The hills of northern Arizona were in full bloom as our group of pickup trucks wove through the trails amongst cactus and rocks. We had almost a dozen trucks, but unlike the olden days when trucks were just for work, these were new trucks made for so much more. Ram Power Wagon is a name most of you know, Ram Rebel maybe less so, but both are Ram’s offerings for truck buyers looking for more than just a box with a cab on four wheels. And both trucks were great for exploring the high country of Arizona when every flower is exploding with color as vivid as the red rocks.
The Power Wagon is not the truck you’d expect to take out hunting flowers, but it is great for doing hard work in hard-to-reach locations. This heavy-duty 3/4-ton has front and rear locking differentials, 4.10 gears, a disconnectable sway bar, and 33-inch tires. Plus, the coil-sprung suspension, 6.4L Hemi engine, and big solid axles (AAM 9.25 front, AAM 11.5 rear) result in a flexy fullsize with strong parts and good power. The Power Wagon has the heritage of rugged work trucks made since 1945 by Dodge and now Ram.
The Ram Power Wagon has received mostly cosmetic upgrades for 2017. The new grille that was previously available only on the Rebel is now standard on certain trim models. The bedside logos are retro-inspired from the old Macho Power Wagons of the late 1970s. The Power Wagon also has new wheels and lighting and is available in new colors.
The Ram Rebel is a different truck altogether. This 1/2-ton Ram 1500 is equipped for moderate four-wheeling at a price point more acceptable to beginner truck buyers, and yet with respectable off-road components for exploring more than hardware store parking lots and asphalt. The Rebel has skidplates, Bilstien shocks, and larger 33-inch tires. It uses an air suspension to help with additional ground clearance off-road. Though not a full-blown desert prerunner, it is comfortable and capable in a clean truck package that meets the needs of many truck enthusiasts.
Both the Ram Rebel and the Power Wagon are now available with the gray and black tire tread seat pattern. However, if this look isn’t your cup of energy drink, then you can get the Power Wagon components on another model of 3/4-ton truck.
The Power Wagon components include disconnectable sway bar, selectable locking differentials, skidplates, Articulink front link suspension for more wheel articulation, Hemi 6.4L V-8, 33-inch Goodyear tires, and Warn 12,000-pound winch. The front and rear coil suspension is taller than the standard heavy-duty trucks and supports up to 10,300 pounds of towing capacity.
If you are looking for a Power Wagon but also a work truck, then you should consider the Tradesman package (right), which is basically a stripped-down 3/4-ton crew-cab truck but with all the Power Wagon off-road components underneath. The interior is pretty barren, with vinyl or fabric seats and rubber floor mats, but you still get the good stuff like lockers and winch. These start at around $47,000. This fits the first part of Ram’s four goals and attributes: Work, Family, Luxury, and Enthusiast. For the more outgoing, the standard Power Wagon aesthetic shows the painted black bumper and new bigger grille (left).
The Ram Rebel is more than just a 1/2-ton truck. The independent front suspension and rear link suspension, when combined with air springs, give the truck versatility in both off-road ground clearance and load and tow hauling. We have long considered the current 1/2-ton Rams a great riding truck, and the Rebel adds better shocks, improved underbody protection, and taller tires to make it more capable off-road. The Ram Rebel does have an optional limited-slip rear differential that we would definitely recommend you include when ordering yours.
One of the trucks in our group grabbed some trash in a tire and was soon losing air. We had a guide from Barlow Jeep Rentals with us, and she quickly plugged the tire and got us back on the trail. This got us thinking: Wouldn’t a nice upgrade for a serious off-road truck be an onboard air compressor with a length of hose that was all housed in the convenient bedside Ram-box storage bins? It’s just an idea we hope Ram will steal.
After exploring the dirt trails near Flagstaff and Sedona we headed up to Jerome, Arizona. Jerome is a funky hillside town where we explored the Gold King Mine, a destination of mechanical wonderment. This ghost town is packed with acres of rusty patina’d trucks and old mining equipment. We gawked and drooled at dream projects as we walked around this tourist destination. If you are nearby and into old trucks, don’t miss it.
The two biggest questions of the trip: Is there a Ram Rebel coming to compete with Ford’s Raptor? Is there a Cummins-powered diesel Power Wagon in the works? Ram representatives were more than cunning at deflecting these questions. What we do know is that the Power Wagon’s rear selectable locker is in the same axle as the diesel 2500, so we see a single-rear locker diesel option as a possibility. But a Power Wagon deserves all the attributes, dual lockers, sway bar disconnect, and winch, and we know the winch and sway bar interfere with the intercooler on the current model Ram HD trucks. However, this body style has been around for seven years, and we assume the next is in the works. Hopefully the designers and engineers have been moving components around to fit the sway bar and winch so a truck king of Power Wagons could be offered. As for a Raptor-fighting Rebel? We know there was a concept truck built with a supercharged 6.2L Hellcat V-8, and we’d love to see that come to light someday.