There’s been a lot of hoopla in the last few years about which full-sized OE pickup is the most capable when it comes to surmounting technical terrain. A few years back, Ram’s introduction of true front and rear locking differentials in the Power Wagon was a game changer. However, the vehicle struggled between spring ratings that would hold up to the demands of a full-size, one-ton truck (which it did very well), yet be supple enough to allow for the axles to articulate sufficiently in rough terrain (where it struggled). Since that time, Ram engineers went back to the drawing board and addressed the situation with purpose. What they’ve come up with is impressive.
This weekend in Sedona, Arizona we joined the Ram engineers for a romp through the Arizona backcountry in a 2014 Power Wagon. Though we’ll be back with a full-blown review with loads of technical stats in the future, the most notable enhancements were Ram Articulink front suspension, sway bar disconnect, and 5-link coil rear suspension. The trails we traversed with a mix of mountain two tracks, where low-range made for a more comfortable ride but was not required, to steep, loose, locker-required cambered ledges. We also had a chance to play on the red slick rock of the Broken Arrow Trail.
The Power Wagon is a heavy-duty truck, designed for ferrying heavy loads, and I found that disconnecting the sway bar (at speeds less than 18 mph) made an immediate improvement in ride quality. To assess how the Ram Articulink and 5-link would do between a rock and a hard spot, we intentionally shoehorned the vehicle in some twisty trenches that would demand 100 percent of its capabilities. Considering the fact that this is a BIG truck with a GCWR of 18,500, the Power Wagon is surprisingly nimble, and made short work of the locker-only and loose hill climbs.
There were a few other enhancements, such as moving to a Goodyear Wrangler Tires, increased approach and departure angles, new skid plates, and a Warn 12,000 bumper-mounted winch. It also has a real, honest to goodness, hold-in-your-hand transfer case shifter (we hate button actuated transfer cases). As for which full-size truck is the most capable off road, short of comparing them in a side-by-side shootout, we can comfortably say that the rest of the field has their work cut out for them.