The changes to the 2019 Ram Power Wagon enhance the off-road capability of one of the most capable off-road trucks a buyer can drive from a dealer straight onto a dirt trail.
The Ram Power Wagon is built atop the 2500 chassis and is powered by a 6.4-liter HEMi V-8 making 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. Four-wheel drive is standard and includes both front and rear lockers for improved grip when in sand or mud or climbing rocks. Ram has improved the frame of the truck, with 98.5 percent of it constructed of high-strength steel to reduce weight and improve rigidity.
The 6.4-liter V-8 gets cylinder deactivation for 2019 and includes revised engine mounts and active noise canceling to quiet the cabin.
A new eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the six-speed of the previous model. Paired with a 4.10 rear axle, the Power Wagon’s crawl ratio is increased to 51:1 over the previous truck’s 35:1. The improved crawl ratio in low range means that more of engine’s torque is available at the slowest vehicle speeds to assist with rock crawling.
The electronic disconnecting sway bars, which allow for more wheel articulation, return for 2019. Even though it looks cool to see a vehicle on three wheels, improved wheel articulation from disconnecting the sway bars means the wheels more often stay on the ground – which is where the traction is.
The grille is a carryover design enhanced by new LED headlights. An upfront trail camera with an automatic washing system is an option. The forward-facing camera makes it easier to see obstacles and the trail off-road, especially given how far out the Power Wagon’s hood extends. If the camera gets dirty or muddy, a simple press of a button sprays fluid on it to clean it off.
The Power Wagon will still come with a Warn 12,000-pound winch. But the new winch is 28 pounds lighter thanks to the use of synthetic cable instead of steel. The cable is capable of towing just as much weight, but it’s lighter and easier to carry. It also won’t bend the way a steel cable will. A synthetic cable is safer for the operator than a steel one should the cable break under tension.
Inside, the Power Wagon receives a unique interior with the tire tread designed into the cloth seats. Leather is optional, as is the 12-inch Uconnect infotainment system. Power Wagon badging exists throughout the cabin.
The transfer case is still operated manually by a beefy shifter. Most trucks are electronic at this point, so putting the Power Wagon into 4-LO feels like you’ve really accomplished something. The transmission gear selector, though, is the rotary unit found on the Ram 1500 models.
Power Wagon is only available with the crew cab configuration and a 6.4-foot box. While it lacks the interior space of the Ram trucks that come in the large Mega Cab configuration, there is still enough room for adults to sit in the back seats in comfort. There are even USB ports back there.
Buyers can opt for the RamBox storage system, a built-in lockable storage container that’s waterproof and drainable. It’s great for storing tools, fishing rods or converting into a cooler for camping.
Out back, the tailgate is damped and can be deployed from the key fob. LED taillights hide sensors for blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert if the truck is so equipped.
All the Power Wagon’s technical features, such as the winch and locking axles, are available as an option on Ram’s lowest-cost Tradesman crew cab. That’s an option for those who want the capability but don’t want the shouty exterior parts. Ram Power Wagon starts at $54,595 including the delivery fee. Pricing is not yet available for the upgrade on the Tradesman trim, but it was priced at $7,950 on the 2018 truck. The Tradesman crew cab starts at $41,545 including the destination fee.
Off-road, the Power Wagon is hindered only by its size. Narrow trails are better traveled by midsize trucks or Jeeps.
The disconnecting sway bars help maintain traction but include an added benefit of improving the ride quality when rock crawling. Once off-road with a truck like this, a driver will wish all trucks had that feature.
A short test drive off-road in the desert near the Colorado River in Nevada found that the gasoline V-8 engine has enough power and torque for steep climbs. The truck accelerates quickly, and the V-8 makes itself known with a loud exhaust note. The Power Wagon does not have a diesel engine option, mainly because the weight of the motor wouldn’t be conducive to better off-roading, according to Ram’s engineers.
Get the camera
The biggest improvement in the new truck is the forward-facing trail camera, a must-have option. Being able to see the ground in front of the truck is a life saver for navigating narrow trails and avoiding hidden boulders – or anything out there that could ruin your day.
The winch also provides a sense of security that you can go anywhere. It’s easy to use, and when it’s factory-integrated it’s hard to tell it’s there. It might be the difference between making it home one day or having to call a tow truck.
On the road, the cylinder deactivation and eight-speed automatic should help with fuel economy. Heavy- duty pickups aren’t tested for an Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating. Ram does not supply an estimate.
The Bilstein shocks are compliant on the road, and the truck rides really well for a three-quarter-ton pickup.
The lack of a full-ton version or diesel engine option means that the Power Wagon won’t appeal to many heavy-duty truck buyers, but for the buyer who needs a work truck to get anywhere on the planet and back again, the Power Wagon is the truck for the job.