For many years the Ford Raptor has been the unquestioned king of off-road capable trucks, but now the RAM TRX is here with 702 horsepower of ruling power.
2021 RAM TRX – media.stellantisnorthamerica.com | Shop 2021 RAM TRX on Carsforsale.com
For many years the Ford Raptor has dominated the high-performance off-road truck space. Now though, it has a challenger. In much the same way that their namesakes would’ve likely reacted to one another in the wild of the cretaceous (had they lived at the same time), the RAM TRX is in no way threatened by the Raptor in 2021.
That’s thanks largely in part to the 702 horsepower Hellcat (don’t call it that in front of a RAM rep) engine under the girthy hood. It’s not the only facet of this jewel though. Unlike the last fast RAM, the Viper-powered SRT10, this vehicle has a ton of engineering that takes full advantage of the powerplant. Let’s take a deep dive into how this new RAM has gone from extinct to tyrannical in a single year.
There’s no ignoring the monster of a motor that TRX owners will have access to, but what really makes the truck as good as it is off-road is all the supporting equipment around that engine. RAM partnered with Bilstein to ensure that the TRX can constantly adapt to the terrain it’s on with BlackHawk e2 shocks.
Combined with some clever computing, these shocks are always adapting to throttle position, steering angle, speed, and more to provide optimal handling regardless of the conditions and we think they’ll be a delight off-road regardless of the speed. Where the Ford Raptor could become floaty and leave you wanting for more steering feel, the TRX seems far more connected to the surface and we’re sure the shocks have a lot to do with that.
Mud/Sand mode may feel incredibly similar to the Rock mode that RAM has imbued the TRX with and that’s to be expected since at least publicly they work almost identically. Where Mud/Stand sends some 55% of the power to the rear wheels, the Rock setting sends just 50%. The biggest difference comes during descents, where the Rock mode helps guide the vehicle down steeper grades at a more modest pace.
By far though the most enjoyable setting off-road is the Baja mode which pushes the TRX to maximum fun mode over dunes and gravel by reducing shift times and allowing for a bit more oversteer. It’s easy to feel the 13 inches of travel doing its job to keep the TRX pointed in the direction you intend. Overall, the experience of this truck is going to be shocking in a way that sticks with you. This is something nobody could’ve imagined a major manufacturer releasing a decade ago.
In a word, shockingly. The suspension is constantly working hard to provide a sincerely excellent ride and that’s regardless of the setting you’re using or what type of surface you’re on. Getting to and from the off-road trails would be the only time you’d notice any unwelcome bumps from some of the worst recently snow-damaged roads. Even over numerous unavoidable potholes and imperfections in the pavement though, the TRX will simply take the bumps in stride and settle back into a groove.
Off-road is where many expect the bumps and bruises to take place, but thanks to that clever suspension and some excellent tuning it just never feels uncomfortable for the passengers. The seats are well bolstered and luxurious. We recommend the Level 1 package that includes leather-trimmed seats, a flat-bottomed leather/micro-suede steering wheel, and carbon fiber accents. Drivers will love the way many controls are laid out to provide ergonomically friendly access and perhaps a bit of a fighter jet aesthetic.
The TRX comes with much of the same equipment you’ll find in the RAM Rebel including the same sort of cloth seating and vinyl trim. It does have a configurable gauge cluster for the first time in a RAM and of course all TRXs will come with the huge 12-inch infotainment touchscreen in the center control stack. We love UConnect and it continues to shine here. There’s also a brand new heads up display to help drivers keep their eyes on the road at high speeds.
TR1 and TR2 packages upgrade the seating, storage, and materials inside of the TRX. Where the TR1 package adds those leather trimmed seats and steering wheel we mentioned above, TR2 adds red stitching and more carbon fiber. There’s even a storage box under the rear seats. It’s not just about interior niceties though. One problem previous fast trucks have faced is a sincere lack of utility ability. Think of the Ford Lightning, Chevrolet SSR, and even the Dodge RAM SRT-10. The RAM TRX is dramatically faster than all of those and can still tow 8,200 lbs.
Take off the engine cover of a RAM TRX and underneath you’ll see a depiction of a Tyrannosaurus holding a dead Velociraptor in its maw. RAM clearly knew that this truck is by far the most intense one ever created by some margin. In a sea of cars, trucks, and SUVs that slowly make incremental progress, it’s raised the bar to a level that most of us probably thought wasn’t possible.
Yes, there are some dramatic drawbacks. It’s considerably more expensive than a Raptor, it’s not necessarily as flashy either, and when it comes to MPG… let’s just not talk about it. Really though, we’d argue that the price of admission is well worth it, because you’re not just getting a big fast truck.
2021 RAM TRX – ramtrucks.com | Shop 2021 RAM TRX on Carsforsale.com
Anybody can drop a big V8 under the hood of a heavy vehicle and call it fast in a straight line, but it takes honest to goodness innovation and engineering to make one that’s so seamlessly integrated with all the other systems. That’s the beauty of the TRX, it’s never going to be forgotten, it might be beaten someday, but it’s always going to be special. Raptors were long gone by the time the T-Rex walked the earth and Ford should use that as motivation to make sure that the upcoming Raptor R can handle this TRX. Otherwise, they might go extinct too.