The rumors were true, after all. The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX closely resembles the 2016 concept, and it came in with nothing less than a rumbling V8. The recipe seems simple, really, which gave us second thoughts on why Ram took this long to breathe life into a production-model TRX. Nevertheless, it’s all worth the wait.
Don’t get us wrong, though, because the Ford F-150 Raptor is still in its heyday, and it has been a glorious reign. But sooner or later, something bigger, badder, and stronger will appear to question the hierarchy. So yeah, the Ford F-150 Raptor is still king of the hill. But the new Ram TRX is seriously threatening its existence.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is a full-size pickup on an all-meat diet. In the process, it grew some bulging muscles and knobby tires. And to improve the gene pool, the TRX was given some Hellcat DNA. This means a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft. of torque. You can’t have a manual, but FCA’s standard eight-speed automatic is not too shabby of a deal.
Ram says it does zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and reaches 100 mph in under 10.5 seconds. Likewise, the Ram TRX smothers the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph. Push hard enough and it’s good for a top speed of 118 mph. It also has paddle shifters, launch control, and a sport mode, all of which means you can take it to the dragstrip.
Remember now, just because you can doesn’t mean you should (think of Jeff Goldblum’s famous line in Jurassic Park). But if you do, it’s good to know the Ram TRX can handle your hooligan fantasies like a champ. Max towing capacity for the Ram TRX is 8,100 lbs., just in case you want to take your “toys” with you on any adventures.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has a Hellcat V8, so it can technically rule the asphalt with nary a complaint. But Ram’s Tyrannosaurus Rex (yes, the TRX moniker means precisely that) prefers sand dunes, dirt roads, grasslands, and overlanding destinations as its natural habitat. All of this sounds like a job for old-school leaf springs, but Ram has other things in mind.
Ram shifted to coil springs in 2009, and the same holds true underneath the TRX. While the Raptor merrily hums along on its rear leaf springs, the TRX has four-corner coil springs and bespoke Bilstein Black Hawk E2 shock absorbers with a massive 2.5-inch remote reservoir.
The new TRX employs an electronic locking rear differential, and a Dana 60 rear axle (3.55 ratio) featuring full-floating hubs and an axle-hop damper. When combined with the five-link coil suspension (with forged aluminum front upper and lower control arms), the Ram TRX allows for over 13 inches of wheel travel at all four corners.
However, coil springs have certain drawbacks. For example, the Ram TRX’s payload capacity is at 1,310 lbs. Still good enough, but the Raptor is slightly better at 1,366 lbs., but all of this might be meaningless given the TRX is not exactly a work truck. But with three zones of progressive bottom-out control and dual electronic proportional valves that continuously adjust damping forces in reaction to various road surfaces, the Ram TRX has a considerable advantage for both on-road and off-road ride comfort.
Variable Drive Modes & Transfer Case
Like any modern vehicle, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has a plethora of driving modes. On the street, you have Auto, Sport, Tow, and Snow. But the TRX also comes with off-road specific modes, including Rock, Mud, Sand, and Baja. Engaging Rock mode, for example, splits the torque between the front and rear axles while Mud and Sand split the torque 45:55 front/rear while adjusting throttle response to prevent wheel spin.
The off-road driving algorithms are programmed to take full advantage of the TRX’s 2.64:1 low-range gear ratio, which means you won’t be left hanging in certain tricky or perilous scenarios. That low range gear ratio is courtesy of a BorgWarner 48-13 full-time active transfer case, which also allows for the Ram TRX to be flat-towed while in neutral.
Ram was kind enough to install skid plates underneath to protect the engine and transmission from flying rocks and punctures. You’ll also find some unique protection plates on the shock absorbers, which is a thoughtful addition to the TRX’s armour. It even has a jump detection feature that senses if the truck is, well, “airborne” for lack of a better word. The system primes up the Bilstein dampers automatically to prevent damage upon landing.
The Ram TRX is longer (slightly), wider, and taller than Ford’s Raptor, even though the latter has a marginally longer wheelbase in the SuperCrew body style. Along with 11.8 inches of ground clearance, the TRX has an approach angle of 30.2 degrees, a departure angle of 23.5 degrees, and a break-over angle of 21.9 degrees. It has a standard two-inch lift kit, 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, and 35-inch Goodyear all-terrain tires (325/65/R18).
Air Filtration System
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is bigger and wider than a standard 1500, riding on a six-inch wider track, while those massive fender flares add eight-inches of width to the body. It also has a large front grille and a nasty hood scoop (with magnificent built-in clearance lights) that force-feeds ginormous amounts of air to the hungry supercharged V8. Ram says the hood scoop is responsible for 50 percent of the incoming air for the Hemi engine.
The Ram TRX uses two paths to draw in air, directing it to a 29-liter air box that filters out dirt, sand, debris, and water before getting anywhere near the engine. The “dual-path system” Ram designed pulls air from the hood scoop and the upper edge of the grille. Air entering the grille flows to the bottom front of the air box, guided by special panels. The hood scoop sends air to the bottom rear of the air box via ports that seal to the hood when closed.
Directing incoming air to the bottom of the air box, according to Ram, helps dirt and water settle out before the air reaches the filter elements. A one-way drain in the bottom of the air box pushes the water out even when the vehicle is moving. Intake air is drawn upward from the box through twin, heavy-duty air filters that provide 198.4 square inches of filter surface area. Unfolded, the filter surface medium covers 13.3 square feet!
Sporty Yet Refined Interior
The interior reminds us of the current Ram Rebel as it comes with a bevy of standard tech. FCA’s Uconnect 12-inch touchscreen is front and center, while a new heads-up display provides useful icons for the truck’s many safety features. This includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning along with standard navigation, adaptive cruise control, and other things like rev limit, vehicle speed, and current gear.
The interior is available in cloth, suede, or leather with standard red stitching and carbon-fiber trim. The TRX makes do with a floor-mounted shifter since, umm, rotary shifters are for the weak. Available technology includes a digital rearview mirror, a forward-facing camera, and trailer reverse steering control.
2021 Ram 1500 TRX: Pricing & Availability
The 2021 Ram TRX starts at around $71,690 (including destination), and the order books are open now. The first deliveries will arrive at Ram dealerships by year-end. As expected, the TRX is only available in a Crew Cab body style with a 5-foot, 7-inch bed.
Ram is also releasing a TRX Launch Edition with a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, panoramic sunroof, brushed aluminum center console, bodyside graphics, and a unique Anvil Gray paint. The Ram TRX Launch Edition starts at $92,010 and is the most expensive half-ton pickup truck in America.
Do you think the 2021 Ram TRX can take on the Ford F-150 Raptor? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter.
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.