Should you plunk down your cash on a Raptor or TRX?
A few months ago, we compared the third-generation 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor with its first direct competitor ever, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. But there was a major flaw with our comparison; we hadn't driven either truck. Whereas last time we were only able to analyze these two vehicles on paper, we've now had the opportunity to drive both in a relatively short timeframe. After driving the TRX first, we dubbed it the most fun we've had in any vehicle this year. That's tip-top praise, but can the all-new Raptor come along and change our minds?
Though we only spent two days driving the Raptor on unfamiliar Nevada roads and California deserts versus a full week in the TRX, we can draw a few meaningful conclusions on paper. The Raptor may seem outmatched by the TRX's bonkers supercharged V8, but there's way more to consider here than raw power. Choosing between these two super trucks will prove difficult.
Whereas Ford doesn't see the Raptor and TRX as direct competitors, Ram has its opinion plastered all over its truck. The engine bay literally contains a picture of a tyrannosaurus rex eating a velociraptor, with similar easter eggs scattered in the cabin. The TRX calls on the Hellcat's 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine, tuned to produce 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. This easily tops the Raptor, which uses a carryover 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Ford improved the sound with a new exhaust system, but the TRX still wins on this front with its supercharged howl. It's worth noting that the less powerful F-150 out-tows the Ram (8,200 lbs vs 8,100) and has a higher payload capacity.
The TRX will win the sprint to 60 mph, taking 4.5 seconds or less. Ford hasn't quoted a 0-60 time, but the Raptor should reach 60 mph about a second slower. This may sound like an easy victory for Ram, but it's not so simple. The TRX may have a 252-hp advantage, but we aren't sure the speed differential will be that significant in real life, especially off-road. Both trucks will top out at 118 mph with the 35-inch tires (112 mph with the Raptor's 37-inch tires), though the TRX will achieve that speed in a shorter distance. Ford has a V8-powered Raptor R coming next year to level the playing field.
Advantage: Ram (but it's less decisive than you might think).
You shouldn't expect Prius-level fuel economy from either truck, but one is appreciably better than the other. Though the TRX's supercharged trump card helps it win bragging rights and drag races, it's hideously impractical in the real world. A few fuel stops in the TRX might have owners thinking about getting a Raptor instead. The EPA rates the TRX at 10/14/12 mpg city/highway/combined, while the Raptor achieves 15/18/16 with the 35-inch tires (15/16/15 mpg with the 37-inch tires).
In the real world, we only observed around 9.2 mpg in the TRX, while the Raptor achieved around 15 mpg (12 mpg during aggressive off-roading). This may not sound like a significant difference, but the Raptor is approximately 50% more efficient in real-world driving. During our day of off-road fun, the Raptor drained over half its 36-gallon tank; the TRX likely would have run out in the same period, leaving us stuck in the desert. The TRX will cover around 350 miles max on a full tank, whereas the EPA says the Raptor can go over 500 miles. If you plan to take a road trip, the Raptor will go much further between fill ups.
The Raptor and TRX each blew us away with their impressive suspension setups, but the Raptor nudges slightly ahead in this category. It's the first production vehicle to offer available 37-inch tires, while the TRX maxes out with 35-inch rubber. The larger tires give the Raptor marginally better ground clearance (12 inches vs 11.8) and the slight advantage in approach, departure, and breakover angles.
Both trucks pack world-class shocks, 2.6-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 in the TRX and Fox Live Valve internal bypass in the Raptor, each offering tremendous wheel travel and connectivity to the ground. Off-road, the Raptor and TRX can make short work of almost any obstacle, and on the road, they are both supple and comfortable. Either can launch itself into the air and land gently back to Earth, proving how far off-road trucks have come since the original Raptor.
Advantage: Ford (by a hair).
Pickup trucks have offered ultra-luxury trims for years now, but the Ram 1500 was the first to make us question why German sedans cost so much money. The 14th generation F-150 stepped up Ford's interior game in a big way, but the TRX still has nicer materials. These trucks both pack strong technology and loads of space, with each offering unique advantages over the other. Ford's SYNC4 infotainment system packs wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Ram doesn't have this ability on Uconnect 4, but we still find this system to operate smoother and more consistent than Ford's latest software. If Ram upgrades the TRX to Uconnect 5, we'd possibly throw it the win here.
We love Ford's available interior work surface with the folding shifter, and the available Recaro bucket seats. The Ram scores some points back in the back, where the rear seats offer available ventilation (heating only in the Ford) and a reclining function for greater comfort. On a long journey, we found Ford's lane-keep assist far more effective. We'd be hard-pressed to choose a definitive winner here since both trucks offer impressive cabins.
Advantage: Tie (Edit: the 2022 Ram 1500 gets Uconnect 5, edging this category in Ram's favor).
As we touched upon earlier in the suspension comparison, these trucks offer surprising on-road prowess. We'd happily drive either on a long road trip, though we'd give the Raptor a slight edge for offering a quiet exhaust mode and more helpful lane-keep assist technology. Ford's engineers deserve an award for how well the Raptor handles on a curvy road. It's tough to make a nearly 6,000-pound vehicle feel agile, but the Raptor's revised steering systems offers more feedback than the TRX, letting the driver feeling more in-control.
Whereas the Raptor shines on the back road, the TRX is no slouch. It still offers impressive driving dynamics, combined with grin-inducing acceleration. We'd arguably have more fun driving solo on a canyon road in the Raptor, but the TRX will make everyone in the cabin giggle with its supercharged lunacy. Buyers seeking more "look at me" excitement will find more to love in the TRX.
Comparing base prices, the F-150 Raptor comes out ahead with a $64,145 starting MSRP compared to $70,425 for the Ram 1500 TRX. This $6,000 price delta becomes more pronounced as you add options. We loaded the Raptor to over $85,000 on the configurator, adding the 37-inch tires package and every other available option. This may sound expensive, but we pushed the non-Launch Edition TRX's price tag to over $97,000 by ticking every box on the build and price tool. The Raptor is clearly the more reasonably-priced option, but we'll have to wait for Raptor R pricing to have a fairer comparison.
Advantage: Ford (for now).
What seemed like a landslide in the TRX's favor turned out more even than we expected. Ford emerged victorious on fuel economy, suspension, and price, though that last category could swing towards Ram when the Raptor R arrives with a higher starting MSRP. The Ram won the engine and driving experience categories and tied the Raptor on the interior. The 2022 Ram 1500 adds Uconnect 5, throwing this back to a head even race.
It seems like Ford put itself at a disadvantage by launching the Raptor with a carryover V6 engine, but the move was smarter than you might think. As we've experienced, the TRX's additional power isn't very usable in the real world, so Ford played it safe by offering an engine that offers more effective driving range and greater towing capacity.
For now, the TRX wins the bragging rights battle among buyers who only care about 0-60 times and exhaust notes. But for people who actually plan to use their trucks every day, the Raptor will appeal to a wider audience. We'll reassess who wins the horsepower wars when the Raptor R arrives next year.