2021 RAM TRX Crew Cab 4x4 Review
Tell someone you’re driving a 702-horsepower pickup and they look at you like you’ve grown horns from your noggin and said 29-cent gas is back.
But it’s true, the Ram 1500 TRX Crew Cab packs a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8, the same used in both the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats. Rating is 702 horses and torque of 650 lb.-ft. with a reported 0-60 mph burst of 4.5 seconds, although some folks have tested it as low as 4.1 seconds. Top speed is said to be 118 mph.
You may be saying to yourself, that’s a racer, not a pickup and you’d be right, except the TRX is street legal, if you can afford one.
This is a Muscle Truck, much as in years past we’ve had Muscle Cars, and still do, thankfully.
It’s Fiat-Chrysler’s kick-ass version of what we previously thought of as Ford’s wild thing, the Raptor pickup. But let’s be honest. The TRX (T-Rex, get it?) literally kicks the Raptor’s butt from a high-horse off-roading pickup perspective. It didn’t just raise the bar in a two-vehicle market, it snagged the bar with its brutish nose and threw it off a rock ledge just ahead of it on a Baja trail.
Now I’m no off-road rally expert, but just running this thing around town and through some high grass in a rural off-road setting I can say it’s up for any challenge.
Watch Mark's video review:
Some more numbers!
Ground clearance is 11.8 inches, and its massive suspension system will flex 13 inches in front and 14 inches in the rear. Its shocks are heavy-duty 2.6-inch Bilstein Black Hawks with adaptive performance functionality and there’s a five-link rear suspension with coil springs. Oh, and TRX also rides on 35-inch tall Goodyear Wrangler off-roading tires.
The giant airbox under TRX’s massive hood filters four times the dirt and debris of the Raptor too, meaning it will filter 32.9 liters of air per minute. Gulp!
TRX’s fenders are flared so much that it’s a full eight inches wider than a standard Ram pickup, and trust me, those aren’t narrow.
For cryin’ out loud there are even eight drive modes, from Sport to Baja and everything in between including snow, mud/sand, and rock. You can go anywhere with this monster.
I could go on.
Like Ford’s Raptor, this is not a pickup for everyone, not even just for macho dudes or dudettes dreaming of boasting enough power to alter the earth’s rotational speed. This is a 6,350-lb. truck meant for the dragstrip, at least. It includes launch control for more efficient slam-bam starts on rubbered-in asphalt. But it’s really a Baja basher at heart with all the aforementioned suspension travel and power.
Do I want to call it a supertruck? Yes I do.
But unless you have a dragstrip in your backyard or live in the outback or a desert where you can regularly show off the TRX’s abilities, well, it’s overkill.
I drove it around suburban Milwaukee, but found a field that a friend had access to that enabled us to go off-road for a bit. TRX is exceedingly capable there, rolling over hefty bumps a couple feet high and slapping through high grass and brush like it was freshly laid pavement, all the while I was imagining hunting wild game on the savannah.
Off-road you feel the twist and turn of the truck as it conquers the terrain to be sure, but you’re never uncomfortable. Likewise on Wisconsin’s bumpiest roads it was fine, in fact, a better ride than in some sedans and mid-size crossovers. That’s because the damping is active and you can easily scroll to the best drive mode via a dash control.
Each setting adjusts power to the four wheels, for instance Rock delivers a 50/50 split of power to the wheels and allows for a controlled descent over large and slippery rocks. While the Mud/Sand setting divides power 45% front and 55% rear while calibrating the throttle and torque management to avoid wheel slippage.
Lucky me, it snowed while I had the TRX and the Snow setting also splits torque 45/55 which was perfect to handle a couple inches of snowy slush. I rode around the neighborhood like a king above the fray in the mighty Ram, no slipping or sliding. The 8-speed automatic transmission helps there too with smooth power delivery, and handling is easy and fairly precise.
On pavement the TRX leaps to action, easily hitting triple digits on a freeway entry ramp, but there’s a whine from the supercharger and transmission, so get used to it. Tire noise is noticeable, but not as severe as I’d imagined it might be.
In fact, the crew cab, which comfortably seats five, is luxury car quiet, except for that engine and transmission whine. And that’s the funny thing here, this Ram is as much a luxury truck as a muscle truck. The interior is all black leather, suede and carbon fiber. It looks impressive, as have past Rams I’ve driven of late. Ford and GM better up their interior game.
Perforated leather heated and cooled front seats are comfy with good back support and modest hip support from the bottom cushions. Ram continues with its huge dual-level armrest/storage box between the front bucket seats. It has a suede top and includes a big (of course) VIN plate that personalizes the truck for its owner.
The center stack’s infotainment screen is 12 inches tall, like having an iPad mounted in the dash, and credit to the Ram designers, it’s simple to use and understand. This one had nav and also hooked up to a 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system ($1,195 extra).
All controls are easy to get at and much is controlled via that screen including the heated steering wheel and heated/cooled front seats. Rear seats also are heated, but all that is part of a massive $7,920 option package, the contents of which are too numerous to mention.
Another add-on is the $1,295 carbon fiber package with real carbon fiber accents on the dash and doors and console, but also includes a suede and CF trimmed flat-bottomed steering wheel. Nice!
Gauges are simple to see and read and look upscale and there are aluminum shift paddles behind the wheel. Overhead is an SOS system and nice interior lighting too. Plus there’s a wireless phone charger, 360-degree camera, and a head-up display. The latter is part of a $1,095 package.
Most of the usual safety equipment is here too from smart cruise to parking sensors and lane departure. But much of that is optional, I suppose Ram figures you won’t necessarily need it as you crunch the Baja.
Outwardly you’ll likely want the open-slotted running boards on either side, otherwise you’d have to be 8-foot tall to climb aboard. Thankfully there are big A-pillar handles to also help you aboard, although they limit outward visibility. The rails cost $995.
There also was a snazzy deployable step on the driver’s side tail to help you crawl up to the truck’s bed. It was easy to push down with a foot, but took a couple swift kicks to snap it back into its resting place. That’s part of an $845 package that includes the spray-in bedliner.
Oh, and this one added a second spare tire mounted on a tire carrier in the truck’s bed, just below the snazzy rack system that housed a quartet of off-road running lights. The carrier costs $995, but pretty much makes the truck bed useless except for smaller items or those that can lay alongside the tire. Another spare is mounted below the bed.
I’m sure to be leaving out something vital on a truck that comes with so much and also is packed with options.
Just know that if you have to ask the price of the TRX it means you’re a normally curious person, but NOT likely to be a buyer. This truck is about going out and crushing the competition and the off-road environment, cost be damned.
But for the curious, it lists at $70,095, and after piling on the options the test truck hit $89,565. I’d call it $90,000.
Likewise, if gas mileage matters to you, avert your eyes. The EPA rates the TRX at 10 mpg city and 14 highway. The trip computer insisted I got 9.9 mpg, but I calculated it at a slightly better 10.6 mpg. Extreme trucks with extreme power suck gas, no surprise.
But, Ram’s TRX is a truck that has everything, and will do everything. Period!
Overview: 2021 RAM TRX Crew Cab 4x4
Hits: He-man looks and performance, super truck power, ace off-road ability, luxury interior, huge info screen, 8 drive modes, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel. Full bevy of safety devices. This truck has everything!
Misses: Huge price, horrible gas mileage, tire in bed negates value of pickup bed, giant A-pillars restrict sight lines.
Made In: Sterling Heights, Mich.
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8, 702 hp
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Weight: 6,350 lbs.
Wheelbase: 145.1 in.
Length: 232.9 in.
Cargo: 53.9 cu.ft.
Tow: 8,100 lbs.
Payload: 1,310 lbs.
MPG: 10/14, 10.6 (tested)
Base Price: $70,095 (includes delivery)
Major Options: Granite Crystal Metallic paint, $200
Technology group (head-up display, LED stop lamp, rearview auto-dimming digital mirror), $1,095
Trailer tow group, $195
Advanced safety group (pedestrian/cyclist emergency braking, adaptive cruise, stop & go, lane keep assist), $995
Bed utility group (deployable bed step, adjustable tie-down hooks, spray-in bedliner), $845
Lower two-tone paint, $250
TRX carbon fiber package (real carbon fiber accents, carbon & leather flat-bottom steering wheel), $1,295
TRX level 2 group (leather-trimmed bucket seats, heat/cooled front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, front/rear door accent lights, remote key/start, power tailgate release, rear 60/40 seats recline, rear under seat storage, driver memory seat, power adjustable pedals, trailer brake controller, blind-spot and cross-traffic detection, ParkSense, + more), $7,920
Rock Rails, $995
19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound, $1,195
Bed-mounted tire carrier, $995
Beadlock capable aluminum wheels, $1,895
Test Vehicle: $89,565
Editor's note: Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.