One look at the 2021 RAM 1500 TRX and you know that this isn’t just any ordinary pickup truck. This is the widest, meanest, and fastest truck you can buy today, and there’s no bigger status symbol out on the trails today than the RAM 1500 TRX.
With the chiseled styling, 702-horsepower Hellcat engine, and incredible off-road capabilities engineered from the ground up, the RAM 1500 TRX seems like it’s the end-all, be-all pickup truck to end all rivalries, full-stop.
Well, it’s not quite that simple and after spending a week with the TRX there might actually be an upper limit to my tolerance of insane vehicles.
Let’s be clear. We all know why the Ram 1500 TRX even exists. Though no one at Stellantis will say it outright, the TRX owes its existence fully to the Ford F-150 Raptor. The Ram TRX, after all, is Ram’s no-compromise answer to Raptor. It’s the result of letting engineers and designers go wild in a quest to better the competition, and the results are pretty damn incredible.
No Compromise Engineering
The TRX is much more than a wider Ram 1500 with a Hellcat in it. The TRX frame is over 70% different from that of the standard Ram 1500 and uses high-strength steel, which increases low-torsion performance for better durability.
Engineers gave the Ram TRX a Dana 60 locking solid rear axle with an axle-hop damper to provide better axle stability and traction over rough surfaces. The front axle was moved 20 millimeters forward to create clearance for the 35-inch Goodyear All-Terrain tires, which were designed specifically for the TRX. The track has been widened front and rear, and travel at the rear wheels has been increased from 9-inches on the standard 1500 to 13 inches on the TRX.
The TRX suspension features trick purpose-built 2.5-inch remote reservoir Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive shocks with progressive bottom-out control for perfectly composed high-speed blasts off-road. This is a truck that isn’t just built for Baja, but also rock-crawling and trail running if you can find a trail wide enough. Ram engineers built the TRX to go anywhere in any condition.
The engineering magic continues under the TRX’s hood. This isn’t just a drop in application of the existing Hellcat engine. Ram engineers have modified the engine to handle off-road duty by handling more extreme off-road angles and is designed to allow the engine to survive both trail dust and water crossings.
In TRX form, the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 Hellcat engine makes 702-horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a unique high-torque application 8-speed automatic transmission. The Hellcat breathes by way of the TRX’s functional hood scoop and air intakes behind the front grille. The TRX gets unique exhaust manifolds, x-pipes, and massive exhaust tips that peek out of the rear bumper.
How Does the TRX Drive?
Push the TRX’s gas pedal to the floor and the entire truck rears back hard like a stadium truck thanks to the Baja tuned suspension. A roar of raucous exhaust and engine noise fills the cabin and suddenly the digital speedometer is increasing numbers faster than what seems physically possible in a vehicle of the TRX’s size.
The TRX is FAST, and there’s no way to reconcile with your brain that something that big going that fast. It’s visceral and almost frightening. At no point during acceleration does the TRX feel at all out of control. The truck stays perfectly straight and the tires never once give any indication of weakness even with all 702-horsepower being delivered directly to them. It’s truly a testament to the brilliance of the Ram engineering team.
Driving the TRX during normal daily driving duties does get tiring, though. It feels absolutely massive in ways that even a long-bed Ford F-350 has never felt to me. It’s wide, tall, and visibility can start to become a challenge versus normal pickup trucks. You have to be situationally aware at all times when navigating the TRX around town. The TRX steering also can start to feel heavy due to the large tires, which gets tiresome, constantly having to make small adjustments to the tracking of the TRX.
The TRX suspension though is magical. It floats effortlessly down the road even on the worst roads in the city, soaking up all the bumps and potholes without any jarring shock to the passengers. The TRX is comfortable and the plush interior is the same wonderful interior we’ve grown to love throughout the entire RAM lineup.
The last drawback to the TRX is a pretty big one, and I won’t try to sugarcoat it. The Ram TRX’s fuel economy is absolutely abysmal. During city driving, I averaged 8-9mpg, with a high score of 11.1 mpg averaged on a 50-mile highway drive. The RAM 1500 TRX is the thirstiest thing I’ve ever driven. I suspect that most TRX owners won’t care a bit about these numbers, but it’s still shocking to see single-digit fuel economy in 2021.
It doesn’t really matter what I think about the Ram 1500 TRX, as these trucks are flying off dealer lots for $15k – $20k above the average $90-95k MSRP all day long. Facebook groups like Wholesale Car Club are trading TRXs as commodities, and they sell as fast as they can be posted. As massive and inefficient as the TRX is, there is clearly a demand for the king of off-road pickup trucks.
The thing is, though, against better judgment and all rational thought, I love the TRX. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s unapologetically bad for the environment, but it’s proof of what engineers and designers can do when left alone to build something to be the best it can be. The Ram 1500 TRX is completely ridiculous in every way, and I absolutely love it. Sorry, not sorry.