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One of the most popular Ram trucks for sale, a red 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel, is shown parked off-road.

The Ram 2500 Power Wagon Is the Original Off-Road Heavy-Duty Pickup Truck

If you’re exploring your heavy-duty pickup options and looking for something that can also handle some off-roading, a Ram 2500 Power Wagon might show up during your searches for “Ram trucks for sale.” At first glance, it sounds like it might be some sort of station wagon. It certainly doesn’t sound like a pickup truck. However, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is a trim available for the Ram 2500 and is most certainly a heavy-duty pickup. Sometimes drivers overlook it, thinking that the Ram heavy-duty trucks are already hefty and powerful enough. “Do I really need an off-road trim?” many ask. The truth is that the Power Wagon deserves your respect.

Sure, it might “just” be a trim, but the Power Wagon has a cool history. It’s been around longer than many realize and was even its own model at one point. When it comes to a heavy-duty truck that was the first to offer incredible off-roading abilities, the Power Wagon can claim that legacy. When you drive a Power Wagon, you’re driving a little piece of car history, and you’re driving an off-road vehicle that two major manufacturers (we’ll get to that) have been steadily improving upon for over 80 years. All of the competition is just playing catch-up, while the Power Wagon has dominated the off-road pickup domain for quite some time.

Derived From a Dodge

The Power Wagon name was first associated with Dodge, who gave the title to a four-wheel drive military-style pickup truck they offered all the way back in the 1940s. These were the birth years of the very spirit of the Power Wagon. Even when it was part of Dodge, it was tough enough for the military. That’s never stopped being true.

So while today the Power Wagon is a trim for the Ram 2500, it started as its very own model. The Power Wagon would go through several iterations between the years 1945 and 1971. It had a nearly thirty-year run as its own model, popular enough that Dodge kept thinking of new ways to improve it for several generations. Eventually, the Power Wagon name was reassigned to the Dodge D-series pickup until around 1980. Then, the Power Wagon disappeared for a while.

A Reemergence With Ram

In 2005, the Power Wagon reared its powerful head again, but this time as an off-road trim for the Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup. Ram only made slightly over 4,000 units for the U.S. during its first round of production, plus a small batch for Canada and a couple hundred for the U.S. government. That government contract proved that the Power Wagon, though under a new name, retained its military-level quality so deeply ingrained in its past.

The first Ram 2500 Power Wagon was an absolute beast right out of the gates. It boasted an electronically disconnecting front sway bar, allowing drivers to more adeptly crawl over large obstacles in off-road environments, and electronic locking front and rear differentials, delivering 100 percent of available torque to the wheel, achieving the most traction when necessary. It also enjoyed massive 22-inch all-terrain tires and a ground clearance that was 2.5 inches higher than that of the standard Ram 2500 at the time. Plus, it could tow a generous 11,000 pounds and had a maximum payload of 2,660 pounds. These capacities made it just as ready to tow equipment across a work site as it was to tow a trailer to a remote campsite.

The original Ram 2500 Power Wagon was outfitted with an impressive 5.7-liter V8 engine that would either be paired with a five-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual, providing an option for those who like a more hands-on gear-shifting experience. It was offered in two configurations: a two-door regular cab with an eight-foot bed and a four-door quad cab with a six-foot bed, allowing drivers to choose between a more passenger and cargo-friendly model.

There weren’t many changes between 2010 and 2018 for the Ram 2500 Power Wagon. As it was, it was really working for customers. There was a slight facelift for the Ram 2500 as a whole around 2019, but the Power Wagon remained mainly the same, other than the addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Celebrating a Legacy

In proving just what a consistent thread has run through the Power Wagon legacy, Ram actually released a 75th Anniversary edition in 2021. Of course, 75 years prior to that, the Power Wagon name was assigned to a Dodge truck, so Ram graciously honored the history of the Power Wagon in creating this edition.

This edition had fun stylistic and performance-forward features, like special badging, individually numbered plates on dashboards, leather bucket seats, rock slider steps, and an electronic-shift transfer case. This last feature had never previously been available on the Power Wagon but became so popular through the anniversary edition that it remained through subsequent models.

The 2023 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

For the current year model, the 2023 Ram 2500 Power Wagon comes in strong with a WARN ZEON-12 Winch, honoring its true off-road roots and ready to help pull you out of a tough situation if you get overly ambitious in the terrain you explore. It also has Bilstein gas-charged monotube shocks, front and rear locking differentials, and an electronic front sway bar.

The 2023 Power Wagon has a standard 6.4-liter V8 engine, kicking out 429 pound-feet of torque and 410 horsepower, and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, it is only offered in four-wheel drive. You’re going to have a generous array of connectivity and driver assist features, too, to help you find those remote off-road destinations and navigate them safely.

The rear of a red 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel 4x4 is shown.

A Legacy Worthy of Your Respect

It has certainly been a long road for the Power Wagon name, changing from a stand-alone truck to a trim line, yet, this truck still outperforms some of the best of them. The fact that you can still buy a Power Wagon trim today is proof that this truck is something special. The Power Wagon has a legacy of excellence as a model that lasted for nearly three decades. Military personnel and other government agencies relied on it because of its reliable performance and solid capabilities when put to the test beyond the pavement. It essentially created the blueprint for later off-road pickups.

Many manufacturers might claim that they made the first off-road pickup, but with roots dating back to the 1940s, the Power Wagon is definitively the original off-road heavy-duty pickup. It has always had those great core off-road qualities like a disconnecting sway bar to provide better axle control and clearance of large obstacles, huge tires, and great ground clearance. To this day, it has a super powerful engine and some of the best towing abilities out there.

Drivers who need a heavy-duty pickup truck to handle tough jobs, from construction to farm work and beyond, but who want an off-road vehicle to blow off steam when not working, have to check out the Ram 2500 Power Wagon. There’s nothing else like it (even if impersonators try their best). Plus, it sits solidly in the mid-range as far as the trim prices go. If you want to drive a piece of history and a vehicle that’s been perfected for decades, check out a Ram 2500 Power Wagon today.

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