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Explainer: What vehicle test mules are and why they are used

Ram TRX mule causes confusion, we explain why they exist

5thGenRams broke the news the other day of the first Ram TRX test mule caught testing in Michigan. This article, surprisingly to me, seemed to have caused a lot of backlash with folks stating that it is clearly a Big Horn, or that they can’t believe the TRX was watered down from the concept to that level. I decided it would be a good idea to write an article explaining just what a test mule is and what it’s purpose is. 

Test mules purpose

A test mule is the usually the first drivable prototype of a manufacturers vehicle used to test new components during a vehicles development. This allows manufacturers to get out into the real world and test their vehicles while at the same time giving away very few if any hints of the upcoming model. Ideally manufacturers hope you don’t notice the test mule at all. Test mules are usually cobbled together with new parts for testing using existing bodies or components. The use of test mules also allows manufacturers to test and validate components early in the development process before other aspects of the vehicle are finalized. The Ram in the photo above and below were used during the 2019 Ram Rebel development to test components without giving away the look of the all new 2019 Ram Rebel.

2019 Ram rebel
2019 Ram Rebel mule (Spiedbilde photo)

Ram TRX test mule

The TRX mule in question is a base model 2019 Big Horn with what appear to be 35 inch tires and according to our sources is running the intended suspension setup for the TRX. This in no way denotes what a TRX would actually look like as cosmetically nothing differs from a regular 2019 Ram 1500 Big Horn. You can see the advantages for manufacturers running these types of vehicles as most people wouldn’t look at them twice and only people with knowledge of what is coming in the pipeline would be able to look at them and realize what it is.

Ram TRX Mule
2021 Ram Rebel TRX mule spotted (Real Fast Fotography photo)

Lastly while this is the internet and we could write any article we want trying to get website hits, we pride ourselves on only sharing information that we are very confident is accurate. One of the reasons that I started this website was to try and squash a lot of misinformation I was seeing about the 5th Generation Ram truck nearing the end of last year. Any tips that we hear about are checked for validity or plausibility, we have arguably some of the best sources around when it comes to FCA vehicles and work with an excellent team of contributors. While we may not always be right on the money, our track record is up there with the best of them. Anything is subject to change at any time but if you’re reading about it here you can be reasonably sure that the information is accurate. We work hard to be the number one source for 5th Generation Ram information on the internet and that is something that will continue. 

I hope that this article was informative, there is no need to panic the Ram Rebel TRX will have its own unique look. We expect to see it next year with a release date sometime for the 2021 model year. For the TRX article in question click here, we have also written this article and this article about the upcoming Rebel TRX. When it comes to fruition, just remember where you heard it first.

In the meantime join our awesome community and get in on the discussion. 

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