Jan
29
2021 Ram TRX

2021 Ram TRX in Diamond Black Crystal Pearl-Coat (a $100 option)

Consumer Guide Automotive, Test Drive 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Crew Cab

Class: Large Pickup Truck

Miles driven: 465

Fuel used: 42.6 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 10.9 mpg

Driving mix: 35% city, 65% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 10/14/12 ( mpg city, highway, combined)

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortA
Power and PerformanceA+
Fit and FinishA
Fuel EconomyD-
ValueC+
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyA
Tall GuyA
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs702-hp 6.2L
Engine TypeSupercharged V8
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drive Wheels4-wheel drive

Fuel type: Premium fuel required

Base price: $69,995 (not including $1695 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Diamond Black Crystal Pearl-Coat paint ($100), Technology Group ($1095), Trailer-Tow Group ($195), Advanced Safety Group ($995), Bed Utility Group ($845), TRX Carbon-Fiber Package ($1295), TRX Level 2 Equipment Group ($7920), dual-pane panoramic sunroof ($1495), TRX exterior graphics by Mopar ($495), rock rails by Mopar ($995), 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system ($1195), bed-mounted tire carrier by Mopar ($995), 18×9 beadlock-capable aluminum wheels ($1895)

Price as tested: $91,205

Quick Hits

The great: Mind-bending performance, both on- and off-road; surprisingly high levels of all-around refinement

The good: Long list of available options provides luxury-level cabin trimmings and lots of opportunities for personalizing

The not so good: Terrible fuel economy; steep prices; hard-to-park dimensions

More Ram 1500 price and availability information

 

John Biel

Its name may be a sly allusion to the Tyrannosaurus rex, but Ram’s mightiest pickup is pure Hellcat under the hood. This is the TRX, and if its makeup sounds like some sort of island-of-Dr. Moreau horror run amok, its maker won’t mind if it scares the tailgate off any other truck.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

The Ram TRX debuts for 2021 as a new “king-of-the-hill” off-road-performance super truck. It boasts a hyper-muscular supercharged Hemi V8 and a seriously beefed-up frame and suspension for high-speed off-roading.

The TRX goes high, wide, and harrowing with 6.2 liters of supercharged Hemi V8 that makes 702 horsepower. Intended as the ultimate desert blaster, it rests on a firmed-up frame to which is attached an all-coil-spring suspension with a track 6 inches wider than other Ram 1500 pickups, 13 inches of jump-cradling suspension travel in front, and 14 inches of travel in back. Pricewise, it starts at $71,690 with delivery and, though the one that Consumer Guide sampled was optioned to $91,205, at its peak it could top $97,000. Clearly, there is nothing subtle about the Ram TRX.

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2021 Ram TRX

The TRX’s interior can be brought up to luxury-vehicle levels by selecting the $7920 TRX Level 2 Equipment Group, which adds a host of upscale trim features and comfort, convenience, and safety equipment. The $1295 TRX Carbon-Fiber Package adds a leather and carbon-fiber trimmed flat-bottom steering wheel and carbon fiber trim accents.

To make the TRX, Ram starts with its crew-cab body and 5-foot, 7-inch cargo bed, the shorter of two bed lengths available in 1500-series models. Distinct front fenders made from a composite material and unique stamped-steel bedsides are capped with composite flares around the wheel openings. Thus, the TRX is eight inches wider than other Ram 1500s. It’s enough of a change to require federally specified marker lights that are found within each fender flare, the gap between the tailgate and rear bumper, and the functional scoop on the aluminum hood. To help facilitate the front wheels’ vertical travel, the axle was nudged forward, expanding wheelbase by about 0.5 inch.

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Ram TRX

In keeping with its high-performance mission, the TRX has a console-mounted shifter in place of the dash-mounted rotary shift knob in other Ram pickups. A UConnect infotainment system with a massive 12.0-inch vertical display screen and navigation is standard. The drive-mode buttons (and launch-control button) are to the left of the screen.

So much for the package. The contents are pretty interesting, too. The engine—which is just a few horsepower shy of the powerplants used in the Dodge Charger, Challenger, and Durango SRT Hellcats—is mated to a ZF-designed 8-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is full time with a 2-speed transfer case. The Dana 60 rear axle houses a 3.55:1 gearset and the differential can be locked electronically. (In lieu of a true limited-slip axle for the front wheels, the TRX relies on automatic brake application to maintain traction.) Shock absorbers are Bilsteins with nitrogen-charged remote reservoirs; cast-alloy wheels are 9 inches wide and draped in specially designed 325/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires. The bumpers incorporate tow hooks and five skid plates protect things you really wouldn’t want to get damaged on the truck’s underbelly.

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2021 Ram TRX

A large dual-pane panoramic sunroof is a $1495 option.

When it comes to off-the-rack desert racers, the Ford F-150 Raptor has been the voice in the wilderness for a few years. Ram decided it was time to kick some sand in the Raptor’s face, which the TRX does with 252 extra horsepower. To go with its 702 ponies, it disgorges 650 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm, which means there’s plenty of twist even before you get to that point. Not for nothing does it come with standard launch control. This is one quick truck: Ram says it will do the 0-60-mph run in 4.5 seconds and hit the century mark in 10.5 ticks. When you want to go—really go—in highway driving, the 8-speed trans will drop three gears with hardly a flutter and the big Hellcat V8 does its stuff with a howl from the supercharger and a bellow from the exhaust. Fun’s fun, but the TRX can also tow 8100 pounds.

About the only thing that might intimidate the TRX is a gas pump. Federal fuel-mileage projections are just 10 mpg for city operation and 14 mpg in highway driving. The EPA combined figure is 12 mpg. This reviewer recorded 10.9 after a 91-mile stint, 58 percent of which was in city-type use. A longer test with more road-trip miles—but also some more foot-to-the-floor acceleration runs—also yielded just 10.9 mpg.

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2021 Ram TRX

If the spare tire underneath the bed isn’t enough insurance for you, the TRX may be outfitted with a bed-mounted spare-tire carrier. The Bed Utility Group adds a spray-in bedliner, four adjustable cargo tie-down hooks, and a deployable bed step underneath the driver’s side of the rear bumper.

For an account of how the TRX feels off road—and briefly in the air—we’ll direct you to our First Spin report. CG’s local test was pretty much confined to urban streets and expressways, where the TRX displayed better-than-expected ride and handling. It’s almost cushy on beat-up city pavement or at speed on highways, due in part we’d wager to the suspension that’s designed for so much up and down give. There’s less road noise from its all-terrain tires than there is from the rubber on Ram’s tamer off-roader, the Rebel, and it tracked true in expressway driving.

Amazingly, this brute can also be a gracious host. The cavernous crew-cab interior of the test truck was effectively as plush as the Ram Limited that makes as good a luxury vehicle as it does a pickup. Standard is cloth-and-vinyl trim like that in the Rebel cabin, but CG’s tester had the $7920 TRX Level 2 Equipment Group, a tall list of luxuries like leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats and ventilated front buckets, heated steering wheel, power tailgate release, LED instrument-panel ambient lighting, driver-preference memory settings for seat and other functions, rear underseat storage, blind-spot and rear cross-path alerts, and lots more.

The highly involved Uconnect infotainment system with navigation is standard. Control buttons—including repetitive-push temperature settings—for the dual-zone automatic climate system run up the left and right sides of the upright 12-inch touchscreen, but climate controls can be viewed in whole and operated on the screen, too. The TRX uses an actual console-mounted shift lever in place of the dash selector dial used by other Ram 1500s.

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Ram TRX

The heart of the TRX is a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 that cranks out 702 horsepower–the same basic engine powers Dodge’s SRT Hellcat vehicles. The engine is even finished in classic muscle-car era orange paint, though you can’t see much of it due to a massive air-cleaner assembly that’s designed to trap dust in high-speed desert driving.

Possessed of 11.8 inches of ground clearance, step-in is rather high. Passengers enjoy a number of convenient stowage spaces throughout the cabin. A cargo-bed utility option includes a spray-in liner and four adjustable tie-down hooks. An accessory spare-tire carrier in the bed not only doubles the complement of available spare rubber should the need arise in the middle of nowhere but it can also ward off requests to help somebody move because they “heard you have a truck.” (They don’t need to know the mount is easily removable.)

The TRX’s price might be a fright, but as a high-performance off-roader, this Ram is scary good.

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2021 Ram TRX

It’s extra-expensive to buy and run, but the new-for-2021 Ram 1500 TRX is a knockout exercise in swing-for-the-fences off-road performance that’s also surprisingly refined and, in optioned-up form, legitimately luxurious.

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2021 Ram TRX Gallery

(Click below for enlarged images)

2021 Ram TRX

First Spin: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX