2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Review: The Most Complete (and Most Fun) Truck in the HD Segment
The world of the heavy duty pickup in America is one populated by buyers who need their trucks do perform tasks that are simply too tough for the more popular half ton trucks, but seldom are those hardworking heavy duty pickups the same vehicles used for “fun driving”. While trucks like the Ram 2500 and 3500 are among toughest trucks sold in America at the non-commercial level, these trucks have typically been made for work and not for fun – but with the 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon, that all changes.
The modern Ram Power Wagon has been around for a few years now, but new for the 2014 model year is the 6.4L Hemi V8. This engine has been adapted from the 392 cubic inch Hemi used in the SRT-variant of the Dodge Challenger and Charger as well as the SRT Jeep Grand Cherokee. Like the previous Power Wagon pickups that were packed with features that made them nearly unstoppable in even the most difficult conditions, the 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is built to battle any terrain. However, this new Power Wagon with the 6.4L Hemi is one amazingly fast ¾ ton pickup that will blast down paved roads and mud pits alike while also being the toughest gas powered HD pickup in the segment in terms of towing and hauling capabilities.
My 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon test truck carried a base MSRP of $49,145, but a long list of optional features including a “premium” 40/20/40 split bench front seat, the Luxury Group, the Comfort Group, a 220 amp alternator, the premium UConnect infotainment system with navigation, a rear park assist system, a backup camera, the RamBox cargo management system and a spray-in bedliner brings the final price as tested up to $55,555. Realistically, you can get all of the key components of the Power Wagon package for that base price, but if you want all of the goodies like the heater power seats, the configurable gauge cluster, the navigation system and everything else listed above – you can add them and increase the price of your truck as you see fit.
On the outside, the 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon has the same basic look as the non-Power Wagon 2500 pickups with one very clear exception – the substantial graphics package that includes the eye catching “Splash” design on the bedside, the Power Wagon logo across the tailgate and doors and the stripes on the hood. There is also the great looking red grille treatment that goes especially well with my Granite Crystal exterior paint with the red and silver graphics. When combined with the projection headlights, the LED taillights, the chrome bumpers, the off-road ready 33 inch tires and the high riding stance that comes via the Power Wagon’s unique suspension setup, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon stakes a strong claim for being the best looking and most rugged looking of the current heavy duty pickups. Oh, and let’s not forget the electric winch that is tucked carefully behind the front bumper – an item which really accentuates the capabilities of this big, bad ¾ ton pickup.
Really, if you removed the Power Wagon graphics, this would just look like your typical high riding Ram 2500, but those graphics made it very clear to everyone that this is not just a truck – this is the Power Wagon. Fortunately, the natural lines of the current Ram HD make the Power Wagon a great looking truck while the unique appearance upgrades just take it to the next level.
Aside from looking great, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon has the most functional exterior on the market, thanks to the innovative RamBox and the integrated cargo management system. RamBox adds a large, lockable storage compartment into each of the bedsides and while the Chrysler Group boasts their ability to hold shotguns, fishing rods or other items needed by the avid outdoorsman, these compartments are also great for storing things that you don’t want sliding around in the bed or facing the elements – such as a couple weeks’ worth of groceries. Also, the RamBox Cargo Management System has a moving divider that allows you to section off part of the bed or extend the cargo area when the tailgate is down. This whole system is $1,295 well spent on the Ram 2500 Power Wagon – and any other new Ram pickup, as no company makes better use of the cargo box than the Ram brand.
Finally, the Power Wagon package includes an electric winch mounted behind the front bumper so while going pretty much anywhere you want with your Ram 2500, you can also stop and pull out stuck Hummers with drivers who bit off more than their SUV can chew. The plug and play controls hook up right next to the winch, allowing for quick and easy access and use. Oh, it looks pretty freakin’ cool, too.
The 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is unquestionably one of the coolest looking trucks in the market, with a sporty application of a big, rugged pickup. It sits like a modified truck and it has the most functional bed in the industry so it looks great and works hard in more ways than the competition.
The 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon interior is the one area where the package really doesn’t have much impact, as the cabin is based on the value priced SLT package. Fortunately, those who want more between the doors can pick from a long list of options and many of those options were added to my test truck, but the cab of my test truck still had a very work-ready environment.
With the basic Power Wagon, you can add some high tech features, but it is still all business. (Note: due to a memory card failure, the images of the interior shown here are not from my test truck. The black interior shot is the standard Power Wagon layout and while the radio shown is actually in a Laramie model in the picture, this is the radio that I had in my test truck.)
First up, the optional 40/20/40 front cloth seats are power controlled and heated, as is the steering wheel so on crispy cold morning – the Power Wagon keeps your butt and your hands nice and warm. As part of the Luxury Group, the Power Wagon can include the customizable 7 inch driver information center between the dual analog gauges and when you combine the sharp looking gauge area with the massive 8.4 inch infotainment screen mounted high on the dash – this cloth-clad interior still has a very high end look. Best of all, the Power Wagon HVAC controls are accessible through the touch screen, but there are also easy to use buttons and knobs mounted lower on the dash for easy access when wearing work gloves. Next to the steering wheel, we have a round knob that allows you to lock the front and rear axles along with a pair of buttons that lets you activate the sway bar controls from the driver’s seat. Finally, the four wheel drive is controlled by means of a shifter style handle on the floor rather than a push button setup, and I absolutely love this mechanical setup.
In terms of comfort, while you won’t find any leather in my 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon test truck, the cloth seats up front were very comfortable and, unsurprisingly, there is more than enough room in every direction for even the tallest driver and passenger. The back seats in the Ram 2500 Club Cab offer a ton of leg room for the rear riders and while you don’t get heated seats – the rear seats are still roomy enough and positioned well enough to make for a very comfortable ride for three adults. Also, if you don’t have rear passengers, but you do need more cargo space, the rear seats quickly flip up and the flat load floor flips down to make for a great, internally contained cargo space for precious items – including a very large television in a box. The flat rear load floor feature is one of my favorite features of the Ram brand lineup, as it also has smaller storage spaces under the load floor panels for longer term storage.
The 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon isn’t a luxury truck so you won’t get a luxury feel from the interior. Instead, you get a proper pickup truck feel when seated inside, while the high end gauges and infotainment system allow you to enjoy some luxury amenities and a hard working pickup truck. Also, you just can’t go wrong with a work truck that has a heated steering wheel and heated seats.
The 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is one of the most versatile trucks sold in America, and I will try to touch on everything that it does so very well. The new 6.4L Hemi V8 delivers 410 horsepower and 429lb-ft of torque, making comfortably the most power gas truck in the HD segment. This makes the Power Wagon the quickest truck in the segment and although it weighs more than 7,000lbs, the Power Wagon is surprisingly quick when cruising around town. The heavy duty suspension setup is predictably stiff, but it still offers an impressively smooth ride around town and on the highway. It rides like a truck – don’t get me wrong – but it is smoother than you would expect such a capable truck to be on the road.
In addition to normal on-road driving, the 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is just as capable in muddy conditions, in deep snow, when hooked to a trailer or when carrying a big, heavy load.
Living in Michigan affords me the luxury of dealing with incredibly sporadic weather conditions and while I was testing the Ram 2500 Power Wagon, we were hit with heavy snow along with temperatures that were warm enough to use that snow to turn the local unpaved roads into mud pits with speed limits. Not surprisingly, the Power Wagon had no issues dealing with the snow covered roads, even in areas where the lack of traffic had allowed the snow to get very deep. The roads were bad enough to keep most people inside for the night and although other pickups found themselves stuck in various situations, the high riding Ram 2500 went about its business like it was 50 degrees and clear.
Now, I don’t ever take test vehicles off-roading, as that is not something that the average person needs to read about in a review. However, my area has a great many unpaved roads which the Michigan Department of Transportation calls “Natural Beauty Roads”. When we get into periods of heavy rain or heavy snow followed by above-freezing temperatures, some of these roads get really nasty. In fact, I have seen roads with mud and trenches deep enough to literally tear the exhaust off of a compact car. These are roads that many people avoid altogether when the weather gets sloppy, but many people in this area have to drive them every day to get to and from their homes. Because of this, I spend quite a bit of drive time on these roads when testing trucks, and I have been in some situations where I thought that I might need a tow just to get underway.
The Power Wagon, again, proved to be pretty much unstoppable in these conditions. At one point, I came to an intersection where the mud was literally several feet deep. You could see where someone had put road flares down, presumably after getting stuck in this mud hole in the dark. I pulled the Power Wagon into 4WD and eased into the intersection, learning quickly that this hole was deeper than I expected – but I was still able to crawl right up out of it. I am 100% certain that a normal production half ton truck or smaller would have been buried up to the doors in this intersection swamp, but the Power Wagon didn’t hesitate. This truck was built to be the best factory off-road option on the market, and that effort translates to impressive handling of the absolute worst road conditions that I could find.
Once I was back on paved roads, I had a few quick tasks for the Ram 2500 Power Wagon. First, I needed to pick up a load of plywood for a project in the stables, then I needed to move a palate of grain and finally I needed to trailer a horse to a nearby show. I was concerned that the RamBox cargo system would take up too much space in the bed to fit the plywood, but the stack fit nicely between the bedsides. Also, the palate of grain fit comfortably into the bed and when driving it home, that added thousand pounds in the bed wasn’t noticeable in any way.
For my towing task, I used the same 2-horse trailer that I use for all of my towing tests, and while the 5,000 weight of my small trailer is chump change for the Power Wagon, I always use this trailer setup for consistency across the various vehicles. The Power Wagon has the most powerful gasoline engine in the heavy duty truck segment and, not surprisingly, it towed better than any gas truck I’ve had hooked to my trailer – and that includes my own modified pickup. The 6.4L Hemi had no issues accelerating effortlessly with the trailer hooked up and even with the trailer brakes disabled, the big Ram had no problem stopping with the weight out back. I have not towed my trailer with anything that pulled better than the Ram 2500 Power Wagon outside of larger, diesel powered heavy duty trucks.
So to review my drive time, the 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is one of the quickest heavy duty trucks on the market today, it tows my test trailer better than any gas powered truck I’ve driven, it carried a thousand pounds of grain and a stack of plywood without batting an eyelash and it will forge mud that would swallow up some smaller trucks and most cars. The ride around town is a little stiff, but that is a very fair trade for all of the more important things that the Power Wagon does so well.
The Final Word
The 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is the ultimate combination of a hard working heavy duty pickup, an unstoppable off-road beast and a surprisingly quick truck during normal driving conditions. If you want a gas powered ¾ ton pickup that will tow 9,700 pounds, haul over 1,400lbs, make short work of the sloppiest mud pits and outrun a great many smaller trucks on the road today – the Power Wagon is the truck for you. Aside from looking awesome with the unique Power Wagon graphics from front to back, the actual meat and potatoes of the Power Wagon package including the 6.4L Hemi, the 4.10 axles, the Bilstein shocks and the 17 inch wheels wrapped in 33 inch off-road ready tires make this Ram 2500 one of the most capable trucks on the market today while also being the most entertaining ¾ ton truck on sale today.
If you NEED a hard working heavy duty pickup, but you WANT a truck that is fast and very capable in the worst off-road conditions – there is no better truck on sales today than the Ram 2500 Power Wagon.