RAM’s Off-Road Power Wagon Will Scoff at the Apocalypse

This isn’t a truck for the faint-hearted; it’s made for survival only.

I’ve been thinking about the apocalypse lately. The planet is getting hotter. Bees are dying at an alarming rate. There’s an ever-increasing likelihood of my hometown, Los Angeles, being shaken into oblivion. Also, there’s this thoroughly reported, semi-alarming article about the super-rich preparing for the end of civilization. Why is this relevant to the 2017 Ram Power Wagon, you ask? Because I can think of no better vehicle for doomsday.

2017 RAM Power Wagon

Engine: 6.4-liter V8
Horsepower: 410
Torque: 429 lb.-ft
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
Drivetrain: Electronic-locking differentials; Four-wheel drive

When doomsday comes, I’ll throw a camper shell on it and speed away from the chaos, my 6.4-liter V8 gleefully roaring into the ether while I leave the zombies behind to toil amongst themselves. The four horsemen will be no match for my 410 horses, and the plagues cannot touch me while I ride high inside my quiet, stitched-leather cabin. The front winch (a standard feature and rated up to 12,000 pounds), various skid plates, and 10,030-pound towing capacity will surely come in handy when I need to yank one of my fellow survivalists out of a creek bed, or a mud pit, or a recently opened fault line teeming with magma. Sure, averaging 12 MPG may eventually become an issue, but end times are for action, not conservation.

During a recent test drive in the barren, harsh desert of Nevada, less than 100 miles from the U.S.’s atomic bomb test site, I found that the truck can assert its apocalyptic power on myriad terrains. In fact, while handling can feel a bit loose on smooth asphalt, its 33-inch all-terrain tires (and 14.3-inch ground clearance) feel remarkably at home off the roads. Spray sand, it will. Climb slippery mountains, it does. And it descends them, too — with one of the smoothest automatic descent controls that I’ve tested.

Any time an off-road truck enters the market, it begs comparisons to the gold-standard Ford Raptor, but this time that’s not an apt comparison. The Power Wagon is a chubby 7,000 pounds, or about 1,500 pounds heavier than the lightning-fast 2017 Raptor. But the Ram is a 4×4 heavy-duty truck destined more for romping around a working ranch than for cruising in Baja. Further, that hefty weight has a pleasant way of grounding the truck on loose sand or gravel, giving it truer handling than more feathery off-road counterparts.

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RAM (Dodge’s truck wing) puzzlingly elected to slap some ostentatious, bro-approved graphics on seemingly every panel (you can order the truck without), but logos aside, the powder-coated bumpers and redesigned grille look sharp and offer subtle distinguishing marks that separate the off-road chariot from the standard Ram 2500 Heavy Duty.

So even if the end is nigh, take some solace in the Power Wagon. Invite a few lucky friends (it only comes with a Crew Cab, so, might as well) and grab your bug-out bag. Lock the diffs, reach down to that manual transfer case, yank it into 4 Lo, and climb every hill still standing.

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