Warning: Amp Research’s new PowerStep XL will leave you wanting more lift and bigger tires for your truck. Well, that was our experience at least. Amp Research’s patented PowerStep is the original powered, retractable running board that has been offered as an OEM option on high-end trucks and SUVs since 2003. Not wanting to rest on its laurels, Amp Research upped its game with the PowerStep XL, which is perfectly suited to lifted off-road trucks.
The PowerStep XL lowers 3 inches more than the original PowerStep to make it easy to get in and out of your lifted vehicle. The XL also adds an exterior rail, so it is not as discreet as the original PowerStep, but we like the look and function of the rail. While it isn’t exactly a rock slider, the rail are far better at fending off damage than the factory sheetmetal. Like all PowerSteps, the XL is designed and manufactured in America and backed by a five-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
We put a set on our nonlifted 2014 Ram 3500, which is fairly tall straight from the factory. Now we can proceed with our next round of upgrades on the truck without needing a ladder to get in and out!
Our 2014 Ram 3500 actually had factory steps on it. They got the job done, if the job involved getting your pants dirty. The only way this truck could look more like an old guy drove it is if it was gold instead of white.
Even at factory ride height, the Ram has step-in height of 28 inches. For comparison, our Tracker project on 37-inch tall Maxxis tires has a step-in height of 26 inches! Consider steps mandatory on new Ram trucks.
Amp Research includes detailed instructions with its steps. Our skill level isn’t quite a four, so it took us more than five hours, but we were able to wrap up in the installation in one day using only handtools.
The boxes from Amp Research all come labeled, which speeds up installation by making it easier to keep track of which components go where. This is valuable for the professional shop or the shade-tree mechanic.
Nutserts attach the required brackets to the cab. They mount in the existing holes for the factory steps; however, the Amp Research PowerSteps use different sized hardware so we had to rivet the brackets into place and install the new nutserts. This was the most involved step in the installation.
Thick, powdercoated brackets connect to the body and the pinch seam at the front and rear of the cab. The XL rail is then bolted to these brackets and runs the length of the cab.
Amp Research uses metal gears in the PowerSteps for strength and durability. The motor is mounted to the drive linkage assembly with a molded plastic washer that seals it from the elements.
The drive and idler linkage assemblies are pure beef. They are die cast from American-sourced aluminum alloy and Teflon coated to resist corrosion. Stainless steel pivot pins rotate on self-lubricating composite bushings for smooth operation.
Carriage bolts connect the rails to the brackets on the cab with no exposed fasteners. The carriage bolts slide within the slot on the rails to allow them to be easily moved into position.
The extruded aluminum steps have slots with recessed hardware to bolt them to the motor and idler linkages. The 6063 aluminum steps use internal ribbing to support up to 600 pounds each and are finished with a nonslip powdercoat.
After installing the linkages we mounted the motors on each side. Since these components live underneath your truck in the direct line of fire of mud and road debris, they undergo a series of durability tests that include 1,000-hour salt spray resistance.
The Amp Research PowerStep controller is about the size of a television remote control. We mounted it in the driver-side battery tray with double-sided tape. This location is out of the way yet easily accessible.
All of the wiring for the Amp Research PowerSteps comes loomed and is the appropriate length for each application. We ran the wires for the passenger-side step and LED lights along the back of the firewall and then down the engine bay to the inside of the frame.
The included wiring for the motors and the controller use weather pack connectors to seal out any water or contaminants. Installation was plug-and-play for the motors on each side of the truck.
The included LED lights affix to each hinge with double-sided tape. The wiring harness and butt connectors make connecting the LED lights easy and straightforward.
The final step of the installation was to hook up the power and ground leads to our battery. An inline fuse is included to eliminate the possibility of melted wires should a short circuit occur.
The Edge Insight CTS2 monitor was plugged into the OBD-II port in our Ram, so we added Amp Research’s optional OBD-II splitter (PN 76404-01A). This allows us to retain the monitor and also plug in the Amp Research module that is used to trigger the steps when the doors open and close.
Amp Research also recently introduced a manual override switch that is compatible with all of the PowerSteps. This provides the ability to lower the steps without the door being open, which is a great benefit when you’re washing your truck.
The LED lights are a nice touch when you’re getting in and out of our Ram at night. They are a perfect match for the factory LED lights located in the bottom of the mirrors on our Laramie.
The completed installation looks factory and makes getting in and out of our truck so much easier. It has made us start shopping for a suspension lift and 37s though!