Ram Truck unveils off-road pickups in Chicago

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Ram Truck unveiled two updated heavy-duty pickups for off-road enthusiasts on Thursday at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show.

For the extreme off-roader, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles truck brand will unveil the 2017 Ram Power Wagon, an updated version of the rugged truck that maintains a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with new styling and features. And for the occasional off-roader, it will show off a Ram 2500 Heavy Duty pickup with a new 4x4 Off-Road Package that features stability control enhancements, all-terrain tires and other aesthetic and performance upgrades.

FCA-North America head of Ram Bob Hegbloom said the new pickups — paired with the brand’s Ram 1500 Rebel — cement its new claim as “America’s off-road truck leader.”

“It begins with authentic truck capability and ends as deep into the woods or as high into the mountains as our customers want to go,” he said during the unveiling. “We’ll take them there with Ram Rebel, the new Ram 2500 Off-Road and Ram Power Wagon.”

The 2017 Power Wagon most notably receives new exterior and interior redesigns, including an all-new tailgate and prominent grille with silver “RAM” lettering based off the Ram 1500 Rebel model that debuted in 2015.

The larger blacked-out grille is book-ended by black bezel bi-functional projector headlamps with LED markers. The vent-stamped hood also includes a gloss black graphic from mid-hood to windshield.

“We’re going to bring this (Rebel) image, this attitude, this all-new look to our Power Wagon for 2017,” Hegbloom previously said. “It’s going to have all the capability that you would expect out of this truck, but it’s going to deliver on that active-lifestyle-oriented customer.”

Head of Ram design Joe Dehner said the brand “is not giving up” on the brand’s traditional cross-hair grille, but designers wanted “to create a new face” that better represents the aggressive nature of the pickup.

Based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4x4 Crew Cab, the Power Wagon features a number of off-road-specific enhancements, including a unique suspension with more than two inches of lift, locking differentials and a 12,000-pound winch.

While the styling gets more aggressive, the available graphics of the 2017 Power Wagon are more subtle than the previous generation, blending in more with the design of the truck rather than plastered across both sides of the bed.

“This is a different buyer; it’s an older buyer,” Dehner said. “I didn’t lose sleep over this but the current truck has a very youthful graphic … but we thought about something that was different.”

The company resurrected the Power Wagon in 2005. After the 1980 model year, the Power Wagon went out of production with the introduction of the Dodge Ram, with the four-wheel-drive models being sold under the “Power Ram” nameplate through 1993.

The 2017 Ram Power Wagon will be built at the Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Coahuila, Mexico, and will be available in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The new 4x4 Off-Road Package will be available in the third quarter. The package includes several off-road features, including a rear anti-spin differential, which turns both rear wheels in tandem when increased torque is applied, and “hill-descent control” that allows drivers to control speed down steep, rugged grades with buttons on the column shifter — without the need for throttle or braking.

Hegbloom said the new package will not be limited to any particular trim for the Ram 2500: “We’re going to have it available with every single cab, every single powertrain … This is going to be available throughout the lineup for that customer that’s looking for an off-road application.”

Pricing the Off-Road Package and Power Wagon will be announced closer to their availability, according to officials.

mwayland@detroitnews.com

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