TRX, King of the Beasts?
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
IT is finally here, after 4 years of speculation. The flagship vehicle from the Ram Trucks brand the new 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. Boasting a unique frame and suspension, new tech, and a 702 horsepower supercharged V8 engine, Ram hopes to one-up the Blue Oval with their own off-road racer.
We will get the obvious out of the way first, yes this is meant to compete head-to-head with Ford's F-150 Raptor, bettering its competition in almost every way. Ford paved the way for these super-truck off-road racers with its introduction of the Raptor a decade ago. Surprising even Ford on how well it sold, customers raced to order versions of the best selling truck even with MSRPs ballooning to over $60,000 for an extended cab truck with a short bed. Ford soon expanded production and offered more configurations and colors. Now available with almost every piece of luxury and technology Ford can fit, the second generation prepares to make way for a new beast based on the next generation 2021 F-150. Ford is familiar with starting a frenzy in a new segment and maintaining sales against new competitors, just look at the history of the Mustang, but Ram does not hold any punches with their offering.
Based of the newest Ram 1500 architecture, the engineers at FCA already had a capable platform and basis to start work on their new super-truck, but the roots of the TRX actually date back to the previous generation Ram 1500 when engineers showed off the TRX concept truck at the State Fair of Texas in 2016. Journalists everywhere were holding their collective breaths waiting for a legitimate competitor to the Raptor.
2016 Ram 1500 TRX Concept
Many have foolishly sighted the lesser Ram 1500 Rebel, the Chevy Silverado Trail Boss, and the GMC Sierra AT4 as "Raptor fighters". No, those vehicles were only slightly modified versions of the base off-road equipped options of their other trims. Make no mistake, the TRX is the first TRUE competition the Raptor has seen in its short life.
Enough of the History Lesson, What Makes This One Special?
In short, a lot.
Let's start in the most obvious place, under the hood. FCA has not been shy about cramming their "Hellcat" 6.2L Supercharged V8 under the hood of any vehicle that could hold it, and the Ram 1500 was perhaps the most obvious omission from the list prior to this truck's unveiling. Joining the Challenger, Charger, Grand Cherokee, and the Durango, this makes the 5th variant of an FCA product that you can buy in 2020 with over 700 horsepower.
In the Ram 1500 TRX, the engine is rated at 702 hp and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. That "low" number of horsepower when compared to the other offerings is due, as we hear, to the complexities unique fitting it into a crew cab truck. Don't worry, this thing can move.
0-60 miles per hour (mph) in 4.5 seconds
0-100 mph in 10.5 seconds
Quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph
Top speed of 118 mph
In order to help this TRX breathe better and make the most of the supercharger sitting on top, Ram engineers fitted the "largest air filter in the segment." It uses "dual filter elements and is designed for extreme, dusty environments with four times the dust trapping capacity when compared to the closest competitor" whomever that may be... wink wink. Ram has also fitted the TRX with a functional hood scoop, said to capture 50% of the air necessary to keep things moving, the other 50% of air comes via the unique R-A-M flow-through badge in the grille (a feature I first smiled at when introduced on the Chevy Camaro ZL1, dubbed the "flow-tie").
Getting that power to the ground employs a full-time active transfer case that features upgraded internals to handle all the power. There is no 2WD with the TRX, the simplest option is a full-time 4WD Auto setting. Other options include 4WD High and 4WD Low, all accessed through a control panel housed where Ram's customary rotary dial shifter would normally be found. (The shifter is now a lever and was moved to the center console.) The panel also allows drivers to select drive modes and engage launch control.
Follow the power through the transfer case down the driveshaft and you will find a Dana 60 solid rear axle, yes a heavy duty rear axle with a 3.55 ration, full-floating hubs, and axle-hop damper for improved traction and axle control on rough surfaces. Ram maintains the electronically-selectable rear locking differential from the Rebel and Power Wagon models as standard. Attached to those axles are 18-by-9-inch aluminum wheels with an available beadlock-capable option, wrapped in unique-to-the-TRX Goodyear Wrangler Territory 325/65/R18 All-Terrain 35-inch-tall tires. These tires, co-developed with Goodyear, are set to achieve unmatched levels of traction with reduced road noise, and were tasked with the feat of being capable jumping dunes, crawling rocks, or racing quarter miles.
That all makes for a very formidable replacement for the long-dead Ram SRT-10, but what good is this thing when the pavement ends? Ram has you covered there as well.
Behold the reengineered frame of the Ram 1500 TRX:
This mock-up is meant to demonstrate the work that has gone into reinforcing the frame for the increased torture that the TRX was intended to see. Designed much like the heavy-duty variants, the frame of the TRX boasts strategically placed sections of high-strength steel for increased durability, fully-boxed side rails for increased stiffness, and hydroformed sections to reduce weak points in a welded design. An all-new independent front suspension features active damping and is made of high-strength aluminum for strength and weight savings. This design incorporates new front upper and lower control arms made of forged aluminum and are designed with a focus on additional wheel travel and axle track width. The TRX uses an all-new rear suspension system with active damping and an exclusive five-link coil system which differs when compared to a standard-issue Ram 1500 and allows the Dana 60 rear axle to travel up to 13 inches. Overall, rear-wheel travel is increased to more than 13 inches from the standard 9 inches, or more than 40 percent when compared to the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup. Payload and towing of the TRX are said to be 1,310 pounds and 8,100 pounds, respectively.
New Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks are employed to keep everyone and everything inside the Ram as it does its thing over rough terrain at high speeds. I could go into details of how these work, but suffice it to say that a lot of attention was paid to making this ride as smoothly as possible at the fastest possible speeds. It does, after all, need to catch its prey out in the dunes.
With an increased ride height of 2 inches to allow for an 11.8 inch ground clearance, an approach angle of 30.2 degrees, breakover angle of 21.9 degrees and a departure angle of 23.5 degrees, engineers made the TRX capable on terrains other than the sandy dunes. In fact, the Ram 1500 TRX has an impressive 32 inches of water-fording capabilities from the factory which makes for some amazing and menacing photos.
The interior of the TRX is a nice place to spend some time as well. The standard Ram 1500 on which the TRX is based already had arguably the best interior of the pack, and designers and engineers added on to the list of features and options for the TRX.
Standard is the segment-best 12-inch fully configurable touchscreen display in the middle of the dash, but new to the pinnacle model are a thick-rimmed and flat-bottomed steering wheel for added grip and security when blazing through the desert, Ram-first 15-inch head up display unit, trailer backup assist, Ram-first rear-view camera mirror, and 900-watt Harmon Kardon audio system with 19 speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer to name a few.
The large touchscreen display along with the 7-inch helper screen in the gauge cluster, can also show off Ram's new off-road pages, borrowed and enhanced from their partners over at Jeep. Displaying everything from the 360 degree cameras for increased visibility when venturing off-road, to showing pitch and roll of the vehicle, everything you need to see is available with a few taps. Since the TRX is also a performance vehicle, FCA has also installed performance pages to tell you 0-60 times, g-force, and engine performance data.
FCA's standard suite of safety features are available, including Blind-spot Monitoring, adaptive cruise control, Ready Alert Braking and Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus. Standard safety features include ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines, electronic stability control (ESC) with electronic roll mitigation and six standard air bags. Other features to help maneuver this beast around include adaptive LED headlights, 9.2-inch digital rear-view mirror display and the aforementioned 360 degree camera system.
Ram will allow you to configure yours online today, with prices starting at $70,095 for the base version and climbing to $92,010 to get you one of the 702 Launch editions that is painted in a lovely Anvil Grey clear coat. Head over to ramtrucks.com/trx.html to configure yours today.
We here at Garage Talk have our allegiances, and it should come as no surprise that we are split on the appeal of this rig. I would list this as the truck I would get today if money were no option as it is the most appealing all-around truck on the market: power, capability, looks, spaciousness, interior beauty, and technology. All the shortcomings of other Ram models are made up for in the TRX, in my mind. Matt, on the other hand, is holding out hope that Ford will bring out the next generation F-150 Raptor sooner than later.