Everything You Need to Know About the 2021 RAM TRX
After literally years of anticipation, Ram has finally taken the wraps off the 1500 TRX, the company’s no-holds-barred answer to the Ford F-150 Raptor. FCA first planted the seed of speculation back in 2016 when it debuted the Rebel TRX Concept at the Texas State Fair. Sporting 575hp, beefed up looks, and some serious off-road hardware, the concept looked to be the V8-powered super truck of enthusiasts’ dreams. Four years later, the production version of the truck looks to not only make good on the expectations put forth by the concept, but significantly exceed them.
To some degree, the long gestation period for the new TRX can be attributed to Ram’s plan to launch the all-new, fifth generation 1500 for the 2019 model year, the platform which underpins the new supercharged pickup.
“Back in ‘16 it was a concept, and we wanted to see exactly what the appetite was for a truck like this. Obviously it was very positive,” said Ram Senior Brand Manager Carl Lally in an interview with Muscle Cars and Trucks. “[But] we were in the midst of developing the all-new (DT) Ram 1500 for the 2019 model year already at that point in time. Rather than rush to market and drop an engine in a truck, we wanted to take our time to make sure we get it right, from top to bottom.”
And interestingly enough, the TRX name isn’t a snub at the Raptor, or even a reference to dinosaurs: Years ago, Dodge offered a TRX off-road package on both the Dakota and Ram 1500. Though the availability of the options package was short-lived and nowhere near as comprehensive as the transformation that new 1500 TRX underwent, it was certainly serendipitous when it came to naming this beast.
"We knew we wanted to do a cool truck that was an off-road trophy-truck-inspired type of thing. But we didn't really have it fleshed out visually yet, and no one had given us the official assignment to do it. So, when we got it, it wasn't just 'go do this'—it was 'go do this in 77 days,” Mike Gillam, TRX exterior-design lead, explained to Automobile.
"So, part of that was the naming of the truck. Because of the short timeline, we actually had a sheet of craft paper up in the studio, and we had probably 200-plus different naming ideas. A lot of them were really cool, out there and exciting. At the end of the day, legal couldn't vet any of those names fast enough for the reveal. So, it was really just a timing thing. And they looked and they said, 'What do we already have the rights to?' And we actually had TRX – it ran for I think just one year, it was an off-road package we offered on Ram. And it was sort of a little bit obscure.”
Meaner looking and a full eight inches wider than a standard 1500, Ram looks to be gunning for the top spot in the realm of off-road ready pickups with the new TRX. But achieving that lofty title takes more than just horsepower and budging bodywork, so let’s take a closer look at all the details that make this new machine a true contender.
Frame, Chassis & Suspension
Ram says that the new truck is designed to handle rough terrain at more than 100 mph, and that required a significant reworking of the 1500 from the ground up.
Underpinning the TRX is a unique frame that’s thicker than the one used on standard Ram 1500, and high-strength steel has been strategically placed throughout in order to ensure the frame is up to the task of high-speed desert running. Sections of the frame have been hydroformed for dimensional accuracy, which reduces the need for welding, and the side rails are fully boxed.
Galvanized frame components also improve its resistance to corrosion, but jumps and big impacts are the primary concerns here – so much so that the TRX weighs 600 pounds more than a standard Hemi-powered Ram 1500 in the same cab configuration. You can blame some of that extra mass on the array of skid plates equipped to the TRX, which protect the front axle, transfer case, transmission pan and fuel tank.
The suspension is a significant departure from a typical Ram 1500, too. It’s been designed with additional wheel travel in mind – 13 inches in total, in fact. Up front is an all-new independent setup with forged aluminum upper and lower control arms that are longer and bigger than the standard components, and Ram notes that they paid “special attention to the caster and camber angles during suspension cycling” when developing those components.
As with the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup, the rear suspension of the TRX is a five-link coil design, though it’s been tweaked for TRX duty to accommodate a Dana 60 rear axle. New adaptive 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 performance shocks are on hand as well, and utilize a single-piece construction design comprised of rigid aluminum to reduce and dissipate heat. These new dampers feature dual electronic proportional valves, which continuously adjust damping force to maintain optimum stability, as well as nitrogen-charged remote reservoirs for enhanced durability. The dampers’ behavior can also be adjusted through the various drive modes that are available – more on that later – and have a three-zone “Jounce Cut Off” feature for progressive bottom-out control.
Stopping power is provided by two-piston monoblock calipers and 15-inch vented rotors up front, while the rear uses single-piston calipers at 15-inch discs.
To help provide 11.8-inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 30.2 degrees, breakover angle of 21.9 degrees and departure angle of 23.5 degrees, the ride height of the TRX is two inches higher than a standard Ram 1500 thanks in part to the 35-inch, 325mm-wide Wrangler All Territory tires it rides on, which Goodyear developed specifically for this truck.
Under the hood is the TRX’s pièce de résistance, the supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat Hemi V8. It’s rated at 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque in the TRX, making it the most powerful mass-produced pickup truck in history by a substantial margin.
Paired with the TorqueFlite 8HP95 eight-speed automatic transmission – which can be manually controlled either on the console-mounted shifter or the steering wheel-mounted paddles – it’s enough to get the 6300-pound TRX to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds on its way to a 12.9 second quarter mile time. Top speed is electronically limited at 118 mph due to the speed rating of its off-road-focused tires.
As with other Hellcat-powered vehicles in the FCA stable, the TRX sports a clever induction system that’s unique to this truck. Air is pulled in through the upper grille as well as the functional hood scoop, and the two pathways funnel that air into a 29-liter air box which is designed to ensure that dirt and water are separated from the air coming in before it ever reaches the air filter.
Four-wheel drive is standard of course, made possible by a new BorgWarner 48-13 transfer case with upgraded internals. A locking rear differential is standard, and the TRX features a low range ratio of 2.64:1 for rock crawling.
And for those interested in doing traditional truck stuff with the TRX, it offers a maximum payload rating of 1310 pounds and a towing capacity of 8100 pounds.
Interior & Tech
The TRX boasts a number of unique enhancements inside as well. Three interior styles are available here – TR, TR1, and TR2. The base style, TR, is a combination of cloth and vinyl similar to the Ram Rebel, while TR1 and TR2 outfit the cabin with leather, suede, and carbon fiber accents.
Gone is the rotary dial shifter, here replaced with a traditional console-mounted shifter that’s better suited for performance applications. A flat-bottomed steering wheel with the aforementioned paddle shifters replaces the standard tiller, and in place of the dash-mounted shifter dial is now a drive mode selector, offering Normal, Wet/Snow, Off-road and Baja modes. Located just below the drive mode selector are the various off-road settings, like Axle Lock and 4WD Low, along with a Launch Control button.
The TRX gets Ram’s huge 12-inch, portrait-oriented touchscreen Uconnect infotainment system as standard, which features both Performance Pages and Off-Road Pages. The TRX also debuts a new integrated head-up display as part of the TR2 package – a first not only for Ram, but for FCA in general.
Trim Levels & Options
Every option available in the standard Ram 1500 can be outfitted to the TRX, along with several that are unique to the TRX. The latter includes beadlock-capable 18-inch wheels, full-length rock rails for added body/sill protection or traditional aluminum running boards, a bed-mounted spare tire carrier, and graphics for the hood and sides of the body.
A trailer backup assist feature is also available: Turn the dial in the center stack the direction you want to go, and the computer does the rest. A 9.2-inch-wide LCD monitor/rearview camera mirror, similar to the design used in various GM vehicles, is on the options sheet as well, as are safety features like blind-spot monitoring, Ready Alert Braking and Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus. And as part of the available 360-degree Surround View Camera system, a forward-facing off-road camera provides a clear view of the path directly ahead by way of the infotainment display.
And for those who want to hit the trails with their tunes, a 900-watt Harman Kardon audio system with 19 speakers and 10-inch subwoofer is offered as well, which Ram notes is the most powerful factory audio system available in a production pickup.
To help commemorate the debut of the new truck, Ram is also producing 702 examples of the TRX Launch Edition, which is ostensibly outfitted with every available option for the truck, along with an exclusive Anvil Gray paint hue and a unique red and brushed-aluminum center console badge.
Pricing for the TRX starts at $71,690, while the Launch Edition will set you back $92,010 with destination – if you can manage to get one. Ram has stated that the company will not put a production cap on the standard TRX, though, which is slated to start this fall.
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