The Ford Raptor has enjoyed being unchallenged as the apex predator among high-performance pickup trucks for roughly a decade. Performance trucks aren’t anything new as Ford also defined the segment in the early 2000s with the Ford SVT Lightning. Unlike the Raptor, however, the lighting was an on-road performance truck, where the Raptor is an off-road performance truck. None of that matters for the 2021 model year because the Raptor is no longer at the top of the food chain. The folks at RAM have unleashed a truck that outshines the Raptor in almost every category. The 2021 RAM TRX is a 700-horsepower supercharged off-road monster that makes clear it is out to devour any Raptors it encounters.
When the second-generation F-150 Lightning was the reigning king of sports trucks, it was Dodge who came in with their Viper-powered SRT-10 and took that mantle away. At the time, the SRT-10 Ram was the most powerful pickup truck money could buy. So, it’s only fitting that once again, it’s a RAM, crashing Ford’s party with all the grace of a sledgehammer. In this case, that sledgehammer comes in the form of FCA’s very familiar 6.2 Liter Supercharged V8. Combined with full-time AWD and Launch control, this truck can rocket to 60 mph from a standstill in under 4 seconds.
The TRX’s performance isn’t the only thing that makes it a special truck. It also looks the part and comes with enough leather and technology that you may think you found your way into a luxury SUV.
The TRX has an imposing presence guided by the aggressive and wide front end. Normal RAM 1500’s have wheels up to 8 inches wide. The TRX has 9-inch wheels wrapped in 35-inch Goodyears that help increase the track width by 6 inches. To accommodate these increases, the RAM TRX has flared fenders that make it 8 inches wider than the rest of the RAM 1500 lineup.
The hood has plenty of vents and scoops designed to feed the Supercharged Hemi V8 as much air as it needs. The hood scoop provides 50 percent of the air to the engine. The front grille provides the other 50 percent with RAM badging that is bigger than other RAM 1500s and featuring a flow-through design, ensuring the maximum amount of air can make it to the engine. Air curtains on each side of the headlights allow air to flow through the fenders providing lower air pressure upfront.
Blacked-out LED headlights are standard with dual projectors. LED foglights flank the bottom of the bumper. Regulations require the TRX to be equipped with identification and clearance lamps because it’s so wide. Trucks with a width of 80 inches or greater need three amber identification lamps. You will notice three in the hood scoop. They are also required to have two clearance lamps, one at each corner of the front end, to indicate the truck’s overall length. With the 2021 RAM TRX being 88 inches wide, it falls into this category. For reference, the F-150 Raptor, which also has these lights, is 86.3 inches wide. A skid plate, large tow hooks, and steel bumper add additional ruggedness.
On top of the 35-inch tires, The TRX gets a 2-inch ride height increase for a total of 11.8 inches of ground clearance, enough to wade through 32 inches of water. The RAM TRX rides on an all-new independent front suspension and a rear suspension with active damping featuring 2.6-inch Bilstein shocks. The shocks have corrosion protection and are adaptive, ensuring excellent on-road manners while still being able to handle harsh off-road conditions.
A vehicle this size needs considerable stopping power, and the TRX doesn’t disappoint with the largest brakes in this segment. Huge 15-inch rotors both front and rear. The front has dual-piston calipers, and the rear makes do with a single-piston setup. Never once, while driving the RAM TRX, did I ever feel there wasn’t enough stopping power.
The rear also receives LED lighting and marker lights required by regulations. The rear fenders are also wide with fake air vent accents. A large RAM badge is on the center of the tailgate with TRX and 4×4 badging on the lower corners. The 2021 RAM TRX has a max payload of 1,310 pounds and a max towing of 8,100 pounds. A RAM bar, Bed-Mounted tire-carrier, and LED box lighting are available.
The TRX offers a massive amount of interior room both upfront and in the rear with the crew cab. Three equipment groups are available the TR, TR1, and TR2. Cloth and Vinyl are standard with the TR group. The TR1 and TR2 equipment groups come standard with authentic leather and suede covering almost every surface. Red stitching and carbon fiber accents are also available.
The shifter is floor mounted in the TRX versus the dial style shifter found on other RAM 1500s. Replacing the dial are controls for the transfer case, drive mode selector, and launch control. There are several different drive modes—Auto, Sport, Tow, Snow, and Custom for on-road driving. For off-road driving, Mud/Sand, Rock, and Baja are available.
There’s a massive 12-inch touchscreen with a ton of different menus and customizations you can set. I found the screen was more reactive to touch inputs than in a previous RAM 1500 I tested. However, loading the performance pages takes a bit of time, and when cycling through the options in that menu, lag is noticeable. The screen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The center console is covered in leather and suede and has a plaque that contains information about the vehicle, including the VIN, the supercharger capacity, and horsepower. While TRX is officially the name of this truck, there are a couple of easter eggs hidden throughout that make it obvious RAM is invoking the spirit of the Tyrannosaurus Rex or T-Rex to take on Fords Raptor.
One of those can be found at the very bottom of the center console. It’s an accurate 1:60th scale of a Human compared to the 2021 RAM TRX compared to a T REX compared to a Raptor. It shows that, unfortunately, the Raptor doesn’t exactly stack up to the T REX in size.
The TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic is quick and doesn’t struggle to put the supercharged V8s power to the ground. The paddle shifters have an odd design to make room for the audio controls also found on the back of the steering wheel. They’re made of high-quality material, but the split design can make them a bit cumbersome to use. The 19 Speaker Harman Kardon audio provides plenty of thump with 900-watts
Things are just as good in the rear with tons of head and legroom and a completely flat floor for loading items. The sheer amount of connection ports included in this truck is extraordinary. That theme continues in the rear with more USB ports. Rear passengers get heated and cooled seating. Rear-cooled seats are a rarity outside top luxury brands, so it’s impressive they are included in the TRX.
Wrapping up the interior is a large panoramic sunroof.
Of course, at the heart of the 2021 RAM TRX is the engine. So let’s start it up. The RAM TRX comes with FCA’s very familiar 6.2 Liter V8 with a massive 2.4L supercharger. Output is 702 horsepower and 650-pound feet of torque.
Power is lower in this application than in other vehicles with this engine. That’s because RAM included a more restrictive airbox that makes the TRX capable of breathing clean air even when dealing with off-road conditions. The TRX has launch control that can be activated through the touchscreen or simply by pressing the launch button. Activating launch control will bring up the different steps in the gauge cluster. You can even change the launch RPM. Floor the brake, floor the throttle, release the brake, and the full-time active Borg Warner transfer case gets the power to the ground. In our hacked measurements, we consistently saw 0-60 times hoovering just under 4 seconds.
Of course, drag racing isn’t the goal of this truck. In fact, a flat-out ¼ mile run will put you very close to the TRX’s limited 118 mph top speed. The TRX is all about going fast but doing so off-road. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to do any off-roading with the TRX, but I have no doubt it can handle nearly anything thrown at it better than any other production truck. If the road has dirt, sand, and a few bumps, I am sure it would quite literally leave all other production trucks in the dust. The Ford Raptor included.
With massive horsepower and excellent components, the TRX is in a class of its own. I will go a step further and say that FCA as a brand is also in a class of its own. Not due to some technological marvel. Instead, it’s their application of this beast of an engine throughout a good portion of their lineup. What other manufacturer has an engine making this much power in as many of their production vehicles with relatively reasonable pricing? The answer is zero. When it comes to giving outright horsepower to the masses, no one is even close to FCA.
The RAM TRX isn’t good just because of its engine. The interior quality is class-leading and even though this is a large truck it’s quite manageable as an everyday vehicle. The 12 mpg combined city-highway is certainly rat poison to tree huggers but shouldn’t come as a surprise.
As it stands, the TRX is the current Apex Predator among performance trucks. Ford, not one to simply roll over and take it, has announced a new, more powerful Raptor, likely with some version of the Supercharged V8 found in the GT500 coming next year. But until then, if you want the most insane truck money can buy, look no further than the 2021 RAM 1500 TRX.