What Is It?
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX could best be described as the Hellcat of off-road pickup trucks. The company that has shoved supercharged V8 Hellcat engines into Challengers, Chargers and even Grand Cherokees has now put that powerful V8 into a Ram 1500 pickup truck to create an off-road monster. The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is purpose-built for high-performance off-road driving. Ram describes the new TRX as the “quickest, fastest and most powerful mass-produced truck in the world.” Who are we to disagree?
Ram Trucks provided us with a 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Crew Cab 4 x 4 painted in Diamond Black Crystal Pearl Coat. The test vehicle was fully loaded with the TRX Level 2 Equipment Group that includes a long list of features such as leather trim, heated front and rear seats, LED bed lighting, advanced safety features and rear park assist. The Carbon Fiber package, Technology Group, Advanced Safety Group, Bed Utility Group and Trailer Two Group were also part of the tester for a total MSRP of $87,020. Competitors to the Ram 1500 TRX include the Ford F-150 Raptor, Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss and GMC Sierra 1500 AT4.
One look and it’s clear the TRX is a Ram 1500 that means business. Standing a full 8 inches wider than the standard Ram 1500, the TRX features large composite wheel flares that help cover the 6-inch increase in track (the distance between the wheels at each axle).
Big Goodyear Wrangler Territory 325/65R18 All-Terrain 35-inch tires are standard, and the TRX also sports a unique hood, skidplates, steel bumpers and a front grille adorned with a larger RAM badge.
Unique Light Signature
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX grille is flanked by standard LED headlights with twin bi-functional projector beams. Additionally, bright LED clearance lights integrate with a large functional hood scoop and also flank the front bumper to give the TRX a unique look at night.
As an indication of what’s under the hood, the Ram TRX sports dual 5-inch exhaust outlets. The tailgate features another large RAM logo similar to the one on the Ram 1500 Rebel. The LED marker lights help set the truck further apart from standard Ram pickups — as do the sounds that emanate from those massive pipes.
Under the Hood
At the heart of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX lurks a Hellcat 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 engine producing a massive 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Power gets managed via a TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission designed to handle the high stress of this powerful engine. Power gets sent to the ground via a full-time 4-wheel-drive system.
TRX / Raptor Fun
Stellantis — formerly known as FCA — likes to hide little surprises in its vehicles, and the TRX is no different. Pulling off the engine cover reveals Ram’s true goal with this truck: eating the Ford F-150 Raptor for lunch.
Typically the specs and stats that automakers promote regarding trucks concern towing and hauling, and the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is no slouch with the ability to tow up to 8,100 pounds or haul 1,310 pounds of cargo. But this is the Hellcat of pickup trucks, so it hauls in more ways than one. The full-size pickup sprints to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and reaches 100 mph in 10.5 seconds. The TRX will also run the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph. Top speed gets limited to 118 mph — restricted due to the truck’s off-road tires. The TRX has been designed to handle harsh terrain at speeds exceeding 100 mph.
The 2021 Ram TRX has seven driver-selectable modes that set up the truck for different situations. On-pavement modes include Auto, Sport, and Tow and Snow, while off-road configurations include Mud / Sand, Rock and Baja. Perhaps the most unique of these modes, Baja reduces shift times to a mere 160 milliseconds; stability control and steering systems are set for desert performance; paddle shifters are enabled; the suspension gets set to full damping and the 4-wheel-drive system uses a 25/75 percent torque split.
More than simply a high-powered Ram 1500, the TRX features major upgrades under the skin including a frame reinforced with thicker, strategically placed high-strength steel and fully boxed side rails. To better handle front suspension load, the front rails also use high-strength steel. When compared with the standard Ram 1500, about 75 percent of the TRX chassis has been upgraded to create extremely rigid underpinnings.
Plenty of Clearance
Thanks to standard 35-inch off-road tires, the Ram 1500 TRX boasts 11.8 inches of ground clearance. To keep the big truck from being damaged when traversing large objects, the pickup has five skidplates that protect the front axle, transfer case, transmission pan and fuel tank. A fifth skidplate rides at the bottom of the front fascia for additional protection. When needed, the Ram TRX can also safely ford 32 inches of water.
Think of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX as a tasty piece of candy — hard shell on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside. The test Ram TRX featured big leather seats that can be heated or cooled, with large bolsters that provide outstanding support when the terrain gets rough. All materials have a premium feel, further enhanced by detail stitching on seats, steering wheel and dashboard.
Room for Stuff
The center console of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX offers plenty of room for storage including a large covered center cubby / armrest. Multiple USB ports are located in the center console, as well as a wireless charger designed to hold a phone in place even while tackling rough terrain.
The TRX’s Uconnect system adds another level of luxury via a 12-inch touchscreen display. This vertically oriented display is bright, easy to read and can be configured in multiple ways including splitting the screen to display navigation at the top and audio information at the bottom. Climate controls are accessed via physical buttons flanking the display screen. An additional digital display provides all necessary driver information.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX provides an immense amount of legroom in the rear seat, on par with a typical extended-length luxury sedan. Three adults sit comfortably, and the truck’s flat floor means the middle position is equally as comfortable as the outboard locations. A 400-watt 115-volt power outlet as well as multiple USB and USB-C ports make the rear seat livable. Seat bottoms can be folded up to provide considerably more interior cargo-carrying capacity.
On the Road
With one look it’s clear that the Ram TRX is designed to spend time off-road, although it performs surprisingly well on pavement. The ride is comfortable without too much bouncing; an added bonus: there’s no need to slow down for speed bumps.
As with other Hellcat-powered vehicles, the TRX’s massive grunt remains extremely manageable. The big truck has no problem cruising slowly through town, emitting a nice rumble as it glides by onlookers. Stabbing the throttle unleashes a wonderful supercharger whine, a V8 roar and incredibly strong acceleration that will push all occupants back in their seats. With its comfortable interior and strong chassis, the TRX easily cruises freeways at 80 mph — often without the driver realizing the easy velocity (speaking from experience).
Unfortunately when an automaker drops a supercharged 702-horsepower V8 engine in a big, heavy pickup truck fuel economy is not much of a consideration. During our time in the TRX we averaged about 9 mpg.
To thoroughly test the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX we headed into the woods near North Bend, Washington, where logging roads are showing the wear of a winter’s discontent. Thanks to a combination of mud, deep potholes and snow, the primitive road would have been too much for most production vehicles; however, the RAM TRX took it all in stride. The suspension easily absorbs dips and bumps to keep the ride civil. Our biggest issue — keeping the speed down. This big truck was perfectly stable and comfortable on rough, loose surfaces even at 50+ mph.
In the Snow
Although we didn’t expect to find any snow as we headed farther into the mountains, as it turned out quite a bit of the white stuff remained on the ground. Luckily the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has plenty of ground clearance and full-time 4-wheel drive. The conditions didn’t present much concern, since this big truck possesses all the capability needed to handle surprisingly snowy conditions.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX may seem a bit silly to some — it’s built to handle terrain most people will never see (at extreme speeds), it has more power than most will ever need, and it gulps gas as if it’s going out of style. That said, the TRX’s power is intoxicating and the truck’s off-road prowess makes drivers desire the roughest roads possible. The truck also has a roomy, luxurious and high-tech interior as well as all the utility expected of a powerful half-ton pickup truck that is also fully capable of working as a daily driver. Granted it might seem a bit silly, but we’d love to have a TRX parked in our garage — if it would fit.