Ram is going Raptor hunting.
Fiat Chrysler’s pickup company has this morning revealed the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, which it’s calling the “apex predator of the truck world”.
That’s a bold claim, given the Ford F-150 Raptor has been the king of off-road ready super-trucks in the USA since the first-generation model launched in 2010. But the TRX has the on-paper credentials to back up the marketing.
Even better? It’s looks like we’ll see it in Australia.
Where the Raptor has a 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 engine, the TRX packs a 6.2-litre supercharged V8. Where the Ford has 335kW of power and 690Nm of torque, the TRX has 520kW and 881Nm.
And although the Raptor has earned its off-road credibility, Ram hasn’t exactly skimped on the hardware in the TRX. Is there a new king of off-road trucks? There’s a chance, that’s for sure.
Power in the 1500 TRX comes from yet another variation of Fiat Chrysler’s much-loved 6.2-litre supercharged Hemi V8 engine pumping out 520kW and 881Nm.
Thanks to its bent-eight heart, the TRX will sprint to 97km/h (60mph) in just 4.5 seconds, and push on to 160km/h in just 10.5 seconds from standstill.
The quarter-mile is dispatched in 12.9 seconds, and flat out you’ll be doing just under 200km/h.
The F-150 Raptor is 1.2 seconds slower to 60mph – it’s not even close in the traffic light sprint.
Ram says a new dual-path air induction system has been fitted to keep the TRX’s beating heart cool, even during high-speed running through desert.
Not only is it capable of gulping down huge volumes of air on the run, it’s hooked up to a unique air filter system designed to stand up to all the dust, dirt, and sand you can throw at it.
All that grunt is put to all four wheels through an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission, hooked up to a constantly-variable all-wheel drive system with upgraded internals.
There are two elements to the 1500 TRX’s off-roading arsenal: the electronic aids, and the heavily uprated hardware under the skin. We’re going to start by diving into the hardware.
For starters, the ladder frame underpinning the TRX is made of thicker high-strength steel than the standard Ram 1500, with fully-boxed side rails. The idea is no matter how hard you bash, crash, and abuse your TRX off-road, the frame will be able to hold up.
There are five skid plates under the skin, and the major mounting points, axle centre sections, suspension cross members, and steering hardware are made of aluminium, as are the tailgate, bonnet, and doors.
The front suspension is fully independent, and both axles are home to active dampers.
They’re remote-reservoir Bilstein units, developed to stand up to the rigours of high-speed off-road running – and to match the Fox Shocks used on the F-150 Raptor, which have proven capable of handling jumps and Baja-style abuse.
There’s a Dana 60 rear axle with floating shafts, and an electronic locking rear differential. You also get a new full-time active transfer case, which shuffles torque between the axles depending on where there’s traction.
The list of expensive, uprated components goes on. 35-inch tyres and 18-inch alloy wheels are standard, behind which hide 15-inch disc brakes on all four wheels.
|Ram 1500 TRX capability|
|Approach angle||30.2 degrees|
|Departure angle||23.5 degrees|
|Break over angle||21.9 degrees|
As you’d expect, there’s a huge array of electronic off-road aids on hand to smooth progress when the going gets tough. There are five drive modes in total, including one allowing owners to mix-and-match their preferred settings.
There are three separate off-road modes: Mud/Sand, Rock, and Baja, all of which adjust the all-wheel drive system, suspension tune, transmission tune, throttle response, and steering weight. Regardless of drive mode, there’s a ‘slip control’ system to stop differential binding.
The latest DT Ram 1500 is already one of the most sophisticated trucks in the USA when it comes to technology, and the TRX is no different.
The dashboard is dominated by a vertically-oriented 12-inch infotainment touchscreen running Fiat Chrysler’s latest infotainment system. Along with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, the system features a range of integrated apps, and the usual array of performance-oriented displays.
Sitting between the analogue dials is a 7.0-inch TFT trip computer display, also capable of supplying information about the car’s performance.
The driver and passenger sit in sports seats trimmed in black and red, and the car’s touch points are all uprated compared to the regular 1500. There’s also a plaque on the centre console bin reminding you what’s under the bonnet, and proudly proclaiming the car’s VIN.
How cool does the TRX look?
Ram has made the body wider with pumped-up wheel arches, and gone hard on the gunmetal grey accents. The front end in particular is significantly more aggressive than the standard 1500’s, with a bulging bonnet scoop and bold new grille.
Eagle-eyed readers will note the yellow lights hiding under the bonnet scoop, which is a nice touch as well.
Around back there’s a unique bumper, the RAM name writ large across the tailgate, and a metal sports bar over the tray.
As you’d expect, Ram will also sell the TRX with a sticker pack that’ll help it stand out in traffic even more than would otherwise have been the case.
Would you take the Ram 1500 TRX or a Ford F-150 Raptor?