After a Year of Off-Roading, A Disappointing Ammount of Stuff Broke on MotorTrend’s Ram TRX

The Ram TRX is quite the dominating force in the automotive world. So much so that despite it getting thrashed on MotorTrend’s 7,700-mile off-road journey as the support truck for the Rivian R1T, it still won MotorTrend’s 2021 Truck of the Year. But even the best trucks can get whopped on the trail, and this Ram TRX got plenty of whoppings. Here’s everything that broke on MotorTrend’s long-term TRX loaner in one year. 

How reliable is the 2021 Ram TRX? 

MotorTrend reports a pretty substantial amount of bumps, bruises, and breaks for their loaner Ram TRX. But after 7,700 miles of off-road, I’d wager anything would be a bit banged up. In MotorTrend’s own words, “Did we beat it like a rented mule? Yes.” But after the beating, MT liked the truck so much that they welcomed it into their long-term fleet. 

The first cut is the deepest

The first knock was a flat tire somewhere in Virginia. This barley counts as damage. Flats just happen. But soon after, in North Carolina, while following the Rivian R1T drive the entire Trans-America Trail, The Ram’s driver’s side running board got dragged along a tree. 

The second bit of real damage came on the leg between Georgia and Oklahoma. The crew bumped a tree while navigating some tight woods, which left a sizeable dent in the passenger side rear quarter of the bed. In order to navigate this stretch of dense wood, the MT crew had to employ chainsaws to clear a path. 

One of the more avoidable but completely understandable bits of carnage came from racing the 702-hp Ram TRX against the Rivian. Again, avoidable but also understandable. 

The Rivian had a pre-production mode called “Max Power Mode.” The Rivian already could theoretically crush a 3.1-second 0-60 mph sprint. The Ram TRX, only 4.0 seconds. The drag race took place on a gravel road, which spells disaster for the losing truck. As you may have expected, the Rivian smoked the Ram TRX and kicked a manner of gravel at the TRX windshield. It suffered cracks in three places. 

The damage continues

The Ram 1500 TRX on a test track
The Ram 1500 TRX on a test track | JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Somewhere along the way, the third wave of MT pilots tagged in to helm the TRX. While driving around 80 mph, the driver noticed a left rear tire wobbling like hell. He pulled over to find that “​​three of the wheel studs had sheared off, and the other three’s lug nuts were very loose.” As a result, the entire wheel and studs had to be replaced. Once fixed, they were back on the road. 

The fourth leg of the journey came with more damage and various tales of how it all occurred. The windshield became further cracked, turning the ratio of non-broken glass to broken glass on its head. Also, the exhaust pipes got “squared off” (that’s a nice way to put it) in Moab. If that weren’t enough, although no one owned up to it, the MT drivers say that someone damaged the front bumper and AC blower while rock crawling.

By the end of the fifth chunk, they had cleared Utah and came to Oregon with even more broken bits. “By Wave five, the brake rotors were warped badly, and the vibration under braking was disturbing. There was a leak into the passenger compartment, which tends to be damp underneath the rubber floormats. And we noticed the sunroof got damaged because of mud and dust.” Lastly, the Ram TRX got a busted bearing attached to the rear axle shaft. 

Why does MotorTrend like the Ram TRX?

White Ram 1500 TRX jumping
A 2021 Ram TRX pickup truck makes a jump on a demonstrative course during the Motor Bella | Emily Elconin/Bloomberg

The folks at MT understand that cars will break. More to the point, trucks WILL break with this much off-roading. MT picked the Ram TRX as the 2021 Truck of the Year because, despite the beating the truck got, it kept rolling. The only real hassle was the time it took to get parts due to the supply chain issues. 

It might be easy to look at the list of broken parts and think the Ram TRX is soft, but 7,700 miles of off-road is how you break trucks. The Ram got beat up, but it survived. 

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