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2007 Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon - Diesel Dodge Power Wagon

The Ultimate Off-Road Pickup, 60 Years In The Making

Photography by Courtesy of DaimlerChrysler, ,

This Diesel-Powered Dodge Power Wagon is an idea More than 60 years in the making. The axles, the tires, the suspension, the winch, and even the diesel engine were all conceptualized back in the late '90s. Yet when the truck was first conceived, the diesel engine under the hood wasn't the new 6.7L Cummins, or even the tried-and-true mechanical 5.9L. It was actually a 7.2L Caterpillar engine, the predecessor to the modern C7 ACERT.

We know it may sound crazy to those of you who don't remember the retro-styled diesel Power Wagon that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in January 1999. The Dodge/Caterpillar partnership never went beyond the concept vehicle (as far as we know), but the clean diesel technology that we all buy today owes a great deal to that stunning silver show truck.

In hindsight, the Power Wagon concept made perfect sense. Chrysler combined its 50-year-old icon of strength and utility with the latest in diesel technology to test the waters and gauge the interest in the diesels of the future. Chrysler was clearly ahead of its time, and was one of the first car companies to introduce a diesel designed for ultra-low sulfur fuel. Back then, ULSD was thought of as a "designer fuel." It was described as having a synthetic base and was created for Chrysler by a company called Syntroleum.

WORTH THE WAIT
As much as we all love clean diesel, the real story today is this '07 Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon with a 6.7L Cummins engine built by Mopar. For those of you not intimately familiar with this vehicle (the truck's roots date back to 1945), there's a very good reason for that. You can only buy it with the 5.7L Hemi gasoline engine. While the Hemi is a fine engine in its own right, most Diesel Power readers couldn't care less about a truck that doesn't come with a diesel under the hood.

ULTIMATE OFF-ROAD PACKAGE
It's fair to say that no automotive company in the world has ever offered a more off-road-ready pickup truck than the Dodge Power Wagon. Reintroduced as an '05 model, the Power Wagon is based on the Ram 2500 pickup truck and features forged Alcoa aluminum wheels, 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, off-road-tuned spring rates, 4.56 axle gears, front and rear selectable locking differentials, a full skidplate package, an electronic disconnect sway bar, and a factory-installed Warn winch.

That option sheet reads like an off-roader's wish list, but what has kept the Power Wagon off the Diesel Power radar is the lack of a Cummins engine.

WHY NO CUMMINS?
The short answer is the intercooler and radiator packaging for the 5.9L and 6.7L engines interferes with the mounting of the Warn winch and the electronic sway bar. That makes sense to us, but we also suspect the rear AAM 1050 axle (instead of the AAM 1150 axle that the diesel trucks get) may decrease the cargo and towing capacity below what diesel truck buyers expect.

In past years, we would have also told you that the front AAM 925 axle's selectable locker and axleshafts wouldn't have been up to the Cummins' torque. This theory seems to have been proved wrong by the fact that this Power Wagon was fitted with 40-inch tall tires, and we witnessed the truck being bashed on for a full week in the off-road mecca of Moab, Utah.

WHY A DIESEL POWER WAGON NOW?
Officially, this 6.7L Power Wagon is proof of a concept that the Mopar Performance group built in conjunction with the Mopar Underground design team to show what could be done with existing OEM parts. If you ask us though, we'd say that Chrysler engineers and designers have been itching to build this diesel-powered package for decades, and they finally got the green light.

If we gaze into our diesel crystal ball, we think this truck could suggest that the new Dodge Ram diesel due to debut in 2010 may be available some time in 2011 or 2012 with a Power Wagon package. We doubt the 40-inch tires will make it to production, but 35- or 37-inch tires could easily be stuffed under the new body. We've been waiting 10 years to get to drive a diesel Power Wagon, and now that we have, we'll hang on a couple more years to see if Dodge is really serious about offering one.

Would you consider buying a diesel Power Wagon? Send us an e-mail at dieselpower@sourceinterlink.com to tell us what you think.

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