A Hard Rock Guitar Riff on Wheels
At this year’s 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo, organized by the Texas Auto Writers Association, I had a chance to drive the highly anticipated 2021 Ram 1500 TRX on the street and tackle an off-course at the Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, Texas. After writing about the TRX all summer, I was chomping at the bit to get behind the wheel of this Hemi powered muscle truck.
On paper, the Ram 1500 TRX reads like a vehicle Europeans assume all Americans drive. A pickup truck that can do zero to 60 in under five seconds wears 35-inch tires as standard, breathes through a functional hood scoop, and has a picture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex eating another dinosaur under the hood. If this truck were anymore Murican, the seats would have football cowskin leather, a gun-rack that doubles as a bicycle rack as standard, and feature the song “Fortunate Son” in its ad campaign.
The TRX doesn’t lean to one side politically because it’s a pickup truck. This vehicle speaks to the righteous confidence born from a “USA! USA!” chant. You don’t need to be a straight-party ticket voter to enjoy a 702 hp supercharged V8. My only concern is that one of these future TRX owners will eventually slap-on a political decal and ruin the truck’s character by making it too serious. The Ram TRX is built to make people smile, laugh, and slap the Ford F-150 Raptor across the tailgate with a white dueling glove.
Driving the Ram TRX on the Street
Driving the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX while sporting a black cowboy hat and mustache, I couldn’t help fantasizing about a Smokey and the Bandit reboot. A movie where a red TRX jumps over bridges, pancakes police cars, co-staring an electric semi-truck hauling 800 cases of cold-brew IPA’s.
Past the 4,000 rpm mark, the TRX roars like it’s about to storm a beach. A full-on battle cry as it charges forward, pulling you back in your seat as you fight your flight response to ease off the throttle. The reward for your bravery is a supercharger instigator whining for you to keep going – don’t lift. But when flashing blues or blinking red lights appear and you need to throw out the anchor, the TRX dives forward to slow down.
I like that the brakes were not overly sensitive, allowing for a threshold. You can slow down this truck smoothly like any regular vehicle and feel the face-pulling stopping power of performance disc brakes when it matters.
The TRX is the first Ram truck to have launch control, with launch assist. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, you can use launch control off-road. Apart from launching off the line at any given Sunday, the TRX features eight different drive modes: Sport, Snow, Custom, Mud/Sand, Rock, Baja, Auto, and Tow. No Eco mode for obvious reasons.
It also includes a valet mode that limits the amount of horsepower available. Each setting changes how the power is delivered to the wheels. The Ram TRX has a max towing capacity of 8,100 lbs and a payload rating of 1,300 lbs. Plenty of muscle to carry or tow a weekend adventure.
Ram TRX Off-Road Driving Impression
Off-road, I rarely needed to touch the gas pedal as the TRX used its Hemi-power to crawl over rocks with ease. A big toe’s worth of throttle input was required to give the TRX push it over steep inclines. Front-mounted cameras allowed me to see where the front wheels were pointing to help improve steering input. 35-inch tires, ground clearance of 11.8-inch, and up to 14-inches of suspension travel can make the Ram TRX a trailblazer in any terrain.
Ram TRX Interior
Inside, the cab’s red details serve to remind the driver that this is pure temptation on wheels. A red ignition button, red rings in the instrument cluster, a launch control button, and a bespoke plague on the suede center console that reads “702 Horsepower.” One interior feature I found pleasantly surprising is that rear passenger seats are ventilated and heated as well.
My favorite interior detail on the 2021 Ram TRX is the center-mounted shifter. Using a standard dial gear selector would have ruined the truck’s magic. Like biting into a cookie and then realizing they are raisins, not chocolate. You need a real shifter when starting up a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi, a lever to pull back and unleash the Hellcat from its cage.
The starting price for the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is $71,690, and if you manage to find one at any price under $80k, then your name must be on the side of the dealership. You better believe dealerships will be adding their mark-ups to this truck as soon as they hit the showrooms. The Ram 1500 TRX Launch Edition starts at $92,010, which sold out in days. A unique Anvil grey color code is available only on the Launch Edition and comes fully-loaded.
Available options on the Ram TRX include a Level 2 equipment package that adds TRX exterior graphics, red interior accents with carbon fiber trim, and Beadlock-capable 18-inch wheels. Additional optional accessories include a Baja style bed-mounted spare tire carrier and a RamBar light bar.
To sum it up, is the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX fun to drive? Is it a capable off-roader? Does it look cool? Yes, across the board! Ram gave this truck everything but the kitchen sink to create a master of all trades. A truck that can accelerate like a muscle car, hold car seats like an SUV, off-road like a Jeep while towing weekend toys to the nearest track, lake, or campground.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is a badass truck.
Special thanks to Kevin McCauley for providing some photos featured in this article. Follow his automotive photography at Capture the Machine.