Light Duty or Heavy Duty Ram Truck: Which One Is Right For Me?

September 25th, 2020 by

A red 2020 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is shown from a low angle while parked on a dirt mound.

If you’re in the market for a powerful Ram truck, but you’re not sure if you want a light-duty or heavy-duty model, this article is for you! As you gear up to begin the shopping process, your first question might be, “where is the nearest Ram dealer near me?” After all, it makes sense to start your journey in the showroom. When you visit Findlay, you will find a team of Ram experts who can help guide you toward the correct truck for your individual needs, and you can see and test drive all the models that you are interested in right on the spot.

However, we realize that it is 2020, and with so much information right at our fingertips, we’re betting you’ll do a little research on your own before heading to the dealer. So here is a light duty vs heavy-duty 101 as a ‘step one’ in the shopping process. How do you zero in on the right size rig for you? By asking yourself a few key questions and really considering how the size difference will affect key areas like performance, towing capability, fuel economy, and passenger volume.

If you have a good idea of what you’re going to need, the process of choosing becomes a lot simpler. Every choice usually involves a little bit of compromise, even though Ram has designed its pickup truck lineup to minimize that pressure. Take the Ram 1500 Rebel vs Ram 2500 Power Wagon. These two powerhouse pickups offer class-leading features that will get the job done, no matter how dirty, heavy, or complicated it may be.

Taking a look at the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel and the 2020 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is a great way to work through the options. Our advice? Focus on the size difference, capabilities, and powertrain options. These three areas are what most differentiates the two models, and by extension, they will determine which truck you should end up choosing. Let’s take a closer look at the Rebel vs Power Wagon so that you can have a framework to bring into the dealership when it comes time to move forward.

Size and Trim Differences

A 2020 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is driving on a dirt road, shown from the front, after leaving a Ram dealership near me in Findlay, OH.

The first major and most important difference between these two trucks is that the Ram 1500 Rebel is a half-ton pickup truck, and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is a three-quarter-ton pickup. It may seem minor, but this is a huge difference. To illustrate the size difference in another way, let’s look at the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) difference first. A vehicle’s GVWR is the maximum operating weight or mass of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer. The Ram 1500 Rebel has a GVWR of 6,900-lbs, while the Ram 2500 Power Wagon has a GVWR of 8,565-lbs.

Looking at other comparative specifications, the Ram 1500 Rebel has an overall exterior length of 233 inches, a width of 82 inches, and an exterior height of 77 inches. The wheelbase – or the length between the front and rear tires – is 144.5 inches. The crew cab configuration comes with a 5’7” bed, while the quad cab has a 6’4” bed.

The 2500 Power Wagon has an overall length of 239 inches, an exterior width of 79 inches, and an exterior height of 81 inches. You will see a pretty big difference in wheelbase too, with the Power Wagon coming in at 149 inches. These differences seem small, but roughly 5 inches more wheelbase translates into larger interior cabin dimensions. On this vehicle, you’ll find a bed length of 6’4” – a pretty big increase over the base 1500 Rebel’s smaller bed length.

That final point is a dimension that you’ll want to seriously consider if your needs involve hauling cargo. While you can get a comparable bed length in the Rebel, it requires bumping up to the 4×4 quad cab, which gets you close to the price point of the 2500 Power Wagon. At that point, you’ll want to look at other differences.

The Ram 1500 Rebel comes in three configurations: a 4×2 crew cab with a 5’7” bed, a 4×4 crew cab with a 5’7” bed, and a 4×4 quad cab with a 6’4” bed. The Power Wagon is available in just one: the 4×4 crew cab with 6’4” bed. If you want a 4×2 truck, the Power Wagon isn’t going to work for you. However, as we stated earlier, if you want a long bed crew cab, then the Power Wagon is your only choice. Finally, the Rebel comes in at a starting MSRP of $44,740, and the 2500 Power Wagon sits at an MSRP of $53,550.

Powertrain and Capabilities

The Ram 1500 Rebel is offered with three engine options, the standard 3.6-liter V6 eTorque engine, a 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel, and a 5.7-liter V8 HEMI that can be had with or without eTorque. By contrast, the Power Wagon boasts a standard 6.4-liter heavy-duty V8 HEMI. There is no eTorque engine option for the Power Wagon. What does all of this mean? We’ll explain.

Ram’s eTorque engines use a mild hybrid system that attaches a small electric motor to the engine. This is a power-conserving, torque-building system that allows the vehicle to achieve higher torque numbers at very low engine rpms. Think about pulling a boat out of the water on a ramp – that extra boost of power can make a tough job nearly effortless without having to gun the engine.

When it comes to towing and payload capacity, these two trucks begin to differ even more. For the 1500 Rebel, the max towing capacity is 7,520-lbs. For the 2500 Power Wagon, the max towing capacity is 8,565-lbs. When it comes to torque, the specs differ for the Ram 1500 Rebel depending on the engine chosen. With the base V6, you’ll get 269 lb-ft of torque vs the Power Wagon, which delivers 429 lb-ft of torque. If you bump up to the V8 eTorque on the 1500, you’ll get a little closer with 410 lb-ft of torque.

A 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel is parked at the end of a dirt road with a view.

Other Considerations

One of the best features available for the 2500 Power Wagon is the standard winch. It’s the only truck that comes standard with a factory winch, and it’s not just any old winch – it is a WARB model that has the capability of winching up to 12,000-lbs. This rounds out a suite of capabilities that sets the Power Wagon apart as an off-roading, gritty work truck.

These features are all intriguing, but what about more practical considerations, such as fuel economy? It’s a great question and something worth considering. The Ram 1500 Rebel is the clear winner here, for obvious reasons, but let’s take a look at the numbers to really understand the margin.

The Rebel is rated up to 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway on the high end. However, because the Power Wagon is a heavy-duty truck, it’s not required to be rated for its fuel economy. Instead, we looked to third parties to average it out based on miles per full tank of gas. The result? The Power Wagon sits at a combined – and very thirsty – fuel economy rating of 14 MPG.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when looking at these two trucks side-by-side, but because they differ so much in very key areas, you’re likely to lean more toward one than the other based on your particular needs. At this point, we recommend that you make a trip down to visit our dealership to see the trucks in person and take them for a test drive. Whether it’s fuel economy, towing capacity, or the flexibility to choose your powertrain and cab configurations, the good news is the Ram family of trucks has a solution for your needs. So when you visit Findlay, there is no need to schlepp around town visiting multiple dealerships.