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2005 Dodge Power Wagon - Review & Test Drive

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on August 1, 2006 Comment (0)
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Have we ever mentioned that we love the Power Wagon? So much so, that we have been trying to convince Dodge to rename the package the Four Wheeler Edition. Not only has it garnered praise from the Four Wheeler staff, but has also won several awards from us, including our 2005 Pickup Truck of the Year contest and the nod for the 3/4-ton category of our "10 Best Buys in Four Wheel Drive" (Sept. '05). With each passing day, we plotted and schemed a way to keep our long-termer from going back to Michigan without tarnishing our records with a dubious Grand Theft Auto mark.

It has been one busy year for our Dodge, and one in which we racked up more than 22,000 enjoyable miles. Since the very first mile, our Power Wagon has been hard at work. Let's recap: After a shakedown run in the Southern California mountains, it first visited the Tierra Del Sol event near Salton City, California, before heading out to the 2005 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab. In the land of slickrock, our big red Wagon conquered Flat Iron Mesa, Hell's Revenge, and Hell's Gate, gaining quite a bit of notoriety in the process. On the way home from Moab, we were caught in a blizzard on I-70 and helped two stranded vehicles out of the powder-covered median in zero-visibility conditions with our factory Warn winch. The Power Wagon also towed Project RangeRunner from shop to shop during its transformation, and gave it a tug all the way to the 2005 SEMA show in Las Vegas. We used the Wagon to pre-run the 2006 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year route in the 10,000-foot elevations above Bishop, California, and almost nothing could stop our Dodge.

Over the course of the year, the staff consistently gave kudos to the Power Wagon for its quiet and comfortable ride, great visibility, well-matched drivetrain, manual transfer case, factory lockers, Warn winch, Bilstein shocks, and superb brakes.

This is the one and only stuck we experienced in the Power Wagon. If the truck came with 35s from the factory, we probably wouldn't have needed the strap.

It is hard to criticize such a great vehicle, but our few and modest quibbles revolved around hard front seats, and a somewhat peaky Hemi engine.

Fit and finish on our early truck was fantastic, with only a couple of warranty issues, including a CD player jammed by a staffer with suspect musical taste. Even with all the hard miles, our Power Wagon has yet to exhibit one squeak or rattle in the cabin.

After a year of great service from this big truck, and four big thumbs-up from the staff, it was going to be hard to say goodbye to our Power Wagon, but fortunately for us, Dodge got tired of us stalking their offices, sending in ransom notes, and threatening their loved ones, so they have decided to let us keep the Power Wagon. With fresh ink on the restraining order and our Power Wagon safe in the garage, we are happy to announce Project Power Wagon is in the planning stages, so stay tuned!

Previous reports: Oct. '05, March '06, June, '06
Base price: $39,970
Price as tested: $47,020
Four-wheel-drive system: Manual, part-time, two-speed

Miles to date: 22,622
Miles since last report: 4,160
Average mpg (this report): 10.45
Test Best tank (mpg): 12.72
Test Worst tank (mpg): 7.81 (towing)

21,000-mile service: Oil change
Cost: $29.24
Problem areas: Wiring harness, CD player jam, A-pillar weatherstripping

Hot: Everything about the Power Wagon package is hot: Bilstein shocks, Warn winch, disconnecting sway bar, BFG All-Terrain tires, forged wheels, manual transfer case, 4.56:1 gears, lockers, Warn winch-all from the factory.
Not: We'd trade a little of the Hemi's top end for a little better bottom end, and next time we'll order ours with the bitchin' towing mirrors. This truck is crying for a set of 35s.

* "Can we just 'forget' to return this truck back to Dodge?"
* "This is the perfect daily driver if you need 3/4-ton capability."
* "Seats could be a hair cushier."
* "Gets pretty good range between tanks."
* "Hands down, this is the best fullsize truck on the market."
* "Heard this was a nice truck. Maybe Holman will let me drive the project rig."

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