And just like that, our year with the ’15 Ram Power Wagon, Four Wheeler’s 2015 Pickup Truck of the Year, is over. Man, that went fast. But time always flies when you’re having fun. Overall, we had very few gripes and mostly praise for our test unit. Granted, our as-tested mileage for the year was about 9,000 less than what we normally try to hit, but exorbitant fuel costs and other factors conspired to keep us just a tick more than 21,000 total miles driven for the year. The vehicle has held together fairly well thus far, but if we had a few more months with our Ram Power Wagon, the memories may not be quite so rosy. Indeed, the leather on the driver seat had begun wearing a bit more than when we last reported in Part 3 of our yearlong evaluation (July ’16). It has more deep cracks and creases, and you can already tell the surface of the seat will soon start checking and peeling. Also, the “shelf paper” black-vinyl applique between the driver and passenger side windows has wrinkled a bit worse than when we last reported. And then, literally five days before Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) was to come collect our test vehicle, the front suspension began clunking and clinking from the driver side when we ran over bumps, potholes, and road irregularities. A cursory inspection revealed the driver-side front sway bar end link grease seal had separated and grease containing fine metal shavings had puked out. Unfortunately, the truck had to go back before we could get a fix at the dealer, but add it to the short list of mechanical deficiencies we encountered.
Otherwise, aside from sucking down go-go juice like a sorority girl at a frat party, the big thirsty pickup didn’t miss a beat. It remained surefooted and dry inside during SoCal’s infrequent El Niño rainstorms, offered up plenty of cargo carrying capacity in the bed and RamBoxes, and hauled six passengers and a towed vehicle or trailer on numerous occasions. The on-road ride is unparalleled for a 3/4-ton pickup. We keep hammering on how good the suspension tune is both on- and off-pavement, but you really have to drive one to see just that we’re not exaggerating. There’s no excess rolling, chattering, or untamed movements despite what’s going on under the tires. The Power Wagon just handles irregularities like nobody’s business. And the Lariat package definitely spoils you while you’re enjoying the ride. The only real thing the Ram Lariat package doesn’t make easier on you (or any auto-equipped Ram pickup for that matter) is quickly selecting the Tow/Haul function and/or toggling down transmission gears. In older Rams, the Tow/Haul mode was actuated via a little button on the end of the shifter stalk. Now, it’s just another square button under the HVAC controls, which is easily forgotten and hard to find if you want it quickly. But otherwise, there’s heated and air-conditioned seats, a steering wheel warmer (which we used with much greater frequency than we’d care to admit), an absolutely killer sound system, and power outlets everywhere. There are 115V, 12V, and USB plugs right up front in the dash, as well as a 12V and USB plug inside the center console.
A quick yank on the T-case lever to toss it into 4x4 greets you with that warm, welcome feeling of shifter detents hitting the respective mechanical notches. We don’t know about you, but for us, actually feeling your vehicle go into 4x4 as opposed to listening to a little electric buzz and then hoping the idiot light in the dash isn’t giving you false signals is worth its weight in gold. Thanks to the supple suspension and lockers, the Power Wagon wheels like a much smaller vehicle than it actually is. Go off-roading in a regular 3/4-ton pickup and you’ll be fatigued in short order. Not so with the Power Wagon. Around our usual SoCal desert haunts, we normally ran with the lockers off, only engaging the rear locker when we really needed it. The front locker, although as seamless in its function as the rear, really wasn’t necessary for most of our situations given the long wheelbase. We just couldn’t get it crossed up enough to need it. We usually only engaged the front locker if we were playing around or yanking somebody who was stuck in soft sand. That’s not to say the Power Wagon package shouldn’t come with a front locker. With some rocker protection and perhaps some stronger bumpers, the Power Wagon can be a very formidable trail machine. Which begs the question: will the next Power Wagon offer some sort of factory rocker protection? Your move, FCA.
Options As TestedPower Wagon Laramie Package 22J includes 17-inch steel spare wheel, 17x8 aluminum wheels, 180-amp alternator, LT285/70R17D Goodyear DuraTrac tires, 4.10 axle ratio, front disconnecting stabilizer bar, front electric winch, fuel tank skidplate shield, hill descent control, manual shift-on-the-fly T-case, monotone paint, towhooks, T-case skidplate, Tru-Lok front and rear axles ($7,450); 220-amp Alternator ($100); Power Sunroof ($995); Uconnect 8.4AN AM/FM/SXM/HB/BT/NAV ($500); Remote Start System ($200); RamBox Cargo Management System ($1,295); Spray-In-Bedliner ($475)
Report: 4 of 4Previous Reports: Nov. ’15, May ’16, Dec. ’16
Base Price: $48,790
Price as Tested: $61,000
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time, manual-shift, two-speed
Long-Term NumbersMiles to date: 21,501
Miles since last report: 2,754
Average mpg (this report): 10.89
Test best tank (mpg): 12.6 (all highway between 60-65 mph)
Test worst tank (mpg): 10.04 (in-town and backroads)
MaintenanceThis period: N/A
Problem areas: Loud clunk from driver-side front suspension, most likely bad sway bar link
What’s Hot, What’s NotHot: Laramie interior is simply a nice place to be
Not: Keys instead of push-button ignition starting to feel archaic
“The behind-the-wheel radio controls are the best in the business.”
“Very little wind noise despite having the relative shape of a barn.”
“What’s that clunking noise? Sway bar end link? Control arm bushing?”