While Ford and GM engineers lab-tested batteries for their upcoming electric pickups, the folks at Ram were working on an entirely different beast—one that not only drinks dinosaur juice, but is also named after a dinosaur. Ram has unveiled the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, taking it head-to-head with the Ford Raptor with some insane references. Let’s break this new truck down section by section – there’s a lot going on.
Under the hood of the TRX is the legendary Hellcat, although Ram doesn’t brand it as much in the TRX, trading the feline reference for something a little more Jurassic. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 produces 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque in this package mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This combination makes the TRX capable of some impressive numbers: Zero to 60 mph comes in 4.5 seconds, 0-100 mph happens in 10.5 seconds, and the truck will cover a quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds. To hit those numbers every time, launch control has also been added as standard equipment on this truck.
To work in this package, some changes were made to the engine, such as a new position for the alternator and air intake to allow for 32 inches of water travel.
The V8 also breathes differently on the TRX, using a two-way system that uses air from both the functional air intake in the hood and the top edge of the grille. A large 29 liter air box directs that flow to the 2.38 liter supercharger, filtering out all the dirt in the process.
A two-speed transfer case and a 2.64 low-range ratio give the TRX full-time four-wheel drive, though torque is distributed differently based on drive mode. For example, in Sport mode, 70 percent of the power goes to the rear wheels and 30 to the front, while Baja mode puts you 75 percent to the rear and 25 to the front. Other driving modes include Auto, Snow, Tow, Mud/Sand and Rock.
The goal of the TRX is quite simple: go at 100 mph (161 km/h) through the roughest desert possible. The first part of the equation is easily accomplished by the big V8, with the TRX capped at a top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h). The second part is accomplished by the all-new suspension that brings 13 inches of total travel front and 14 out back, a 40-percent improvement over stock Rams.
Here an independent front suspension is used with all-new high-strength forged aluminum wishbones, combined with a set of 2.5-inch Bilstein e2 Blackhawk active shock absorbers. That means the damping is constantly being adjusted, allowing the TRX to gobble up off-road terrain while still providing a solid ride on the road. The shocks use nitrogen-filled remote reservoirs mounted on the frame, connected by a high-pressure stainless steel braided hose.
In the rear, a Dana 60 axle provides support, while Ram retains the coil-spring five-link design of its standard trucks. With this suspension, the TRX can carry up to 594 kg of payload, not bad for an off-road focused truck. Drawbar pull for TRX models is pegged at 8,100 lb (3,674 kg).
Now let’s look at all relevant off-road numbers, starting with tire size. Each Ram TRX will carry a set of 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires, a brand new set of all-terrain tires that Goodyear is launching on the TRX. With those tires on, the TRX has 11.8 inches of ground clearance, a 30.2-degree approach angle, 23.5-degree departure angle and a 21.9-degree breakover.
An electronic locking differential will be used at the rear, while the front will remain an open differential that uses brake-based traction control to direct power. The axle ratio is 3.55.
Larger dimensions will also add to the TRX’s sense of off-road stability, and everything about this truck is larger than a standard 1500. The TRX is 88 inches wide with a track six inches wider than a standard Ram. The wheelbase has also been extended slightly, to 145.1 inches. A total of five skid plates are attached to the underside to protect the essential undercarriage.
TRX buyers will also be limited by body style as every truck sold is a Crew Cab with a 5′ 7″ bed.
To make sure the truck doesn’t shake itself apart, the TRX’s frame has been upgraded, making it about 75 percent stiffer than what you’ll find on a stock 1500. Of course, this larger steel frame added extra weight, so to compensate Ram went with an aluminum hood, doors and tailgate. Under the skin, the engine mounts, front axle center section, skid plate and steering system are all made of aluminum.
Lots of new tech is also debuting on the TRX, some of which will no doubt find its way into the wider Ram lineup. First, there’s the new Trailer Reverse Steer Control, which allows you to steer your trailer in reverse with the use of a dial. However, unlike Ford’s similar system, you don’t need to enter any information into the Ram. It feels the length of your trailer and knows what to do.
A brand new head-up display has been added to TRX, showing up to five different types of information on the windshield at once.
Each of these off-road monsters will feature the large 12-inch touchscreen, offering – for the first time ever – both Performance Page and Off-Road Pages on the same vehicle. These apps allow you to track and chart your performance along with the status of the vehicle.
A forward-facing off-road camera helps you see the path, while a digital rear-view mirror also increases your view behind the truck.
For now, Ram has said all of these features will be exclusive to the TRX, but it seems clear they’ll eventually land in the rest of the truck maker’s lineup.
Inside, the TRX also has plenty of unique features to remind you that the truck you’re driving is special. Three trim options are available: cloth and vinyl, premium leather and suede, or premium leather and suede with red and carbon fiber accents.
The basic TR Group truck will not be coming to Canada, leaving customers with the choice of stepping up to the TR1 or TR2 level. A new flat-bottom steering wheel with aluminum paddle shifters is fitted, while a console-mounted shifter takes a new direction for Ram away from the dial. In fact, the spot where the shifter used to be is now occupied by numerous other controls.
A custom specification plate is affixed to each console lid that includes the VIN, engine number, supercharger information, boost rating and horsepower.
Prices and availability
The TRX will be built at Ram’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan, and sales should begin before the end of 2020. Pricing for the truck starts at $93,995 in Canada for the TR1 trim.
For those buyers looking for something extra special, Ram plans to offer the TRX Launch Edition, of which only 100 will come to Canada. A unique anvil gray paint job is exclusive to the Launch Edition; inside, a special red and brushed aluminum center console badge identifies this truck as a limited edition model. Every option box is ticked here too, meaning the Launch Edition is packed with the best features, including a head-up display, carbon fiber interior trim, bead-lock wheels and custom graphics. The Launch Edition retails for $114,995.