Home Reviews 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Review: The Last Patriot

2021 Ram 1500 TRX Review: The Last Patriot


As we watch V8s slowly die in favor of less cylinders and charisma, the Ram 1500 TRX goes against the grain with supercharged V8 power, off road wizardry that can get you in trouble quicker than its 4.1 second 0-60 time, and 35 inch tires more reminiscent of a Baja trophy truck than a road going vehicle.

Get it while you can, as this is likely to be the last vehicle like this we ever see from Dodge or anyone else. Does it really live up to the hype? Absolutely, and it’s one of our highest scoring vehicles yet. Read on to find out why.

Out of Spec Score: 77.5/100

Styling 9.5/10

Even the untrained eye can see that the TRX is a shark in the sea of fish that is the full-size truck segment. While the standard Ram 1500 is a good looking truck, the TRX raises that bar ten-fold with a barrage of upgrades that set it apart in a big way. Starting with the body, massive Baja style front and rear fenders offer plenty of room for suspension travel, but are extremely wide compared to a standard 1500.

How much wider is the TRX? To accommodate the six inch wider track, it’s eight whopping inches wider. It’s a function meets form scenario and I am a huge advocate of that mentality. In addition to the wide stance, the TRX receives a new hood, with both a scoop and venting to feed and cool the massive supercharged 6.2L V8. In most cases I would say this is a bit too much, however seeing as the TRX has 702 horsepower, I would argue that it’s just right.

Sure, the massive TRX logo on the rear fenders gives it away that this is no ordinary Ram, however, what may give it away even more is the massive 35 inch bed mounted spare tire, fitted to a wheel that has bead lock capabilities. It absolutely looks the Baja or King of Hammers business, and seeing as the spare is 35 inches, it must mean there are 35 inch tires all around. You would be correct, as the TRX wears LT315/65R18 Goodyear all terrain tires that measure out to about 35 inches. Other little touches that set apart the TRX include special vents on the front fenders and a different rear bumper with larger dual exhaust tips.

The TRX is dripping with testosterone, and frankly, makes the Raptor look tame bolt on affair. I score the TRX at a 9.5 out of 10 for styling, as it’s absolutely perfect, save for the Raptor style lights on the hood scoop that are tacky even on a truck of this caliber. Aside from that one small gripe, which is entirely subjective the TRX is off to a great start, and yes, it most certainly passed my ‘if you don’t turn around and look at it, you bought the wrong vehicle’ test. 10-8 round for the TRX here.

Interior 7.5/10

Though it’s difficult to give the interior the same radical transformation as the exterior, there is still plenty that sets the TRX apart from the standard Ram 1500, which in and of itself has raised the bar for half ton pickups in terms of interior quality. These improvements manifest themselves as carbon fiber trim, high quality leather with red stitching, and plenty of alcantara throughout.

Opt for the base model and you are treated to the same interior bits as the Ram Rebel, though most buyers are likely to opt for the TR1 or TR2 packages, which add all the good bits, such as the interior materials mentioned above, both heated and ventilated seats, a massive sunroof, and a powered sliding window for the rear that when opened really lets you hear the exhaust when you mash the skinny pedal, which you will be doing a lot in the TRX, and that’s a promise.

A meaty flat bottom steering wheel with carbon fiber trim is wrapped in both leather and alcantara, and it absolutely feels every bit of a nearly one hundred thousand dollar truck, while the gauge cluster gets the typical ‘Hellcat’ style treatment with more aggressive fonts and plenty of red.

A center console shifter remains present, and the center console itself has bespoke TRX badging to commemorate how special this truck is. All trim level TRX’s are fitted with a 12 inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s vertically oriented, and it looks great with red and white fonts that accentuate the aggressive nature. The TRX’s interior is fantastic, both in terms of looks and quality, earning it a score of 7.5 out of 10.

Performance: 9/10

A curiosity about the TRX’s performance is likely how you ended up reading this, so I won’t spare any details. Starting with what you may already know, the TRX is equipped with Dodge’s infamous 6.2L pushrod V8 fitted with a 2.4 liter positive displacement twin screw supercharger, the same unit found in both the Hellcat and Jeep TrackHawk.

Though the TRX makes five less horsepower than its ‘siblings’, its 702 horsepower and 650 pound feet of torque at a maximum boost pressure of 11psi is nothing to scoff at. Quite the opposite. Power is channeled to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic, and four wheel drive is permanent though a low range gearbox and rear differential locker are both included, courtesy of Borg Warner with the transfer case.

Naturally, the TRX is seriously quick. Even at an elevation of 5,000 feet I was able to clock a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds, which is a bit quicker than Dodge quotes. That is seriously impressive given it’s curb weight of nearly 7,000lbs and the fact it is rolling on 35 inch all terrain tires.

Off the line specifically is where you really feel the power, as the eight speed automatic does a fantastic job of keeping the motor in its powerband, though the speed does taper off around 60 miles per hour, which is to be expected. The supercharger whine is intoxicating, and it better be for how much fuel it’s likely to use when you’re on throttle. The Ram boys didn’t forget that the TRX needs some serious stopping power to slow down the nearly 7,000lb behemoth, and it has been appropriately fitted with 14.9 inch front brakes and 14.8 inch rear brakes, the largest ever fitted to a truck of this nature.

On road handling is a bit soft, and it will spin all four tires when using launch mode which is impressive, though the TRX really shines where the pavement ends. With independent suspension up front and a live axle at the rear, all trim levels of TRX have plenty of frame reinforcements and armor, a five link coil suspension system, and massive 2.5 inch diameter Bilstein remote reservoir dampers to handle just about anything you can throw at it, or throw it off of for that matter.

With 13 inches of travel, they do a fantastic job of absorbing bumps and floating over jumps, even at speeds of over 80 miles per hour. The TRX is made to play hard and that is abundantly clear when driving it off road, as it also has three off road terrain selection modes, including ROCK, MUD/SAND, and BAJA, while five more for street driving including AUTO, SPORT, SNOW, TOW, and CUSTOM modes. With plenty to choose from, you’re not likely to get bored driving the TRX, as I certainly did not.

Other impressive features include 11.8 inches of ground clearance and 32 inches of water fording. I haven’t tested the new Ford Raptor yet as it was just released, but it has its work seriously cut out if it’s going to compete with the TRX. Another 10-8 round for the TRX earning a performance score of 9 out of 10.

Practicality 7/10

I know, you’re probably thinking how the heck can a 702 horsepower Baja truck for the road score a 7 out of 10 for practicality? Don’t forget, it is still a truck and a darn good one at that. Available as only a short bed in four door configuration, the TRX still offers plenty of utility despite not being made for that intended purpose.

Starting with cabin seating, there is plenty of space in the back for passengers, and much to my surprise it was quite comfortable. Out back, the short bed still has a fair bit of space despite the bed mounted 35 inch spare which can be removed if need be for around town duty or a quick trip to Home Depot or Lowes to flex out on your neighbor who just bought that new 1500 Silverado and made a mulch run.

Towing capacity isn’t as high as the other Rams at 8,100lbs, but it is 100lbs more than the Ford Raptor, and payload is 120 more than the Ford at 1310lbs. Coincidence? I think not. You’re likely to be able to take the TRX just about anywhere it will fit as it is seriously wide, but it does have some practicality no less.

By the time I had spent a few days with it and was able to not mash the skinny pedal every chance I had, I observed it drove remarkably well around town and was easy to park and treat like a truck. Were it not for the massive spare that does sacrifice some bed space, I am confident it would have scored a bit higher, much as I am confident that the TRX and its potential buyers couldn’t care less.

Comfort 8/10

One of the benefits of a truck setup to jump sand dunes at over 60 miles per hour is that the ride is remarkably comfortable both on and off road. Okay, the TRX’s plush and bolstered seats, which also happen to be both heated and ventilated, certainly help, as do the massive 35 inch all terrain tires.

Speaking of tires, the Goodyear ATs keep the noise to a minimum, there is no ‘hum’ or anything of that nature with the TRX. I was actually blown away by how comfortable the TRX is to put around town in or take on the highway, all of it’s off road goodies really do benefit it on pavement as well. One more thing that should be noted, and part of why it scored so high is that it doesn’t suffer from the age old stigma that it ‘rides like a truck’, as the five link system and Bilstein dampers eliminate that outright.

I do have one small grip however, and that is the rock slider ‘side steps’. I use quotation marks because I am not sure if they actually are meant to be used as side steps, though I don’t see why Dodge couldn’t extend them a few more inches to aid in functionality with ingress while also protecting the cab when crawling over large rocks.

I almost fell twice when my foot slipped off of them and I consider myself an athletic individual, I am not sure how buyers who are a bit more challenged with mobility would fare, which I am going to deduct a point for. That said, the TRX still scores well at an 8 out of 10.

Tech 7/10

While the TRX is more or less a big toy that can be used as a truck, it does have a bit of useful tech outside of its drivetrain and motor, though I do want to highlight one thing I didn’t mention up top with performance as it actually doesn’t help there. It has a trick performance timer that lets you crank out all of the 0-60, 0-100, and quarter mile times you’d like, which I certainly had fun with.

Tech doesn’t just stop there, as the TRX has plenty of interior bits to remind you that this Ram belongs outside a nightclub in Miami just as much as it belongs on the dunes. Starting with the vertically oriented 12 inch touchscreen infotainment system, pixel quality is fantastic and the fonts and coloring is aesthetically pleasing. It’s also easy to use even though some of the buttons and prompts are in an odd spot, though the learning curve isn’t steep and I can appreciate that.

Controlled through that infotainment system is a 19 speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, capable of pumping out 900watts that will deliver as much deep bass, full mids, and rich highs as you can handle, should you get sick of the supercharger whine. Plenty of USB ports for both multimedia and charging along with a wireless charger can also be found in the center console as well.

Move a bit further up to the rear view mirror and you’ll find the option to use it as a screen for a rearview camera, which is hugely useful with the massive spare blocking organic rear vision. While not the craziest tech wise, it still earns a respectable score of 7 out of 10 due to its combination of in cabin gadgetry and off road wizardry which cannot be ignored.

Connected Services 6.5/10

Ram fans and potential buyers will be pleased to know that the TRX does come with a fair amount of connected services. All done through UCONNECT with SiriusXM Guardian, you can use the Uconnect App to control your TRX remotely, with options to lock and unlock, remote start, set cabin temperature, and flash your lights.

The infotainment screen can also be partitioned to view different apps through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well, which is a useful touch especially when traveling with passengers. I really like that you can control some of these through knobs surrounding the infotainment system as well so it’s not a 100% touchscreen affair. The TRX also has LTE WiFi capabilities.

Dodge includes an Emergency Assist system as well that includes an SOS button, roadside assistance, connects you with an operator, and can dispatch services to you. One thing that the TRX is lacking however is over the air updates, which I believe should be a must on new vehicles, especially those equipped with WiFi and LTE capabilities. Fear not however, as the TRX still scores a respectable 6.5 out of 10, its lowest score yet.

Active Safety 7/10

While performance and safety aren’t always synonymous, the TRX does have a few active safety features to keep you and those around you safe. All included as standard, the TRX has lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, which I found worked very well on both the interstate and around town.

A blind spot monitoring and warning system works great and is a necessity on a truck that is the size of the TRX, especially around town in dense traffic situations. Radar assisted cruise control works well on the interstate and isn’t overly ambitious to slow you down a half mile back like other vehicles I have tested.

Collision warning and pedestrian warning is included as standard, and fortunately I did not have to test this for myself. A 360 degree camera, reverse camera, and park assist make parking the TRX easier than you might think. Adaptive LED headlights, and a trailer backup system that includes breakaway warning wrap up active safety and help the TRX earn a respectful score of 7 out of 10 for active safety. I can assure you, I am very glad I didn’t have to test the latter for myself.

Value 6/10

This category is a bit tough to score for the TRX as it really only has one direct competitor, here’s how I figure it earns its score. The TRX starts at $71,790, and while that is a lot of money for a truck, it’s close in price to the highest level Ram 1500 or other top level half tons from Ford, Chevrolet, GM, or Toyota.

When viewed like that, it’s a bit of a bargain. Would you rather have a loaded up regular half ton, or a base TRX? If I had to pick between the two, I’d be all over the TRX every single time.

However, opt for all the good interior bits through either the TR1 or TR2 package, add the Harmon Kardon system and some of the visual options like the rock slider and such, and that price can jump up to almost ninety grand, as my TRX rang up just under $90,000 loaded up.

It would be ignorant to ignore the Raptor here, as the 2021 is projected to start at $63,000 though options push it close to TRX territory, and it’s down a whopping 250 horsepower and two cylinders. At that point, why wouldn’t you pay the extra for the massive force fed V8?

I know I certainly would, which is why I actually gave the TRX a score of 6.5 out of 10 for value. For the money, you’re not going to find a truck that will do more in terms of either on or off road performance, period, even if it has a Raptor badge.

Editors Influence 10/10

In a time when screaming big cube V8 powered vehicles are being axed at an alarming rate to give way to more efficient vehicles with less cylinders, the TRX is a bit of an anomaly. It’s a truly special one at that, and you’re reminded of it every time you drive it.

Be it the intoxicating part throttle supercharger whine, floating over off road bumps with ease at almost triple digit speeds, or being thrown back in your seat as you get on the interstate, it’s an unforgettable experience that we are likely to never have again as emissions stringencies get more and more strict.

With Dodge’s SRT division being disbanded as well, the future of the Hellcat motor platform looks bleak at best. Given these grim facts, we must savor vehicles like this as much as we can. Someday, when there are EV trucks that are faster, and certainly less charismatic, we will undoubtedly look back on times like this when we had the option to hear a 702 horsepower supercharged V8 suck down gallons of gas as it roars and treats you to an almost over stimulating aural pleasure, as ‘the good ol’ days’.

Going into this review I was honestly a bit skeptical about the TRX. I figured it would just be another big toy from the SRT boys, but after a few days with it and some normal driving time, I was amazed by how impressive it is as a regular truck in addition to that.

Errands and groceries are no big deal, and it makes an otherwise boring drive fun, which if you’re an avid reader and have caught on, is what vehicles are all about in my eyes. I can’t praise the TRX enough, and frankly find no faults worthy of deducting points, earning it a perfect editor’s influence score of 10 out of 10.


Previous article2021 Volvo V90XC Review: Understated Elegance 
Next article2021 Lexus RX450H F-Sport AWD Review: Setting the Bar