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2020 Ram Power Wagon, Rebel conquer all off-roads

The $64,245 2020 RAM Power Wagon comes only in crew cab configuration with a 6.4-litre version of the Hemi V8, producing 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic.
The $64,245 2020 RAM Power Wagon comes only in crew cab configuration with a 6.4-litre version of the Hemi V8, producing 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic. - Richard Russell

The Ram brand has been a huge success for FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). When talking about new-vehicle sales in North America, Canada generally accounts for about 10 per cent of the total — across all segments. The Ram brand bucks this trend. Canadian sales of Ram trucks account for about 15 per cent of the North American total.

“We punch well above our weight in Canada,” Mike Szymkiewicz, senior manager product strategy, FCA Canada, told us here during the introduction of a pair of Ram trucks developed for more severe off-road duty. Pickups have long been the best-selling vehicles in the country. Not only has Ram followed this movement, it has outpaced the competition. Since the Ram was introduced in 2009, sales have increased 175 per cent, while full-size pickups from GM and Ford have gone up 71 per cent and 101 per cent respectively.

The F150 is the undisputed leader in pickup sales. Ram is in a tight race for the runner-up spot with the GM twins. It outsells Silverado and Sierrra individually, but the two combined have a slight edge. The gap is closing. Silverado and Sierra sales were down 20 per cent for the first eight months of 2019 to 63,800 units. Ram sales have risen two per cent to 62,300. The Toyota Tundra (7,000) and Nissan Titan (2,000) do not really factors in the full-size segment. 

The latest development is the more rugged, off-road version of the full-size pickup. The Rebel is Ram’s answer to the Chevrolet Trail Boss. Both offer plenty of visual clues they are equipped for more severe off-road work. Here again Ford led the way with the Raptor. But this is a much more hardcore off-roader, as reflected by a much higher price.

Ram 1500 Rebel

The Ram 1500 Rebel comes with a 5.7-litre V8 putting out 395 horsepower, an electronic lacking rear differential, Bilstein mono-tube shocks with remote reservoir, hill descent control, shift-on-the-fly transfer case, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in aggressive 32-inch Goodyear Duratec tires, a one-inch suspension lift, a 3.92 final drive ratio, tow hooks, and a full slate of steel skid plates to protect the transfer case, steering system, front suspension, fuel tank and oil pan.

Ram Power Wagon

The 2020 Ram Power Wagon is a combination of on- and off-road capabilities with the emphasis on rock-climbing and off-road action. Based on the three-quarter-ton Ram, it also has Bilstein shocks, a unique front suspension with modified control arms, higher spring rates and more than five cm of lift. It takes a huge effort and strong arms to climb up into this thing with the help of grab bars! - Richard Russell
The 2020 Ram Power Wagon is a combination of on- and off-road capabilities with the emphasis on rock-climbing and off-road action. Based on the three-quarter-ton Ram, it also has Bilstein shocks, a unique front suspension with modified control arms, higher spring rates and more than five cm of lift. It takes a huge effort and strong arms to climb up into this thing with the help of grab bars! - Richard Russell

The Power Wagon name dates back to World War II when 225,000 were produced as a weapons carrier. The civilian version introduced after the war was the first mass-produced 4X4 pickup. It had a two-speed transfer case, transmission power take-off and 10,000-lb. winch. More than 95,000 were produced between 1945 and 1968. The Power Wagon then disappeared until 2005 when it came back as the 2500 Power Wagon.

The 2020 Ram Power Wagon is a combination of on- and off-road capabilities with the emphasis on rock-climbing and off-road action. Based on the three-quarter-ton Ram, it also has Bilstein shocks, a unique front suspension with modified control arms, higher spring rates and more than five cm of lift. It takes a huge effort and strong arms to climb up into this thing with the help of grab bars!

The Power Wagon has a coil-sprung rear suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 33-inch Goodyear Duratrac rubber, Class V hitch receiver, 4.10 rear axle, hill descent control, an electronic disconnect sway bar, Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials at both ends, an array of skid plates FCA calls “under chassis armour,” and a manual shift-on-the-fly transfer case. The 12,000-pound winch integrated into the front bumper was designed by WARN for this application. It features a new synthetic line that cannot kink or fray.

Ram’s signature rotary shift knob is surrounded by buttons controlling additional features for the Power Wagon. They include Hill Descent Control and axle lock. You can lock front and rear differentials together for extreme off-road situations. The front sway bar can be disconnected during extreme situations to allow maximum articulation. It automatically re-engages at speeds about 30 km/h.  

The $64,245 Power Wagon comes only in crew cab configuration with a 6.4-litre version of the Hemi V8, producing 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic. 

Going way off-road does not mean you have to sacrifice comfort and features. The Power Wagon can be equipped with a leather interior, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front heated steering wheel, a giant 30-cm touchscreen, 17-speaker audio system, 360-degree camera.

FCA gathered a group of auto scribes here to prove that the Rebel and Power Wagon are more than jacked-up pickups. Under the guidance of a team of off-road experts, we tackled a trail carved into the side of the Rockies near Whistler. Usually reserved for hikers, snowmobiles and ATVs it is tough going for anything larger. About five or six metres off the surface there were serious scuff marks on many of the trees. “That’s from the snowmobiles using this trail in the winter,” a guide told us indicating just how much snow falls here.
  
The narrow trail often included perilous drop-offs on one side and paint scraping brushes and tress on the other. Slippery mud, huge rocks, tight turns and deep water failed to halt our progress, although it did slow us down. I doubt we averaged 3-5 km/h for the hour-long run. At one point I looked out the window to see nothing but clouds far below. 

On the road the Power Wagon provides a decent ride but there is no doubt this is a big, tall truck. Those aggressive Goodyear tires that proved so capable off-road are a little loud on the road. Getting into and out of this hulking pickup requires a running jump, step ladder or strong arms and a tight grip on the assist handle. Steps are available but would be torn off on any route like the one we tackled.

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