2020 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Review: An Off-Road Beast … and a Hero

For most hunters, our calendar year is a bit different. It doesn’t start January 1 … it starts the first day of moose camp.

It’s a fresh start to either fix our mistakes from last year, or try to repeat our successes. Unfortunately for us, we repeated our mistakes, and for me personally it’s been four years in a row without a successful moose hunt. With a week’s worth a prep, around $1000 dollars invested each year, and 7–10 days of grueling hunting in terrible weather, you start to think—is it worth it?

Thankfully, by the grace of Zeus’ beard (and FCA) we got another Ram truck to ease the pain: a 2500 Power Wagon. It was an off-road beast, which also turned into a hero, for multiple reasons.

Power

The power output seems impressive with the 6.4-liter Hemi V8 pumping out 410 horsepower, and 429 lb-ft of torque, but with the Power Wagon weighing about as much as an Asiatic elephant (around 7000 lb), acceleration is dismal. 0-60 mph takes 8.4 seconds; painfully slow considering how much power it has. But that torque is real nice when you’re trying to power up a steep, off-road hill.

Towing/Payload

Due to the Power Wagon’s off-road prowess, towing takes a big hit compared to its brothers in the 2500 lineup. Still, it’s more than most people will need, coming in at 9,470 lb. And no one is buying this machine because they want to tow heavy machinery. Payload though is pretty bad, only coming in at 1,420 lb, which is slightly less than a Honda Ridgeline … eek.

Fuel Economy

Speaking of weight, let’s talk about fuel economy … it’s bad. The EPA doesn’t rate heavy-duty trucks, so there’s no official numbers, but we were getting a consistent 12.3 mpg combined without any weight in or on the truck, and a whopping 8.5 mpg while towing a 6,000-pound trailer down 1,200 miles of highway. This truck hurt the old pocketbook pretty bad, let me tell you. But then again, anyone who’s actually buying this truck gives exactly zero you-know-whats about fuel economy, so it’s kind of moot.

Off-roading

What this Ram is exceptional at though, is exactly what it’s built for: off-roading. One of our ATVs stopped working on us while we were up at the camp, so our only option was to take the truck, and thank Odin’s bicep, we had the Power Wagon this year. Not only did it eat bumps and hills for breakfast, it was wayyy nicer than riding an ATV through the bush for 45 minutes every morning, in sub-freezing temperatures. With its monstrous suspension and 33-inch Wrangler Duratrac tires, it gets 14.2 inches of ground clearance, 26 inches of suspension articulation, and Ram claims it can go through 30 inches of water.

The Power Wagon comes with an electronically locking differential in the front and rear with 4.10:1 gears, plus a disconnecting front sway bar, but it would have to be a pretty dire situation where you’d need to use these features. We were into some serious terrain and mud, and only once did I ever even need to put it in 4-Low. I’d be scared to get into anything that would require the full front and rear locking diff. That’s how good this thing is off-road.

Handling

Now, while the truck does handle very well on rough terrain, soaking up bumps due to the aforementioned two feet and change of suspension travel, it’s not so great on the road. The steering is very light and floaty, which is kind of nice because it makes it feel like you’re driving something half the size, but it translates to the rig drifting side to side a lot at highway speeds. Then add a 6,000-pound trailer on the back and it gets even worse, especially when you get over 70 mph it starts to sway into this scary speed wobble.

Safety/Convenience

Having lane-keep assist and adaptive steering, you’d think it would help keep the truck straight. Unfortunately just like on the RAM 1500 we had last year, it’s about the worst system on the market and actually makes driving the truck even more difficult. It’s slow to react and tends to fight your own steering input. The adaptive cruise control works wonderfully though, but for the $1,495 upgrade ($2,500 CAD) for the full safety group, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Review

What is worth it though, is the Towing Technology Group at $1,095 (USD), which gives you a center high-mounted stop lamp with camera (which gives a full view of the trailer from high up), trailer reverse guidance, and surround view camera. And the cameras on this thing are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Interior design and comfort

Another place where this truck shines is on the inside. We had the Level 2 Equipment group which gives you a beautifully equipped cabin with leather throughout, the 12-inch Uconnect System (which is my favorite system on the market), and the attention to detail is incredible.

The layout of the center stack is fantastic, all the metallic hard buttons are sturdy, and the gauges in the dash are beautiful. I’ve never seen such high-quality screens in a truck, it’s almost impossible to tell it’s a digital screen. The power eight-way adjustable seats are very comfortable as well as heated and cooled.

Unfortunately, the rear seats aren’t as nice as in the 1500’s, due to five fewer inches of legroom—and unlike the 1500 Laramie Longhorn we had last year, you can’t get cooled, or reclining, rear seats, which was my favorite feature. (I’ve really never understood why bigger trucks have less rear legroom.) But it’s still comfortable enough for adults to sit in the back and there’s five USB charging ports throughout the cabin.

12,000-pound Warn winch – “My hero!”

Now finally we come to the coolest feature on the truck, and one that I was hoping to use at some point in our trip, whether it was to get ourselves unstuck, pull another truck or ATV out of the mud. Or what I really wanted to do, was hoist a harvested 1500 lb bull moose up a tree to look at it in all its glory … unfortunately that didn’t happen.

But while I was driving back, sulking about another year of missed opportunity, and only about five minutes from home, what to my shimmering eyes did appear? But a Ford F-150 stuck by its rear! FINALLY! An opportunity to use this 12,000-pound Warn winch in real life! I quickly pulled over and asked if they needed help, and they did. So, I rolled in behind the F-150 who had pulled too far over on the shoulder and was spinning in the gravel. They weren’t really stuck that bad, and I think if they just put it in 4WD they could’ve got out, but I didn’t care, my opportunity had finally come and I wasn’t going to waste it.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Review: First Drive

I quickly got the winch controller out, plugged it in and unwound the nylon cable as the owner of the truck hooked it up. But first, I needed some pictures (no one would believe me otherwise). One quick press of the button and the winch pulled that F-150 right back onto the shoulder like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson picking up a tiny infant child. It was nothing for the Power Wagon to handle, and as I sent them on their way and got back into the truck, I couldn’t help but think, even though we were unsuccessful in our hunt, a RAM had helped, once again, still make it worth it. And we will, as always, try again next year.

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Verdict: 2020 Ram Power Wagon

One thing I do wish, is that they’d make a 1500 version of the Power Wagon which would fix my only complaints about it: less weight, more rear legroom, and better handling. And I know there’s the new TRX, but it’s more of a Baja pre-runner machine than a serious, backcountry, off-road beast like the Power Wagon. Anyway, here’s to hoping.

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