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Dodge Power Wagon - Off Road Truck

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Phil Howell | Writer
Posted July 1, 2008

We Get To Live With Dodge's Superb Trail Truck

Some of you may be saying, "Now wait a minute ... 4 WHEEL DRIVE & SPORT UTILITY MAGAZINE doesn't do pickups." Well, we certainly cover utility vehicles, and very few call us "Four-Wheel Drive," most shortening the magazine name to "Sport Utility," but if it can go on the trail and is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, it's fair game for us. In fact, the best-selling 4WD&SU cover back in the early 1990s was Dan Ence's black Ford F-150 coming up out of a hole on Poison Spider Mesa in Moab, Utah. Also, many use pickups to tow their trail rig, as well as to do exploring where a fullsize vehicle would fit.

The Dodge Power Wagon is the most capable OE off-road truck sold by anybody today. With front and rear ELockers, a Warn 12,000-pound winch, LT285/70R17 (33-inch) BFGoodrich All-Terrains on forged aluminum wheels, and an electric sway-bar disconnect, the Power Wagon can take on the worst you can throw at it off-road. Its on-road comfort is an added bonus.

The people at Dodge have let us have a Power Wagon for an extended period, so we can use it and report how it works. The Power Wagon they sent us is a white Quad Cab shortbed equipped with the 5.7 Hemi that comes in all Power Wagons, five-speed 545RFE automatic transmission, NV271 manual shift-on-the-fly transfer case, leather 40-20-40 front seat with power driver- and passenger-seat adjusters, and fold-flat load floor in the back. The Power Wagon comes with rubber floors unless carpeting is ordered as an option. Ours is carpeted. We think the rubber floors would have been just fine. We also have the navigation radio with Sirius satellite radio and seven speakers. Sirius is a must-have option, in our opinion. Ours also came with a rear-seat DVD player, an option that comes in handy when taking kids on a long trip. In other words, our Power Wagon is fully loaded and is a very nice vehicle to use as an everyday driver, as well as to tow our projects and to take on the trail.

The 5.7L Hemi Magnum V8 generates 345 hp at 5,400 rpm and 375 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. Its electronic throttle control is much more than drive-by-wire. Just as in the JK Wrangler, shifting into Low range changes the throttle program and makes the throttle response much more manageable off-road. The Hemi has aluminum cylinder heads, hemispherical combustion chambers, a high compression ratio, and a design that utilizes two spark plugs per cylinder to burn fuel more efficiently. We'll continue to report on fuel economy as the truck gets broken in. Even with the larger 33-inch tires though, the Hemi gets up and goes helped by the Power Wagon's 4.56 gears.


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