Whoever still believes this is a man’s world needs to spend some time off-roading in a ’17 Ram Power Wagon with Nena Barlow. A fixture on the Southwest’s four-wheeling scene since the mid-’90s, Barlow offers tours, instruction, and anything else 4×4-related. Knowing we’d have access to the highly capable Ram 2500 Power Wagon for a couple of days, a road trip to see a woman who personifies the off-road lifestyle was an absolute no-brainer. So we headed out from Los Angeles to Barlow’s base of operations in Sedona, Arizona—the home of red rocks, energy vortices, and of course, some fantastic trails—to have her put us, and the Power Wagon, through our paces.
Captain Obvious alert: the Power Wagon is big. With a 149.3-inch wheelbase and at 237.3 inches overall, this baby is no wallflower. Given its 14.3 inches of ground clearance, we thought we might need a trampoline to get in it. Once in the cab, its ride height proved intoxicating. We felt like we could see clear across the Pacific to Hawaii in the thing. Despite the Power Wagon’s dimensions, overall visibility is actually pretty good, but it’s best to be alert when you hit thick commuter traffic like we have in Los Angeles. Pesky German imports and the like can creep up on you pretty quick if you’re not careful.
Because the Power Wagon’s known as an off-road powerhouse, we were skeptical of her on-road comfort. What would eight hours and over 500 miles in this behemoth feel like? The answer? Like butter. The Power Wagon is the only truck in its segment to feature Ram’s five-link coil rear suspension—harsh realties of the highway were buffered even with the bed unloaded. Interior comfort has also been improved over last year’s model thanks in part to its new seats. There’s ample room inside for a party of five and cup holders for each of them to have two drinks, so bottoms up. Lifting the front bench’s center armrest reveals space for a sixth passenger, though we certainly wouldn’t volunteer to sit there.
Like similar trucks in the segment, the Power Wagon isn’t cheap. Base price starts at about $52,000. Optional bells and whistles, including a Leather and Luxury option ($4,995), the U-Connect 8.4 Nav System ($500), the Spray-In Bedliner ($495), and the Center High-Mount Stop Lamp with Cargo Camera View ($345), will bring you closer to $60,000. Our rig came in at $60,525.
We wished we could have been sucked into Sedona’s energy vortex longer because two days with Barlow and the Power Wagon went by way too fast. By the end of our trip there was no doubt we were two women who belonged in that truck and on those trails as much as the next guy. We found ourselves no longer avoiding obstacles but seeking them out and plowing over them with no fear, thanks in part to Barlow’s first-rate instruction and, of course, the Power Wagon. It’s a truck that makes barreling through just about anything, including off-road stereotypes, pretty damn easy.