Pickups and politicians are polar opposites.

Pickups relish a tough road and hard work. Politicians -- like (insert name here) -- would rather sip lattes on Easy Street. Politicians crunch data, pickups crunch hills. Politicians worry and fret. Pickups don't.

Congress needs to get off message and head off road, and it should do it in the 2010 Ram Power Wagon -- a truck that slings mud better than the U.S. House of Representatives. It can climb a pile of manure 10 stories high and come out on the other side smelling like a Ram.

The Power Wagon doesn't nitpick, it doesn't frame issues or redefine the verb "is." It charges ahead with single-minded purpose, making it the USS Enterprise of pickups: To boldly go where no truck has gone before.

Ram has already created a world-class 2010 Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty set of trucks, and the Power Wagon is the all-star of big rigs, proving some stars do break the mold. On the trail, it is truly a smash-mouth off-roader, approaching every problem grille first. Imagine that in Washington?

The Power Wagon's front and rear locking differentials mean the wheels can churn through mud as effortlessly as a politician spending someone else's money.

Better yet, a simple push of the button can unlock the electronic front diff on the Ram so you can quickly turn the steering wheel. (It's nearly impossible to steer a vehicle with locked front differential because both wheels rotate exactly the same, but when you turn, the wheels need to move at different speeds.) The Power Wagon also has an electronic disconnecting sway bar, Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BF Goodrich off-road tires and a steel skid plate for bouncing the underbody off rocks. It can take its licks too, without polling independent voters. It twists over uneven terrain without flinching; sticks and stones bounce off it.

And if the Power Wagon gets stuck -- which is as likely as a congressman flying coach -- this Ram follows the advice of my favorite president: Drive quietly and carry a big winch: A custom-built Warn 12,000-pound winch.

Yes, it's powered by a Hemi

Speaking of real power, the 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi under the hood is nothing to overlook. It can create 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque -- more than enough to keep this hill climber climbing as if it has a mandate from the people.

While the Power Wagon excels off road, it also provides a good ride on straight and narrow paved streets. Its road manners are excellent. The steering is well-balanced and the acceleration is excellent. The Hemi has a fantastic growl and every time you hit the gas, it just brings a smile to your face. Other than the engine, very little sound seeps into the cabin, which makes this a very quiet truck to drive.

On the highway, the ride can become a little bouncy, falling victim to that wave effect from road seam after road seam. Mostly, this is because of the big 32-inch wheels, which are great off road, not perfect on it. Around town, the commanding view makes this big truck fun -- if not just for the sheer intimidation factor it creates. From behind this bully pulpit, all the other cars on the road are just ants at a picnic.

The big wheels and lack of running boards do make jumping into the cab a little more difficult than most. I tended to grab the steering wheel and hoist myself up in one fluid motion, hoping I didn't miss and slip and eat the rocker panel. A rope ladder might be helpful. Women should seriously think twice before wearing a skirt while trying to climb in or out. Seriously. (In fairness, off roaders hate running boards because they only end up in the bed of the truck after a tree stump or rock or campsite rips it off.)

Interior loaded with style

Once inside, the Power Wagon's approval rating should soar.

Since adopting the much more comfortable and stylish look of the Ram 1500, the heavy duty truck's interior moves in one of the best packages at Chrysler Group LLC. The materials are excellent and every piece is well crafted. The entire Ram lineup should be the role model of all future Chrysler vehicles.

There are big features such as the trailer brake control. And there are little ones such as the USB port and auxiliary jack for connecting a music player to the face of the stereo. (While important, the jacks should actually go at the base of the center stack so wires don't have to dangle; don't mean to quibble, but it is 2010.) There also is Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free phone operation and lots of other comfort features. Just because you play hard, doesn't mean you don't want a comfortable seat, lots of leg room in the front and back rows and a second glove box in the dash. Heck, nowadays it's your right!

And this Ram offers lots of storage space throughout the cabin and plenty of room for five people. (Though I would never recommend riding in the second row with a serious off-roader. If you do, wear a helmet.)

As for the Ram Power Wagon's looks, nothing is more American than the V-8 pickup.

Face it, despite what politicians may tell us, we're a big, proud people with a brash grille and power dome hood. We're powerful, and we're a little wasteful. We're built well and we're confident. And sometimes, we like to fly through the mud and speed past cops.

Some of us may turn left, and some of us may turn right, but when we all load up and head out in a single direction, we become too big to fail.

So pile into the Power Wagon and enjoy the ride; unlike politicians, it can take you to some place new, some place we want to go. And the Ram won't say a word all the way there.

The only thing that can replace a good truck is another good truck and for serious off roaders, few compare to Power Wagon. On the other hand, scarecrows could replace most politicians and none of us would be the wiser.

sburgess@detnews.com (313) 223-3217