First Look: 702-HP Ram 1500 TRX Takes Aim at Ford’s Raptor
Ram bills the new Hellcat-powered terror as the quickest, fastest series-production pickup truck on the market.
Ever since the Challenger Hellcat came out in 2015, we've been wondering when Chrysler—sorry, FCA—sorry, Stellantis—was going to install the supercharged engine in a pickup truck. Ram teased us with the Ram Rebel TRX concept at the 2016 Texas State Fair, but that truck had a mere 525 horsepower, which wasn't anywhere near what we expected. Now, the production 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is here, with specs boasting a supercharger and 702 horses—and it's exactly what we hoped for.
2021 Ram TRX 1500 vs Ford F-150 Raptor
Why the name TRX? Obviously, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is aimed squarely at Ford's F-150 Raptor, so think "T-Rex" and prepare yourself for an onslaught of Jurassic Park references—you know, the final scene where the Tyrannosaurus Rex munches the daylights out of those evil velociraptors. Open the TRX's center console, and you'll see a graphic of a T-Rex and a Raptor. Gotta love a little molded-in corporate trolling.
The size comparison certainly plays out in the power numbers: The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX's 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8 delivers 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Like the T-Rex it is supposed to represent, in terms of specs the Ram is bigger in all respects than the Raptor's 3.5 liters, six cylinders, 450 hp, and 410 lb-ft.
The TRX's power numbers are slightly off from those of the Challenger (717 hp/656 lb-ft), largely due to reshaped exhaust manifolds. A deep-sump oil pan, high-mounted alternator, and dual-path intake with a dirt separator are among the spec changes that make the truck off-road ready. It uses the same ZF-developed 8HP95 eight-speed automatic transmission as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, and the Ram TRX features a four-wheel-drive system with strengthened axles. The final drive ratio is 3.55:1; the transfer case has a 2.64:1 ratio in Low range.
Ram claims the 2021 TRX as the quickest and fastest series-production pickup truck in the world at the moment: 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, 0-100 in 10.5, standing quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph, and a top speed of 118 mph. If that doesn't sound very fast, consider that the truck rides on off-road tires, specifically Goodyear Wrangler Territory All-Terrains designed expressly for the TRX's specs. According to Ram, the TRX is happy to bash through desert trails at 100-plus. (Don't try this at your home desert, kids.)
Reinforcing the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX
Obviously, such severe service required a great deal of beefing-up of the chassis and undercarriage specs. Ram engineers considered using the frame from the HD trucks, but the mounting points differed too much, so they applied many of the same tricks used on the HD to the Ram 1500's frame. That included up-gauging the steel and reinforcing with reckless abandon. Ram calls it a 75-percent change from the stock frame.
The control arms and suspension links are wider and stronger, the steering has been strengthened, and the 23.6-inch-high rear spring is the tallest ever applied to a non-commercial truck. For shocks, Ram went to Bilstein, which supplied E2 remote-reservoir active dampers. Ram employed its Active Terrain Dynamics control software with three accelerometers and four wheel-position sensors to know exactly where the shocks are, and three-stage jounce bumpers to ensure the suspension specs provide happy landings.
Changes to the suspension led to a 6-inch increase in track width and a 0.8-inch increase in wheelbase, as well as a 2-inch ride-height increase. That gives the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX a total of 11.8-inches of ground clearance and the ability to drive through water up to 32 inches deep. Development included thousands of miles bashing the prototype off-road in Arizona, just to make sure it wouldn't come apart.
Naturally, the TRX has to look the part. The grille is based on that of the 1500 Rebel with larger RAM lettering. You'll note the letters are hollow; they form part of the path for intake air, as does the functional hood scoop which incorporates three amber clearance lights (the TRX is wide enough to require them). The fenders are flared to accommodate the wider track, and the exhaust pipes end in massive 5-inch tips. Color choices are limited to red, white, and blue, as well as silver, black, and a special "Anvil" color for the limited-run Launch Edition. No question, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX's specs certainly make it look like Ram's fastest and most durable truck.
One of the many cool things about the TRX is that it's still a proper truck, with a payload capacity of 1,310 pounds and a towing capacity of 8,100 pounds. The company made the rather bizarre decision to premiere its Trailer Reverse Control system on the Ram TRX—a system that allows the trailer to be steered with a dial while backing, similar to Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist. Unlike Ford's system, the Ram requires no stickers or programming. (That's great, Ram, but could we please have that system on regular Ram 1500s and HDs, where the rest of us can use it? Thanks.)
Everything We Love About the Ram 1500 Is Here
What impresses us most about the latest iteration of Ram's pickups is the cabin. We had high hopes for the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, and it doesn't disappoint us. The cab's specs feature deeply-bolstered seats in black with either gray or red trim, done up in either cloth-and-vinyl or leather. The big, portrait-style 12-inch touchscreen comes standard, but Ram's rotary-dial shifter is nowhere to be found. In its place is the switchgear for the TRX's various performance modes and 4WD settings. The shifter is a traditional console lever, and the flat-bottom steering wheel gets aluminum shift paddles, carefully contoured to work around FCA's backside steering-wheel stereo controls. As you'd expect, the TRX gets unique graphics for the between-gauges screen, as well as a full array of custom performance and off-road pages for the main display.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX will be offered exclusively with a crew cab and a 5-foot, 7-inch box. The standard TR model is priced at $71,690 (including a $1,695 destination charge), which puts its price $16,540 north of the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. TR1 and TR2 option packages give buyers nicer interiors and open up the availability of options such as a head-up display, carbon-fiber interior trim, and a wireless charger.
Ram also plans a Launch Edition, based on the TR2 and fully loaded with bead-lock wheels, a 19-speaker Harmon-Kardon stereo, and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, all done up in unique "Anvil" paint. Production will be limited to 702 examples—one for each horsepower—and the price is set at $90,265, including destination.
If you've watched the denouement of Jurassic Park, you know the raptors didn't give up without a fight, and one of them took a pretty good tear out of the T-Rex's neck before becoming the second course at an impromptu lunch. Ford has its own answer to the Hellcat engine, which now lives in the amazing Shelby GT500, so it would be possible to top the TRX; that said, Ford is keeping its lips zipped, and we suspect it'll stay with the EcoBoost V-6 for the moment. That means that, for the foreseeable future, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX will be the big swingin' theropod on the block, and we can't wait to take it for a ride.
2021 Ram 1500 TRX Highlights
- 702 hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8
- $71,690 starting price ($69,995 + $1,695 destination charge)
- Beefed-up frame and suspension
- 8-inch ground clearance
- New body panels to accommodate wider track and altered wheelbase
- Tallest rear springs ever fitted to a non-commercial vehicle
- Launch Edition limited to 702 copies
- Billed as the quickest and fastest truck ever created
|2021 Ram 1500 TRX Specifications|
|ON SALE||Late 2020|
|ENGINE||6.2L supercharged OHV 16-valve V-8/702 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 650 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD pickup truck|
|L x W x H||232.9 x 88.0 x 80.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||118 mph|