If it can’t climb up the hill, it’ll just pull itself over the hill.

That’s life for the 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon.

For 2019, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon loses some weight, gains some useful technology, refines its edges, but loses zero capability.

I flew out to Las Vegas to put the big, off-road rig through its paces, which included clawing up a rock-covered hill that was slicker than the side of the Luxor hotel.

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

Lighter, smarter, and modern

The 2019 Power Wagon benefits from the latest Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty lineup’s upgrades that included LED lighting, available automatic emergency braking, and an optional 17-speaker audio system. A spend-up surround-view camera system shows a clear picture of the obstacles around the massive truck on the trail.

All of these items are nice upgrades, but it’s the winch and infotainment system that steals the show for 2019.

A defining characteristic of the Power Wagon is its front-mounted Warn winch. For 2019, a 90-foot synthetic line replaced the old steel cable and shaved 28 pounds off the front end in the process.

The synthetic line allowed Ram to swap in a more powerful 12,000-pound Warn Zeon-12 winch that ditched the rollers on the fairlead.

Inside, the gorgeous 12-inch touchscreen from the Ram 1500 has been ported over to the Heavy Duty lineup and is available in the Power Wagon. It’s like a double-din head unit for the modern age (for those old enough to remember what those are).

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

Power to climb

All 2019 Power Wagons come with a 6.4-liter V-8 engine under the hood rated at 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a part-time BorgWarner transfer case hooked to a meaty floor-mounted drive selector.

Front and rear locking differentials and the trick, electronically disconnecting sway bar further enhance off-road capability.

The old 6-speed automatic transmission has been swapped out for an 8-speed unit and the truck’s better for it.

In my very brief time with the 2019 Power Wagon on asphalt, it was clear the 8-speed transmission helps launch the truck off the line with more authority, shifts are smoother than before, the engine can cruise with far fewer revs down the highway. It should be more efficient, which isn’t a high bar given our previous experiences with the Power Wagon.

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

Claw or pull, it’ll go up that hill

“Don’t let the wheels spin. If you dig it into the hubs I’ll be dragging you up instead of you dragging yourself up,” Ram spokesman Nick Cappa said as I slowly nudged the 2019 Ram 2500 Tradesman up a steep rock-covered hill.

The fire-engine red Tradesman I was in was equipped with the Power Wagon equipment group, which adds all the off-road model’s bits to the lower-priced, stripped-down work model.

With the electronic sway bar disconnected for extra articulation, four-wheel-drive low engaged for maximum torque multiplication, and both front and rear lockers engaged for maximum traction the big red truck slowly clawed at the earth with its 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires searching every rock crevice for grab.

It didn’t take long for gravity, and science, to stop the truck in its tracks.

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

Nick grabbed the electronic winch controller, plugged it in, and walked the synthetic line up to a black Power Wagon sitting atop the hill. The lighter, synthetic line is easier than the old steel line to maneuver and work with. It also won’t kink.

Once the hook was connected to a black Power Wagon’s tow hook, Nick wrapped a protective sleeve around the line so it didn’t get damaged while it dragged along the rocks.

Within minutes, the line was taut and Nick handed the controller to me. “Don’t spin the wheels. If the winch starts moving fast, you’re moving too quickly. If it’s sounding strained, you’re moving too slowly. Modulate the throttle with the winch. Go.”

From the driver’s seat, I controlled the winch with my left hand, steered with my right hand, and used my right foot to modulate the throttle as the winch helped the truck claw and pull its way up the steep rock face.

Nick spotted and gave directions, but as the hood of the red truck pointed toward the sky, I couldn’t see what was in front of me. It was clear that the surround-view camera system was a smart upgrade for the 2019 Power Wagon during this rock-crawling trust exercise. Off-roaders, spend up.

Once up the hill, Nick retracted the line into the winch and the climb was over. No fuss. No muss.

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

There’s nothing like it

The 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is the only truck on sale from the factory with a winch, front and rear lockers, and an electronic disconnecting sway bar. Small company, but a big presence.

A Ford F-150 Raptor is a completely different animal meant to go fast across the desert or fly off jumps. It can tackle tough off-road terrain, but it lacks some of the mechanical bits the Power Wagon has to haul itself out of, and up, rocky or slick situations.

Priced from $54,595 (including a hefty $1,695 destination charge) the latest Power Wagon isn’t cheap—fun rarely is.

With unmatched capability and a more refined package, the 2019 Ram Power Wagon is ready to tackle any adventure.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles flew me out to Las Vegas and put me up in a fancy hotel without a casino in it to bring you this firsthand report.