For years, automakers have watched the Ford Raptor destroy their wanna be off-road truck offerings while driving customers in to dealers. That ends today. The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX doesn’t just aim to compete with the Ford Raptor, it aims to eat its lunch as the new apex predator of the truck world.
The Ram TRX is just about the closest thing to gasoline-smell-loving, exhaust-rattling, lifted-truck fan’s wet dream. This truck doesn’t just ooze cool, it opens the flood gates.
Here are 5 things you need to know about it.
First and foremost, the Ram TRX is powered by the adrenaline creating 6.2-liter Hemi supercharged V-8, producing 702 horsepower, 650 pound-feet of torque (insert man grunt here). It propels the truck to an astonishing 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds, with a 0-100 in 10.5 seconds. Yeah, 4.5 seconds in a CREW CAB PICKUP! It has a top speed of 118 mph (limited by the tire speed rating) and does a quarter mile in 12.9 seconds, reaching 108 mph.
This engine is mated to a high-torque-capacity TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.
With this much horsepower, the engine needs maximum amounts of air, and this was accomplished with a new dual-path air induction system bringing air into a functional hood scoop as well as the front grille. The air circulates and is pushed into a 29-liter air box with filters for dirt, sand, debris and water before entering the engine.
There is a drain hole in the air box for water to escape, and twin, heavy-duty air filters provide 198.4 square inches of filter surface area.
Ram says this is a four times more than compared to its closest competitor.
Oh and this all means that the exhaust note is, well — let’s just say it will put a smile on your face when you hear it.
While the engine breaths fire, engineers had to work out the puzzle on how to handle all of this power.
First, Ram took a look at the stock Rebel frame and quickly discarded the idea of using it. The brand then looked at the 2500 heavy-duty frame and also discarded that idea. With no off-the-shelf frame option, Ram had to engineer its own for this truck.
The result is a frame that is 75% changed from the Ram Rebel and utilizes much of the same engineering thoughts that went into a heavy-duty truck.
The frame is “composed of thicker, optimally shaped, strategically placed high-strength steel that uses low-torsion attributes to increase durability and stability,” according to Ram. “Sections of the frame are hydroformed for dimensional accuracy, reducing the need for welding, and the side rails are fully boxed. The front rails use high-strength steel and hydroformed sections to set a strong foundation to better handle the front suspension load. Galvanized frame components provide improved corrosion protection.”
They also moved the front axle 20 milimeters forward to accommodate the 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory 325/65/R18 all-terrain tires.
Also, there is a new independent front suspension with active damping uses high-strength aluminum to smooth out the terrain and maintain strength and durability.
Speaking of strength, the new, longer front upper and lower control arms are constructed of 80-ksi high-strength steel and designed to provide additional wheel travel as well as axle track width.
Not to be outdone by the front, the rear 5-link suspension system has been upgraded as well with active damping and the frame’s hard points have been shifted to allow the Dana 60 axle to travel up to 13 inches. This is much better than the 9 inches of the stock Ram lineup and represents a 40% increase in performance.
With the new 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks along with dual electronic proportional valves with a nitrogen-charged remote reservoir, this might be the most technologically advanced stock off-road truck ever.
Also, the TRX is equipped with a new BorgWarner 48-13 full-time active transfer case that enables passage through any off-road obstruction or weather condition. This modified transfer case features upgraded internals for improved strength and durability. Ram TRX features a low range of 2.64:1 for rock crawling and can be flat-towed while in neutral.
Armed with five skid plates protecting the vital components under the truck and large coil springs allowing for 1,310 pounds of payload and 8,100 pounds of towing, this truck is ready to put in a punishing day on the trail while hauling your gear back home.
The off-road specs are impressive with an approach angle of 30.2 degrees, break-over angle of 21.9 degrees, departure angle of 23.5 degrees, ground clearance of 11.8 inches and 32 inches of water fording depth thanks to moving the alternator and air intake higher.
Taking one look at the exterior of the TRX, it is hard not to be wowed. With a new refreshed front grille, two inch lift over stock Ram trucks, 35″ wheels with tow different wheel designs including a bead-lock capable option, the clearance lights in the hood scoop due to the truck being 8 inches wider and requiring them, air passage ways along the front wheel wells, the redesigned and expanded wheel wells… seriously, we could go on and on!
Lighting the way are full LED adaptive front-lighting system (AFS) includes twin bi-functional projector headlamps, fog lamps and taillamps with up to 15 degrees of direction control with steering input.
On the inside, Ram made several key changes that will surely grab your attention. First, no turn-dial shifter. Instead, there is a console mounted shifter allowing you more control over manually shifting gears with the side mounted gear shift button. New off-road pages for the truck inside the 12-inch Uconnect4 display.
Plus, Ram uses the 7-inch driver screen to include TRX graphics and colors with reconfigurable gauges.
But, wait! That’s not all.
Nope, the steering wheel has the flat-bottom style found in performance sports cars, and a new head-up display can show up to five different categories of information. And if you plan on caring who’s behind you, Ram is adding a new available 9.2-inch rearview monitor in the rearview mirror, similar to what GM trucks have had. There is also a forward-facing camera with the 360-degree surround view camera system.
The seats have also been reengineered with wider bolsters to hold you in the seat better when flying through the desert and a new MOLLE/PALS seat back can hold your gear better.
Adding to the cool factor is a custom specifications plate with engine, type of supercharger TRX uses, horsepower and the VIN number on the console lid.
Oh and did we mention, there is a launch control button? Yup. You can press that button and let the system prepare itself to be launched forward. All you need to do is hang on!
This launch control is joined by five different dynamic modes – Auto, Sport, Tow, Snow and Custom. This allows the driver to setup the truck to their needs.
Ram states: “The drive modes separately control the four-wheel-drive system, throttle response, transmission, paddle shifters, suspension and the electric power steering. All modes use active slip control that prevents binding and excessive slip from front to rear.”
Plus, there are three dynamic off-road modes – Mud/Sand, Rock and Baja. These systems work the same as the on-road drive modes above.
Naturally, with this much power and suspension, there are going to be questions on how safe it is to drive and how will it hold up.
For safety, the TRX comes with more than 100 available advanced safety and security features. Yes, 100! Things from active and passive safety and security features are joined by available features such as blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning.
That’s great but what about durability? Ram literally built a new test track to punish this truck.
“Engineers subjected development trucks to thousands of miles of desert off-road testing to ensure TRX has the strength, durability and reliability that the extreme off-road customer expects and demands,” Ram said in a press release.
This high-speed desert durability test track was just one of their ways to test this truck. They also drove thousands of miles in the scorching Arizona heat, cold of northern Michigan and Minnesota as well as thousands of feet above sea level in Colorado. Plus, they conducted laboratory and standardized tests with scaling sand dunes, rock crawling in Moab and two-lane tracks all over the U.S.
So, this beast has to cost a pretty penny, right? Yes and no. The truck starts at $69,995 with $1,659 destination fee and only comes in a crew cab, 5’6″ bed with 4×4.
There are three different equipment groups with different interior themes: TR, TR1, TR2 each with unique features, materials and colors.
Based on the Rebel layout, trucks outfitted with the TR Equipment Group offer premium cloth and vinyl accents featuring black and Dark Ruby Red surfaces. Opting for the TR1 or TR2 Equipment Group provides an interior based on the Ram 1500 Limited and features an all-black color scheme with leather and suede to give TRX a unique feel. Heated and ventilated premium Natura Plus leather with perforated suede accents cover the front buckets and rear bench seats. The TR1 and TR2 Equipment Groups come standard with medium Greystone stitching and graphite metallic accents. The TR2 Equipment Group offers TRX red stitching and carbon fiber accents as an available option.
An optional full-length rock rail for added body/sill protection or a traditional off-road powder-coated aluminum running board are available. Optional body-side and hood graphics are available as a pair or separately.
Ram says they will offer a special launch edition for the first 702 units with a unique Anvil Gray exterior paint as well as special red and brushed aluminum center console badge along with “the TRX Level 2 Equipment Group, adding carbon fiber interior trim, color accent package, Head-up Display, beadlock-capable wheels, 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, dual-pane panoramic sunroof and bodyside graphics.”
This truck will begin pricing in the high $80ks.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is available in seven colors: Flame Red, Hydro Blue, Granite Crystal, Billet Silver, Diamond Black Crystal, Bright White and Ignition Orange (late availability). Ram TRX models are available in a two-tone color scheme that carries through the newly designed fender flares and lower body.
The TRX is built at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Dealers will be able to order it on August 18, 2020 and it will be on lots late 2020.