There’s a new “apex predator of the truck world,” Ram declares in introducing the new 702-hp 1500 TRX. Read that, “Pull to the side, Ford Raptor, and try not to screech in agony while the alpha truck takes over.” More than just some extra horsepower (okay, a lot) under its scooped hood, the TRX has been reworked from the tires up for furious off-roading. From sending it off dunes, to tearing across open, hard-floored desert, to slow-crawling over rocks and wading through rivers, the TRX is ready for anything man and nature can put it through.
Ram promises the 1500 TRX has been prepared bolt by bolt to outperform every other truck on the market. In fact, it’s pushed the new super truck to its extremes in double- and triple-checking that capability, from free-climbing stacked boulders in the rock gardens of Moab, to billy-goating switchbacks in the thin-aired reaches of the Colorado Rockies; and from free-diving into the fiery furnace of Arizona, to plowing through the bone-piercing deep-freeze of Minnesota.
The pièce de résistance of Ram’s work in bringing the TRX from 2016 concept to even more impressive reality lies under the bulging hood: the well-traveled 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 engine, tuned to 702 hp and 650 lb-ft (881 Nm) of torque. That engine partners up with an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission and traction-enhancing launch control system to send the TRX firing from 0 to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 4.5 seconds. Those who keep muscling the pedal toward the floor can hit 100 mph (161 km/h) 10.5 seconds after start and top out at 118 mph (`190 km/h). Ram puts the TRX’s quarter-mile at 12.9 seconds at 108 mph (174 km/h).
Having that much power and performance lurking below the skin will eventually corrupt even the most lawful, 10-and-2 type drivers, and the TRX is loaded with goodies to help drivers of all abilities take advantage. Key among those is a new “Baja” driving mode that optimizes 4WD, throttle response, steering, suspension and shifting calibrations for rollercoaster-like desert terrain. Baja joins “rock” and “mud/sand” in a three-mode off-road menu list, and Ram also offers five more road-oriented drive modes: auto, sport, tow, snow and custom.
When fast, high-adrenaline driving ends up in the Goodyears leaving the earth below, the TRX “Jump Detection” system senses the vehicle has gone airborne and manages engine speed and torque, gear selection, transfer case torque split, damping rates and other settings to prevent driveline-damaging power spikes and ensure smooth, seamless touchdown. Back down on solid ground, four-wheel disc brakes with 15-in rotors and hydraulic compensation provide sure, reliable stopping power.
The 1500 TRX interior helps put the driver in an aggressive mindset with a performance-inspired design that centers around an SRT flat-bottom steering wheel in front of a digitized instrument panel that displays off-road info in conjunction with the 12-in Uconnect 4C Nav touchscreen. Drivers can use the available forward-facing camera to help in clearing obstacles they cannot see through the windshield. An available head-up display puts extra information within eye line, while an optional 900-watt 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system delivers an audiophile-grade soundtrack.
Ram lifts the TRX’s fortified frame a full 11.8 in (30 cm) off the ground with help from all-new independent front and five-link coil rear suspensions. The rear suspension gets a 40 percent boost in travel, giving the Dana 60 axle up to 13 in (33 cm) of cushion. The front and rear active damping of the TRX-tune Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive shocks help the TRX bridge the huge spread between smooth, stable highway driving and bump-smashing off-roading.
An electronic rear differential lock, BorgWarner full-time active transfer case and 2.64:1 low range combine to get the TRX through whatever lies ahead. Rounding out the TRX spec sheet are 30.2/21.9/23.5-degree approach/breakover/departure angles, 32-in (81-cm) wading capability, 1,310-lb payload (594-kg) and 8,100-lb (3,674-kg) towing.
The TRX body stretches 8 in (20.3 cm) wider than a standard 1500 and employs flared fenders in covering over the extra inch (2.5 cm) of width on the 18 x 9-in wheels. Ram pushes the front axle 20 mm (0.9 in) forward to accommodate the 35-in Goodyear Wrangler Territory All-Terrain 325/65/R18 tires designed exclusively for the TRX.
The TRX arrives with the grimace of a reworked grille flanked by all-black LED headlamps. The Ram badge in the center grows larger compared to other 1500 models and lets air flow freely, assisting the grille around it in sending 50 percent of airflow through to the engine. The other half of that airflow equation rushes through the large hood scoop that remains visible in the dark thanks to embedded LED clearance lights. Down below, the first of six skid plates surrounds oversized tow hooks.
On the southern end, Ram beefs up the bed box and offers an optional secondary spare tire carrier inside, augmenting the standard full-size spare mounted down below, behind the rear axle. A prominent Ram badge on the tailgate sits between the LED taillights, and tow hooks and dual exhaust tips finish off the look.
Ram promises more than 100 TRX advanced safety and security features, starting with standard features like rear backup camera and electronic stability control with roll mitigation. Available features include blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and ready alert braking.
Ram will begin 2021 1500 TRX production in Sterling Heights, Michigan, early in the fourth quarter of this year, starting with 702 Launch Edition models with special aesthetics. Pricing will start at US$70,095 before destination, and more than 100 Mopar parts and accessories will join the regular options list in coaxing buyers into spending just a little bit more (and maybe a little more after that).
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