2021 RAM 1500 TRX
Four Wheeler|January 2021
Ram launches a performance truck with every intention of making the Ford Raptor’s off-road dominance extinct
Sean Holman

Since 2010, there has been a swear jar of sorts in the office. Every time someone either uttered the phrase “Raptor Killer” or tried to shove it into a story, another dollar was headed for the jar. Dollar after dollar, the office pot was filled, with a moratorium on the usage of the phrase until such a moment in time that a competing vehicle emerged as a legitimate contender. That time appears to have arrived, because until now there wasn’t a truck on the market that was worthy of an utterance of the phrase. After seeing the TRX for the first time and combing through the specs, we just tossed the jar into the trash and ordered pizza for the whole staff. So, what gives the ’21 Ram 1500 TRX the go-ahead as the only truck on the market that can justifiably be mentioned in the same breath as a Raptor?

Overview

OK, let’s get the high points of the truck’s impressive specs out of the way before we dig in. The important things to know are that the TRX comes standard with a supercharged 6.2L Hemi V-8 (think Hellcat, but don’t call it that) with 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque backed by an eight-speed ZF 8HP95 TorqueFlite automatic transmission that’s mated to a full-time all-wheel drive BorgWarner 48-13 T-case with low range. Ram estimates 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, with 100 miles per hour taking just 10.5 seconds and the quarter-mile entering the rearview in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph, all while on its way to a 118-mph top speed. Meanwhile, the current Raptor makes do with “just” 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V-6.

The TRX is 8 inches wider than a standard Ram 1500, at 88 inches, and carries a 6-inch wider track. Sizeable 325/65R18 (35-inch) tires cycle through 13 inches of front and 14 inches of rear wheel travel with revolutionary Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive dampers controlling the mass. The obligatory any-speed locker lives in a full-floating Dana 60 rear axle and the minimum ground clearance comes in at 11.8 inches.

Even with this incredible level of performance, the TRX can still haul 1,310 pounds of payload or tow an impressive 8,100 pounds.

The crew-cab-only TRX will be available in three trim levels and represents the new Ram brand’s halo product, merging the sporty Rebel with the luxurious Limited. Ram sees the TRX as a new benchmark in the 1 ⁄2-ton truck segment.

Design

Compared to the in-your-face ’16 Ram Rebel TRX Concept, the production truck is pretty toned down, looking muscular and purposeful without all of the wild boy-racer elements from the concept. Don’t get us wrong—the TRX looks awesome—it just wears a body that is more mature with a little less announcing about what’s really going on beneath the skin.

Tastefully flared composite front fenders and new steel outer box stampings with flares extend the body width by 4 inches per side and cover those 12.8-inch-wide tires, all contributing to the TRX’s awesome stance. If you look closely, you can see the results of the aerodynamic tuning the TRX underwent in the form of the fender air curtain paths next to the headlights. These vents reduce high-pressure zones in the front corners of the TRX and allow the air to flow through the body and exit ahead of the front doors.

The aluminum hood features a functional hoodscoop, which is also the home for the legally required clearance lights. The grille is by far the cleanest and best version of Ram’s “Rebel” (and now Power Wagon) grille with a modified mustache location and giant flow-through R-A-M letters. Ram’s full LED Adaptive Front-Lighting System gives the eyes of the TRX a futuristic look and has twin bi-functional projector headlamps and foglamps that can provide up to 15 degrees of lighting assistance when the steering wheel is turned.

The bumpers are modified versions of what you’ll find on the standard Rebel, but include corner marker lights. In the rear, large R-A-M letters adorn the tailgate with the three center markers positioned similarly to how they are on the Ram Heavy Duty. Exhaust tips have been upsized to a girthy 5 inches (up from 4 on the Rebel).

The two-tone TRX will be available in six colors (Flame Red, Billet Silver, Diamond Black, Granite Crystal Metallic, Hydro-Blue, and Bright White), with a special launch edition color (Anvil).

Interior

Ram’s aim was for the TRX chassis to be the star of the show, while making the interior accoutrements tiered to allow for different levels of technology and luxury, and ultimately be ableto meet different price points. Available in three trim levels (TR, TR1, and TR2), TRX buyers can decide if they want rugged, luxury, or sporty luxury.

The base TR interior comes with an abuse-resistant premium cloth and vinyl with black and Dark Ruby Red accents. Opting for TR1 or TR2 delivers an interior based on the class-leading Ram 1500 Limited’s luxurious appointments and uses an all-black color scheme with leather and suede complemented by Greystone stitching and Graphite Metallic accents. Choosing the TR2 equipment group opens up optional red stitching and real low-gloss carbon-fiber interior accents, along with a 60/40 reclining rear bench seat.

All TRX grades have improved front seats with an almost 1-inch narrower bolster for better support and the TR1 and TR2 trims include MOLLE/PALS systems on the front row seatbacks. The dial shifter that is a centerpiece of the standard Ram 1500 driving experience has been replaced on all TRXs with a console shifter that allows for manual mode selection and is supplemented with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The steering wheel is now a fat-rimmed and flat-bottomed SRT-signature piece with enhanced hand grips and leather wrap.

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