Drive Time: Ram Power Wagon evolved from WWII
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I need one of those 6.4L HEMIs in my Ram 1500...Stop out front of the truck, for there's no reason to rush past the winch and new grille when assessing the 2017 Ram Power Wagon 4X4.
The Warn winch, built right into the front bumper, is always the first thing noticed and probably for what the Power Wagon is most remembered. Lift out an electronic controller stowed beneath the rear seat, plug it into a receptacle at the front bumper, string out enough steel cable to reach the tow recipient and fire up the Ram to complete the mission.
There is 125 feet of steel cable at your disposal from the 12,000-pound winch. Behind the winch and line is the Ram's 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque.
All that grunt is good when needed, but open the big beast up at 70 miles per hour on the highway and it sounds so good and runs so smoothly, at those moments, it has been tamed. The Hemi is equipped with a cylinder deactivation system that turns the V-8 into a 4-cylinder when cruising under light load. Its knobby all-terrain tires add a bit of hum to an otherwise quiet ride, and coil springs at the rear add a softer touch than the old-style leaf springs.
The aforementioned new grille features large "RAM" lettering across the front, replacing the former crosshairs grille. It is similar to the front of last year's Ram Rebel.
The Ram, with 14.3 inches of ground clearance, has a 29-inch step-in height, with no step rail (ask Jan about that). The truck has four-wheel control from a shift lever rather than electronic switch, front and rear locking differentials, disconnectable front sway bar and tow capacity of 10,030 pounds.
My overall fuel mileage, affected greatly by some offroading enjoyment, was 12.4 miles per gallon.
The Ram Crew Cab is roomy and comfortable and was equipped with RamBox storage along sides of the pickup bed.
A few times over the years, I could have used a rescue from a Power Wagon. I was a high schooler the first time, out pheasant hunting south of Fleming with friends Bob Ring, Dick Looney and Dick Artzer. I was driving my '48 Ford V-8 too fast in a snowstorm on a slick dirt road and we slipped into a deep ditch. We walked down to the corner of the section, and after describing our plight to the farmer living there, he sent us back to the car and followed along, not with a Power Wagon but a big John Deere tractor. It towed us back onto the road; "Slow down," he said, as we drove away.
The Power Wagon has been around since even longer ago than that. It was introduced in 1945 as a military-use truck during World War II. As the war ended, Dodge began receiving hundreds of letters from homecoming GIs asking for a civilian version of the tough, four-wheel-drive truck which would go almost anywhere. Dodge officials responded and created a more pleasing and comfortable cab and began offering the Power Wagon to the public in March 1946.
As for the new 2017 2500 Power Wagon, its $51,695 base price topped out at $62,905 with a long list of options, including leather seats heated and ventilated in front, 8.4-inch touchscreen for navigation/audio/ backup mirror, remote start system, trifold tonneau cover, spray-in bedliner and power-folding trailer-tow mirrors.