The supertruck is here. Automakers are now giving a level of attention previously reserved for flagship supercars to a new class of off-road trucks. Examples include the Ford F-150 Raptor R and the Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX. While General Motors builds several capable off-road pickup trucks, it has not bothered with a supercharged V8 to compete with its Detroit brethren. It does build two of the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8s of all time but does not offer either of these in pickup trucks.
General Motors is the final American manufacturer offering no supercharged pickup truck
So far, General Motors has made no move to wade into the supercharged V8 truck battle. That said, both GMC and Chevrolet make pickups that are off-road supertruck contenders.
The GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 are mechanically identical half-ton trucks. Their highest off-roading trim is badged as GMC’s Sierra AT4 and Chevrolet’s Silverado ZR2. Upgrades to these trims include an automatic locking rear differential, two-inch lift, and a transfer case with selectable drive modes. But the largest engine General Motors offers in these trucks is its 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated Ecotec3 V8.
Instead of a supercharged TRX-killer, General Motors is fixing its flagship supertruck hopes on electric vehicles. The revived GMC Hummer is a limited-edition electric supertruck that can go toe-to-toe with the F-150 Raptor R and the Ram 1500 TRX.
General Motors is choosing not to focus any of its energy on a supercharged powerplant. But it actually makes some of the world’s most powerful V8s–without using superchargers.
The latest Corvette ZR1 is powered by bespoke V8 which uses a Ferrari-like flat-plane crankshaft configuration to make over 600 horsepower, making it the most powerful naturally-aspirated production V8 in history. Chevrolet also holds the record for the most powerful non-production naturally-aspirated V8 with its 10.3-liter, 1,000 horsepower ZZ632.
Perhaps, before the future goes fully electric, we’ll see one of these two powerplants in a Silverado or Sierra shake up the supertruck war.
The Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX started the supercharger wars
As soon as Dodge’s SRT division rolled out the 700-horsepower supercharged Hellcat V8 for the Charger and Challenger, Ram trucks began developing concept trucks that used it. For the 2021 model year, Ram finally released the 1500 TRX 4×4 pickup truck.
The Hellcat followed in the footsteps of the V6 Ford F-150 Raptor with long-travel suspension inspired by desert racing trucks. It rides on 35 inch all-terrain tires and features FOX racing shock absorbers.
The Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX is leading the modern factory-supercharged V8 trend. But almost 15 years ago Toyota Racing Development (TRD) actually engineered a supercharger for the 5.7-liter Tundra V8. Truck buyers could order the supercharged Tundra as a dealer option, but when installed by a technician it actually did not void the factory warranty.
The Ram TRX forced the Ford F-150 Raptor to evolve
Ford’s Special Vehicle Team really kicked off the widespread supertruck class when it launched the 2010 F-150 Raptor. And SVT even tried a V8 engine for the Raptor’s second generation. But when designing the third-generation Raptor, SVT returned to the powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 to keep front-end weight low. Then Ram threw a gauntlet with the TRX.
Ford decisively answered the Ram 1500 TRX with its F-150 Raptor R trim level. This 2022 truck features Ford’s own supercharged V8 (an evolution of the engine in the GT500 Mustang). It also one-ups the TRX with 37-inch tires and a taller lift.
Are you curious what a General Motors’ TRX hunter might look like? Learn more about Chevrolet’s ZZ632 crate engine or the Corvette ZR2’s exotic V8 or see the GMC Sierra’s AT4X on a trail in the video below: