In 2009, Ford Motor Company unveiled the renowned F-150 Raptor, spawning a whole new pickup truck sub-segment, “the factory high-performance off-roader.” Oddly, that is a segment that the “blue oval” camp has had to itself… until now. Enter the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, a truck so insane that it would make the Raptor look like a child’s toy.
RAM first teased us with the 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel TRX Concept at the State Fair Of Texas back in September of 2016. The Rebel TRX Concept featured unique widebody styling, an off-road-oriented suspension, and under the hood, a detuned supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 cranking out 575 horsepower.
The Rebel TRX Concept debuted to great fanfare. It even previewed some changes to the upcoming fifth-generation Ram 1500, such as the new industrialized RAM head logo on the steering wheel, toggle switches on the center console, R-A-M badging moved to the lower part of the front doors, the kickup on the rear door window, and of course the hood which is remarkably similar to the sport hood on the current Ram 1500 Rebel.
Finally, four long years after showing off the Rebel TRX Concept truck, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has been officially unveiled. Before arriving in showrooms, the truck even won MotorTrend’s 2021 Truck of the Year title, marking the first time a pickup truck manufacturer had claimed the title three-year in a row. But as if that wasn’t enough, the TRX also took home FOUR WHEELER Magazine’s 2021 “Truck of the Year” as well.
So does the TRX live up to the hype? Let us dig in and find out.
I will openly admit that when I first saw the photographs of the production TRX, I was underwhelmed. That being said, seeing the truck in person is something else entirely. Other than the cab, doors, and the tailgate, all of the exterior sheet metal (and composite front fenders) are bespoke to the TRX. Aggressive and wide is the theme here, and the RAM design team has pulled it off amazingly well.
Both the front and the rear fenders have been stretched 8-inches wider than the standard Ram 1500 models to accommodate the 6-inch wider track width. This is something that is much more pronounced in person than it is in photos. An aggressive hood features a fully-functional hood scoop with amber marker lights required by the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) due to the overall vehicle width, heat extractors, and the all-important “6.2L Supercharged” badging.
The TRX also gets a unique front grille treatment with the first production application of the flow-through R-A-M lettering, which debuted on the Ram Rebel OTG Concept. The front camera has been moved down below the “mustache” on the grille and can be used as a forward-facing trail camera and a camera for the 360-degree surround-view camera.
The headlamps are blacked-out units shared with the Ram 1500 Limited Night Edition pickups and are steering directed for additional visibility. There are functional vents outboard of each headlamp that allows air to pass through and exit out of a large vent behind the front-wheel opening.
Sitting 2-inches taller than any other Ram 1500, along with the additional 8-inches of width, vents, and graphics, the TRX looks like a full-sized Tonka toy in the best way possible.
RAM has won numerous awards and accolades for its interior design on the fifth-generation Ram 1500, and the TRX does not disappoint. Our test truck came equipped with the TR2 Equipment Package, which gives you all the luxury and features one would enjoy in the Limited Longhorn or Limited models, but with different finishes and features to help set the TRX apart.
The dash, center console, door panels, steering wheel, and A-pillar grab handles are wrapped in finely grained, high-quality leather. Unique to the TRX is the flat-bottom steering wheel featuring Alcantara on the top and bottom portions along with a carbon-fiber insert, and for the first time on RAM truck, paddle shifters located mounted behind the steering wheel. Gone is the electronic rotary shifter dial, which has been replaced by a console shifter on a revised center console.
There is now a button bank where the rotary shifter once lived, which allows you to bring up the TRX pages on the 12.1-inch Uconnect 4C touchscreen, cycle through the different drive modes, lock and unlock the electronically-locking rear differential, choose the transfer case setting between 4Auto, 4HI, or 4LO (sorry, no two-wheel-drive option here), enable launch control, and enable or disable Hill Descent Control and traction control.
Our test truck featured the optional TRX Carbon-Fiber Package, giving us carbon-fiber accents on the door panels, dash, center console, and steering wheel. We also had the TRX Red Interior Accents Package, which added red stitching and red accents to the seats.
Speaking of the seats, the TRX also gets a set of unique front seats with more aggressive bolstering than the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup. I found the seats to be incredibly comfortable during my week with the truck as they are soft yet supportive. Since this truck featured the TR2 Equipment Package, both the front and rear seats had both heated and ventilated settings. The driver and front passenger seats featured full-power adjustments and power lumbar, which the rear seats recline and have a flip-down armrest with storage and cup holders.
What’s it like to drive?
The second you hit the red start button to fire up the TRX, you know you’re in something special. The 702 horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 roars to life and has one of, if not the best-sounding, factory exhausts in the industry. While the F-150 Raptor sounds like a pissed-off Dyson vacuum due to its turbocharged V6, the TRX has a deep bassy V8 rumble that you can feel in your chest.
Along with the rumble, the dash comes to life with sweeping gauges and a well-done TRX animation. As you put the center console-mounted shifter into gear and set off, it is immediately apparent that the TRX is much different than the standard Ram 1500.
A unique, stronger frame underpins the TRX and, coupled with the Baja ready suspension, provides the smoothest on-road ride I’ve ever experienced in a pickup truck. The Bilstein Blackhawk E2 dampers were specifically designed for this truck, and the active damping system provides a wide range of adjustment that really changes how the truck handles and drives based on which drive mode you are in.
Being a press vehicle, I wasn’t going to go out and beat the crap out of this thing, but I did take it up a rutted, potholed forest service road and was amazed at how the TRX just soaked it all up, transferring minimal shock to the cabin. The front suspension has a total of 13 inches of travel, while the rear has one more than that at 14 inches, which is about 40% more suspension travel than you’d get out of a standard Ram 1500.
Of course, one of the biggest draws of the TRX is that big supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8. In the TRX, that engine is rated at 702 horsepower and 650lb. Ft of torque. As I mentioned previously, it produces a glorious exhaust note, but it also gives you that beautiful positive displacement supercharger whine. The TRX takes 50% of its air through the hood scoop and the other 50% through the front grille, routing it through a large 29-liter airbox with dual air filters that filters out dirt, sand, debris, and water before getting anywhere near the engine.
Backing up that supercharged V8 is the 8-speed 8HP95 transmission, shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. While I am always impressed with the shift strategy of the ZF sourced 8-speed transmissions, Ram engineers definitely spent a lot of time on the shift mapping for this truck. Shifts are smooth, quick and the transmission is always quick to downshift when you put your foot down. In auto mode, the TRX would comfortably cruise along in the highest gear possible, while I found that sport mode would cause the truck to drop 2 gears and cruise along at around 2000 RPM. You can also select gears yourself through the large aluminum paddle shifters or the manual mode on the center console shifter.
Selecting different drive modes changes throttle input, shift mapping, suspension firmness, front/rear torque split, and steering weight allowing for unique driving experiences based on your situation or preferences. There is a total of 7 pre-determined drive modes (Auto, Snow, Tow, Sport, Baja, Mud/Sand, and Rock), plus a custom drive mode that the owner can set to their preferences. The transfer case is a full-time 4WD unit with 4WD auto, 4High, and 4Low settings. In auto, the truck gives you a 40Front/60Rear torque split, 45F/55R in snow, tow, and mud/sand, 30F/70R in sport, and 50F/50R in rock.
The engine, transmission, and transfer case attributes combined help give the TRX performance that will embarrass most sports cars from a dead stop to 60 miles an hour. The TRX is officially rated at 4.5 seconds 0-60, which, while an impressive number, did disappoint me a bit. With the trucks ending up in journalists’ hands, though, it seems as though RAM sandbagged that number, as many people have easily beaten it. I set up our Dragy performance meter, found a nice straight stretch of road, out the truck in Sport mode, launch control at 2300RPM, and let it rip. The result? 0-60 MPH in 3.86 seconds, almost 7 tenths of a second quicker than officially claimed. Using the one-foot rollout method as most magazines do and that 0-60 time drops to 3.64 seconds! This 6400-pound truck will easily embarrass most sports cars in a quick dig race.
Even with all that performance and off-road technology, the TRX is incredibly easy to live with day-to-day. The powertrain is refined and smooth, ride comfort is incredible. Like other Ram 1500s, the interior is luxurious, roomy, and well laid out. I found the TRX very easy to drive in all situations as long as you’re mindful of the extra width. You will become pretty close with the people at your local gas station though, over my week with the TRX, I averaged 27.6 liters per 100km or 8.5 miles per gallon.
For people who love performance vehicles and require a pickup truck, the TRX is two vehicles in one. I personally own a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and a Ram 3500. The TRX combines the best attributes of both vehicles into one.
The TRX starts at $94,395 Canadian plus destination. Our test truck had the Technology group, Advanced Safety Group, Bed Utility Group, TRX Carbon Fiber Package, Level 2 Equipment Group, TRX Red Interior Accents, Panoramic Sunroof, TRX Exterior Graphics, TRX Hood Graphics, Mopar RockRrails, Harman/Kardon 19-speaker audio system, bed-mounted tire carrier, optional Beadlock capable wheels, and trailer reverse steering control bringing the MSRP to $119,035. Not cheap, but to put it in perspective, you can option a Rebel EcoDiesel up to an MSRP of $90,685 Canadian.
How We Would Order It?
I would go with a TRX in Hydro Blue, with the lower two-tone paint, TRX Level 2 Equipment Group, Technology Group, Trailer-Tow Group, Advanced Safety Group, Bed Utility Group, Carbon Fiber Package, Harman/Kardon 19-speaker audio, TRX Red Interior Accents, panoramic sunroof, TRX Exterior Graphics, TRX Hood Graphics, Mopar rock rails, bed-mounted tire carrier, and trailer reverse steering control. That puts the MSRP at $118,640 Canadian.
Here’s the thing, the TRX is so good; that isn’t how I WOULD order the truck; that is how I AM ordering the truck. Stay tuned as we have multiple videos coming on our time with the TRX later this week.
REVIEW: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Image Gallery: