Gallery: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX First Drive; The Apex Predator of the Truck World

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has been the talk of the performance world since it was introduced online earlier this year. With 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, it is the most powerful production truck in the world while the top speed and acceleration numbers make it the quickest and fastest production truck in the world. At the same time, it is built to be an off-road beast, but it also has an interior that is loaded up like a European luxury sedan.

The TRX seems impressive on paper, but to experience the supercharged Ram 1500 in person, I traveled to Lake Tahoe to spend a day behind the wheel. After hundreds of miles driving on- and off-road, the TRX didn’t just meet my expectations, it blew them away. I expected it to be a good all-around truck, but in reality, it is the best all-around truck, combining on-road comfort and interior luxury with incredible off-road performance capabilities that make very short work of the Ford F-150 Raptor.

Cruising the California Highways
My time behind the wheel of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX began at our hotel in Lake Tahoe, California and our destination was the Wild West Motorsports Park in Nevada. The route that had been mapped out took us about two hours and it included a mix of wide open highways, tight mountain roads and crowded residential areas.

All of the TRX test trucks on hand were outfitted with the TR2 package, which means that they had heated and cooled leather and suede front seats, reclining rear seats, the heads up display, the digital rearview mirror and loads of premium finishes throughout the cabin. It was cold in the morning, so I used the heated seats and in the afternoon, the climbing temperatures called for the cooling seat feature.

The deep bolstered front buckets look great, but they also do a great job of keeping you in place while you are carving through canyon roads or blasting around an off-road course. The heads up display makes monitoring your speed and the speed limit nice and easy and the high tech rearview mirror provides a far better look at the world behind you than a traditional reflective mirror.

The standard 12-inch UConnect screen has huge buttons on every mode, making it easy to switch from the radio to the navigation to the climate control to the performance pages. The large virtual buttons within each menu makes it easy to make changes to whatever screen you are in and all of the font on the screen is easy to read at a glance. Really, the interior is more like a European luxury sedan than an American off-road performance truck, making it a fantastic option for the daily drive.

More importantly, the TRX drives beautifully on the road. I expected it to be great off-road and a bit stiff on paved roads, but the adaptive Bilstein dampers do an amazing job of cushioning the bumps on the road and preventing body roll during hard cornering. In fact, the tires are more of a limiting factor than anything else, allowing us to push the 6,500-pound truck hard through both tight and sweeping turns.

I expected the TRX to ride like a Power Wagon but in reality, it is as smooth as any other truck in the lineup. If a passenger couldn’t see the outside of hear the roar of the exhaust, they would likely guess that they were in a premium luxury model based on handling, ride quality and interior amenities.

While cruising to the test track, I made several hard pulls from a dig, during which I found that the official performance times are clearly underrated. Ram claims that it will dash from a stop to 60 in 4.5 seconds while a quarter mile run takes 12.9 seconds. On my first hard pull, I got to 60 in 3.9 seconds and the quarter time was a 12.3, but I felt that there was a slightly downhill grade at the beginning of the run. The off-road gauges read 0 zeros of slope, but it didn’t feel like a perfectly flat surface.

To even things out, I found a stretch of pavement that registered 0 degrees of slope, but there was clearly a very slight, gradual incline. I made two quarter mile runs on that surface, resulting in back-to-back 0-to-60 times of 4.3 seconds and a pair of 12.7 quarter mile times. Mind you, that is at high elevation in a 6,500-pound truck with 35-inch off-road tires, so I consider those times to be very impressive. In short, there is no compromise of comfort or luxury in the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, making it the perfect high performance daily driver.

Hitting the Dirt Track
The destination of our morning drive was Wild West Motorsports Park in Nevada, where we were able to push the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX to its limits. I expected it to be great in the dirt, but it was nothing short of astonishing. The first time that I was really blown away by the TRX, aside from the acceleration numbers, came when I jumped the truck for the first time. Others were getting quite a bit of air, so I expected to ride out a fairly violent landing.

However, the Bilstein dampers completely absorb the impact of the landing, preventing any bounce and providing immediate control to turn or slow down for the next obstacle. Even when jumping into a series of choppy mogul-type bumps, I always had total control of the truck. I jumped higher and further than I ever have in any other vehicle, yet the landing was smoother than any that I have experienced, showing the true excellence of the Bilstein suspension setup and the Baja drive mode.

After time on the track, I tackled the rock crawling obstacle and a three-mile off-road trail, both of which were a breeze for the TRX. Even when climbing over rocks that would hang-up most half-ton trucks, the TRX barely broke a sweat and when on the trails, we were able to go very, very fast without any concern. The combination of the aggressive Goodyear tires and the advanced, adaptive suspension setup kept the truck digging in through every type of off-road footing that we attacked.

The last test at the off-road facility was an eighth mile dirt drag strip, comprised of hard packed dirt and rocks. Using the launch control system and the Sport drive mode, I was able to sprint to 60 in just 4.3 seconds while running the eighth mile in just 8.1 seconds. That is as quick as the Dodge Scat Pack cars, but the TRX turned those numbers on dirt. That is impressive.

If you want a truck that is comfortable for the daily drive, unstoppable in the dirt and insanely quick on any surface, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is the truck for you. This supercharged beast is better than the Ford Raptor in every way, but more importantly, it is does everything well and doesn’t force the driver to compromise anywhere. It is truly the perfect all-around half-ton pickup.

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Patrick Rall

Industry News Editor Patrick entered the Mopar world when he bought his 1983 Mirada back in 1994, installing a mild 340 a year later that would eventually be built up into the range of 500 horsepower. Today, Patrick daily drives a Hellcat Challenger, but he still has his 340-powered Mirada, as well as a 1972 Demon 340 and a Hemi Ram.

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