Without a doubt the Ford Raptor set a new standard for production pickup truck high performance. Just like Ford did with the SVT Lightning before it. And there’s been no true challenger, until now. Enter the RAM 1500 TRX. An answer to the question, just how insane can you build a RAM?
When you have the most talked-about performance engine in recent memory, and you’ve already stuffed it into everything from sedans to SUV’s, it was only a matter of time before FCA wedged their 700+ horse supercharged Hellcat V8 under the hood of a RAM pickup too.
Of course, we remember the Viper V10-powered RAM SRT-10 that tore up our test track in 2004, but even that mighty beast packed a mere 500 horsepower; that’s over 200 less than today’s flame red Raptor Hunter.
Indeed, this is no asphalt-bound performance machine. This 2021 RAM 1500 TRX is made to flex its muscles way off-road.
And that starts from the ground up. TRX rides 2 inches higher than a standard RAM 1500 4x4, and rolls on chunky 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires sporting 18 by 9 inch black aluminum wheels. They provide plenty of grip in the slippery stuff and just enough built-in cushion to help smooth out the rough spots.
On top of that, a reinforced steel frame, active terrain management with bilstein remote-reservoir shocks, new 5-link coil suspension with 13-plus inches of travel, and 11.8 inches of ground clearance, means the TRX is no parking lot poser. A dana 60 rear axle with full floating axle shafts is standard equipment.
TRX only comes as a short-bed four-door crew cab. Bodywork is eight inches wider than a standard RAM, as monster fender flares barely cover a 6 inch wider track width. The look is purposely aggressive, with massive RAM badges, skid plates and steel bumpers with oversized tow hooks.
Accent lights inside the aluminum hood’s nose may be just for looks, but the dual path RAM airflow system isn’t: it funnels 50% of outside air directly into a 29-liter sealed airbox so intake air is kept cooler.
That roaring 6.2 liter supercharged hemi V8. Here it pumps out 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, driving all four wheels all the time through a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Low range and selectable terrain modes, preconfigure the 4 wheel drive system to tackle any off-road scenario, and that can include fording water up to 32 inches deep.
On Terra Firma, the TRX sprinted down our test track, returning a faster-than-lightning 3.8 second zero to sixty time and covering the quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds at 110 miles per hour. That’s just 8 miles per hour below its manufacturer-imposed top speed.
Launch mode in a jacked up truck may seem ludicrous, but it works. Allowing a little rear wheel slip at launch, it quickly throws power to the front and off you go. Traction is not an issue, but you have to work the wheel a bit to keep it pointed in the right direction.
15-inch front rotors help haul the TRX down from 60 in a respectable 119 feet. Brakes were strong and consistent, while pedal travel was on the long side.
Inside, TRX is far from Spartan. The base model's cloth upholstery and standard equipment is based on the RAM 1500 Rebel. A 12 inch touchscreen displays the necessary info, including performance and off-road page apps.
As for number that will be ever more important to buyers, 2021 RAM 1500 TRX pricing starts at $71,690. 17k in options bumped our well-equipped tester up to $87,170.
RAM calls TRX the “apex predator of the truck world” and in a market where attitude is everything, this T-Rex has usurped the Ford Raptor’s swagger in nearly every way. The 2021 RAM 1500 TRX is bold, brash, fearless, and yes, a bit insane...with the bite to back up its bravado.
Engine: 6.2L Supercharged HEMI V8
Torque: 650 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 3.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.3s @ 110 mph
Starting Price: $71,690