2019 Ram Power Wagon: Tough and Mean Gets Smarter and More Nimble (First Drive Review)

While there’s been a slew of fresh information about the new Ram heavy duty 2500 and 3500 trucks, the 2019 Ram Power Wagon has notable improvements too. It is, without a doubt, one of the most capable off-road pickup trucks you can buy from the factory. It combines serious off-road kit with a muscular swagger and good road manners. Now it has a snazzy new interior and lots of new bits under the slightly revised sheet metal. Here is our first drive review from Nevada.

Like the rest of the heavy duty Ram 2500 and 3500 family, the 2019 Ram Power Wagon gets a new frame that’s lighter and stronger. It’s still sitting on top of two thick, solid axles front and back housing 4:10 gears and lockers.

2019 Ram Power Wagon Crew Cab

The engine remains the same 410 horsepower, 6.4-liter HEMI V8 that makes 429 lbs-feet of torque as before. The big news is the eight-speed transmission. According to Ram, it has Adaptive Electronic Control, Automatic or Electronic Range Select (ERS) manual control. It has a five clutch-pack design with only two open clutches in any given gear. The gearing also allows for a revised crawl ratio. It goes from 35:1-ratio to 51:1-ratio.

You can read more about the 2019 Ram Power Wagon (here).

Payload increases to 1,660 lbs and max towing gets a bump up to 10,620-lbs. While those numbers aren’t stellar, they are impressive for a vehicle with a dedicated off-road suspension. That much flex and added weight take a lot of the HD weight capability away from a vehicle.

Interior

For the most part, the major changes for the interior come from the 1/2-ton’s new interior. The design, tech and materials are either shared or similar to the smaller Ram 1500 truck. This includes the high-tech infotainment system and massive, optional 12-inch screen.

It is, well – just like sitting in the 1/2-ton Ram. Other than the higher seating position, you would be hard pressed telling the difference between the two. Then again, once you get rolling, you’ll instantly know you’re in a Power Wagon.

On-Road Driving

The growl, the tight ride and the sheer mass of the Ram Power Wagon makes the driver feel like they are driving something formidable. Despite its aggressive Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires, it merely hums down the highway like a lumbering ox.

Cornering is best done at a moderate speed as it does tip and squirm under hard acceleration. Still, regular maneuvers are not too difficult despite its heft and size. Brakes are strong and emergency maneuvers are surprisingly quick.

It may not be the easiest truck to get inside of, but once you’re there, it’s a mighty comfortable ride. With the new ZF-8 speed transmission, it’s even smoother and, according to Ram – more efficient. The wider gear spacing make the updated Power Wagon feel more spritely off the line. Ram says the 8-speed allows the Power Wagon reach a speed of up to 55 MPH in 4LO.

Off-Road

Once you engage 4-Low, lock the front and rear axles and disconnect the front sway-bar, you feel somewhat invincible. Articulation is outstanding, you have to work pretty hard to lift a tire, and if you do, locked up front and rear ends will pull you over just about anything.

While my off-road smapeling was very brief, I did note the ease of crawling and what felt like a much more civilized ride. Despite this, it’s STILL a Ram Power Wagon. I wanted to hit something with a bat or start a barroom brawl after my drive.

Then I remembered all of the coddling the new 2019 Ram Power Wagon provides.

The new bird’s eye view 360-degree camera system eases the burden of blind spots. The new 12,000-lbs Warn Zeon-12 winch is not only a great deal lighter than before, it’s easier to use with its new synthetic line. The heated leather seats and steering wheel take the snap off a cold day.

Is this still a HE-MAN’s Power Wagon!?

2019 Ram 2500 Tradesman Power Wagon package
2019 Ram 2500 Tradesman with a Power Wagon package

Well, if you wish to save some dough and get a more salt-of-the-earth 2019 Ram Power Wagon, you can get a Ram Tradesman 4X4 with a crew-cab, then get the Power Wagon trim option for all of the Power Wagon capability without the new bells and whistles. It’s the best way to get a 2019 Ram Power Wagon for around $50,000. Otherwise, you’ll be spending about ten-grand more.

Still, for everything you get, it’s a bargain.

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.