Trucks & SUVs

Will the Ram 1500 TRX Be the Least Fuel-Efficient Off-Road Pickup?

The Ford F-150 Raptor’s newest threat, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, is finally here. Although it’s dropped the ‘Rebel’ tag, the new pickup truck is ready to take the Hellcat engine off-road. But potential owners may have to bring a few extra fuel cans with them.

Estimating the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX’s MPG rating

An overhead shot of a red 2021 Ram 1500 TRX in the desert
2021 Ram 1500 TRX overhead | Ram

As of this writing, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX’s EPA rating hasn’t been released. But since it has the same basic 6.2-liter supercharged V8 as the Challenger and Charger Hellcats, we can theoretically use them to estimate the truck’s efficiency.

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It’s worth pointing out that the Ram TRX’s engine isn’t identical to the ones in the Hellcat passenger cars, Motor Trend reports. To deal with off-road dirt and dust, the truck has a high-capacity air filter, Road & Track reports. It also has a different oil pan to deal with off-road cornering forces, as well as different exhaust manifolds. Plus, it’s tuned for low-end torque, rather than outright horsepower.

As a result, it makes 702 hp, rather than 707 hp, Car and Driver reports. Though it also makes 650 lb-ft. Still, the engines are similar enough that they’re comparable. So, let’s do so, using the Dodge Charger as the comparison base.

2020 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack overhead
2020 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack overhead | Dodge

The EPA rates the 6.4-liter V8 R/T Scat Pack model at 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway; Car and Driver saw 17 mpg. The Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody, meanwhile, is rated at 12 mpg city/21 mpg highway; Car and Driver reported 15 mpg.

A silver Ram 1500 on a dirt road climbs over the peak of a hill.
2020 Ram 1500 Rebel | FCA

In contrast, Car and Driver’s long-term 2019 5.7-liter V8 Ram 1500 is rated at 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway. However, it’s getting 15 mpg. The more off-road-focused Rebel, with its chunkier tires, sees 14 mpg with the same engine, Car and Driver reports. And its EPA rating is 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway.

Given that the Ram 1500 TRX has off-road tires, we’ll use the Rebel as the starting point. Using the Charger’s data, we estimate the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX will be rated at 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway.

How does our 2021 Ram TRX fuel efficiency estimate compare to the competition?

It’s entirely possible that the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX’s actual fuel efficiency will be different than our estimate. However, that estimate isn’t too dissimilar from the real-world efficiency of its rivals.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor with Fox Live Valve electronic shocks
2019 Ford F-150 Raptor with Fox Live Valve electronic shocks | Fox

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For example, even with its smaller and weaker 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, the EPA rates the Ford F-150 Raptor at 15 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. And in Car and Driver’s testing, the truck saw 14 mpg. Based on how the non-TRX Ram 1500s performed, it might end up being more efficient than the Raptor.

2020 Chevy Silverado Race Truck-002
2020 Chevy Silverado Race Truck | GM

As of this writing, Chevrolet still hasn’t released more information on the upcoming Silverado ZR2. But Car and Driver reports the off-road pickup will come with the base truck’s 6.2-liter V8 and 10-speed automatic. In non-ZR2 trim, the EPA rates it at 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway; Car and Driver saw 15 mpg.

The outline of a GMC Hummer all-electric pickup is lit up on a black background.
The GMC Hummer all-electric pickup | GMC via Youtube

Of course, there’s also the upcoming electric GMC Hummer pickup truck. Its energy efficiency rating (the ‘mpge’ figure) hasn’t been revealed, either. But given that electric powertrains are more efficient than ICE ones, the Ram 1500 TRX might end up being less efficient than the Hummer. Though it’ll likely have a longer range.

Will potential owners care?

How important is fuel efficiency to the owners of trucks like the F-150 Raptor? More than you might think, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. According to Consumer Reports, pickup truck and SUV buyers are prepared to pay more than passenger car buyers for better fuel efficiency. This makes sense–trucks are used for long-distance towing, and you don’t want to burn a lot of fuel doing that.

But it’s also important for off-roading. Going off-road requires a great deal of planning, which includes knowing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. You don’t want to get stuck in the desert or on a trail because you’ve run out of fuel. And even if you’re not off-roading, the Ram 1500 TRX’s features will still impact its on-pavement efficiency. That was certainly the case with the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro I tested.

Then again, if you’re buying a 702-hp dune-jumping truck, you’re probably paying more attention to landing than your average mpg.

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