Ram Power Wagon Crew Cab
The ’12 Power Wagon is almost the perfect pickup truck. It has seating for four or five people, front and rear lockers, a sway bar disconnect, and even a winch. It can tow 10,250 pounds, haul almost a ton, and still run down the highway with ease and comfort. It is a big, burly brute, and for 2012 it has a new 66RFE six-speed automatic.
The ’12 Power Wagon has a few other upgrades over the previous year’s model that are worth mentioning, such as a new steering wheel with integrated cruise control. But more importantly, the RamBox storage bins built into the bedsides are now available on the Power Wagon. The RamBox makes use of formerly useless space in the body sides while hardly reducing bed floor space; you can still fit a 4-foot-wide piece of plywood and have lockable storage in the side boxes for tools or recovery gear. However, we would like to see a design that allows for access with a truck cap, camper, or shell installed.
Unfortunately the Ram has a $53,110 price tag, almost double the two-door Rubicon.
Bad news first: The truck needs rock sliders. It’s long, hangs low, and catches rocks in the sheetmetal. And we don’t mean it needs side steps; rather, it needs proper, weight-bearing rock sliders.
The locker controls, though better situated on the passenger side of the steering wheel with a giant knob compared to the Rubicon, are hidden by the transmission shifter when in Drive. Plus, there is no dash icon showing them engaged, just tiny, nearly invisible lights that blink and blink and blink. Are they working? Yes, oh wait, now the front doesn’t seem to be locked. What is going on with these lockers?!!!
And do we have to live with the power bulge of the big hood, designed to cover the diesel engine, if we do not get a diesel engine under it? All it does is limit visibility. Can we get the lower Ram 1500 hood instead?
Finally, why are you twisting our arm to call this truck only “Ram” when right there on the dash it says Dodge?
Performancewise, the latest Power Wagon is hard to beat. It has good power (though we’d always like more) in the mud, excellent control and flex in the rocks, and better speed and stability when going fast both on- and off-road. In the sand the big truck is heavy. Wheelhop was induced, tires started digging, and we were quickly tugging it free with its mini competitor.
Oddly enough, we also lost a power steering cooler line in the dunes. Luckily we could send the Jeep for replacement fluid while the rest of the team put the hose back in its proper place. Not a terminal issue, just a loose hose clamp, but definitely annoying in the 110-degree desert sun. Once back up and running the Power Wagon dominated in the high-speed off-road section of the test, soaking up rough corrugated track that had the little Jeep slowing and skittering.
Finally, can we have a true mud tire? The BFG All-Terrains are good, but they didn’t hold a candle to the Mud-Terrains in the mud. (Captain Obvious strikes again!)
Some will say the truck is too big for four-wheeling. Not true. It is big, but an experienced fullsize truck driver can rally with the Jeep on deserted mountain roads during impromptu night wheeling trips; ask us how we know. Plus, when it comes to hillclimbing, there is something to be said for the stability of a long wheelbase. Of course, a Power Wagon isn’t as nimble as the Rubicon, nor does it turn as sharply, but for the wide-open road, whether it’s dirt or tarmac, the Power Wagon is going to be hard to beat.
• RamBoxes for storage
• Comfortable place to be
• Warn winch
• Unprotected rocker panels
• Lack of visibility