Trucks & SUVs

What Makes the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX So Good Off-Road?

The F-150 Raptor’s reign as the most-prominent Baja-style truck may be coming to an end. Ram’s finally pulled the curtain back on the Ram 1500 TRX, which already edges the Raptor out slightly on towing. But it’s the Ram TRX’s off-road hardware that should give Ford some pause.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX’s Hellcat engine

The biggest news surrounding the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX involves its engine. It’s essentially the same 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that’s found in the Dodge Challenger, Charger, and now Durango. Only the Hellcat engine in the TRX is slightly different.

Instead of 707 hp, the Ram 1500 TRX’s engine makes 702 hp and 650 lb-ft, Car and Driver reports. The Durango Hellcat, in contrast, makes 8 more hp, but 5 fewer lb-ft. But as Road & Track explains, there’s a very good reason for that: off-roading.

A red 2021 Ram 1500 TRX slides through the desert in a big dust cloud
2021 Ram 1500 TRX | Ram

The pickup’s 8-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel-drive system, and cooling system can handle more power. But drifting in the desert requires a heavy-duty air filter to keep the dust at bay. And even with a hood scoop and hollow badge, R&T reports, there’s only enough airflow for 702 hp. But that still means the 6350-lb truck can go 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, and run the ¼-mile in 12.9 seconds.

The new filter, though, isn’t the only new thing about the Ram 1500 TRX’s engine, Motor Trend reports. It also has a redesigned oil pan, so the oil doesn’t slosh around during high-speed off-pavement slides. The exhaust manifolds are new, as are the exhaust tips. And while the air filter does cut into power, the air intakes are shaped so debris falls out before it hits the filter. Plus, the alternator is mounted higher to maximize wading depth.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX: off-road specs and features

A red 2021 Ram 1500 TRX wading through deep water
2021 Ram 1500 TRX wading | Ram

Speaking of wading depth, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX can venture into water 32” deep, R&T reports. It also has 11.8” of ground clearance, Automobile reports, due to its suspension, wheels, and tires. They also give the truck a 30.2° approach angle, a 23.5° departure angle, and a 21.9° break-over angle, Autoblog reports.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX's bare chassis, displaying its Bilstein dampers and Hellcat V8
2021 Ram 1500 TRX chassis | Ram

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Although it’s not actually based on the Rebel, the TRX trim does give the Ram 1500 some serious off-road tech. It has a reinforced frame with thicker-gauge steel, stronger steering components and axles, and wider and stronger control arms. The Ram 1500 TRX also rides on 2.5” Bilstein E2 remote-reservoir adjustable dampers. As a result of all these changes, the truck’s track is 6” wider, and it has over 13” of suspension travel.

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Besides that, the Ram TRX features a locking rear differential and Goodyear Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires, Car and Driver reports. And for a little extra, those tires can be mounted on bead-lock wheels, which prevent tire slip even at low pressures. Those A/T tires do limit the top speed, though—to 118 mph.

The Ram 1500 TRX also comes with several electronic off-roading aides, Car and Driver reports. The driver’s digital display can indicate the truck’s roll and pitch angles. It also has multiple driving modes, including a Baja Mode for “undulating, loose surfaces,” and dedicated launch control. And if you’re towing a trailer, there’s an optional dial to steer the trailer using the 12” infotainment screen and backup camera.

Pricing and the competition

All that power and off-road equipment don’t come cheap. The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX starts at $71,690 after delivery, MT reports. And that’s for the base model, The Drive reports. There’s also a Launch Edition which starts at $92,010—it’s the most expensive half-ton production truck currently on sale. Only 702 will be made, MT reports, though they will at least come with basically every option available.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptors with Fox Live Vale electronic shocks
2019 Ford F-150 Raptors with Fox Live Vale electronic shocks | Fox

Even in base form, the Ford F-150 Raptor is significantly cheaper; it starts at $53,455. And its off-road numbers are similar to the TRX’s, The Drive reports. It has 11.5” of ground clearance and 13.8” of suspension travel. And its 32” wading depth matches the Ram’s, Autoblog reports. Plus, even though its 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 ‘only’ makes 450 hp, its towing capacity is only 100 pounds less than the TRX’s.

However, while the F-150 Raptor uses leaf springs in the rear, the Ram 1500 rides on more-sophisticated coils. It also has slightly better departure and break-over angles than the Raptor. And even though it’s heavier, the TRX is 0.6 seconds faster to 60.

White 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro driving down a dirt road
2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Toyota

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Meanwhile, the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro will likely have a hard time keeping up. Its 31° approach angle is slightly better, Motor1 reports. But it only has 10.6” of ground clearance, and its 5.7-liter V8 makes just 381 hp, Car and Driver reports. Its 0-60 time is almost 2 seconds slower than the TRX’s, and its top speed is 10 mph slower. However, it’s basically half the price, and it can tow 900 pounds more.

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