HDRams.com was invited to Las Vegas, Nevada this past month, by the Ram Truck team to get some seat time with the new 2019 Ram Heavy Duty lineup. Even though we didn’t get a ton of time with the entire lineup of Heavy Duty trucks that Ram is offering for the 2019 model year, we did get to spend some time with the vehicles that we feel would most appeal to our readers.
The demographics for heavy-duty pickups is quite fascinating. On one side you have your true work trucks with rubber floor mats, simple stereo systems, and traditional incandescent lighting. Then you have the what should be considered luxury vehicles with supple leather that feels better than your favorite living room chair, 12.1-inch touchscreen infotainment systems and state-of-the-art LED lighting systems. With the new 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon, you get your choice of both.
While everyone has seen the new 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon in YouTube reviews, magazine articles and the like, we got our hands on the Tradesman version. While this truck is not the loaded up version like its “Power Wagon” trim brother, it still offers the Power Wagon’s core hardware but at a much friendlier price to your checkbook.
The 2019 Ram 2500 Tradesman Power Wagon wasn’t flashy. It is equipped with chrome steel bumpers, a 5.0-inch Uconnect infotainment system and cloth seats (while Power Wagon trim gets cloth with the tire imprints the Power Wagon’s Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires which look really cool). While it isn’t as luxurious as the Power Wagon trim model, the Tradesman Power Wagon is all business and doesn’t need silly graphics to prove it’s off-road capability.
As we started our drive with the new Tradesman Power Wagon, we took a short trip down the road before turning off onto a short but relatively technical off-road course that the Ram Trucks team had set up for us. With a push of a button, the differentials were locked, hill decent was engaged, and the sway bar was disconnected. With a factory 2-inch lift over a standard Ram 2500 4×4, an integrated front-mounted WARN Zeon-12 winch which has a 12,000 lb. pulling capacity with its new synthetic line, aggressive 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires and better angles of departure than the previous version (29.4-inch approach, 26-inch departure), the 2019 Ram Power Wagon can handle just about any off-road situation that it encounters.
The 2019 Ram 2500 Tradesman Power Wagon and 2500 Power Wagon come standard with the 6.4-liter HEMI (BGE or Big Gas Engine) V8. The big HEMI makes 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft of torque from its 392 cubic-inches of displacement. For the first time in the Ram Heavy Duty, Ram has included a standard 8-speed automatic (8HP75) Torqueflite transmission. With the new transmission, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon left lively compared to the outgoing model thanks to its new gearing. The throttle was a tad touchy and did take a bit to get used to in 4-Lo. But after driving the HEMI with the 8-speed automatic, I would never even look at driving the outgoing 6-speed automatic… it’s that good.
With its new 8-speed automatic, the new 2019 2500 Power Wagon models can now run around in the sand at 50mph in 4-Lo. There is nothing quite like sliding around in the sandy and muddy areas between obstacles at speed in this truck. The tall gearing makes off-roading easy, and there was no obstacle on our course that the truck would not handle.
While out of the trail we also got to try out the hill-decent feature. I have used this in Jeep models previously and I really liked it on the Power Wagon. With the tap of the hill-decent button, you can set the desired speed using the transmission shift buttons on the steering wheel and you are all set. The truck crawled down the hill like a champ, leaving you confident and ready to prepare for the next obstacle.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to check out the new front facing off-road camera located in the center of the grille under the “A” in the RAM text. Hopefully, we get a chance to try it on another Power Wagon model in the future.
I felt quite smitten with our Flame Red 2019 Ram 2500 Tradesman Power Wagon. The no-nonsense looks of the truck, work truck-like interior makes you think that you are more apt to take this model down the technical trails in the Las Vegas desert or at Moab, then the flashy 2500 Power Wagon trim.
While we spent most of our time with the Tradesman Power Wagon off-road, it’s on road dynamics are better than what one may think. On the pavement, the Bilstein shocks while tuned for off-road soak up rough pavement easily. The Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires were louder than the more street-based Heavy Duty models were drove, it wasn’t excessive. Overall, the Power Wagon was smooth similar to the 6.4-liter powered Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab Dually we drove and could easily be a great daily driver for anyone.
While we enjoyed driving the Tradesman Power Wagon, there is only one real issue we had. Getting in and out of the truck was tricky. While the truck is equipped with a 2-inch factory lift, we kept slipping on the rocker panels with our snowy, wet and muddy feet. While it would be nice to equip the Power Wagon with running boards, it does limit its off-road capability. But its not something that would be a deal breaker from having us taking one home from the showroom floor.
FIRST DRIVE: 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Image Gallery: