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Why does the Ram TRX have a gearshift lever instead of a dial?

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2021 Ram 1500 TRX gearshift (Image courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

We’ve had a lot of conversations about gearshifts lately. From the weird push-pull shifter on the Chevrolet Tahoe to the various dials we’ve seen on trucks and SUVs. So, when we noticed that the Ram TRX has a lever shifter when the regular 1500 has a dial, we were curious about why.

The answer is oddly simple.

When we consulted the folks at Ram Trucks, the first answer they came back with was that switching to a floor shifter comes from the idea of performance driving.

That makes total sense. You put a Hellcat engine into a vehicle, and there are certain performance-based expectations, and a dial shifter in something like a Dodge Challenger would just be, well, weird.

But there’s actually a more practical reason for the change. And all you have to do is look at where the rotary shifter is located on the 1500 and what replaces it in the TRX.

That would be launch control.

Ram TRX gearshift
The dial shift in the Ram 1500 was replaced by launch control in the TRX. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

As Ryan Nagode, chief designer and head of Ram Truck interior design, pointed out in a design video, making the change allowed the team to use the space previously occupied by the dial and add in drive modes and, yes, launch control.

The floor shifter and corresponding paddle shifters lend themselves better to spirited performance driving. Then, launch control and the location for the TRX drive mode selector and the transfer case switches didn’t afford any additional space.

The end result: a center console-mounted floor shifter. And the truck world rejoiced.

The bottom line on the Ram TRX gearshift

Every time I post a video to TikTok of a dial or push-button gearshift, I get an amazing amount of backlash. I’m of the opinion that anything that isn’t a manual is, well, whatever. So a dial vs. push buttons doesn’t really matter to me. It’s just something to get used to.

But the dash collateral and spacing issues in addition to performance heritage? Combined, it makes sense to have the floor shifter. Not to mention the fact that it makes the TRX stand out among all the other 1500 variants.

For those of you who are dead-set against the dial, I don’t think the 1500 is moving away from it any time soon.

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