The Ford F-150 Raptor has had an uncontested, decade-long run as the sole performance pickup truck in the industry. Now, that reign might just be over with the introduction of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. The looks, the specifications, and the capabilities point to what might just be the most capable rally-focused truck ever mass-produced. Not only does it build on the already excellent Ram 1500 half-ton truck, it gives it all the right components to make it truly great.
Ford is about to release its new Raptor (the third-generation truck), and the introduction of the TRX couldn't be better. Nothing has been released about the new Raptor's output, except for the fact that it might return to its V8 powertrain. But you don't have to wait to hear about the Raptor since Ram gives you all the goods with its halo truck right here and now.
It's Ready for Prime Time
First, let's take a look at the styling of the TRX. Although it's not as in-your-face as the TRX Concept (below), there's no mistaking the TRX for an ordinary pickup, or even for the 1500 Ram Rebel on which it's based. First of all, the TRX is a full eight inches wider than the 1500, and if that wasn't enough, it also boasts a six-inch wider track, giving the TRX a positively menacing stance. The bulging fenders should be big enough to intimidate the Raptor, as well.
The next things you notice are the special grille and fascia with ample amounts of matte black trim that completely wrap around the headlights and meld nicely with the big black bumper. The massive hood scoop is even illuminated by triple LED lights, and there are vented matte black hood pieces that no doubt help with cooling and reduce glare. Neither of those aspects was found on the concept. The air curtains next to the headlights are part of the flowthrough grille that directs cool air into the engine, too, making the grille not just some "pretty" face.
The big black "RAM" badge is front and center on the grille, and the same lettering is emblazoned across the tailgate. The big bumper matches the front's matte finish, this time with two huge exhaust pipes protruding from the back. The protective body trim on the rocker panels, the window surrounds, and the functional rock rails are all clad in black to round out the consistently badass look of the TRX.
It Has the Off-Road Goods
As good as the TRX looks, it wasn't just built to gawk at. It has the key components to make it great at high-speed off-road antics. The TRX's frame is 75 percent all-new compared to the regular Ram 1500 thanks to high-strength steel for increased rigidity and lower torsion. Ram goes so far as to claims the TRX beats the competition when it comes to jumps and impacts without actually naming the Raptor, but everyone knows who they're talking about. If that's not specific enough, the TRX can handle rough terrain at over 100 mph. We wouldn't want to try this at home. Okay, maybe just once.
The suspension components are impressive. Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive shocks have nitrogen-charged remote reservoirs for resilience. These shocks automatically adjust based on the terrain, and they can also be manually controlled from inside the cabin. And if you're wondering how good it drives on pavement, Ram claims the Black Hawk e2s will help on-road ride and comfort. If it's half as good as the current 1500, that'll be a good thing. The Raptor is damned good on-road, so the TRX has to do well here, not just on the rough stuff.
The rear five-link coil suspension gets special treatment in the TRX with the use of a robust Dana 60 rear axle that makes room for the TRX's bigger tires and its locking differential. The independent front suspension gets new forged aluminum front upper and lower control arms. Wheel travel is up to 13 inches, so you can bomb the dunes like madman.
But it's not just high-speed antics that the TRX can handle. It's also capable at rock crawling thanks to five skid plates to protect the front axle, transfer case, transmission pan, fuel tank, and one that acts as a belly pan to protect the suspension at the front end. There are also four beefy tow hooks (two front, two rear) for those rare situations when someone needs to help you get the TRX out of a mess.
Finally, the tires are truly special for the TRX. Ram found that nothing already made would fit on the TRX, so they went to Goodyear to create a Wrangler All Territory tire that's 35 inches, measuring 325/65R/18 all around. These tires can handle up to 118 mph, which also happens to be the TRX's top speed. The brakes are big and beefy, to the tune of 15-inch vented rotors in front and 15-inches in the back. These are bigger than the Raptor's 13.78-inch discs.
All this leads to 11.8 inches of ground clearance, two inches higher than a stock 1500. Furthermore, the TRX gets an approach angle of 30.2 degrees, a breakover angle of 21.9 degrees, and departure angle of 23.5 degrees. For comparison's sake, the Ram Rebel has an approach angle of 23 degrees, a breakover angle of 21 degrees, and a departure angle of 27.2 degrees. Oh, did we mention the TRX can for up to 32-inches of water, which matches the Raptor's and beats the Jeep Wrangler's by 2 inches.
The Most Powerful Production Pickup Truck on Earth
Yes, we kinda saved the best news about the TRX to our midpoint in the article, but it's the headline, too. Under the massive vented hood, the TRX has the infamous Hellcat engine. Yes, it's the same one that sits under the Charger and Challenger Hellcat muscle cars' hoods. In the TRX, the engine is good for 702 horsepower (versus 707 in the cars) and 650 lb-ft of torque. It will launch the beast to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, about a half-second quicker than the Raptor. Hell, it's even quicker than the 4.8-second 2020 Cadillac CT5-V. It'll also conquer the quarter-mile in 12.8 seconds. Yikes.
All this is thanks to the Launch Control feature, as well as the dual-path induction system that uses the hood scoop and grille to pull in huge volumes of air. Then, the air makes its way to the 29-liter airbox that filters dust and water for off-road applications. The engine has been modified further to make room for a high-mounted alternator and a new oil pan for improved oil flow when driving on rough terrain and during dramatic lateral movements.
Unlike the 1500, the TRX comes with four-wheel drive as standard equipment, and it also receives an upgraded transfer case with low gearing, a locking rear differential. In terms of towing capability, the TRX can manage 8,100 pounds of pull and 1,310 pounds of rear payload. Geez, is there anything the TRX can't do? It might be out of place at your local Michelin Star restaurant (unless it's a Michelin Star food truck).
An Interior Fit for a Burly King
We were curious about what Ram would do with the production TRX's interior. We love the latest high-end interior on the 1500, but the TRX goes even further. Upgrade to the TR2 trim level, and you get leather, suede, carbon fiber as options. The big black seats get red contrast trim, and there's red stitching everywhere. There's also a fancy “specifications plate” on the center console that lists the type of supercharger the TRX, boost output, horsepower and the Vehicle Identification Number. The rest of the interior is dark and sporty, just the right look to match the aggressive exterior.
There are also paddle shifters on the flat-bottom steering wheel and a conventional console-mounted shifter (instead of the rotary version on the 1500). The drive mode selector gets upgraded to include "Baja" in addition to Normal, Wet/Snow, and Off-Road. The TRX also gets nifty tech like Ram's massive 12-inch Uconnect portrait-oriented touchscreen (standard), as well as an integrated head-up display, a first for the whole of FCA. You'll be too busy jumping to worry about moving your eyes to the gauges to see how frightening your velocity is.
The TRX's Uconnect system gets the same performance monitoring goods as the muscle cars with Performance Pages and Off-Road Pages that track and record your favorite stats. There's also a brilliant point trailer backup assist that manages it all for you so you don't look like a towing/trailering newbie.
It's clear the TRX has everything, and then some. There's no doubt Ford is wondering if they did enough to the third-gen Raptor, but it's probably too late to make changes. The TRX brings everything and the kitchen sink, and Ford should be worried. As good as the 1500 is (and how well it has sold), the TRX builds on that in spades. The configurator for the TRX is live now, but we don't know when you can get your mitts on one.
Prices aren't cheap. The TRX starts at $71,690 base MSRP, including the $1,695 destination charge. The special Launch Edition (fully loaded with every TRX option and painted in Anvil Gray) will cost you $90,265. The Raptor costs about $55K including destination charge, so the TRX does cost a fair amount more. Only time will tell if that extra coin is worth it. We think it just might be, and we can't wait to drive it.