Too much of a good thing?

ram 1500-trx Full overview

What a year it has been! It’s been 16 months MotorTrend has taken possession of our long term 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. Since that time, well, where did the rule come from? annie? It’s been a hard life for our big red truck. From day one, our poor Ram TRX has been stored wet. From towing a 392 Charger to a drag strip, to being (almost) overloaded and made to drive from Michigan to North Carolina, to driving 7,700 miles completely off-road across the country, to getting his face through from an electric truck, to towing horses, to being treated like a sports car, the past 16 months and 27,488 miles are among the toughest any of our long-term customers has ever experienced. But hey, it’s a truck, isn’t it? It’s built to be beaten up.

One caveat: Our TRX returned damaged from our Rivian/Trans-America Trail adventure. The list of problems was long (although, again, the abuse was severe), so we took the extraordinary step of returning our truck to Ram for a checkup. We wouldn’t see our truck again for the next four months. Not because the damage was so bad (a dented fender was about the worst), but it went for repairs at the height of the pandemic-induced supply chain crisis. We waited months for a rear bumper. We’d love to tell you everything that Ram fixed on our TRX, but it rejected our accounting requests. Why? No idea. We also never got a full rundown of anything fixed, so it’s hard to speculate. I estimate the damage was about $20,000, although that’s just a conjecture.

To defend Ram a little, 7,700 miles of overland off-road is not normal use for this truck, and if you’re in the market for a TRX, put the TAT adventure and subsequent long repair out of your mind. What it has cost us to run the TRX, normal maintenance hasn’t been too bad. Only $617.73 for four oil changes, one tire rotation and one cabin air filter replacement. That’s a little more than our old Ram 2500 Power Wagon, which cost us $272.50 over three service visits and nearly 23,000 miles with us. However, the fuel costs areā€¦ shocking. Please sit down. We spent $24,839 on gas for the TRX. Take a deep breath; I’ll give you a minute. The TRX averaged 10.8 miles per gallon over those 27,488 miles. This means it cost us $0.90 per mile to run the TRX, just on gasoline! When we voted the big Ram as our 2021 Truck of the Year, the only criterion that gave us a break was efficiency. Especially since the Aries didn’t have one.

Here’s the actual crazy part. According to our partners at IntelliChoice, even with all miles, the truck’s residual value is $90,400. The sticker price of our truck? $91,185. Yes, the truck is worth more than 99 percent of what it cost new. Insert an exploding emoji here. That seems absurd to me, especially since the car purchase canon states that your car loses 33 percent of its value if you drive it off the lot. It seems that if we had bought our TRX and just parked it and then sold it, we would have made a lot of money. But then you wouldn’t be reading this would you?

As for living with the TRX beyond the numbers, it remains the supertruck we fell in love with two years ago. You would never know by looking, but Ram’s engineering team did a fantastic job tuning the suspension. Not just in terms of near-luxury levels of ride quality, but also in terms of (totally ridiculous) handling. Almost every time I jumped on board, I figured out a way to take a turn way too fast, just to experience the feeling of the big Aries crouching down and doing the impossible. After all, the Ram is a giant toy, so the driving pleasure factor should be higher than usual. Fortunately, it is.

Aside from burning too much gas, the only real downside we found was that the TRX is a bad horse tractor. Too bouncy for the ponies. The gigantic Ram excelled at off-road driving (truly one of the best 4x4s money can buy), was shockingly awesome as a luxury long-haul cruiser, and with its huge cabin was quite a practical vehicle. For example, I could easily put groceries on the back row floor for an entire week. And I must say practical, unless the TRX’s absurd 88-inch width puts a damper on your parking plans at the market. Perfect? No, but man, the Ram 1500 TRX is a great truck.

But has the world moved on? I know, here he goes, Mr. EV is about to ruin everything. I get it, I get it. Nobody wants to push electric vehicles down their throats. Although, quite ironically and literally, no one stops and remembers that all NOx is being pushed down our collective throats by a gas guzzler like the TRX. Objectively, 10.8 mpg over 27,488 miles is terrible, and nearly $25K worth of gas is disturbing. In addition, we are learning that not only are ICE vehicles worse for the environment than we once thought, but that EVs are much cleaner (even taking into account battery production), much faster in the ownership experience.

In addition, the comparably priced Ford Lightning Platinum hits 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, while the equally capable (if not more) off-road Rivian R1T smokes the TRX to 60 mph, in 3.2 seconds on off-road tires, versus 4.0 seconds for the TRX. It’s a tenth faster on street rubber. Not to be a fly in the punch bowl, but here we are. If viable EV trucks hadn’t become a thing, I’d be sitting here typing that the Ram TRX was the best pickup truck ever built, a feeling I had right up to the moment I drove that damn Rivian for the first time. I suppose we can ask this question until Ram launches its electric pickup in a few years, because you know an EV TRX isn’t far behind.

Looks good! More detail?

2021 Ram 1500 TRX Specs
DRIVELINE LAYOUT front engine, 4WD
ENGINE TYPE Supercharged 90 Degree V-8, Iron Block/Alum Heads
VALVETRAIN OHV, 2 valves/cyl
MOVEMENT 376.3 cu in/6166 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 9.5:1
POWER (SAE-NET) 702 hp @ 6,100 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 650 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
RED LINE 5,750 rpm
WEIGHT BY POWER 9.6 lb/hp
TRANSFER 8-speed automatic
SHAFT/FINAL DRIVE/LOW RATIO 3.55:1/2.38:1/2.64:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR END wishbones, coil springs, adjustment shocks; rigid axle, coil springs, adj shocks
STEERING RATIO 16.3:1
TURNS FROM LOCK TO LOCK 3.1
BRAKES, F; R 15.0-inch vented drive; 15.0″ Ventilated Disc, ABS
WHEELS 9.0 x 18 inch cast aluminum
TIES 325/65R18 121/118T Goodyear Wrangler Territory A/T
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 145.1 inches
TRACK, F/R 74.5/74.1 inches
Length x WIDTH X HEIGHT 232.9 x 88.0 x 80.9 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.0 inches
APPRCH/DEPARTURE CORNER 30.2/23.5 degrees
TURNING CIRCLE 48.3 ft
EMPTY WEIGHT 6,760 pounds
WEIGHT DISTANCE, F/R 56/44%
SITTING CAPACITY 5
MAIN AREA, F/R 40.9/39.8 inches
LEG ROOM, F/R 40.9/45.2 inches
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 66.0/65.7 inches
PICK UP BOX L x W x H 67.4 x 66.4 x 21.4 in
PICK UP BOX VOLUME 53.9 cubic feet
WIDTH INSERT WHEELHOUSES 51.0 inches
LOAD HEIGHT HEIGHT 38.1 inches
LOAD CAPACITY 1,040 pounds
TRACTION CAPACITY 8,100 pounds
GEAR TO MPH
0-30 1.5 sec
0-40 2.2
0-50 3.1
0-60 4.2
0-70 5.4
0-80 6.9
0-90 8.6
0-100 10.5
FIT, 45-65 mph 2.1
QUARTER MILE 12.7 sec @ 107.3 mph
BRAKES, 60-0 mph 129 ft
LATERAL GEAR 0.68g (average)*
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.4 sec @ 0.61 g (average)*
TOP GEAR SPEED @ 60 mph 1,450 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
AIR BAGS 6: double front, front, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 3 years/36,000 miles
WARRANTY DRIVELINE 5 years/60,000 miles
TROUBLESHOOTING 5 years/60,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 33.0 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 14/10/12 mpg
EPA RANGE, COMB 396 miles
RECOMMENDED FUEL Lead-free premium
OUR TRUCK
LIFESPAN 16 months / 27,488 mi
BASIC PRICE $72,020
OPTIONS TRX Level 2 ($7,920: leather heated seats, ventilated front seats, parking distance and blind spot monitoring, remote start, electric tailgate release), beadlock compatible wheels ($1,895), red interior accents ($1,495), two-panel sunroof ( $1,495), carbon fiber accents ($1,295), Technology Group ($1,095: head-up display, digital rearview mirror), Advanced Safety Group ($995: emergency braking, adaptive cruise, lane assist), Bed Utility Group ($845: bed step, injected bedliner, mounting hooks), tonneau cover ($695), TRX exterior graphics ($495), Trailer reverse steer control ($495), two-tone paint ($250), Trailer-Tow Group ($195: trailer light control and tire pressure control)
PRICE AS TESTED $91,185
AVG ECON/CO2 10.8 mpg
PROBLEM AREAS No
MAINTENANCE COSTS $617.73 (4: inspection, oil change, rotation; in-cab filter)
NORMAL CARRYING COST $0
RESIDUAL VALUE OF 3 YEARS** $90,400 (99%)
MEMORIES Software update for rear view camera
*Skidpad and figure-8 performance measured on a comparable performing TRX
**IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3 years

For more information on our long term Ram 1500 TRX

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