2021 Ram 1500 TRX - Review by Larry Nutson
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
The American horsepower war and the American pickup war have become one, so to speak.
Ram has answered Ford’s F-150 Raptor with the new 1500 TRX that features a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 that makes 702-hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque. Ram says the truck can go from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, cover the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph, and has a top speed of 118 mph. The TRX is designed with extreme capabilities and features a unique suspension designed for high-speed off-road driving as well as wheels and tires also designed for that.
TRX is the quickest, fastest and most powerful mass-produced truck in the world, says Ram.
“Hellcat everything” are words that a number of enthusiasts among the auto media have often said to the folks at Fiat Chrysler Automobile…as of very recent now known as Stellantis. The Dodge brand’s Hellcat engine has found its way into Jeep and now Ram.
A new TRX came my way recently and I had a bit more than three days to “enjoy” it. Full-size pickups and crowded, densely populated cities such as Chicago where I make my home are not a particularly good combination. The TRX is offered only as a Crew Cab 4X4. Meaning, it’s long at 232.9 in. plus 8 inches wider than a standard Ram at 88 in., to accommodate a 6-inch wider track and fit 9-inch-wide wheels.
In meet-ups with a few acquaintances of mine I always got two questions: “How is it in the city?” and “How is the gas mileage?”
One thing was clear, I needed to get the TRX out into some wide open space. California’s Mojave Desert is what I wished for. However, that was unrealistic. I’ve been to the Mojave previously, that being with the 450-hp Ford F-150 Raptor. So, yes, I’ve jumped some sand moguls, driven hard into a sand bowl of loose sand, negotiated a dry riverbed, as well as crossed a dry lakebed at 100mph.
Suffice to say, a trip north from Chicago to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin would allow me to see how thirsty the TRX is in practical highway driving. A visit to Road America turned into a chance to drive their snow-covered ORV course.
EPA fuel economy ratings for the TRX are 10 city mpg and 14 highway mpg. The Ram engineering team did a great job in giving the TRX an exhaust sound that makes you push the throttle, a lot. Add in the supercharger whine and around town the result is single-digit MPG numbers. On the highway to Elkhart Lake I set the cruise control at 70 mph. The result was 13 mpg, plus or minus. Coming back home on a 20 mile stretch of a 55 mph Wisconsin divided roadway allowed me to beat the EPA rating at 15 mpg.
Good thing the TRX has a 33 gal. fuel tank.
An 8-speed Torqueflite automatic delivers smooth and quick on-the-road shifts. A center console floor shift lever, steering-wheel mounted shift paddles, and launch control provide for driver control during performance driving.
The TRX has driver selectable on-road and off-road modes that include, auto, sport, tow, snow, mud/sand, rock and Baja. Jump Detection uses wheel speed and ride height sensors and accelerometers at each corner to identify when the vehicle is airborne and acts to prevent driveline-damaging power spikes.
A reinforced steel frame carries a beefed-up suspension with special 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive dampers and more than 13 inches of travel. Huge 35-inch all-terrain tires are mounted on 18-inch wheels. An 11.8 in. ground clearance allows for the TRX to ford 32 inches of water.
Ram pickups have been recognized as having the best truck interior on the market. One that approaches luxury car levels. The TRX is nothing short of that. The 5-seat interior is finely finished with premium materials and textures such as leather, suede, aluminum and carbon fiber. Front and center is a Uconnect 4C NAV with a standard 12-inch fully configurable screen.
Putting aside the city-challenges in driving the TRX, out on the open highway the TRX is extremely comfortable.
There’s also a full array of safety features and advanced driver-assist technology using ultrasonic, radar, camera and other technologies that combine to offer the driver 360-degree awareness. In spite of the TRX’s size tight maneuvering can be done with confidence.
Ram TRX Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at $69,995, not including $1,695 destination charge. TRX Launch Edition prices start at $88,570. Visit www.ram.com for more details.
The TRX I drove was optioned up so I could experience it all. This included Granite Crystal Metallic ($200), Technology Group ($1,095), Trailer Tow Group ($195), Advanced Safety Group ($995), Bed Utility Group ($845), Lower Two-tone paint ($250), TRX Carbon-Fiber Package ($1,295), TRX Level 2 Equipment Group ($7,920), Rock Rails by Mopar ($995), 19-speaker Harmon Kardon Premium Sound ($1,195), Bed-mounted Tire Carrier by Mopar ($995) and 18 in. by 9 in. Beadlock Capable Aluminum Wheels ($1,895). With the destination charge the total came to $89,565. Yes, $90K!
A Mopar bed mounted RamBar ($1,195) and Off-road LED lights ($595) completed the TRX.
Ram with the TRX has raised the bar for extreme performance pickups. We expect Ford with a new F-150 Raptor, most likely with a V8, to be a true challenger. Keep the pickup horsepower war going! Good competition brings excitement. And, the performance truck buyer gets the win.
© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy