A little-known fact about Superman is that his creators first envisioned the character as a villain. The original story involved a deranged scientist who chose a random wanderer and endowed him with telepathic powers. With his newfound powers, the wanderer begins to take over the world. Obviously, that version of Superman was replaced with the overly kind extraterrestrial.
I, though, have a feeling that Stellantis (previously FCA) knew about the original Superman’s story, because it’s done something similar with the Ram 1500. It’s taken the Ram 1500, which has struggled against the likes of the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and given it superpowers to make the 2021 Ram TRX. Those powers come in the form of a 702-horsepower supercharged V8 and Baja-style suspension.
The first time you engage launch control and feel and hear the raw power that the Ram TRX has, you almost kind of laugh. Who the hell would create this? It seriously feels like it’s not from planet Earth, because it’s ferocious and unrelenting. It’s also hilarious fun.
Ford may have created the high-performance off-roading pickup truck segment with the Raptor, but the Ram TRX is an entirely different creature. It’s so big, so powerful, so outrageous that it doesn’t make any sense. At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t have to, because Ram has made something so unique that it’s hard to comprehend.
Pickup trucks are often massive, but the TRX feels and looks like it’s larger than life itself. A medium-sized dog would be able to curl up into a ball for a nap in the TRX’s massive fenders and the hood scoop is large enough to suck in unknowing bunnies. The pickup truck also sits 11.8 inches off the ground thanks in part to its enormous 35-inch all-terrain tires. The test vehicle Ram provided also has a spare tire sitting in the bed, which is incredibly inconvenient, but gives the pickup truck a trophy truck costume.
While the TRX looks like a snarling beast, its design isn’t as outrageous as one would expect from a deranged pickup truck. In fact, everyone on the road thinks that you’re just another stereotypical pickup truck owner in a lifted, obnoxiously loud truck. All it’s missing is one questionable bumper sticker to complete the look. In Ram’s defense, form really does follow function and it looks like an angrier version of the Rebel. Its competitor, the Raptor, looks nothing like the F-150 that it’s based on.
Ram makes the best interiors of any pickup truck on sale, so the TRX is just as luxurious, upscale, and high-tech as its stablemates. Of course, Ram gave the TRX its own unique sporty touches, like a flat-bottom steering wheel, large shift paddles, heavily bolstered seats, a launch control button, and a TRX-labeled drive mode controller. Buyers can also get real carbon-fiber accents as part of a package that places the material in can’t miss areas. These features and materials may seem out of place at first glance, but the TRX is a performance vehicle first and a truck second.
The TRX’s 12-inch tablet-style touchscreen is an unexpected highlight of the interior. It has crisp graphics, is easy to use, and is better than nearly every other infotainment system available today, despite it featuring the old Uconnect 4 infotainment system. A 7-inch screen is nestled in between the speedometer and tachometer, allowing the driver to keep an eye on useful information, like how much range is left — very important as the TRX drinks fuel like it’s an addict. An all-digital instrument cluster would be nice, but the Hellcat’s familiar gauges are nice to see.
With a 702-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, you expect the TRX to offer a lot of performance. But there’s really no way to anticipate the raw savagery. Launch control will see the TRX get to 60 mph in an automaker-claimed 4.5 seconds, but other outlets have timed the truck doing the sprint in as little as 3.7 seconds. The TRX’s nose raises up, the rear end slightly squats down, and the truck takes off. Then there’s the sound. Getting to 60 mph in the same time as a sports car is one thing, but the guttural, throaty noise the V8 makes is intoxicating. The whine, oh that sweet, sweet supercharger whine. For unsuspecting passengers and drivers on the road, it’s horrifying.
Unlike other Hellcat models where the engine dominates the conversation, it’s just one part of the package in the TRX. The rest of it includes some trick suspension with 14 inches of rear suspension travel, Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, nine drive modes including Baja, and knobby all-terrain tires. Surprisingly, for such a large, top-heavy pickup truck, the TRX handles well when in Sport mode. The mode tightens the dampers considerably, resulting in a far less floaty feel, but the truck still rolls and wallows, because that’s what a 6,300-pound vehicle is going to do.
While the TRX will impress in a straight line on the road, it really needs to be taken off-road to be enjoyed. And not to some off-road park, but to a sand dune or the desert where you can jump the thing and unwind the V8. Going far above the speed limit on a small trail in Baja mode seems cruel. The truck knows it can offer more. Finding someplace to unleash it is going to be a tough task, not only because of its size, but because it’s just so capable.
With multiple drive modes, the TRX can cobble through anything in its path at any speed. It seriously feels unstoppable, like an apocalypse is the only thing that will bring the TRX to a dead stop. That or another fuel crisis. The EPA claims the TRX is capable of getting up to 12 mpg combined, but that’s a bad April Fools’ joke.
Between a mix of light off-roading, city driving, and long jaunts on the highway, we saw an average of 8 mpg. Depending on how hard you drive — and you won’t be driving lightly — you’re looking at single-digit mpg figures. If that sounds bad, premium fuel is mandatory. If the high MSRP of the truck doesn’t cause heartburn, fill-ups at the gas station will, because you’re looking at regularly spending $200 for a tank.
As much as this pains me to say, the answer is no. Not unless you live in the middle of the desert or have access to some kind of off-road facility where you can actually exploit the TRX. If you do, please invite us. Seriously, this thing is a niche product based on its performance alone. Then, there’s the truck’s insanely high starting price tag of $72,020 with destination. Our tester was fitted with quite a few extras and cost $87,570.
There’s nothing quite like the TRX. No one else has made this kind of a package in a pickup truck. It’s equal parts insanity and hilarity. The TRX is the first supertruck that consumers can actually buy — as long as they have the funds. Ford may have created the segment with the Raptor, but Ram flipped the segment and the world on its head with the TRX. After all, the TRX was a mightier dinosaur than the Raptor.
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