In our last report, we gushed about how well our 2005 Four Wheeler of the Year-winning Dodge Power Wagon performed on some of the more technical trails of Moab. This past quarter, our Power Wagon has swapped roles and has become the primary heavy hauler of our fleet, which has given us a good feel for how the truck works when towing or with a load.
On the highway, the Power Wagon, with its supple suspension and Bilstein shocks, is much more comfortable than the standard Ram 2500. Though on certain roadways you can really feel those big axles moving around under the truck, and the Power Wagon will sometimes pogo over expansion joints, but thanks to a quiet ride and good sightlines, one of our editors still finds the Power Wagon comfortable enough for his 50-mile one-way commute to the office every day.
In preparation for the SEMA Show last November, the Power Wagon logged hundreds of towing miles taking our Project RangeRunner all over the state of California: first to Explorer Express in Napa, then on to the central coast town of Lompoc for the Dixon Brothers Racing suspension transformation. The smooth 345hp 5.7L Hemi V-8 has plenty of power to get the job done, but its relatively high powerband causes the five-speed automatic to usually drop two gears when passing or pulling a grade. However, it will tow comfortably at 75 mph all day long, and has never once left us wishing it had the Cummins in it. Besides, the weight of the diesel would require modifications to the suspension and other components that would upset the particularly good balance that the Power Wagon has.
Another area of praise is the braking system, which has worked well in emergency braking and traffic, and has enough braking reserve to tow 7,000 pounds without trailer brakes. Pedal feel and feedback to the driver are excellent.
Our big red Wagon still gets plenty of looks and many people we run into want to know all about the Power Wagon package. Whether out on the trail or puling a load, we love this truck and we still think this is the best 3/4-ton truck on the market.
Report: 2 Of 4
Previous reports: Oct. '05
Base price: $39,970
Price as tested: $43,540
Four-wheel-drive system: Manual part-time, two-speed
Miles to date: 13,246
Miles since last report: 8,376
Average mpg (this report): 10.61
Test Best tank (mpg): 12.72
Test Worst tank (mpg): 8.11 (towing)
9,000-mile service: Oil change
12,000-mile service: Oil change
Problem areas: None
What's Hot, What's Not:
Hot: Tight body, great visibility, still turns heads, great brakes, plenty of storage
Not: Hard seats, peaky power that often requires a double downshift when towing
* "I wish our Power Wagon had the optional towing mirrors."
* "After all of the 'wheeling and towing, still not one squeak."
* "The Power Wagon is the perfect blend of work truck and play truck."
* "Used the winch to pull out other wheelers stuck in the mud."
* "This has to be one of the best trucks made-why don't I see more on the road?"