2006 Dodge Power Wagon 2500 Review

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2006 Dodge Ram with Quad Cab

By Thom Cannell
Senior Editor
Detroit Bureau

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Dodge

Your first glimpse of a Dodge Power Wagon tells you it is designed specifically for industrial strength off road prowess. Riding on massive LT285/70R17 tires on 17x8” forged aluminum wheels, the chassis is jacked up 50 mm front and 37.5 mm rear. Atop the cab, running lights intimate Power Wagon’s massive towing potential of over 16,000 pounds (7250 kg.)

Though Power Wagon was introduced late in 2005, it shares styling changes affecting all 2006 Heavy Duty Ram trucks. The already bold nose became bolder with a massive cross-hair grille. Headlamps are larger twin circular halogen lamps producing 22% more lumens enclosed in a wrap-around housing. Interiors feature a redesigned instrument panel and new center console larger than some café tables. Instruments are white with black numerals and there is a full package of tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, voltage, fuel, and water temperature gauges.

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The center console offers many storage options for cups, papers, writing instruments, and miscellany, plus you can order bucket seats (40/20/40) with the traditional Ram fold-down arm-rest/storage compartment.

Sharing the center stack are HVAC system controls, differential and anti-roll bar controls, and AM/FM CD sound system. An adjustable pedal package is available and it tailors your height and driving position to the truck very precisely. Dodge uses steering wheel mounted controls for audio and cruise control, the best in the industry.

To enter this massive truck—your hip meets the sill plate and the seat is rib cage high— you grab the A-pillar mounted assist handle and hoist yourself in. Immediately you spot the large rotary knob controlling differential locks and anti-roll unlocking buttons and the manual transfer case shifter. This truck reeks of dirt, rocks, timberlands, and mud.

If you were expecting a Spartan interior with rubber mats and vinyl seats, you’re wrong. Base models offer air conditioning, AM/FM CD with four speakers, tilt steering wheel, shift-on-the-fly transfer case, variable intermittent windscreen wipers, disc brakes with ABS, and 17” tires including a full sized spare tire. My Power Wagon Quad Cab was equipped with cloth 6-way power seats (leather seats are available,) the Power Wagon package (a $6,335 USD option on all 2500 Rams), side air bags, 5-speed automatic transmission, adjustable pedals and U-Connect Bluet00th mobile phone connection.

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The seats, 40/20/40 semi-buckets with the Dodge trademark containerized elbow rest/storage unit were so deep that the bolster extends from knee to hip.

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On the dash, a GPS equipped DVD-based navigation system (I wonder if the US Forest Service will order any) and behind me, totally out of reach, a power-operated rear window. This Power Wagon was a mixture of brute strength, and luxury features like an Infiniti stereo rear seat DVD entertainment system and power sunroof.

Built off the proven 2500/3500 hydroformed frame, Power Wagons are equipped with an NV 271 transfer case, American Axle TracRite ® axles with front open and rear anti-spin electrically locking differentials. The axles lock and unlock, (rear lock and front and rear lock) via a large dash-mounted rotary knob. Below that knob is a pair of buttons to alternately disconnect or reconnect the anti-roll (sway) bars for maximum articulation and minimal chassis lean during extreme off roading.

Normally such features are available only in the aftermarket, and are expensive and difficult to install. Dodge has packaged AND WARRANTED these products and wrapped them into a 2500 or 3/4 –ton pickup that has as much leather-lined luxury as the family sedan. Only the Power Wagon can climb, if not leap, tall buildings.

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Power Wagons are available in Regular Cab with 8’ bed or Quad Cab models with a 6.25’ bed. Short-bed Quad Cabs provide maximum utility; Regular Cab models are the workhorses. Quad Cab rear doors open 85° for easy entry, rear seats flip and store to provide a flat and sturdy load floor for commercial applications, groceries, furniture, and camping gear. The shorter 6.25’ bed (190.5 cm) holds more than enough material for most uses. Whether you specify a base model ($37,575USD) or add DVD Navigation, Infiniti Sound system, automatic transmission, power adjustable pedals, and power sunroof (price as tested, $47,485USD) the job will get done.

You should ask about living with this truck. If you’re from the era when T-By-God-Trucks were Manly Vehicles, the Power Wagon will astonish you with its complexity and sophistication. Yes it’s a truck, but one your girlfriend, mom, or wife and kids will find comfortable, quiet, and a great vehicle to drive to the mall—assuming they can get up into it.

Ram trucks utilize two powertrains and Dodge is building its franchise on the gasoline Hemi engine. This American icon V8, equipped with a 4.56:1 axle and five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission, provides quick acceleration and plenty of torque. With 257 kW @5,600 rpm of horsepower (345 hp) and 510 Nm of torque (375 lb-ft) of torque at 4,400, the 5.7-liter Hemi offers great 0-100 kmh times and a towing capability of 11,000 pounds (4,990 kg.)

The alternative Cummins Turbo Diesel—830 Nm @ 1,600 rpm, 242 kW @ 2,900 rpm (610 lb-ft/325 hp)—provides a payload and towing capacity—5,020 lb/16,400 lb or 2277 kg/7439 kg—greater than any comparable vehicle. If you need this truck—it’s not a personal use vehicle—than you won’t care about the 12.5 miles per gallon highway or 11 mpg overall mileage I got, or you’ll pay the premium for a diesel.

While the Power Wagon feels sophisticated, even tame on the highway, once the front tires touch dirt or rock its manners change abruptly. All the softness is overlaid by a very stiff and capable suspension. It instantly feels like a truck, a fiercely competent vehicle capable of climbing or traversing any obstacle it’s width and height can manage. Once the 4x4 system was engaged, our testing on deep sand and sandy hillsides was only limited by traction from the standard BFG LT285/20R 17 all-terrain tires. Knowing steel plates protected the transfer case and fuel tanks made our enthusiasm worry free, as did rugged front and rear jounce bumpers. Controlling the 35 mm front and 25 mm rear springs are Bilstein monotube dampers. And the custom Warn winch, rated at 12,000 lb (5443 kg,) and built-in tow hooks ensured we wouldn’t get stuck anywhere in our private off road park. You can approach most obstacles with no worries, there’s over 8” (200 mm) of ground clearance front and rear and a forward approach angle of 35°, 26.5° rear makes rock crawling safe and easy. Even easier once you uncouple the front anti-roll bar to improve traction.

If I owned a ranch, worked in the mining or oil industry prospecting remote locations, or controlled a vast forest system this is the vehicle I’d want. It is capable of going anywhere, anytime, and would look great arriving at any private country club – providing there were stepladders for my lady to descend without soiling her dress. Better yet, have your lady wear blue jeans, a fashion match to this rugged, strong, handsome truck.

You can reach Thom at: Thom@CannellAndAssociates.com

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