A new fullsize truck with trail-truck DNA
Quick! Print this story out and frame it, because we predict that the new Dodge Power Wagon you're looking at will go down in automotive history as one of the most important fullsize trucks to ever roll off the end of an assembly line. What we're talking about here, folks, is a vehicle that sports a comprehensive list of real-world, honest-to-goodness off-highway mods. But be warned, the capabilities of this vehicle may cause true fullsize-loving four-wheel-drive fans to totally lose their composure and exhibit schoolboy giddiness.
Up until now, most OEM four-wheeling packages for fullsize trucks were nothing more than a couple of frou-frou vinyl stickers, some upgraded shocks and maybe a limited-slip differential thrown in for good measure. The new Power Wagon raises the bar when it comes to four-wheeling functionality. We're talking about electric locking differentials front and rear, a trick new electronic disconnecting front antiroll bar, a taller suspension, special wheels, larger, more aggressive tires, a 12,000-pound winch and much more, all standard.
We recently had a chance to spend a day behind the wheel of the new Power Wagon on trails around Moab. We 'wheeled the truck on the legendary Poison Spider Mesa and Golden Spike trails, in addition to some high-speed Baja-style runs through open desert. We were impressed. Obviously, there are some hard-core off-highway-minded engineers and management lurking the halls at Dodge for this vehicle to make production.
To the common man, the truck doesn't look much different from the Ram 2500 3/4-ton upon which it is based. A look underneath, however, reveals a rear 10.5-inch American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) axle that features an electronically actuated locking rear differential called the TracRite GTL. This differential not only offers full lock when engaged, but it also operates as a helical limited-slip differential when disengaged. Like the rear, the front 9.25-inch axle also sports an AAM-designed TracRite electronically actuated front differential that offers full lock capability.
Unlike the rear though, this differential, called the TracRite EL, operates as an open differential when disengaged. Both the front and rear lockers are controlled via a switch mounted on the instrument panel. The lockers engage only in 4-Low, when vehicle speed is below 3 mph. Once engaged, the axles will remain locked through the entire vehicle speed range. The driver can select rear differential lock only, or front and rear differential lock together.
The rear axle has been upgraded to the larger axleshafts that are used in the 11.5-inch AAM diesel applications and there's added material in both the front and rear differential housings to protect the differential cover from possible damage. Both axles feature Power Wagon-specific 4.56:1 gears to help offset the larger 33-inch-diameter BFG All-Terrain tires. Incidentally, these larger tires are mounted on Power Wagon-specific 17x8 Alcoa forged-aluminum polished wheels that feature a modified wheel bead seat to increase tire bead surface area and bead retention under low tire-inflation pressures.
Another trick new idea on the Power Wagon is the electronic disconnecting front antiroll bar. Dodge calls it the Smart Bar, and with the simple push of the dash-mounted switch, drivers can disconnect it. This electronically controlled device allows disengagement of the bar in both 4-High and 4-Low at speeds below 18 mph. Computers will re-engage the bar if vehicle speeds surpass 18 mph. In the event of loss of electronic control, the bar will return to its default setting and engage. With the bar disengaged, the Power Wagon posts an 11-inch increase up a 20-degree RTI ramp compared to the measurement with the antiroll bar engaged. Dodge numbers show it scoring a 655 on the 20-degree ramp.The Power Wagon's suspension is based on the Ram 2500 architecture (five-link coil-sprung front, Hotchkiss leaf-spring rear), but the front and rear springs have been significantly revised to achieve a 1.8-inch increase in front ride height and a 1.4-inch increase in rear ride height over the Ram 2500 4x4. This translates to a very respectable 35-degree approach angle and a 26.5-degree departure angle (a stock Ram 3500's is 26.5 and 20.5 degrees, respectively). Longer and larger Bilstein high-pressure monotube shocks have also been added to the suspension.
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The underbody of the truck features a significant amount of protection and a plethora of upgrades as compared to the Ram 2500 4x4. This list includes an all-new steering-damper skidplate, revised boxed skidplate crossmembers, transfer-case skidplate, fuel-tank skidplate and fore-aft bars which tie together the transfer-case and fuel-tank skidplates and fill open areas between the skidplates to prevent rocks from wedging between the skidplates.
A 12,000-pound-capacity winch is also standard, created specifically for the Power Wagon by Warn Industries. It is tastefully integrated behind the front bumper and features 90 feet of 7/16-inch galvanized-wire cable, thermal and low-voltage protection, roller fairlead and a controller with 12 feet of cable. This winch is one of the reasons why the battery size was increased 750 amperes and the alternator was increased to 160-amp maximum output.
The Power Wagon is powered by the 345hp 5.7L Hemi V-8 engine. Buyers can choose from either a five-speed automatic or, shortly after the vehicle's launch, a six-speed manual transmission. The transfer case is the NVG271 unit that boasts a 2.73:1 low-range ratio. The engine and transmission have gone through a few changes to make them more four-wheeling friendly. The shift points of the transmission have been moved further up the rev range, the drive-by-wire throttle pedal response has been softened, the fan's drive clutch engages at a slightly lower engine temperature and the engine idle speed has been bumped up 100 rpm to 750.
So there you have it. The new Dodge Power Wagon is clearly a milestone in the world of fullsize trucks. With the welcome functionality of a fullsize pickup truck, the Power Wagon is sure to leave its mark in the truck world. It should be available in the Fall of 2004.
Vehicle/model: '05 Dodge Power Wagon
Estimated price: N/A
Type: OHV 5.7L V-8
Horsepower @ rpm: 345 @ 5,400
Torque @ rpm: 375 lb-ft @ 4,200
EPA city/freeway mpg: N/A
Transfer case: NVG271
Transfer case ratio: 2.73:1
Axle ratio: 4.56:1
Front: Live axle, TracRite EL electric locking differential, five-link, coil springs, electronic disconnecting antiroll bar
Rear: Live axle, TracRite GTL electric locking differential, leaf springs
Wheels and Tires
Wheels: (base) 17x8 Alcoa forged aluminum polished, modified bead seat
Tires: (base) LT285/70R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A radials
Front: 13.9-inch disc, twin-piston caliper
Rear: 13.9-inch disc, twin-piston caliper
Dimensions and Capacities
Wheelbase (in): 140.5
Length (in): 227.7
Width (in): 79.8
Height (in): 80.6
Curb weight (lb): 6,113 (Quad Cab)
Fuel Capacity (gal): 34 (Quad Cab)
Ground clearance (in): N/A
Seating: 6 (Quad Cab)
Towing capacity (lb): 10,737 (Quad Cab)