2021 Ram1500 TRX — Hellcat power in a pickup tuck

By Jim Prueter

(June 8, 2021) When it comes to cars and trucks it’s a fact of life that people don’t just buy what they need, they buy what they want. If that were the case the minivan would be one of the best-selling vehicles in America. However, everyone has the freedom to drive a vehicle that doesn’t just get them where they need to go with functionality, value and safety. They also have the freedom to drive a vehicle that brings a smile to their face, feel happy, and proud of what they drive.

Minivans aren’t prone to be adorned with foot-wide tires, racing strips or massive amounts of power. That would simply be sloppy excess and when combined with the minivan “stigma” it isn’t going to sell — even if you put magnetic flame applications to the side of the vehicle.

That brings me to the new 2021 Ram tested here. An incredibly potent vehicle that’s been promised for over four years as both a competitor as well as an alternative to Ford’s F-150 Raptor.

The newest Ram offering is fitted with the automaker’s mega 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat HEMI V8 engine that delivers an excessive 702 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Activate the TRX’s standard launch control, replete with adjustable launch rpm and it rockets to 60 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds. Our tested quarter-mile run had the TRX crossing the line in just 12.3 seconds at 112 mph.

By comparison the new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette reached 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 11.1 seconds at 122 mph. It’s worth noting that the TRX weighs nearly twice that of the Corvette tipping the scales at a husky 6,866 pounds compared to the Corvette’s 3,587 pounds.

It’s worth mentioning however that Ram doesn’t call the TRX a Hellcat. And even though a huge number of people still refer to the Ram as the Dodge Ram (the Dodge Ram truck split away from the Dodge car brand back in 2009) the Hellcat name is dedicated and exclusive to Dodge branding. Still, everyone during my weeklong testing of the TRX referred to it as Hellcat engine even though its horsepower is 702 instead of the 707 found in Dodge products.

As you might expect, there’s much more to the upgrades of the crew-cab-only TRX that still carries over everything we like about the regular Ram 1500 including its enormous interior and back seat along with the best-looking and most comfortable interior to be had in any full-sized pickup. There’s a new frame that’s stiffer and reinforced for the Baja sort of off-road duties it’s called upon to negotiate. Ground clearance is 11.8-inches, and there’s meaty 35-inch 325/65 standard Goodyear Territory All-Terrain tires mounted on 18” x 9” Beadlock capable aluminum wheels to go along with the 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks with adaptive damping and, a Dana 60 rear axle. There’s a full-size spare under the rear cargo bed and you can opt for the $995 extra bed-mounted tire-carrier and actually have two spare tires.

Off-road the TRX can pretty much go anyplace you want, crawling over anything in its path. There’s a surround-view camera that’s an absolute necessity for off-road especially on inclines where things disappear and all you see is sky and the massive scooped and vented hood line. The cameras keep you from guessing if there’s a trail or a cliff in front of you.

While we didn’t test the truck to see if we could get it completely airborne as it is advertised to do, we’ve seen video of the TRX with nothing but air with at least several feet under the tires in jump segments returning to terra firma with as soft a landing as a floating feather.

On paved surfaces, I engaged the TRX into sport mode and pounded the go pedal to the metal with supercharger whining and grinding on Arizona’s notorious Apache Trail hustling through its sharp curvy canyon road with no shortage of dips and instant inclines. It was more fun than a person should be allowed to have behind the wheel. The biggest downside? We averaged a dismal 10.2 mpg of $3.89 premium gasoline rendering the 33-gallon fuel tank an absolute necessity. Still, filling an empty tank will set you back in excess of $125 and around 335 miles before you need to refill.

All this goodness doesn’t come cheap with the MSRP north of astronomical. Our TRX tester started at $69,995 and with a long list of options including the TRX level 2 equipment group with luxury interior appointments, power assisted features, safety and technology gear, and a $1,695 destination charge it listed at a total price of $89,365.

Overall, the new TRX is the most impressive truck I’ve ever driven and tested. It’s a technological tour de force that’s beyond impressive in any measurable and emotional way. I found it hard to imagine the truck will ever fully reach its full potential by its owner given its immense capability. Around town, the TRX is a beast to drive with its high ride-height, wide body and loud exhaust notes. Other than that, the TRX is an awesome vehicle to drive and as far away from a minivan experience as one could possibly have.
Vital Stats
Base Price: $69,995
Price as Tested: $89,365
What Makes it Go: 6.2-liter 702-hp supercharged HEMI V8 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive.
EPA Fuel Economy: 10/14/12 mpg - city/hwy/combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: 2021 Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and highest possible overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Where Built: Sterling Heights, Michigan

Competes With
Ford F-150 Raptor

Fab Features
Massive horsepower and performance
World-class off-road capability
Roomy, comfortable, luxurious interior