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2015 Ram Power Wagon Proves Why it’s the Best Pickup for 2015

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on February 3, 2016
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We’ve been driving our ’15 Ram Power Wagon every day, everywhere. Grocery store, highway, desert, inner city—it is tasked with it all. What we’ve been discovering is it’s still an easy truck to love every day; it’s just the parking and fuel bill that can get a bit aggravating.

The big 6.4L Hemi is a thirsty sucker. The best mileage we could muster was 13 mpg on an all-freeway trip at a snail’s pace of 60-65 mph. In fact, if it weren’t for a disproportionately high number of freeway miles for this installment, the actual mileage for mixed driving would be somewhere in the high 9s to low 10s. That’s what we’ve been averaging over a normal week of in-town and freeway driving, but it takes a lot of gas to move a lot of mass. We’ve been leaning into the throttle much heavier this evaluation period and really wish Ram would hurry up with the eight-speed auto since it makes the 5.7L-equipped trucks feel very spirited and light. It’s not that the Power Wagon feels slow, but it does feel heavy and the six-speed auto has a noticeable lag between shifts when you’re accelerating hard. That said, we’ve hauled some pretty heavy loads in the bed of the truck and pulled a few vehicles around on trailers and the big Hemi just don’t care. The 410 hp is plenty to get you up to speed in no time flat, and the 429 lb-ft of torque makes sure you stay there no matter the load or the grade.

Right around the 7,500-mile mark the vehicle flashed a “service required” message, so off to the dealer we went. An oil change with 7 quarts of 0W-40 full synthetic oil and a tire rotation set us back $86.74. While the vehicle was in the service department, it was suggested we have them do the R40 “radio safety” recall, which reflashes the infotainment system so hackers can’t remotely override the vehicle. The funny thing is, after the recall we couldn’t get our phone to sync with the vehicle’s Bluetooth for a couple days. We’re guessing after a certain number of complete shutdown cycles, the truck got happy and let us browse our tunes and make hands-free calls again. However, right around the same time the infotainment system started cooperating, the vehicle threw a “Service Air Bag” warning that stuck around every time we drove it for a week. More precisely, it stuck around ’til right before we were going to take it back to the dealership to be looked at. However, after another week, the warning came on, then went off, then appeared randomly for a few more times. In all told, the “Service Air Bag” bugged us during an 1,100-mile stint, but over the past 4,000 miles, it hasn’t reared its ugly head, so we’re hoping for the best. Finally, one last gripe we have is that the applied vinyl-like shelf paper that covers the area around the windows where the crew cab doors meet is already looking wrinkled and poochy. Not cool, Ram.

That said, it’s not all gripes. Overall, it’s a very solid-feeling truck, whether wheeling through a desert wash or smoothing out undulated freeway expansion joints. There’s no annoying rattles, wind whistles, or chassis noises. You sit super-high up and above traffic with a commanding view of what’s going on around you. If we’re honest, it really lends a sense of comfort and security being that high above the beltline of idiot teenagers updating their Instagrams while behind the wheel of a ’90s Acura. And the interior materials are still looking fresh and of high quality. The leather isn’t cracking or pooching, and the plastic isn’t chipping or flaking. On cold mornings, the heated seats and leather steering wheel are quickly making wusses out of us, and the auto-temperature feature of the HVAV system with independent driver and passenger zones allows the cabin to be at a comfortable level no matter who is riding in it.

We’ve used the snot out of the RamBox cargo management system. Without the additional interior storage area of an SUV (or even Ram Megacab for that matter) having a secure, dry place to put sweatshirts, groceries, backpacks, or other stuff you want safe and sound is a lifesaver. The one bummer we’ve found is the increased height of the Power Wagon’s suspension, coupled with the deep RamBox system, makes loading things into the bed from the side an awkward proposition unless you’re 6 1/2 feet tall. It’s hard to get a clean shot at the bed floor to grab something that’s by the bed bulkhead. A few times while rushing, we hopped up on the rear tire to lean in and brushed against the paint, resulting in a few deep scratches in the metallic paint. This isn’t our first encounter with Ram’s metallic paint seeming softer and more prone to scratching than a solid-color, but for what it’s worth, make sure your belt buckle is covered by more than just a single layer of T-shirt or load/unload from the tailgate.

Function-wise, we love that the T-case operates via an anachronistic lever. Big screaming kudos to Ram on that one. Wanna know that the four-wheel-drive system is doing? Forget a dash idiot light—look down and see where you’ve manually plunked it. Actuation is sure, predictable, and smooth, with none of that “shift into Neutral, swing a dead cat over your head three times, and cluck like a chicken” foolishness you need to do in order to get some modern trucks into 4WD. Likewise, the locker actuation is just as fast and true. We’ve had some Rubicon Jeeps that didn’t want to engage or disengage the lockers in some situations, but the Power Wagon always complies right away like an eager little puppy—or, more accurately in the Power Wagon’s case, like a big, burly Malamute.

Options As Tested
Power Wagon Laramie Package 22J includes 17-inch steel spare wheel, 17x8-inch aluminum wheels, 180-amp alternator, LT285/70R17D Goodyear Duratrac tires, 4.10 axle ratio, front disconnecting stabilizer bar, front electric winch, fuel tank skid plate shield, hill descent control, manual shift-on-the-fly T-case, monotone paint, tow hooks, T-case skid plate, Tru-Lok front and rear axles ($7,450); 220-amp Alternator ($100); Power Sunroof ($995); Uconnect 8.4AN AM/FM/SXM/HB/BT/NAV ($500); Remote Start System ($200); RamBox Cargo Management System ($1,295); Spray-In-Bedliner ($475)

Report: 2 of 4
Previous Reports: Nov ‘15
Base Price: $48,790
Price as Tested: $61,000
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time, manual-shift, two-speed

Long Term Numbers
Miles to date: 13,685
Miles since last report: 8,412
Average mpg (this report): 11.05
Test best tank (mpg): 13.0 (all highway between 60-65 mph)
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.3 (in-town running errands)

Maintenance
This period: Oil change, tire rotation, radio security flash
Problem areas: finicky airbag light, vinyl door trim, soft paint

What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Safe, secure, smug feeling behind wheel
Not: Fuel mileage is atrocious

Logbook quotes
"It’s like a mile high."
"RamBox for the win!"
"Hello, gas station: We meet again!"

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