The RAM TRX was a long time coming. The folks at Chrysler (now part of Stellantis) felt it was time to end the Ford F-150 Raptor’s dominance and got to work in 2015. Truck fans got to see the first results as RAM revealed the Rebel TRX concept at the 2016 Texas State Fair.
And the concept turned into reality with the 2021 debut of the RAM TRX production model. The TRX name? Inspired by the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex), it’s RAM’s way of seeking mastery among dinosaur-themed super trucks. The TRX’s 0-60 mph time of fewer than 4.5 seconds doesn’t hurt either.
Pop open the TRX’s hood, and the first thing you see is a graphic of a T-Rex chomping on a Raptor. Call it an easter egg or a warning, but it’s an understandable message as you glance at the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 engine sitting in the bay. This is no restomod conversion, but a factory installation.
In TRX form, this Hemi makes 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. While somewhat less potent than the versions used in its Dodge sedan and coupe cousins, it’s an over-the-top powerplant for a pickup. And that gives the RAM TRX bragging rights as the most powerful half-ton performance truck on the market. This includes an eye-popping quarter-mile time of just 12.9 seconds.
Controlling the four-wheel-drive system is an eight-speed automatic transmission adjustable for auto, high, low, and axle-lock modes.
With a curb weight of over 6,000 pounds and a length of more than 19 feet, the TRX won’t be confused for a sports car. There will be body roll during cornering, and parking may be a challenge, but this extreme RAM boasts other capabilities.
Eight drive modes make the TRX adaptable for just about any driving situation. Help also comes from Bilstein Black Hawk adaptive performance shocks with 14-inch travel, a coil-over suspension, a Dana 60 locking rear differential, and 35-inch Goodyear Territory tires. It’s a combination of the sophisticated gear ideal for everyday driving and more extreme travels over trails, mud, snow, and sand.
And when things get really intense, the TRX’s jump detection system kicks in. The system stiffens the dampers and manages the engine and transmission to prevent mid-air damage to these components. Upon landing, jump detection ensures there’s plenty of traction to keep moving with ease. Plus, the TRX can handle up to 32 inches of water. The pickup is also engineered to reach 118 mph, even on Baja-like terrain. Of course, the 15-inch brakes with dual-piston calipers can slow things down if needed.
While the TRX shares its DNA with the plain-Jane RAM 1500, this super truck has its own unique look. For one, the TRX sits higher than the regular RAM. Further distinctions include larger tires, a functional hood scoop with a triple clearance light setup, unique LED headlamps, and a can’t-miss RAM emblazoned on the jumbo grille.
Other TRX-only features include LED fog lamps with an underplate in the middle and a unique bumper arrangement. Of course, the TRX badging sets this truck apart from its stablemates. But, perhaps the most significant clue about the TRX’s capabilities is the massive exhaust pipes that help convey the growling sound of the Hemi engine.
It’s no surprise that the TRX’s interior is driver-focused, it’s set up similar to that used by its Hellcat-powered cousins. All necessary controls are within an arm’s reach; this includes easy access to ride control knobs, a launch button, and the 4WD switch. There is some dashboard commonality with the standard RAM 1500, but it’s hard to notice thanks to the dominant positioning of the 12-inch infotainment touchscreen.
The TRX’s uniqueness carries through into the cabin. Here, you’ll find a dark-toned interior accented with red stitching, paddle shifters, and a center-console gear shifter (something absent on the regular 1500). The crew cab design allows plenty of headroom and legroom, while standard cloth upholstery with soft-touch materials provides a premium feel.
Additionally, RAM offers two comfort packages (TRX Level 1 and TRX Level 2), adding heated and power-adjustable seats, a head-up display, LED ambient lighting, and a leather interior. On the connectivity side, navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are standard. A Harman Kardon 19-speaker sound system with SiriusXM satellite radio is also included.
With a cargo bed of 5.7 feet (the same as a RAM 1500), the TRX offers a standard hauling space of 53.9 cubic feet. The TRX level 2 package adds a 60/40-split folding rear seat for extra cargo flexibility. The payload capacity for the TRX is 1,310 pounds, and trailering gets maxed at 8,100 pounds. Order the Bed Utility Group package for more tie-down hooks, a bed step, and a bed liner.
While the TRX hasn’t been crash-tested, it’s a reasonable assumption that the regular RAM 1500’s five-star NHTSA scores could apply to its more powerful brother. Standard safety gear for the TRX includes emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and departure warning, pedestrian detection, rear-cross path detection, and reverse trailer steering control.
Apart from the massive difference in power and performance between a standard 1500 and the TRX, there are significant differences in style and feel. While a standard RAM is all about practicality and utility, the TRX is a performance beast that focuses on speed and power. Yes, you can do daily pickup truck things with the TRX, but with a 12-mpg fuel economy rating, it’s not a vehicle for long commutes.
On the other hand, the TRX will allow travel to places that even a fully-equipped standard 1500 may have trouble traversing. At the same time, the regular 1500 is lighter and significantly more fuel-efficient (up to 23 mpg in some configurations). Plus, there’s at least a $40,000 separation between the TRX and the least expensive 1500. That’s a big chunk of change that could easily help load up an ordinary 1500 and still leave plenty of money leftover.
There’s no right or wrong here; it’s just a question of wallet size and preferences.
While not the first performance truck (that honor went to the 1990 Chevrolet C1500 454SS), the Ford F-150 Raptor certainly holds the most popular muscle truck title. Ford touts its versatility and capability, including entering pre-production Raptors in the Baja 1000 race to showcase the truck’s off-road prowess. And that’s where the Raptor and TRX differ.
Despite all of the TRX’s gear, it still is lacking against the Raptor in extreme off-road environments. Instead, RAM gave the TRX better on-street performance to carve out its unique niche. The Raptor not only has higher ground clearance (13.1 inches versus 11.8 inches), but it also has bigger tires (37-inch versus 35-inch), a front limited-slip differential, higher departure and break-over angles, and two extra gears.
Move on to the streets, and the TRX decimates Raptor. Its supercharged 6.2-liter engine makes the Raptor’s 3.5-liter V-6 look tiny in comparison. The 250 horsepower difference allows the TRX to easily handle any pavement challenges from the Ford.
The TRX and Raptor match up close when it comes to hauling and towing. The TRX’s payload capacity gets bested by the Raptor’s 1,400-pound capacity by only 90 pounds. Similarly, the TRX falls just 100 pounds short of the Raptor’s 8,200-pound tow rating.
Both trucks provide ample comfort and space for the occupants. Seating for five is complemented (depending on the options) by heated and ventilated seats, automatic climate control, a head-up display, a digital gauge cluster, a large infotainment touchscreen, and more. Perhaps the difference lies more with style than substance. The TRX’s cabin embraces a more aggressive design than the Raptor’s somewhat subdued interior elements.
Whether you’re a Mopar fan or have to be driving something from the Blue Oval, Trust Auto in Sykesville is Maryland’s premium used truck headquarters (we also have a great inventory of Chevy, GMC, Toyota, and Nissan pickups). Contact us to schedule a visit or arrange an all-online buying experience (including a virtual test drive). Read The Ultimate Guide to the Ford F-150 Raptor and more helpful stories on the Trust Auto Blog.
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2022