8 Things you should be most hyped about in the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Chad Kirchner

Chad Kirchner

The new Ram 1500 TRX has the Ford Raptor in its sights.

Ever since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced the 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat engine, the truck world imagined what it would be like to put that monster in a pickup truck. During the 2016 State Fair of Texas, Ram Trucks showed a concept truck that was powered by that engine. Ram said at the time that it was strictly a “concept,” but we all hoped they were lying.

What they were doing, however, was waiting for the new Ram 1500 to build the platform upon. Now the 2021 Ram1500 TRX is here. It makes an unruly amount of power. It also has some new technology that hasn’t been used yet on any product from the U.S. portfolio of vehicle, along with some tried-and-true components to make this one of the fastest off-road trucks on any terrain.

Supercharged 6.2-liter not-a-Hellcat V8

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In the Ram 1500 TRX, the supercharged V8 HEMI makes 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Ram claims that horsepower number is a result of the TRX having the longest exhaust of any vehicles equipped with this motor, along with extra intake plumbing to handle dirt, dust, sand, and other off-road debris.

That’s gloriously 127 more horsepower than the Rebel TRX concept that debuted at the State Fair of Texas.

Just don’t call it a Hellcat engine. While yes, it is the Hellcat, the folks at Dodge are the ones that are given use of the name in their vehicles. In the Jeep Trackhawk and the Ram TRX, it’s just a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8. But, we’ll forgive you if you call it a Hellcat.

Launch control

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

I can’t say for certain if this is the first pickup truck ever equipped with launch control, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it is. Located next to the transfer case buttons, pressing the Launch button sets the truck up to accelerate the quickest.

That means a zero to 60 mph time in 4.5 seconds and a quarter mile run at 12.9 seconds with a 118-mph speed limit. Yes, that’s quick, especially for a pickup.

Bilstein adaptive suspension

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2019 Ford Raptor picked up Fox’s LiveValve technology for adaptive dampers. After driving a Raptor back-to-back with the old tech and the new tech, LiveValve is the way to go. Ram knew they needed to offer a comparably bonkers off-road suspension, so they called up their friends at Bilstein.

Designed exclusively for TRX, the truck features 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive shocks. They have external reservoirs for heat management. While we haven’t driven the truck yet, Ram claims that this suspension will allow the truck to perform exceptionally both at high speed and in the air. Noted.

No more rotary shifter

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you’ve driven a modern Ram half-ton, you’ll notice that the gear selector is a rotary knob on the dash. In off-road use, I’ve found it annoying when trying squeeze out of a tight spot that requires frequent engaging of drive and then reverse. For the TRX, Ram removed the rotary shifter and replaced it with a normal shifter in the center. Just as God intended.

There’s no official word if Ram will do this swap on all Rams, but there’s a chance they might.

Head-up display

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

New for Ram Trucks is a full-color head-up display (HUD) available on the top trim TRX. Ram describes the TRX as an apex predator hunting prey, so it makes sense that the driver would have a HUD to help them lock in in the competition.

In reality, it shows everything a HUD should; speed, navigation information, rev counter, and more. It changes based on the drive mode that the truck is in and has some level of customization to it. It also allows drivers to keep their eyes up on the dunes ahead while still seeing relevant cluster info – a big plus.

Trailer Reverse Steer Control

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Available on TRX – and something we wouldn’t be surprised to see offered across the lineup – is Trailer Reverse Steer Control. It works like Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, letting the driver intuitively use a knob on the dash to position a trailer directly where it needs to go. This takes the stress out of trailer backing up, boat ramps, camp sites, and more.

Unlike the Ford system, Ram’s doesn’t require any measuring of the trailer or placing a sticker on the tongue of the trailer. Using cameras and sensors, the Ram figures it out own its own.

Baja Mode isn’t just for Raptors anymore

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

When the Raptor returned in 2017, it featured a Baja drive mode. This mode keeps the revs up, engages the four-wheel drive system, and sets up the anti-lock braking system to perform the best when jumping sand dunes along the Mexican peninsula, or anywhere else you find yourself hitting dunes at high speed.

The Ram TRX has a similar mode. It, too, adjusts everything including the suspension the make sure the truck is as quick as possible across the dunes. Ram doesn’t come right out and say that the Raptor is a direct competitor to this truck, but it’s obvious that Ram has every intention of being competitive against the class leader.

Bigger tires, more capability

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Finally, the Ram TRX features exclusive-to-TRX Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires. Those 325/65/R18 All-Terrain 35-inch tires are the largest fitted to a factory pickup truck.

With improved ride height the TXR has 11.8-inches of ground clearance and can ford up to 32-inches of water. That’s actually two more inches than the Jeep Wrangler.

Despite the off-road credentials, the payload rating on the TRX is still 1,310 pounds and the max tow rating is 8,100 pounds, which is similar to a Ram 1500 Big Horn.

Ram calls the TRX it the ultimate expression of their 1500 half-ton pickup. It’s not designed to replace the heavy-duty Ram Power Wagon, but rather suit a different type of buyer. While Ram doesn’t mention the competition by name, their insistence of calling this an “apex predator” implies heavily that they’re after the Raptor in more ways than one.

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