8 Months in a PW, Was It The Right Buy?

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Early this year, I placed a PW on order just how I wanted it (Tradesman base model, all vinyl bench seats and floor, 8.4, marker lights, no graphics) after about a year of research and saving. I like my vehicles utilitarian and simple. Once I had narrowed it down to a RAM 2500, I went back and forth on a PW or a 4wd diesel. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, etc. They both cost about the same, and I wanted one or the other for all the reasons they offer what they do. In the end, I went with the PW for the off-road goodies and darn do they look great.

Was it the right decision? Maybe this will help someone, because I wish I would have read this before deciding.

My other rig is a modified Wrangler on 35's for reference, but not a Rubicon, and it still has a front open diff and fixed sway bars. My thought process being that it sucked to drive the Wrangler for hundreds of miles at a time and because the PW had lockers, disco's and a winch, it should be able to handle most of the off-road activities I like to do. Plus, I needed the room for the family. I can drive the PW at 80mph in comfort with all the room my family needs for hours and hours, so that is a big check box checked.

Two weeks into ownership I am walking out with the PW suck in a field with both diffs locked and nothing to winch to. I thought, "I messed up. I should have seen that coming, but I didn't think I would get stuck there in this beast with lockers. The stock tires suck anyway so I will upgrade those." I chalked it up to inexperience with a mammoth sized truck. It wasn't that far, I got some help, and picked up the Wrangler to pull out the PW. The Wrangler did circles around the PW in the field and pulled it right out. I learned a big lesson about how much a rig's weight degrades its off-road performance in the soft stuff given the same basic tire. The PW sunk like a rock in the mud but the Wrangler danced over it. For reference, I would not have taken the diesel version back there at all. My 12V Cummins 3500 dually would get stuck in wet grass.

Fast forward a few months and with 35's, and I am backing out of a climb due to lack of breakover. The air dam was a victim, and I wasn't willing to drag the belly of the truck anymore that I already had. If I had of "sent it", I could of made it over, but just didn't think it was worth it. That and the 3 point turns to fit on the trail and folding in mirrors were getting tiresome. I had learned lesson numbers 2 and 3. The truck was too darn wide and too darn long. She climbed up the incline like a goat though. The next time I was in the Wrangler, and it was a cake walk, but the PW did climb better.

The coined phase "Power Wagon don't care" is not as true as I had hoped. Power Wagon is darn capable, and awesome truck, gobs of power, great on long trips and on the highway, looks killer and I love it, but it does care. It is just too darn big and heavy and hard to see out for me on the trail. I suppose some would call it a challenge to navigate the behemoth through where smaller rigs go, and I respect that. I also don't have the off-road camera's and that would be a big help. I just don't know how much I will be using the off-road goodies on the PW to justify the cost of them now. On the other hand, the PW is fairly unique, mine especially is rare, and I love driving it.

Looking back, I would have been better off to get the diesel and tow the Wrangler to the trail, which I still plan on doing (setting up the Wrangler now to flat tow). The diesel would have checked the long travel boxes, the towing box and the utility boxes better, but not the "cool" factor box. I have been looking at travel trailers and the consideration of air bags, and that would not have been a factor with the diesel. If I were to rewind, I would have opted for the diesel, but the smile I get when driving the PW daily is a bonus, so I am keeping her.
 

thkbaron

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I think you hit it on the head as far as them being heavy. You are right a wrangler should out perform them in the filed due to size alone. I think that barring the need for a diesel and payload capacity (which airbags will help that) that the power wagon is the way to go money wise. I've built tons of trucks online and dollar for dollar if you don't need a diesel the power wagon is the better buy with the features that is has. I built out a laramie and with the options I wanted it amounted to almost the same price as a power wagon. So why not spend the same amount of money and get the winch and lockers too. If you need the payload then you should probably be asking yourself if you need a diesel too.
 

Tinman454

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your post touches on a few pros and cons of a power wagon. and I really do think a lot of guys might have changed there mind after owning one for a bit. I have have had one now for 8 months and still think it’s the best truck I have driven. But when I bought it I got it for a weekend fun outdoors stuff truck which is what it’s perfect for.
 

Dean2

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I drive a longbox, crew cab and have for many years. They have all had winches, and well fitted for off road work. I have taken these rigs a long ways back in on very bad trails but at a certain point the trails just get to narrow and ugly. They are a great hunting rig, especially if you need to haul a lot of gear, trailers etc. and/or travel long distances to the hunting grounds. That said, a fullsize pickup, no matter how well rigged out, and hard core off roading is just a really bad idea. I drive a long box so I have room to carry a quad under the canopy and still have lots of room for game, gear and the like but when the roads get real bad, unload the quad and drive it. Your idea of trailering the Wrangler, or a side by side is along the same lines and to me a FAR better option than beating a 70,000 truck to death going places they just aren't the ideal rig to get there with.
 

CanRebel

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I'm far from experience in off-roading. And everyone's view of what off-roading is, and were.

But I do it often. Likely 70% of km's on my Rebel are just off-roading.

I have 2021 Rubicon(had older ones as well), 2021 Rebel, have driving Raptor, TRX, PW and few others(friends trucks)

While technically speaking, the PW is more designed than my Rebel for off-roading. But PW is so heavy.
My Rebel just runs around PW's at least in my group of friends, could be they just suck as well.
 
OP
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I really do love my PW, but it has taught me that lesson of how weight effect off-road performance in every way. This concept has changed my thought process on the Wrangler build. At first I was going to add big steel bumpers front and rear and a full belly pan and more. This would add 300+lbs to the Jeep. I have changed my tune to keeping the stock bumpers, adding a winch plate, aluminum skid plates, swapped out the steel wheels to aluminum and "E" rated tires to 3-Ply's. The hard top is now a soft top and minimized gear I carry as much as I feel comfortable.
 

thkbaron

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yeah I doubt most people that buy a power wagon buy it for off-roading. Honestly I bought mine for the looks and resale value and the capabilities of a 2500. Big breaks and heavy duty everything. If I was buying something for off-roading it would be a Wrangler hands down. The shorter and lighter the better. Or just go out in the wheeler.
 

retired

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yeah I doubt most people that buy a power wagon buy it for off-roading. Honestly I bought mine for the looks and resale value and the capabilities of a 1500. Big breaks and heavy duty everything. If I was buying something for off-roading it would be a Wrangler hands down. The shorter and lighter the better. Or just go out in the wheeler.
fixed it for you :). I have had 4 JK's and you are correct the PW is no comparison to them for real offroading. Many think offroading is dirt roads but trails like the dusy ershim etc those are offroad trails.
 

akguy09

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I sold my Diesel Ram on Carli Suspension to get my Powerwagon. For the type of driving that I do the Powerwagon can handle the offroad, snow situations better than my Diesel could. I also Have a slighlty modded JK so...but this is my second Powerwagon and I knwo that I made the right choice.
 
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