The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX places the Ford Raptor squarely between its supercharged jaws
Less than one year after Ram officially confirmed the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX for production, we now have our first look at the monstrous truck in its entirety. In case it’s unclear what the benchmark was for the TRX, know this: during the live-streamed unveiling event, Ram brand head Mike Koval Jr. concluded his opening remarks by staring directly into the camera and barking “in Jurassic terms, the T-rex destroys Raptors.”
For years, the Ford Raptor enjoyed an empty desert when it came to upper-echelon performance trucks built for jumping and thumping off-road. While the Colorado ZR2 Bison broadened the competition a bit, the TRX is pursuing this rugged performance crown the only way FCA knows how—overkill.
Let’s start with the drivetrain. The truck’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8 is a familiar beast appearing in the Charger/Challenger Hellcat family, as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. In the TRX, it’s pushing 702 horsepower instead of the usual 707. SRT engineers fussed with the motor a bit to optimize it for truck duties, swapping in a new deep-sump oil pan and re-engineering the exhaust manifold. That longer exhaust manifold combined with the longer air intake account for the five-horse drop, and really, can anyone complain about 702-freaking-hp? The engine pairs with a ZF 8HP95 eight-speed automatic transmission, as in the Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk. This particular version of the gearbox specializes in high-torque applications, and we’d say the TRX’s 650 lb-ft of torque fits the bill.
The performance figures are astonishing; Ram says 0–60 mph is dispatched in 4.5 seconds, while 0-100 mph takes just 10.5 seconds. The truck—yes, we’re still talking about a full-size pickup—can dispatch the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph. Top speed is limited to just 118 mph.
A full-time active transfer case with upgraded internals boasts a stout 2.64 crawl ratio. Out back, there’s a Dana 60 solid rear axle with a 3.55 gear ratio, full-floating rear hubs, and an electronic differential locker. An open diff up front uses the ABS brake pump to vector torque to the wheel that’s not slipping. No solid axle here; the TRX uses an upgraded version of the Ram’s existing independent front suspension, with the front axles moved forward 20 millimeters to swallow massive 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires. These behemoths measure 325/65/R18 at all corners, and bead lock wheels are optional.
What really sets apart high-performance trucks of this order is their ability to hammer over terrain previously reserved for purpose-built Baja rigs. The TRX boasts massive 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive shocks specifically designed for this vehicle. Ride height is up 2 inches from regular Rams to a lofty 11.8 inches of ground clearance. The five-link rear suspension setup includes massive 23.6-inch rear springs, the largest on any non-commercial pickup. The TRX boasts over 13 inches of travel at each corner, meaning the off-roader can float over uneven ground at speeds north of 100 mph.
Ram claims that the frame that undergirds the TRX is 75 percent changed from the tamer versions of the Ram 1500. Extensive use of thicker materials, higher-tensile-strength steel, and added reinforcements help bolster the frame to survive high-speed off-road beatings. There are skid plates aplenty, tow hooks at all four corners, and optional rock rails.
The TRX measures a whopping 88 inches across, eight inches wider than the not-so-small-to-begin-with Ram 1500. Most of that width is from the flared composite fenders that help visually balance the truck’s six additional inches of track width over its standard brethren. That’s obscenely wide, but it works. The rest of the exterior is as loud, snarly, and aggro as one would expect from a truck hellbent on making Raptors duck and cover: brash RAM lettering on the front grille, huge (and functional) hood scoop to handle breathing dusty air, tough-looking fender cladding, TRX stickers emblazoned on the side of the bed, and five-inch exhaust tips.
Inside, Ram’s world-class interior get’s a few tech updates, a lot of switchgear changes, and massive seat bolsters. Gone is the dial shifter; in the TRX, it’s back to a console-mounted shifter. In the dial shifter’s place is a big black button to activate the truck’s launch control mode, which means all the rear-end squatting stoplight antics are just a wrist flick away. Lovely-looking aluminum paddle shifters adorn a new flat-bottom steering wheel.
TRX buyers can choose from three interior equipment levels: TR standard, TR1, and TR2. The base trim brings cloth and vinyl seats, meant to take a beating by those who really plan to exercise the full range of the TRX’s capabilities. TR1 adds leather seats and a heated steering wheel, while TR2 piles on ventilated seats, reclining rear seats, and an all-new heads-up display that’s heavily customizable.
The drive mode selector helps toggle through the TRX’s five dynamic modes: Auto, Sport, Tow, Snow, and Custom. There are also three dynamic off-road modes: Mud/Sand, Rock, and an all-new Baja setting. The various modes adjust behavior of the four-wheel drive system, throttle response, transmission settings, and suspension to suit various conditions. The eight drive modes total promise to make the TRX as happy towing near its 8100-pound capacity or carrying a max payload of 1310 pounds as it is bombing through the desert at 105 mph.
Other niceties inside the TRX include an optional 9.2-digital rearview mirror, an available new digital rearview trailer reverse control, a 12-inch UConnect infotainment screen with a gaggle of performance pages and off-road data, and an optional forward-facing camera with dynamic tire lines so that you can spot (and avoid) that pesky boulder in front of you on the trail. Wedging the gargantuan TRX into a parking spot at Kroger seems like another good use of this last one.
Each TRX will come with a numbered plaque on the center console lid denoting specs like boost pressure, engine number, supercharger type, horsepower, and the the VIN. Underneath that lid, the FCA easter egg gremlins strike again with a 1:60 diagram of a man, the Ram TRX, and a T-Rex molded into the design. Oh, and there’s also a raptor-looking dinosaur on that diagram. Purely by coincidence, we’re sure.
If you’re one of 702 lucky first-comers you can score a Launch Edition TRX with limited-edition Anvil grey exterior paint, a red brushed aluminum console badge in place of the gray aluminum in other TRXs, and all the goodies that come with the TR2 interior option.
Of course, this terrain-stomper of a truck won’t come cheap. The Ram 1500 TRX will start at $71,690, including the $1695 destination fee. Launch Editions will clear $90,000. That’s a hefty sum, but at the time of unveiling, the TRX seems to have the goods to cash that check. We won’t have to wait long to find out—Ram plans to deliver the first units before the end of the year.
Now, about that Silverado with a C7 ZR1 engine …