2021 Ram 1500 TRX first drive review: Yep, we got it airborne

“Now as you get back to the ramps, you’re going to want to do about 55-60mph,” my co-pilot yells over the roar of the engine as rocks and dirt blow up the pickup truck. “This will give you the best height and distance for the jumps and will enable you to start braking for the next corner.”

Yes, jump. I’m behind the wheel of the 702 horsepower 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, one of the most extreme performance and oversized trucks that Ram has ever produced. And as the wheels leave the ground and the cacophony is replaced by an eerie silence, I’m starting to realize just how insane this apex predator is.

Heart of an infernal cat

Ram’s engineers followed a familiar formula: take a popular Fiat-Chrysler product and dump the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 from the Dodge Challenger is SRT Hellcats charger in the engine compartment. Pat yourself on the back; you earned yourself a beer.

There is obviously a lot more to that. In the Ram TRX, that engine breathes through a new dual-path induction system that mixes air drawn in through its functional hood vent and with intake from the grille on the underside of a huge 29-liter airbox. Ram tells me this design helps rotate the air inside the box, shaking sand and water before it passes through two 8×12-inch air filters. With a total of 198.4 square inches of filter area, Ram claims this is the “largest air filter in the segment”. The TRX also features a unique high-flow exhaust with 5-inch resonators and tailpipes.

Hemi’s breathing changes mean the TRX does as soon as 702 horsepower (as opposed to the 717-plus of the Hellcats) with 650 pound-feet of torque, which it sends through an eight-speed automatic transmission to a four-wheel drive system. That’s more than enough power to launch the 6,350-pound TRX from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and forward up to 100 mph in 10.5 seconds. The truck will also travel the quarter mile in just 12.9 ticks. The TRX launches quickly and forcefully, quickly finding traction, even on a dirt track.

This wide boi is 8 inches wider than a standard Ram 1500.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Suspension updates

In many ways, the Ram 1500 TRX’s suspension and chassis upgrades are even more impressive than the powertrain because they are much more extended. The TRX chassis is based on that of a Ram 1500 Crew Cab, but has been modified with over 70% new parts to improve strength and stiffness and to completely change the truck’s suspension geometry. The pickup’s flared body is 8 inches wider than a standard Ram 1500, allowing for a 6-inch increase in both the front and rear.

The TRX is 2 inches taller than the standard 1500, increasing its ground clearance to 11.8 inches and its water wading depth to 32 inches. The front wheels are shifted forward by 0.6 inches, slightly increasing the wheelbase and freeing up space for stronger suspension components and 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory off-road tires, mounted on 18×9-inch wheels (or optional beadlock compatible wheels of similar specifications that allow extremely low tire pressure for scanning).

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The TRX’s suspension and chassis upgrades are perhaps more exciting than the 700 horsepower engine.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

You’ll find an independent suspension in front and a solid rear axle with coil springs and forged aluminum components all around. In all four corners, you’ll also find 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk E2 adaptive dampers with remote reservoirs that control suspension movement. At the front, the TRX has 13 inches of wheel travel, with 14 inches of rear axle travel. (You can check our specification comparison to read and watch how the Ram 1500 TRX contrasts with the Ford F-150 Raptor.)

On the road

On paved roads, the TRX feels confident, of course, with great off-line acceleration and surprisingly smooth shifts from its eight-speed automatic transmission. The rumble of the V8 exhaust is always present, but never annoying. The ride is still truck-like on the chassis, but it’s no more fluctuating than the standard 1500, which already has a fairly controlled ride.

The TRX features a total of eight driving modes, plus a waiter setting. Motorway miles are best spent alternating between the default, well-balanced Auto setting and Sport, which refines steering, suspension, transmission and stability control. Eventually, I found the best solution to create a custom setting that blends the two. There are also modes for Snow, Mud / Sand, Tow, Rock, and Baja.

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From the 12-inch touch display, drivers can customize their TRX’s performance for a wide range of conditions.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Interact with driving modes using a combination of physical controls and the standard 12-inch Uconnect 4C infotainment system. Ram says this is the first implementation of its Performance Pages software with the large 12-inch, which also features menus for monitoring off-road metrics like wheel articulation, steering angle, and axle lock status. .

Of course, the infotainment software still boasts all the tech features I like in the standard 1500, including SiriusXM 360L integration, standard Android Auto is Apple CarPlay connectivity, Uconnect app and more. You’ll also find plenty of physical charging options for phones and tech, including a total of five USB-A ports and five USB-C ports split between the front and rear rows, as well as a wireless charging pad at the base of the dashboard.

The pickup can also be equipped with a modern suite of driver assistance technologies, including blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward pre-collision warning with brake assist and lane departure warning with assistance. to keep the lane. Keep checking the boxes to add a color head-up display and rear-view mirror.

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Drive modes and 4WD settings can be activated quickly with these controls. Note that there are no 2WD modes.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Off-road performance

Playing at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nevada, I am able to first test the Ram TRX’s crawling ability on a fairly steep climb of rock overlooking the race course. By setting the ride mode to Rock, the transfer box to its 2.64: 1 4WD low range and locking the Dana 60 rear axle sets the cart for low speed, high torque climbing. With the help of Ram’s observers and the TRX’s generous approach (30.2), departure (23.5) and breakover (21.9) angles, the TRX makes the job of the climb short and relatively easy.

While waiting for my turn on the track, I can explore the rocky terrain surrounding the course, testing the Selec-Speed ​​Control – a kind of off-road cruise control inherited from the Jeep Wrangler – on another low-speed climb a loose grade. The shock absorbers on the TRX do a fantastic job absorbing some huge bumps at speed, pushing me a little bit into the deeply braced driver’s seat, but still feeling almost unstoppable on a two-track trail.

In the air

Setting the drive mode of the TRX to Baja allows the four-wheel drive, gearbox, steering and stability control systems that it’s business time. Meanwhile, Baja sets the suspension for maximum travel and control needed for high-speed dirt riding.

I enter the course at the top of a huge hill. Then it is a mouth-watering descent to the straight and immediately after a small jump. Then it’s in the whoops, a series of washboard bumps that test Ram’s Bilstein suspension and Active Terrain Dynamics software, which can react every 20 milliseconds to keep the truck balanced and in control.

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I was encouraged to do so really test the limits of the advanced suspension of the TRX.

Ram Trucks

After a sweeping left-hander (which I was encouraged to drift), it’s time for the big jump. Lining up for another downhill approach, I point the pickup towards the dirt ramp and pull over the throttle, hitting the recommended speed of 55 mph before taking off.

The TRX absolutely flies and lands with such grace that I wonder if Ram should have called this tyrannosaurus a pterosaur instead. Looking back at my photos, I estimated the big jump was just over 60 feet (about three and a half truck lengths) from takeoff to landing, reaching a height of about 24 inches. All 13 inches of suspension travel is utilized during landing, the shock absorbers allow for full compression while gradually firming towards the end of the travel with a damping force of up to one ton at every corner to avoid hitting the bottom.

Wheels back to the ground, I let out a scream before getting hard on the 15-inch four-wheel disc brakes for a left left. Lifting a large rooster tail, I walk up the hill to redo it all … five more times.

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Ram’s Truckasaurus isn’t a practical choice, but it’s definitely a lot of fun.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Availability and prices

Starting at $ 71,690 (including a $ 1,695 destination tax), the Ram 1500 TRX is significantly more expensive than the $ 58,135 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew’s. Fully loaded, you’re looking at around $ 95K for the TR2 trim level with all optional fixings. Plus, T. rex’s 10 miles-per-gallon and 14mpg freeway ratings are worse than the Raptor’s 15 city and 18 freeway estimates, meaning you’ll pay even more at the pump.

That said, the TRX is a bigger and more powerful predator than the Raptor with just over 250 more ponies at its beck and call. It also has a more advanced suspension, particularly on the rear axle where the Raptor’s still swinging leaf springs. (Rumor has it that Ford could fight back with Power V8 it’s at coil spring configuration just for the next generation of Raptor.)

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX isn’t a practical truck, but it’s probably the funniest and craziest pickup you can buy today.

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