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The 2005-2009 Dodge Power Wagon: Ultimate Off-Road Ram

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1939-1978 Dodge Power Wagons

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The Dodge Ram Power Wagon returned in 2005 for the first time in 25 years, with class-exclusive electric locking front and rear differentials and electronic disconnecting front sway bar; and a Warn 12,000-pound winch. The original was powered by a straight-six; the new Power Wagon, by a 345-horsepower Hemi V-8.

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Based on the Dodge Ram 2500 and sold in Regular or Quad Cabs, the 2005 Dodge Ram Power Wagon stood 80.6 inches tall, with matte finish wheel flares, a large Power Wagon badge across the tailgate, 17 x 8-inch forged aluminum wheels, and 33-inch all terrain tires, the tallest standard tires on a production pickup.

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The 2005 Dodge Ram Power Wagon had best-in-class wheel articulation, with 4.56 gearing and Bilstein monotube high-pressure gas shock absorbers.

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The Power Wagon used an American Axle TracRite GTL locking rear differential, which, when not fully locked, acted as a standard limited-slip differential. The front differential could also be locked, but wasn't limited-slip. Locking was only done at in low gear, at under 3 mph, but once locked, higher speeds were possible.

Large axle shafts increased durability, and the differential housings were beefed up. The 33 inch tires were mounted on wheels designed to avoid bead slippage under both regular and low inflation pressures. Skid plates covered the steering system and shocks, transfer case, and gas tank; there were crossmembers and lengthwise bars to prevent rocks from getting stuck between plates and to provide additional protection.

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We found the Dodge Ram Power Wagon to be controllable, with good cornering, despite a height which dwarfed Expeditions and Suburbans. The ride, was firm but not harsh, and even without a load, bounciness and jouncing were kept within reason.

Unlike the original, the 2005 Power Wagon had an engine full of power and eager to go; the Power Wagon had power for acceleration at just about any speed. A higher gear ratio made up for bulk and oversized tires, but took its toll on highway mileage. We managed about 11-13 mpg city, 15-16 mpg highway in our review. Driving gently provided 1-2 mpg rewards.

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The Hemi was moderately loud, especially when cold; over 3,000 rpm, it made muscle car noises. The transmission was quick and responsive after about a minute of warmup, during which it tended to be sluggish. The tow mode provided firmer shifts which are easier on the transmission, and seemed to prefer lower gears, but went back to normal with each restart. Putting the transmission into second when starting actually made it start out in second gear for mud and slippery surfaces.

The standard 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon Quad Cab 4x4 cost a bit over $39,300, with the four wheel antilock disc brakes, air conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, remote entry, tachometer, trip computer, CD player, sequential numbering, split-bench front seat, rear folding seat, vinyl floor covers, clearance lamps, tow hooks, fog lights, and so on.

The quad cab interior was large, with good headroom. The rear seats folded down for more interior storage space. Up front, there was a massive center console that could be divided into three compartments, or used as a single large space; it had its own power outlet and a three-place coin holder.

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The interior was Ram-standard, with audio controls on the back of the steering wheel, and climate controls that could be used while wearing gloves (our test truck, pictured here, had many options).

Large rear-view mirrors helped with visibility. The sun visors on both sides slide out to block the sun when it's in a spot ordinary visors can't reach.

The Power Wagon's pickup bed had a heavy plastic lining on both bottom and sides to preserve its appearance in use.

Though sales were relatively small, they built the Power Wagon in both Saltillo, Mexico, and St. Louis, Missouri. All had a New Venture Gear NV271 part-time transfer case with no center differential, a neutral mode, and a low-range mode (2.72:1). The battery was a Group 65 model with 750 cold cranking amps (CCA), while the alternator was rated at 160 amps.

Original Power Wagon2010+ Dodge Ram Power Wagon

Dodge Power Wagon specifications and sizes

2ndupshift; 1.50—kick-down3.48
6th 0.79
Overall Top Gear3.06 with 4.56 axle rationot available
Specifications Quad Cab Regular Cab
Track, Front/Rear69.5/68.569.5/68.5
Overall Length227.7229.7
Overall Width79.879.5
Tailgate Load Height36.336.3
Frontal Area, sq. ft.35.435.4
Fuel Tank, gal. (L)34 (128)35 (132)

Both front and rear used live axles; in front, the company installed four-link ("Quadra Link" leading arms, with a track bar, coil springs, Bilstein shock absorbers, and an electric-disconnecting stabilizer bar. In back, traditional longitudinal leaf springs were supplemented by Bilstein shock absorbers.

The powertrain relied on a Hotchkiss drive with two transmissions, the 545RFE five-speed automatic and the G56 six-speed manual, synchronized in all gears, standard with the Hemi. The pickup box was double-wall steel.

Compared to the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (ranges on Wrangler Unlimited are due to a variety of available tire/wheel sizes):

Quad Cab Regular Cab WranglerWrangler Unlimited
Min axle clearance8.38.310"8.7-10.5°
Approach angle35°35°44.3°40.6-44.4°
Ramp breakover 25.5°25.5°25.5°17.8-20.8°

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