THE TERM ultimate is thrown around a lot in 4WD land. The ultimate suspension. The ultimate driving lights. The ultimate budget-beater imported swag with the ultimate free magazine thrown in.
The problem is, and it’s a damn big one, is they never do the word justice. They’re far from the ‘ultimate’, nowhere near the best of the best, and hardly the king on top of the mountain. But some things, they’re a little more deserving of the title.
The 4x4 Ram 2500 you’re looking at now is the ultimate, make no mistake, it’s the best of the best, the toughest of the tough, the king of every single mountain it’s ever travelled on, and the benchmark other 4x4s need to be measured against. What the hell are you guys on about? We thought you’d never ask.
You see, this isn’t any ordinary yank tank, it’s a Power Wagon, and those who know what that means, know the next few pages will be filled with the best gear money can buy, and almost all of it factory fitted.
If you’re familiar with the Ram platform you’d no doubt know the 2500 is the workhorse of the family, monster-truck-sized live axles front and rear, coil springs the size of a Mack truck’s, and a 6.7-litre straight-six Cummins Diesel lumbering away under that elongated bonnet. The Power Wagon takes that up a notch. While it still retains that rugged over-engineering perfect for Alaskan oil fields or Texas ranches, it does it with a little more flair.
CUSTOM: Purpose-built RAM 2500
Up front, straight off the showroom floor, Ram Trucks has replaced the oil-burning diesel with a fire-breathing 6.4-litre V8 Hemi sucking in high-octane unleaded and pushing out more than 400 horsepower and nearly 600Nm. Rather than the clunky column shifter of diesel offerings, the Hemi is spurred into life by a dash-mounted dial engaging the eight-speed automatic cog-swapper, before a set of driveshafts the size of tree stumps send power fore and aft.
The front live axle is kept in place with a radius arm setup similar to what you’d find in most Patrols or LandCruisers, and although from the factory they’re fitted with a super-flex-style arm on both sides.
The third bushing allowing the arms to articulate further than a base model, by reducing the binding point radius arms typically have. It gives the Power Wagon monstrous off-road capability without reducing its ability to do serious work. An electronic diff lock up front is engaged with a tap of a button, and wraps around a 9¼-inch ring gear. Helping the front end to seriously open up off-road is an electronic sway bar disconnect, with a set of two-inch lifted springs mated to Bilstein shocks.
FULL-SIZER: AEV's RAM 2500
Moving rearwards, Ram has somehow managed to have one of the toughest trucks on the planet ride surprisingly well thanks to a 5-link coil-sprung arrangement. It holds the rear axle in place with a second set of lifted springs and Bilstein shocks, while a rear locker sends drive to both wheels. and another sway bar is fitted high-and-tight. The combination allows for 33-inch tyres stock, with 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3s squeezed in these guards, wrapped around Method Race Wheels.
Up front, a factory steel bar protects the Power Wagon’s soft spots, with the Warn fairlead a factory inclusion. Nestled deep within the cattle-grate-sized bumper is Warn’s legendary 12,000lb Zeon winch. It’s wrapped in lightweight heavy-duty rope, with an extended shift lever allowing easy engagement without reaching arm-deep into the bar to kick it into gear.
On the inside, shy of a UHF tek-screwed to the dash, the interior of the Power Wagon is the dream of most 4x4ers. Front and rear leather seats are easy to clean, with the front pews featuring heating for cold Victorian High Country mornings, and cooling for outback runs in the heart of Australia. A plethora of high-resolution screens give up-to-date info on everything from 360-degree cameras to fuel consumption.
Moving rearwards and ‘big blue’ starts making a whole lot more sense as an Aussie tourer. In place of the nearly two-metre-long stock tub, an ultra-lightweight canopy from Sunshine Coast manufacturer Zone RV now resides. Constructed nearly entirely of composite materials and aluminium it barely makes a dent in the GVM of the Power Wagon, not that it’d care either way.
Popping open the aluminium-skinned door along the passenger flank reveals a well-laid-out kitchen similar to what you’d find in a high-end caravan. Up front there’s an Evakool 40L fridge-drawer keeping drinks cold and weights down, and by doing away with a traditional chest fridge and drop-slide the unit is far more accessible and takes up less footprint in the canopy.
BUYER'S GUIDE: 12-volt fridges
Above is a series of shelves perfect for stashing a space case or Weber Q. Moving rearwards, an extensive pantry setup provides easy storage for food and cooking equipment. Sliding out from the rearmost saddle box is a huge stainless-steel kitchen bench, with a pop-out sink making roadside cleaning-up a breeze.
Jumping around to the driver’s side reveals a cavernous storage area and tie-down points big enough to load an army of swags, but up top is a little more fancy. Climb up the ladder, pop the two clasps and a built-in rooftop tent emerges in just seconds. The arrangement uses the roof of the canopy as the base, keeping the total weight down to barely more than a mattress and sleeping bag. There’s lighting up top, as well as power outlets for reading lights or charging devices while you sleep.
Hidden down beside the fridge is a huge power wall from Queensland-based Enerdrive. Based off a lightweight 200amp/h lithium battery pack, the power wall features the usual suspects like DC to DC charging, a 2000W inverter, and 240V power points spread throughout the canopy. It also houses a high-tech touchscreen Garmin device that allows monitoring of water levels in the 100L water tank, battery charge levels from solar inputs, and full control of all the lighting. The unit lives in the windscreen, with a dock installed on the power wall.
TRUCKS N TOYS: RAM 2500
The spec sheet for the big blue Power Wagon reads like the who’s who of aftermarket gear – the wish list every 17-year-old scrawls out when they start planning their very first 4x4 – including the kitchen sink. But the guys at Trucks ‘N’ Toys have actually barely modified it at all, even going so far as to leave the stock exhaust in place.
It’s kind of a testament to the idea of starting with the right vehicle from the get-go. As much fun as wrenching spanners in your spare time is, there’s a lot to be said about jumping in the hot seat and taking on the big lap in a near stock 4x4 that’ll eat up everything you throw its way.
IF YOU'VE had even a cursory interest in vehicles you’d no doubt have come across the legendary name Hemi, and the sly grin that comes across grey-bearded drag racers as they remember their misspent youths. So, what exactly is a Hemi? And why do people rant and rave about them?
The principle is simple. Any engine, whether it’s diesel or petrol, needs a combustion chamber. Somewhere for air and fuel to be compressed, ignited and expanded in. The more efficient this chamber, the better fuel converts into mechanical power. Things like heat loss through the cylinder walls or head or uneven burns in the combustion chamber all sap power.
Most engines run a combustion chamber with a relatively flat top, the Hemi by comparison runs a round or hemispherical-shaped combustion chamber in the head. The theory is a smaller surface area and more even efficient burn without the dead corners in a flat-topped chamber produces more power. Is it the final word in engine technology? Absolutely not, but it’s cool as hell.