and offer points for open hooks and D-ring shackles. The recover points then wrap down below the bumper to act as a skid for climbing rocks or other obstacles. A Warn winch rated at 16,500 pounds pulling capacity sits behind the bumper, protected from the elements. AEV gives its customers several different lighting options with the end-caps. There’s also the option for an LED light bar.

The Prospector XL also comes with AEV’s Heat Reduction Hood. It works to pull hot air out of the engine bay while channeling rainwater away from sensitive components. What’s more, it looks awesome. Also helping keep hard-working components cool, the Prospector XL comes with AEV’s Raised Air Intake. It’s designed to suck in dust-free air high off the ground. Customers can choose between the traditional Air Ram style or the High Efficiency Dust Filtration pre-filter.

Interior

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AEV isn’t all about swapping out the Ram’s greasy bits; the company will also customize your interior to order. The Prospector XL is available with two different leather packages, allowing customers to dress up their trucks with unique AEV-stitched seating.

Drivetrain

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AEV is currently only offering the Prospector XL package on Cummins-equipped trucks. That’s not to say it won’t eventually include Ram HDs with Hemis, but for now, diesel is your only choice. Then again, if you’re looking at a truck like this, diesel is probably for first choice anyway.

"AEV doesn’t meddle too much with the Ram’s 6.7-liter inline six-cylinder Cummins turbodiesel."

AEV doesn’t meddle too much with the Ram’s 6.7-liter inline six-cylinder Cummins turbodiesel. The engine is available three output ratings from the factory, which include 350, 370, and 385 horsepower matched respectively with 660, 800, and 900 pound-feet of torque.

Transmission wise, the Ram is the only three-quarter and one-ton truck that still offers a manual transmission. The G56 six-speed manual offers more control over the powertrain for those who like to row their own gears. This transmission is only offered in the 350/660 tune, but that’s still plenty stout enough for overlanding with 40-inch tires. The mid-range output level requires the 68RFE automatic transmission, while the range-topping output requires the heavy duty Aisin automatic.

AEV will also upgrade the front and rear differentials with lower gears and high-strength differentials covers that include both a fill and drain port.

Prices

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All of this off-roading goodness comes at a price. The Prospector XL package starts at $17,354 – and that’s not including the donor truck. Of course, adding other options pushes the price further north. With every option box checked, the Prospector XL package can cost upwards of $32,000. That’s a pretty penny, but the quality, functionality, and form all make the price justifiable.

The best part is AEV will add the Prospector XL package to any Ram 2500 and 3500 trim level, meaning a base Tradesman trim will get the same treatment as a Laramie Longhorn. Going for the least expensive, the 2016 Ram 2500 with the Crew Cab, 4WD, Cummins turbodiesel, and manual transmission decked out in the base Tradesman trim will cost around $45,000. That means the AEV Prospector XL can be had for around $62,354.

The Prospector XL is available directly through AEV or through AEV’s certified dealerships nationwide.

Conclusion

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AEV has been making Jeep parts and building Jeep conversions for years, but with its Prospector XL added to the Prospector line, the company is expanding its reach into new territory. The overlanding, off-roading, and diesel-loving crowds will undoubtedly love the package and its versatile options. Best of all, the Prospector XL is serial numbered and its equipment is covered under AEV’s three-year, 36,000-mile warranty.

  • Leave it
    • On the expensive side
    • Takes time to build

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