Remember the end of Jurassic Park? The raptors have the film's human protagonists cornered in the lobby, they're just about to pounce — when out of the blue, the T. rex swoops in and proceeds to tear them both apart? Then she lets out a mighty roar in a proud assertion of dominance, proving to all the world that she's the meanest beast to ever walk the surface of the planet?
Yeah, that's basically the energy Ram is channeling with the new 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, which goes on sale later this year.
The truck maker may be telling journalists that the name was long an internal term used to signify a performance truck, but regardless of its origins, the brand is clearly grabbing on the T. rex analogy with both (very tiny but surprisingly strong) hands — no doubt due to the fact that its primary competitor, the Ford F-150 Raptor, also bears a saurian name. Witness the fact that the company's model page the TRX says "the reign begins 8/17" (the rex in T. rex is Latin for "king," hence the nickname "king of the dinosaurs"); witness the fact that Ram hid a scale drawing of a T. rex next to a velociraptor on the truck as one of their beloved Easter eggs.
And with more than 700 horsepower under the hood and a host of mechanical modifications made to the Ram 1500 chassis and body, this off-road monster of a pickup truck looks like it just might do to the F-150 Raptor what that T. rex did to those raptors in Jurassic Park.
First up: the power. As expected, the Ram TRX packs a supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 under the hood, like the concept rig of 2016 did. Unlike that 575-hp test bed, though, the production version makes 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, putting it in line with the rest of the Hellcat family. Granted, that actually makes it the least powerful Hellcat, but considering Ram says it'll still push this giant truck from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, odds are good you won't be complaining.
That power goes to the wheels via a full-time four-wheel-drive system, rear electronic locking differential and an eight-speed automatic, with the latter gaining paddle shifters for the first time. The automatic is shifted via a more traditional lever (with a manual shift gate) rather than the rotary dial used to shift between P, R, N and D on regular Rams; the space where that dial used to be on the dash is now home to hard buttons that let the driver toggle between the many drive modes, including a high-speed desert-bashing Baja mode.
Bilstein adaptive dampers lie on all four corners to help handle the brutal impacts of blasting across terrain at high speed; the front end boasts an independent suspension, while a Dana rear axle handles things astern. The frame has been strengthened to handle the sort of antics owners of these trucks get up to. Total ground clearance is 11.8 inches, so just be sure to keep a ruler in the glovebox. (In case you forget, though, there are no fewer than five skid plates.) The tires, by the way? 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territorys.
Wide open spaces like the high desert will definitely be more the Ram TRX's forte than crawling through tight back roads, given this dino's size; at 88 inches across, it's wider than even an original Hummer, let alone the F-150 Raptor. Still, its quad cab body and massive flared fenders do wonders to hide its size visually. And in spite of its fast-mover mission, it should still be great at doing regular truck tasks; towing, for example, should be easier than ever, as the TRX is the first Ram to come with the brand's new trailer-reversal system that lets you back up your Airstream using a knob and the rearview camera.
Apart from a few departures like that, though, the interior should look pretty familiar to anyone who's been in a Ram 1500 in the last couple years — especially a Ram 1500 Rebel, the interior of which was used as the jumping-off point for the new TRX. Your butt might notice the new sport seats, however, which are better suited to holding you in place than the regular Ram thrones; your fingers will probably notice the addition of microsuede upholstery to the steering wheel and other such places, and your eyes might notice the head-up display (an FCA first) if you option your rig with it. But the rest of the interior — the switchgear, the excellent UConnect infotainment system, the expansive God's eye view of the world — is all pretty much what you'd expect.
So how much will it cost to park all this capability in your driveway? Well, if you show up with a $70,000 check, you'll need to fork over a little more for tax, title and registration and destination (oh, and the gas guzzler tax): the MSRP starts at $71,690. That's for the basic version, of course; start adding options and packages, and that can climb. If you want to grab one of the 702 examples of the loaded-up Ram 1500 TRX Launch Edition, for example, each one will run you $90,265; figure on realistically paying between $80K and $90K for a non-Launch Edition one.
That's not cheap, even in this era of loaded-up do-it-all pickups with luxury car pricetags; the F-150 Raptor, after all, starts at $53,455. Then again, considering we're talking about a vehicle that manages to be as quick as a muscle car on pavement, can drive off-road at 100 miles per hour, tow a few tons, haul five people and several hundred pounds of gear and stop traffic with some of the coolest looks to be found on a production car today...that doesn't seem so bad, does it?