Who wants bling when they’re hub-deep in mud or snow? Yeah, you might like pretty shinny stuff, but chrome don’t get you home. When the doo-doo is deep you want parts you can depend on, and that holds true for everything from winches to wheels.
If you’re a heavy-duty Ram truck owner then you should consider the latest offerings from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). We fitted AEV’s bumper on a few months back ("AEV Protects Your Ram Truck with a Winch Hiding Bumper") and have been champing at the bit to try out the company’s new wheels. AEV has long been the go-to crew for Jeepers looking to build overland style JKs, and they are now stepping sideways to offer Jeep’s cousins at Ram some well thought out upgrades. These new wheel offerings are designed for on-road use (sorry, no beadlocks) with high load ratings, but also have benefits for off-roading such as recessed valve stems and the proper backspacing for running large tires.
In addition to offering parts for Ram trucks, AEV can also build a complete Prospector package Ram fresh off the showroom floor. Our Ram is a baby compared to the complete Prospector package that AEV offers. AEV outfits a new Ram 2500 or 3500 with a bumper, a winch, wheels, suspension, 37-inch or larger tires, a tonneau cover, an elevated air intake (snorkel), and interior upgrades options. Our Ram 3500 lives on 35s, and we added a new set of BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/As when we bolted on the new AEV wheels.
A day later we hitched up our trailer and headed out on a 1,700-mile road trip. We crossed icy passes and rolled down the highway at speed, all the while dragging a Jeep behind us on a trailer. The BFGs never skipped a beat, and the AEV wheels laughed off the load and road grime. We are now ready to unhook that obnoxious trailer and take our Ram out for an adventure of its own.
AEV offers two wheel options for the Ram HD trucks, both have an 8-on-6 1/2 bolt pattern and a 17-inch diameter. The round-hole Katla wheels are named after a famous Icelandic volcano, whereas the straight-spoke Salta HDs are named after an Argentine city along the route of the Dakar Rally. Both styles are 8.5 inches wide with approximately 6 inches of backspacing for optimal scrub radius and are designed to fit 37-inch tires with or without fender flares.
The wheels are all made of cast aluminum and rated at 3,650 pounds for plenty of load-carrying capacity. Katla are offered in a flat black, and the Salta can be ordered in flat black, silver, or an Onyx gray finish. We appreciate the protected valve stem for off-roading and the easy access to the lug nuts without needed a thin wall socket.
Our Ram is upfited with a Dynatrac free-spin kit that replaces the front unit bearing for additional mileage and rebuildable bearing hub assemblies. We ran into a dilemma when we needed to machine two of our wheels to clear the front selectable Dynaloc hubs. The new Ram HD trucks use a center axle disconnect for additional mileage and fuel economy, and that may reduce the demand of the free-spin kits; the option of a redesigned and remachined AEV wheel is still being considered for these larger hubs.
AEV offers a full line of accessories for the Ram trucks that can transform your fresh-off-the-showroom-floor Ram into AEV’s signature Prospector package. The starting price for the Prospector package is around $14,000 and includes tires, wheels, a winch, a winch bumper, suspension, off-road lights, and other accessories. (The kit is designed for the radius arm suspension Ram starting in 2013 1/2 for 3500s and 2014 for 2500s.)