2018 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Chris­tian Se­abaugh

Motor Trend (USA) - - First Drive | 2019 Hyundai Veloster N -

“It was nice to give the Power Wagon a lit­tle work­out in the Ari­zona back­coun­try.”

There are some cars that make you want to just get be­hind the wheel and find a good road. A Honda Civic Type R makes me want to drive up and down a canyon all day, and a Dodge Chal­lenger Hell­cat makes me want to cruise Pa­cific Coast High­way. Our long-term 2018 Ram 2500 Power Wagon makes me want to drive, too—ex­cept in this case, away from all roads, in Ari­zona’s open back­coun­try.

Blessed with a three-day week­end and a reser­va­tion at a re­mote cabin in the Sun­set Crater Vol­cano Na­tional Mon­u­ment out­side of Flagstaff, Ari­zona, we hit the road be­fore sun­rise. De­spite the Ram Power Wagon be­ing unashamedly bi­ased to­ward off-road­ing, it also works quite well on the open high­way. Its big, burly 6.4-liter V-8’s 410 hp is plenty for pass­ing slower traf­fic while cruis­ing in the fast lane, and its six-speed au­to­matic doesn’t hes­i­tate to down­shift when needed. The Ram’s ride is shock­ingly com­fort­able for a heavy-duty truck, too. Thanks to its fan­tas­tic (if a bit old-school) Bil­stein shock ab­sorbers and the mas­sive side­walls on the stock 31-inch off-road tires, the Power Wagon eats up bumps, bruises, and road warts with­out com­plaint. The only real down­side to the Power Wagon thus far on the high­way is a slight ten­dency to wan­der in its lane, due to the com­bi­na­tion of its live front axle and off-road tires.

Once off the high­way and in Ari­zona back­coun­try, the Power Wagon re­ally can’t be beat. Our Airbnb was lo­cated way out in a re­mote sec­tion of the Sun­set Crater Mon­u­ment—so re­mote it re­quired a hand-drawn pa­per map and roughly 20 miles of dirt trails to reach. Although the Power Wagon was hardly chal­lenged on the dirt trail, it was the per­fect rig to ex­plore the mul­ti­tude of iso­lated trails that snake through the open coun­try­side. Its four-wheel-drive sys­tem com­bined with lock­ing front and rear dif­fer­en­tials, elec­tronic anti-roll bar dis­con­nect, and its winch gave me the con­fi­dence to ex­plore well off the beaten path.

With that trip in the rearview mir­ror, rest as­sured I’m al­ready plan­ning a more thor­ough test of our Ram Power Wagon’s off-road prow­ess, on-road per­for­mance, and its fuel econ­omy.

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