By now, you’ve seen one of the numerous videos showing the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX with all four tires in the air, catapulted from the top of a hill with a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8. Rated at 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, the TRX fired up my adrenaline even before I tested it out in Texas earlier this month. I have a thing for big, roaring engines, and Head of Ram Brand Product Marketing Mike Koval told me the TRX needed no noise enhancements.
“So I guess it’s going to be loud,” I said.
“Public service announcement: Ram will not reimburse you for noise ordinance violations,” Koval told me with a laugh.
It seems the Dodge and Ram families of vehicles don’t see a ceiling for bigger, faster, and more powerful. Its parent company has built a foundation with vehicles like the Trailhawk, Challenger, Rebel, and the Power Wagon, so I was curious: what does the TRX borrow from these?
“For all intents and purposes, internally, it’s the same engine,” Koval told me. “However, in order to meet the capability requirements that we were striving for in this otherworldly pickup truck, we had to detune it a little bit and adjust some of the calibrations, particularly for the off-road desert racing, which has become a really big trend.”
He added: “Even with a little detuning, at 702 HP it’s still the first pickup truck OEM to exceed the 700-hp power performance barrier.”
As it turns out, TRX shares rails and cross members with the new Ram 1500. Otherwise, it’s an entirely new frame, forged with high strength steel and new front and rear suspension systems. The new high-performance air induction system is billed to filter four times as much dirt and debris than the Ford Raptor, consuming up to 32.9 liters of air per minute. It still maintains a five-link coil suspension to maintain a comfortable ride on-road as well as off.
Inside, the TRX is tailor-cut from the new Ram 1500, which is luxurious on its own. Heated and cooled seats that recline, a leather-wrapped instrument panel, SRT-inspired flat-bottom steering wheel, and paddle shifters grace the interior along with the DNA of the standard Ram 1500.
The TRX is bigger, though: it’s two and a half inches taller and eight inches wider than the traditional Ram 1500. You’ll notice the different proportions when they’re side by side: the TRX has a striking and unmistakable span. Add in the LED lighting in the hood scoop and headlamps, which gives it a beautiful lumination signature.
It’s interesting that the TRX claims 1,310 pounds of payload and 8,100 pounds of towing capability, which is significantly less than the 5.7 HEMI V8 with eTorque at 12,750 lbs. It surprised me that the Dodge Durango SRT tows more at 8,700 pounds; I tested it out with a 33-foot, 7600-pound Forest River RV this summer. Then again, the TRX is tuned for desert racing, not heavy towing. It’s still equipped to haul a trailer with motorcycles and other high-octane toys that fit the image.
“When you put a bunch of engineers into a garage and you green-light everything, it’s amazing what you can accomplish,” Koval said.
The Fiat Chrysler lineup really does the “go big or go home” thing these days. I took the Jeep Trackhawk out on Gingerman Raceway last summer, which also has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 (707 hp, 645 lb-ft) under the hood. It’s similar in price as well, approaching the $90,000 mark.
Where the TRX stands apart from the other trucks in the lineup is the incorporation of Bilstein Shocks, which is only available on the TRX. Koval said Ram engineers believe the Bilsteins are the best out there. And they’re targeting the enthusiast who knows their parts.
“He may or she may already have a performance vehicle in their garage, but they may opt for the TRX because of all of the utility and capability that comes along with a pickup truck as well,” he said. “It just makes you feel young again; it feels like you’re out in the garage dreaming about building a truck that’s never been built before. And so it’s easy to get passionate about this. This is the fun part about the business.”