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2010 Ford F-150 Raptor vs. 2010 Ram Power Wagon

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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It is only natural to want to compare the Raptor to the Power Wagon, but are they more the same or different? One is a SuperCab 1/2-ton, while the other is a Crew Cab 3/4-ton. One has IFS and one sports solid axles. One is made for desert-grade barnstorming, while the other is more likely to be used out of the barn on the back forty. However, they are two similarly priced pickups (Raptor 6.2: $48,505 as tested; Power Wagon: $51,175) that represent two of the most comprehensive off-road packages ever offered from the factory.

We recently had a Raptor 6.2 in our short-term test fleet, and while parked next to our long-term Power Wagon, it occurred to us that a desert trip was in order. You might recall that that the 5.4L version of the Raptor lost out to the Power Wagon in our 2010 Four Wheeler Pickup of the Year competition (Mar. '10). With the newly minted 6.2L engine now available, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to see how well it stacks up against the Power Wagon, and what strengths and what weaknesses would stand out when the two are driven back to back. So we laid out a 400-mile test loop, with almost half of that off the pavement, and set out to find out just how different (or similar) these two trucks are.

The 1/2-ton Raptor 6.2 offers 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque from its 6.2L SOHC V-8, while the 3/4-ton Power Wagon makes do with 383 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque from its 5.7L OHV Hemi V-8. The Power Wagon has a five-speed automatic trans with 4.56:1 gearing, while the Raptor uses a six-speed automatic with 4.10:1s.

Both trucks roll on BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires, although the Raptor sets the standard with 35-inch rubber, but with bodywork draped low over the rolling stock, there isn't really a ground clearance advantage. Both trucks offer 17-inch wheels, but the Power Wagon's are forged compared to the Raptor's cast wheels. Both trucks offer selectable rear lockers, with the advantage going to the Power Wagon, which also adds a front locker. For maximum articulation, the Power Wagon has a front electronically disconnecting stabilizer, a la the Wrangler JK. And just in case a flat occurs, both trucks have full-size spare tires.

The Raptor 6.2, with its seductive bodywork, wide track, long-travel suspension, any-speed rear locker and Off Road driving mode, was the favorite out of the gate. With a menacing stance, the Raptor looked as natural raging through the washes of the Mojave Desert as a flash flood.

Compared to the Raptor, the Power Wagon has a more upright stance with plenty of ground clearance, and in basic form is much more traditional in approach. Despite the 33-inch tires that look smallish on the longer-for-2010 Power Wagon, the truck is very imposing with its slant-nosed grille and serious brow. This is one truck that has trail presence. Even the crooked Joshua trees stand up and take notice. Big approach and departure angles and ample underbody protection, along with the factory-supplied 12,000-pound Warn winch, are hallmarks of the big Ram.

Running at 8/10ths down desert roads, the Raptor is an E-ticket through the landscape: the faster you go, the better it is. However, the inverse is also true: the slower you go, the less compliance the shocks offer, which results in a sometimes jarring and rough ride at regular speeds through the dirt. Unlike the linearity of the Power Wagon suspension, you can almost feel a stepped sensation to the bypass zones of the Fox shocks at average speeds. We were left to wonder, who would be driving this nearly $50,000 and uncaged truck at 60 to 70mph through the desert where these shocks truly shine? We'd gladly trade high-speed capability for some low-speed compliance.

By contrast, the Power Wagon features Bilstein monotube shocks that are tuned so well that we can't imagine being able to wring much more out of them. The Bilsteins are the key to the Power Wagon's civilized ride on pavement and are surprisingly good on the trail, allowing the Power Wagon to carry some astounding speed in the dirt, while offering the better ride at low to moderate speeds.

Coming into a whoops section too hot in the Power Wagon typically resulted in some butt puckering, body bracing, and a few Hail Marys, but as we let the truck ride through the rollers and sort itself out, the spine-compressing crash that we forecast just moments earlier never materialized. Instead, the truck rebounds off the jounces with a muted "thud" that leaves you wondering if that hole you just drove through really was as big as you thought. You can, in part, thank Ram's hydraulic body mounts for this. Despite being driven hard to keep up with the Raptor, the Power Wagon shocks never faded and held their own in all but the most whooped-out terrain.

Going 50 mph in the Power Wagon and want to go sideways? Just stab the throttle and let the rear hang out to the side-it is quite amusing. The transmission felt direct, and with no stability system jumping in to ruin our fun it was pretty entertaining to drive in open spaces. In the Ford, the transmission calibration feels far less polished than it does in the Ram. We often felt that the transmission was holding back the engine from getting all of its power to the ground and was slow to kick down, diminishing our driving pleasure in all but the most hard-packed surfaces. After several spirited runs through the wash on the 111-degree day that we tested, the Raptor's transmission did get hot enough to require some cool-down laps.

Although the Power Wagon doesn't allow any-speed use of its rear locker like the Raptor does, its differential does revert to a very tight helical limited-slip when unlocked, giving the driver the best of both worlds. The Raptor's rearend, when unlocked, is an open differential. Because of the disconnecting sway bar, front locker and higher rockers, the Power Wagon gets the nod for rocky terrain, although the sheer size of both vehicles won't have you mistaking either for a Jeep on the most technical trails.

One drawback to the Raptors IFS design in uneven terrain is the variable front ground clearance. With so much up travel, the front subframe often gets close enough to kiss the ground. This is especially important to remember when a delinquent rock appears in the bowl of a roller when you are at speed. Thankfully, the Raptor has been provided excellent skidplating, but if you like to play, banging your front skidplate against terra firma is virtually assured.

Inside the Raptor, it is clear Ford spent some time to make its interior unique from the F-150s already generous accommodations. The highway ride was also applauded, and while the Raptor felt like strapping in to a sports car with its high center console and heavily bolstered seats, the Power Wagon felt more pedestrian and traditional with its column shifter and front bench seat. Sitting tall, the Power Wagon offers a commanding view of the surrounding environment. Publisher VonSeggern quipped that it felt like climbing into his grandpa's truck. We liked our grandpa's truck, so we took that as a compliment.

Whether you are pro-Raptor or pro-Power Wagon, both trucks are supremely capable in the off-highway environment, and while both oversized trucks faced their own challenges when being navigated through technical terrain, we found it interesting that the Power Wagon seems to drive smaller than it is, while the wide Raptor generally felt bigger.

Being able to directly compare these two shed light on each truck's benefits and drawbacks. We think the Power Wagon would benefit from 35-inch tires and bigger-bodied shocks, while some tuning on the Raptor's shocks and transmission would make an already great truck that much better.

Bottom line: After a day in the dirt with two of the best pickups on the market, we are satisfied that as good as the Raptor 6.2 is, the new engine wouldn't have changed the outcome of the 2010 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year competition. It turns out that the 2010 Ram Power Wagon is an all-around great truck-and not too bad on the trail, either.

What's Hot:
Raptor: 6.2L roar, incredible at speed, high-quality interior
Power Wagon: Bilstein shocks, lockers, winch, no electronic nannies

What's Not:
Raptor: Harshness at low speeds, transmission tuning, lacking grab handles
Power Wagon: A giant on the trail, pedestrian interior, no 35s

Our Take:
Raptor: The quickest way to have fun on the trail
Power Wagon: The work truck that knows how to party on the weekend

QUICK SPECS
Vehicle model: 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 6.2 2010 Ram Power Wagon
Base price: $41,995 $38,480
Engine type: 6.2L EFI V-8 5.7L EFI V-8
Valvetrain: SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder, OHV
variable camshaft timing
Aspiration: Natural Natural
Mfg.'s hp @ rpm: 411 @ 5,500 (premium fuel) 383 @ 5,600
Mfg.'s torque (lb-ft) @ rpm: 434 @ 4,500 400 @ 4,000
Transmission: 6-spd automatic OD 5-spd automatic OD
Axle ratio: 4.10:1 4.56:1
Crawl ratio: 48.4:1 37.3:1
Suspension (f/r): Coil-on-shock, long-spindle double-wishbone Quadra-link leading arms, track bar,
independent, aluminum lower control arm, coil springs, stabilizer bar,
forged steel upper arm/ Hotchkiss-type solid axle, monotube shocks /Longitudinal leaf springs,
leaf springs, outboard shocks stabilizer bar, monotube shocks, auxiliary springs
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion Power, recirculating ball
Brakes (f/r): 13.8-in vented discs / 13.7-in vented discs 14.17x1.54-in vented discs / 13.09x1.34-in solid discs
Wheels/Tires: 17x8.5 cast aluminum/LT315/70R17 17x8 cast aluminum/LT285/70R17
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A
Wheelbase (in): 133 148.9
Length (in): 220.9 237.4
Width (in): 86.3 79.1
Height (in): 78.4 77.7
Track (in): 73.6 68.2
Curb weight (lb): 6,006 6,621
Min ground clearance (in): 10.0 8.1
Approach (deg): 31.1 35.0
Departure (deg): 24.9 36.5
Breakover (deg): 20.8 26.5
Max payload capacity (lb): 930 1,900
Max towing capacity (lb): 6,000 10,250
Fuel capacity (gal): 26 34
Observed fuel economy (mpg): 13.09 11.92
Seating capacity: 5 6

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