Typically, when we review a new vehicle it is at a controlled media event over the course of a few days, or maybe for a week back home if we are lucky. So, when we have the chance to evaluate a vehicle over the course of a full year, we get a chance to really see what the vehicle is like in daily life. Our most recent vehicle to serve out a year with us was our 2010 Pickup Truck of the Year-winning 2010 Ram Power Wagon.
During the year with us, we rolled 16,354 miles on the odometer, towed trailers, loaded up the bed, wheeled on trails, used it as a support vehicle for photo shoots, and took our kids to school. We got a good sense of the truck’s capability, as well as reliability.
The Power Wagon proved to be extremely reliable, requiring only regular maintenance and a software update under warranty when our Bluetooth wasn’t playing nice with our iPhone. The sole recall performed during its stay with us was an update of our HVAC door actuator. We loved that it was an always-ready support vehicle, needing nothing more than a tank of gas to get us out to where we needed to go.
The 34-gallon fuel capacity was good for a range of more than 400 miles, despite a somewhat thirsty Hemi V-8. During its stay, we averaged 11.7 miles per gallon. We found the Hemi to be powerful and well matched to the smooth-shifting transmission. Although it was known to do a double downshift at times to get in to the somewhat peaky powerband, we never had a problem towing a load, nor did the Hemi ever leave us longing for a diesel option (except for improved fuel economy a diesel would offer).
On the trail, the Power Wagon has no heavy-duty equal. It was so well equipped that we had everything we needed to reach remote areas for stories or photo shoots. Some of what made the Power Wagon work well in the dirt also made it work well on the pavement. The Bilstein shocks offered wonderful ride quality, the BFG A-Ts offered great traction, and the rear differential, a helical limited slip when unlocked, worked to make the Power Wagon surefooted both in the dry and in the wet.
To us the Power Wagon is a great pickup, arguably the best-looking one on the market, and with a clean and well-designed interior, it was comfortable for miles on end. Whether we had two adults and a car seat loaded up across the back, or the seat folded for all of our camping gear, space was never a concern in the Crew Cab. We loved the tons of storage cubbies and our kids enjoyed the Backseat TV.
Other than fuel economy, our other complaints were few, such as lack of factory rock rails, no RamBox option, and the overall size for city driving. Fortunately the Power Wagon’s excellent visibility and high seating position alleviated much of the size concerns, even in heavy traffic, and now the RamBoxes are optional for 2012, leaving us without much else to criticize.
Thankfully we won’t be without a Power Wagon for long, as our 2010 Power Wagon will be replaced in the upcoming year with our 2012 Pickup Truck of the Year-winning 2012 Power Wagon with the new six-speed transmission. So while our withdrawals from this truck will be painful, at least they will be short. It’s not often a manufacturer produces a near-perfect product, but the Power Wagon is as close to perfect as you can get off the factory floor.
Report: 4 Of 4
Previous reports: Mar. ’11, Oct. ’11, Feb. ’12
Base price: $44,830
Price as tested: $51,175
Four-wheel-drive system: Two-speed, part-time, shift-on-the-fly
Miles to date: 16,354
Miles since last report: 2,773
Average mpg (this report): 12.2
Test best tank (mpg): 15.0
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.62 (towing)
This period: None
Problem areas: None
What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Capable, reliable, comfortable
Not: Thirsty, needs 35s, no factory rock rail option
“35s would make this truck even more perfect.”
“I wouldn’t want to drive anything bigger than this everyday, but it is surprisingly agile for a big truck. “Speed control seems to have a 5mph tolerance before downshifting, very annoying.”
“A perfect support rig for photo shoots in the backcountry.”
“If I needed a ¾-ton truck, there is no question which one I would buy.”