2021 Ram 1500 TRX — Off-road Driving / The Monster Truck. Although the name of this first 700-plus-hp production pickup is generally pronounced as its three constituent letters, the people that built it like to call it “T. rex” to tee up the rivalry with the obvious competitor, Ford’s F-150 Raptor. “T. rex destroys raptors,” says the head of the Ram brand, Mike Koval, referring both to the Jurassic era and, Ram hopes, the fourth quarter of 2020 when the Hellcat-powered TRX goes on sale.
All TRXs have a crew-cab, short-bed configuration, and with a base price of $71,690—that’s $13,555 more than a crew-cab Raptor—it had better be impressive. Loaded TRXs will be pushing $90,000.
The goal was to create the most megalomaniacal pickup, starting with 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque from the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that’s finding its way into more and more engine bays. It’s a simple and yet oh-so-compelling strategy. But the TRX is way more than just a Hellcat-powered Ram 1500. Its flared fenders are a massive 8.0 inches wider, with a 6.0-inch increase in track width. In order to deal with hold-my-beer-grade off-road antics, the frame and suspension components have been comprehensively reinforced. Ram even moved the front axle forward slightly in the quest to endow this truck with more than 13 inches of suspension travel front and rear, closely mimicking the Raptor’s specs. Ground clearance is up by more than three inches, to 11.8.
Adaptive Bilstein remote-reservoir dampers continuously vary their rates based on inputs from three accelerometers and a ride-height sensor at each corner, and they can resist the TRX’s flailings with as little as 22 pounds of force and as many as 2000. The TRX’s Dana 60 rear axle retains the 1500’s coil-spring suspension and gets an electronically locking differential, but the front axle relies on the brakes to mimic limited-slip function.
Not only does the TRX have launch control, there’s a dedicated button on the dash to activate it. Ram’s claimed times of 4.5 seconds to 60 mph and 12.9 seconds at 108 mph in the quarter-mile would make the TRX the quickest pickup, although that’s barely a half-second quicker to 60 mph than Ram’s last over-the-top pickup, the Viper-powered SRT-10. Ram also boasts that the TRX is the fastest of today’s pickups. But its top speed is a far less impressive figure, 118 mph—a speed dictated by the T rating of the knobby 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory All-Terrain tires. In addition to speed, the TRX promises useful functionality with an 8100-pound tow rating and 1310 pounds of payload capacity.
All TRXs get a giant 12.0-inch center touchscreen and a traditional shift lever in the center console that replaces the rotary knob from the 1500, plus paddle shifters to control the ZF eight-speed automatic. The interior starts at the equipment level of the mid-grade Rebel 1500, with cloth seats, but extends up to the best-in-class leather-lined Limited grade in the TRX’s highest TR2 trim.
There are also a number of available new features that are certain to spread across the lineup, including Ram’s first head-up display, a digital rearview mirror, and an automatic trailer-backing function that promises to work without all the fussy setup required of similar competing systems.
Ram didn’t yet want to talk fuel-economy numbers, but they’re sure to be predictably bad in a well-over-6000-pound truck with 702 horsepower. In the battle for off-road-pickup supremacy, that matters probably not at all.
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