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.