This truck is so absurd, it makes every other car seem boring.
What makes a vehicle "fun" to drive? That word can mean many things to different people; fun on a track, fun on an off-road course, or maybe fun on a mountain pass. Of all the cars we've driven so far this year, one had us grinning from ear to ear more than the rest; and it's not even a car at all... it's a truck! The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is easily the most insane pickup truck we've ever driven, and we'd go so far to say it's the most outrageous vehicle on sale today.
The headlines on the TRX are positively hilarious: 702 horsepower, 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds, oh and there's a freaking jump mode! After spending a week driving the TRX (both on- and off-road), we struggled to think of any vehicle we've driven in the past year that was more enjoyable. Here's why the Ram 1500 TRX is so delightful.
Much like clothing, cars act as a personal expression, announcing to the world who you are and what you stand for. A Tesla might announce that you are forward-thinking and eco-conscious, while a Toyota Camry might hint at your sensible nature. The Ram 1500 TRX screams out that you like to have a good time. Even in a restrained shade like our tester's Bright White, the TRX will not go unnoticed. Go for Flame Red or Hydro Blue, and all eyes will be on this truck.
The TRX is a full two inches taller and eight inches wider than a conventional Ram 1500. Those dimensional increases are noticeable. Ram hasn't gone for subtlety here, giving the TRX an aggressive face that screams "get out of my way!" No matter the angle, the TRX creates shock and awe, even standing still.
Companies like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche all build practical SUVs with bonkers performance, but none of the German automakers have a sense of whimsy like Ram. Yes, all four desperately want to outmatch their competitors, but has Mercedes ever included a small depiction of the letter E (E-Class) crushing the number five (BMW 5 Series) in the center console? We think not. Ram's messaging with the TRX (nicknamed the T-Rex) to outmatch the Ford F-150 Raptor is so clear, it's plastered in several locations around the truck.
Like other FCA (now Stellantis) vehicles, the TRX features several Easter eggs spread around the vehicle. In the center console, there's a picture showing the TRX to scale alongside a human, a tyrannosaurus rex, and a velociraptor. Can you guess which creature is the smallest? If that's too subtle, there's also a picture of a tyrannosaurus with a velociraptor in its mouth hidden beneath the engine cover. We wish more automakers would take their rivalries less seriously and incorporate fun features like Ram.
Pickup trucks may have a history as work vehicles, but the modern interpretations have transformed into outright luxury cars. This generation Ram 1500 has the best interior of any truck on the market, and the TRX version doesn't lose much in its off-road transformation. Ram does offer a base model with cloth seats, but even that trim still includes the impressive 12-inch infotainment system.
Adding the Level 2 Equipment Group for $7,920, the TRX features luxuries you'd expect in a six-figure German sedan, including heated and ventilated seats in the front and rear. Remember, even the flagship BMW X7 doesn't offer ventilated seats in the rear. Other stand out luxury options include a panoramic glass roof, 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, and real carbon fiber trim. Thanks to double-pane glass, the Ram TRX is surprisingly quiet on the highway, when you aren't laying on the throttle, that is.
The TRX is more outrageous than most sports cars, but it doesn't sacrifice practicality. Unlike a similarly-priced Chevrolet Corvette, the TRX can fit the entire family with all their stuff. The rear seats offer 45.2 inches of legroom (more than a Mercedes S-Class) with a 5'7" bed. Due to the TRX's ride height, lifting items in the bed can prove tricky, but an available pull-down bed step makes it easier to reach in with little effort. It's not the best tow vehicle in the world, but the TRX can still pull 8,100 pounds with a 1,310-pound payload capacity.
There's only one area where the TRX is completely impractical: the gas station. The EPA rates this truck at 10/14/12 mpg city/highway/combined but we only managed 9.6 mpg during the week. We think 14 is possible, assuming you know how to hypermile. This truck requires constant fill-up stops; we'd like to see Ram offer a lesser version with the 6.4-liter V8 that achieves slightly more acceptable fuel economy.
The Ram 1500 TRX shines because it's nearly as fun on the road as it is off-road. Leaving sports cars for dust in a supercharger-whine fueled frenzy never gets old, and the fun only intensifies when you get the TRX on dirt. A Jeep Wrangler is more capable at rock crawling but in our opinion, driving fast off-road is far more exhilarating than the slow-speed stuff. Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks keep the TRX planted, enabling some insane speeds.
With 35-inch tires and 13 inches of wheel travel, there's almost no obstacle that poses a threat. Ram even included jump detection, which can slow the wheel speed when the truck gets airborne, allowing it to land more gracefully. We couldn't find any jump spots in our flat Florida off-road spot, but we did blast through some large puddles outside a US Navy bombing range.
With a starting price of $69,995, the Ram 1500 isn't much more expensive than many high-powered sports cars available today. Even a well-optioned model will cost under $90,000, and we argue that it's nearly impossible to have more fun for less. Sure, a Corvette or a 911 would beat the TRX in a drag race, but have that race on dirt, and it would be no contest. While the sports car owner has to take speed bumps slowly for fear of bottoming out, the TRX can hit them at full speed as if they were a spec on the pavement.
Not only is the TRX the most fun vehicle we've driven this year, but it can be enjoyed with the whole family and room for their luggage. You can take the TRX to the drag strip one week, and camping with the kids the next. There aren't many cars like that today. It's a laugh riot.