That was pretty much the gist of what the man said to me outside of the Harbor Freight store as I climbed out of the TRX’s cab. He, like a number of others, knew exactly what he was looking at when he saw it and was excited to see one in person as they hadn’t gone on sale yet prior to the new year when I had it. He also was pretty much correct in his assessment.
The most surprising thing about this truck to me was just how quickly you can get used to having 702 horsepower underfoot and how very quickly that then somehow seems like an exceedingly reasonable amount of power that every truck should have as standard.
Between the man at Harbor Freight, the two guys in the parking lot of the ski area I took my son to, the dude with a cowboy hat in the Chevy Silverado 2500 Diesel on the freeway that rolled down the window on his lady’s side of the cab (in 20 degree weather!) to give me the thumbs up at 80mph, and numerous others from all walks of life, this particular truck has garnered more attention than anything else I’ve driven to date.
There was a palpable excitement for many as they got a chance to look at it and it seems that RAM will have a hit on their hands, the feedback was all quite positive, even after we discussed pricing, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so brand-ambassador like, I almost felt I should have a name badge. I do know if I was selling them, I’d have been able to hand out numerous business cards…
Naturally the impetus for the TRX was the Ford F-150 Raptor, the top dog in that truck’s lineup, and generally acknowledged as a very fine vehicle built for high speed desert running as opposed to the normal “off-road” adventures. After waiting for quite a few years to see if demand would slacken, RAM apparently finally realized there was room for another entry in the category and that Ford had perhaps shot themselves in the foot a little by currently only offering theirs with a V6 (albeit a twin-turbo with 450hp).
Of course RAM has the excellent Hellcat engine available and decided it’s just what their super-pickup needed. The word now is that Ford will try to one-up RAM with their own supercharged V8, but as far as I can tell people seemed to know what the TRX was all about, while nobody that was looking at it knew of (or at least mentioned) the upcoming beefed-up Raptor.
We’ve driven numerous RAM trucks here over the last couple of years and have found little to find fault with. Trucks are obviously the new luxury vehicles for those that want space and comfort. RAM’s latest generation has tapped into that, and people seem to have the money to spend on them. But the TRX isn’t just a 1500 with a big engine, there’s more to it than that.
Just look at it. While the look is reminiscent of the Rebel trim and there are some commonalities it’s in fact different in many details when viewed side by side and walking around them. The front and rear fenders and track are all widened significantly (which pays dividends in stability as well as looks), the body being 8″ wider and the track 6″ wider. As a result, the 88″ width requires clearance lights which are tucked into the functional hood scoop, and there are also fender lights nestled into the bodywork front and rear.
It’s also 2″ taller than the rest of the lineup with 11.8″ of ground clearance, since everybody that actually buys trucks seems to like height. It’s impossible to keep this truck clean in any kind of inclement weather, the tires just sling whatever is underneath all over the doors and door handles since they are so far inside the track width. The one (only) advantage of Covid is that I now often carry wipes with me, and here is a secondary use for them.
Inside, it’s of course similar to the rest of the 1500 line, but has the best on offer from across it. Leather is everywhere, suede accents abound, the grab handles are covered with leather wraps, the sky’s the limit as far as options go. As usual the seats are large, extremely well padded, powered in every which way and exceedingly comfortable with heating and cooling on offer.
The steering wheel is also partially wrapped in suede and heated while being adorned with carbon fiber accents which is also the material of choice for accent trim around the cabin along with the aforementioned suede. Cold high tech meets warm, soft and natural to excellent effect.
Interestingly the gear selector is an actual lever on the console, not the now-familiar rotary dial selector. Presumably this is partially due to the space on the dashboard that was previously assigned to the dial is now used by the TRX mode selector module which amongst numerous modes and dozens of customization options also includes a “launch control” button that exists to help one achieve the fastest standing start possible.
I’ll spoil it right here and let you know that I was able to achieve 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds which is astounding in almost any vehicle, let alone a huge crew cab pickup truck. Car&Driver apparently did it in 3.7 seconds, but since I was at 4800 feet elevation, using the correction factor technically puts me right at the 4 second mark. I’m good with that, nobody likes a braggart. But still, FOUR seconds to 60mph! In a truck! You don’t have to like me.
RAM’s party piece inside the cabin has been its 12″ vertically oriented touch screen which as in other trucks works very well. A big part of that is how it allows one to display multiple items on it if so desired as well as to configure frequently used menus by having their shortcut icons display at the bottom of the screen, i.e. it’s almost infinitely customizable for the user and easy to use with a minimal learning curve.
Along with the normal Navigation, Media, Phone, Climate, etc. screens (which in some cases have duplicate hard buttons/knobs) there are also “Performance Pages” where a multitude of parameters can be set and/or mixed and matched to whatever the driver’s desire may be along with the various pre-set drive modes on offer.
There are also timers that record all kinds of information such as Reaction Time, time to 60ft, 330ft, 1/8 ET, 1/8 speed, 1000ft, 1/4 ET, 1/4 speed, 0-60mph, 0-100, Brake Distance, Brake from mph etc. And then puts it all in a convenient “Recent, Last, Best” chart format. It also records G-Forces, and can display every possible engine and transmission parameter, power output, boost level, temperatures etc. A gearhead’s delight.
The back seat has tons of room for three more passengers, the seat bottom can flip up to create a flat load floor, and legroom is abundant. The middle seat position also has a full length cushion so that occupant doesn’t feel like they drew the short straw anymore either.
The bed is a 5ft7in. one (the short and only option in the TRX’s case), and came equipped with the optional bed mounted spare. This is a hard-mounted assembly but does not take the place of the regular spare, which is still under the bed and accessed from the rear bumper area as in most trucks.
Apparently that under bed position will accommodate up to a 37″ tire, so the idea is if you’re going to be in the middle of the desert and running hard miles and miles away from civilization, perhaps a second spare in the bed could turn out to be a very useful item. And it looks bad-ass too, let’s be real.
Of course this takes a toll on the cargo area, there won’t be any drywall runs to the hardware store with this one. And it’d be a pain to sweep a yard of mulch out from around the spare, but hey, if you are affording this truck, you just make a call and have all that delivered anyway. Or hitch up the trailer and tow up to 8,100 pounds, less than many other RAMs due to the suspension but plenty for the odd job.
Still, the tailgate can be released via a button on the fob and the dashboard (or manually) and is light enough as well as counter balanced enough to be raised again with one hand due to being aluminum, as are the doors and hood.
Of course what makes this truck dominate the existing Raptor is the engine. It’s the same 6.2liter Supercharged HEMI V8 SRT engine as in any of the other Hellcat-equipped vehicles across Stellantis’ range and here produces 702hp@6,100rpm and 650lb-ft of torque @4,800rpm.
It’s backed by an excellent German made ZF 8-speed that seems to anticipate needed shifts and drops gears with the slightest tickle of the throttle. If there was ANY doubt about RAM’s goal with their “T-Rex” it is dispelled as soon as you remove the main engine cover and see the graphic on the airbox above with the Raptor caught in the T-Rex’s fangs.
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