The Chicago Auto Show this year was all about trucks, and RAM was front and center with their freshly updated 2017 RAM Power Wagon, one of the only ¾ ton trucks to offer a true and dedicated off-road model.
While we’ve talked about and test driven the 2016 Power Wagon just last fall, RAM upped the ante for its 2017 model with a number of enhancements that bring it more in line with the RAM Rebel 1500 in its swagger, and even kicks it up a notch beyond that.
The first big thing you notice is the new bull-dog nose grille from the Rebel, replacing last year’s cross-hair design. It comes along with blacked out projector-beam headlights and a black powder-coated front bumper. And in that bumper is the Power Wagon’s trademark 12,000 pound winch with 125-feet of cable.
The bulgier hood has vents and gloss black graphics that add some punch, but the big news is the return of the retro style vertical Power Wagon graphic on the bed side. It comes in black with lighter paint colors, and silver with the dark shades.
At the rear end the Power Wagon gets the big RAM lettering we saw on last year’s Rebel and Limited special editions as well as the big graphic. And please note, you can also get the Power Wagon without all the graphics if you want.
A 17-inch wheel design is new this year is similar in look to the Rebel’s, matte black with silver accents, and features exposed lug nuts with a small center cap. They’re mounted up with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac All Terrain tires.
Moving inside, the Power Wagon gets an interior makeover very similar to that of the Rebel complete with tire tread print and logos in the black and gray cloth seats. Front seats are heated and an upgrade to an embroidered leather interior is available.
The rest of the interior gets gray accent stitching on soft trims, and unlike the Rebel with its bright red trims, the Power Wagon gets a more tasteful outfitting with satin chrome accoutrements across the dash, door panels and center console.
On the floor are some very cool all-weather logo rubber mats and the headliner is blacked out as are the A, B, and C-Pillars. And when it comes to infotainment you can get the 8.4-inch touchscreen with all the latest UConnect functionality.
Making the Power Wagon unique in the market is its robust chassis and suspension for an off-road truck, as of yet nobody else in the ¾ ton class offers this level of hardware. This starts with heavy duty axles front and rear, both with 4:10 gears and electronic-locking differentials.
The front suspension is a three-link design with taller coil springs for a 2-inch lift, Bilstein shocks, and modified control arms for a high degree of articulation. There’s also an electronic disconnecting sway bar, which allows the front axle to move more independently for hard-core off-roading.
And at the rear instead of leaf-springs, the Power Wagon get’s a coil sprung five-link suspension, again for better articulation and a softer ride than most ¾ ton trucks. All of this gives it an articulation index of 26-inches, an approach angle of 33.6 degrees and 26.2 degrees of departure. Oh and it can drive through water 30 inches deep to boot.
So basically this truck is decked out almost like a super-sized Jeep Wrangler Rubicon when it comes to under bits. But, even with all its off-road capability it will has a decent payload rating 1,510 pounds and a towing capacity of up to 10,030 pounds.
Driving the Power Wagon like last year is exclusively the 410 horsepower 6.4-liter gas V8 and six-speed automatic. It has specific throttle mapping for extra smoothness at slow speeds when off-roading in four-wheel drive low.
The Cummins diesel is unfortunately still not an option here. RAM tells us this is because of the engine’s additional weight which isn’t so great for off-roading but also because the inter-cooler packaging and winch can’t occupy the same space.
The Power Wagon is available only as a Crew Cab model and comes in a limited palette of colors. Of interest, it’s also available as a base stripped Tradesman Crew Cab 4×4 without any of the interior or exterior duds. Just the guts.
That Tradesman might just be the ultimate off-road sleeper, nobody will see that coming. The 2017 Power Wagon will arrive later this year with pricing to be announced closer to that time. But as the 2016 currently starts at about $51,000 for the pretty one and $46,000 for the Tradesman, expect that plus a few extra bones this fall.