While engineers at Ford and GM were holed up in laboratories testing batteries for their upcoming electric pickup trucks, the folks at Ram were working on a different beast altogether – one that not only drinks dinosaur juice, but is also named after one. Ram has revealed the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, taking the fight straight to the Ford Raptor with some insane credentials. Let’s break down this new truck, section by section – there is a lot to cover.

Engine

Underneath the hood of the TRX is the legendary Hellcat, although Ram does not brand it that way in the TRX, ditching the feline reference for something a little more Jurassic. The supercharged 6.2-litre V8 makes 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque in this package, hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This combination makes the TRX capable of some impressive numbers: zero to 60 mph comes in 4.5 seconds, 0–100 mph happens in 10.5 seconds, and the truck will run a 12.9-second quarter-mile. To hit those numbers every time, launch control has also been added as standard equipment on this truck.

To work in this package, some changes were made to the engine, such as a new position for the alternator and air intake to allow for 32 inches of water crossing capability.

The V8 breathes differently on the TRX as well, using a dual-path system that uses air from the functional hood scoop as well as the upper edge of the grille. A big 29-litre air box directs that flow into the 2.38-litre supercharger and filters out any debris in the process.

A two-speed transfer case with a 2.64 low-range ratio make sure that the TRX is full-time four-wheel drive, though torque is split differently based on drive mode. For instance, Sport mode will net you 70 per cent of the power to the rear wheels and 30 to the front, while Baja mode will get you 75 to the rear and 25 to the front. Other drive modes include Auto, Snow, Tow, Mud/Sand, and Rock.

Suspension

The goal of the TRX is fairly simple: go 100 mph (161 km/h) across the roughest desert possible. The first part of the equation is accomplished easily by the big V8, with the TRX capped at a top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h). The second part is achieved by the brand-new suspension setup that brings 13 inches of overall travel to the front and 14 to the rear, an improvement of 40 per cent compared to standard Rams.

An independent front suspension is used here with all-new high-strength forged aluminum control arms, paired with a set of 2.5-inch Bilstein e2 Blackhawk active performance shocks. That means that damping is constant being adjusted, allowing the TRX to swallow up off-road terrain while still providing a solid ride on road. The shocks use nitrogen-charged remote reservoirs mounted to the frame, connected by stainless-steel braided high-pressure hose.

In the rear end, a Dana 60 axle provides support, while Ram maintains the five-link coil spring design from its standard trucks. With this suspension, the TRX can support up to 1,310 lb (594 kg) of payload, not too bad for an off-road-focused truck. Tow rating for TRX models is pegged at 8,100 lb (3,674 kg).

Off-Road Credentials

Let’s now look at all the relevant off-road numbers, starting with tire size. Every Ram TRX will wear a set of 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires, a brand-new set of all-terrains that Goodyear is launching on the TRX. With those tires underneath, the TRX has 11.8 inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 30.2 degrees, departure angle of 23.5 degrees, and a breakover of 21.9 degrees.

An electronic locking differential will be used in the rear end, while the front remains an open differential that used brake-based traction control to direct power. The axle ratio is a 3.55.

Larger dimensions will also contribute to the TRX’s feeling of stability off-road, and everything about this truck is bigger than a standard 1500. The TRX is 88 inches wide with a six-inch wider track than a standard Ram. The wheelbase has also been stretched out a little, to 145.1 inches. A total of five skid plates are tacked on underneath to protect the essential running gear.

TRX buyers will be limited by body style as well, with every truck sold being a Crew Cab with a 5’ 7” bed.

To make sure the truck doesn’t shake itself apart, the frame on the TRX has been upgraded, making it about 75 percent stiffer than what you’ll find on a standard 1500. Of course, this larger steel frame added weight, so to compensate, Ram went with an aluminum hood, doors and tailgate. Under the skin, the engine mounts, front axle center section, skid plate and steering system gear are all made from aluminum.

Technology

Lots of new technology is also debuting on the TRX, some of which will no doubt find its way into the wider Ram lineup. First is the new Trailer Reverse Steer Control, utilizing a dial allow you to steer your trailer when in reverse. Unlike Ford’s similar system though, you don’t have to input any information into the Ram. It senses your trailer length and knows what to do on its own.

A brand-new head-up display has been added to TRX, showing up to five different pieces of information all at once on the windshield.

Every single one of these off-road monsters will feature the large 12-inch touchscreen, offering – for the first time ever – both Performance Page and Off-Road Pages on the same vehicle. These apps allow you to track and chart your performance along with showing you the vehicle’s status.

A forward-facing off-road camera helps you to see the trail, while a digital rearview mirror also increases your range of view behind the truck.

For now, Ram has said that all of these features will be exclusive to the TRX, but it seems obvious that they will eventually land in the rest of the truck maker’s lineup.

Interior

Inside, the TRX also has plenty of unique features to remind you that the truck you’re driving is special. Three options are available for finish, either cloth and vinyl, premium leather and suede, or premium leather and suede with red and carbon-fibre accents.

The base trim TR group truck won't come to Canada, leaving customers the choice to step up into the TR1 or TR2 level. A new flat-bottom steering wheel with aluminum paddle shifters is fitted, while a console-mounted shifter is a new direction for Ram, moving away from the rotary dial. In fact, the spot where the shifter used to be is now occupied by a host of other controls.

A custom specification plate will be attached to each console lid, identifying the VIN, engine number, supercharger info, boost output, and horsepower.

Pricing and Availability

The TRX will be built at Ram’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan, and sales should begin before the end of 2020. Pricing for the truck begins at $93,995 in Canada for the TR1 trim.

For those buyers looking for something extra special, Ram is planning to offer the TRX Launch Edition, of which just 100 will come to Canada. A unique Anvil grey paint job is exclusive to the Launch Edition; inside, a special red and brushed-aluminum centre console badge identifies this truck as a limited-edition model. Every option box is also ticked here, which means the Launch Edition is loaded with the best features including head-up display, carbon-fibre interior trim, bead-lock wheels, and custom graphics.  The Launch Edition will be available for $114,995.