Mountain Wheels: Ram’s supercharged TRX emerges as king of the pickup
Superlatives kind of fall flat when you’re dealing with the most powerful mass-production truck ever built, but the monster that is Ram’s TRX edition of its 1500 pickup is an amazing, ridiculous and impressive achievement.
Yep, they took the freaking supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat engine and gently crammed it into a jacked-up, Baja-ready off-road platform, resulting in a 702-horsepower truck that clearly has no good intentions, whatsoever. The overstated bodywork, the gigantic hood scoop and flared rear box that makes it seem as wide as a dually truck — all very imposing, indeed, especially with crew cab proportions.
Even better, you will only initially be able to buy one by wheeling and dealing, as the entire 702 (ha ha) unit production run sold out back in August. For those looking for absolute and ultimate off-road capability and delirious levels of on-road intimidation, the TRX is pretty much the top of the food chain. At least until Ram jimmies the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye engine in there, which might be possible, as even the Wrangler now sports a 450-horsepower V-8 as an actual option.
With great power comes great responsibility, or lack thereof, and the four days I spent doing a fast-tracked test with a TRX were indeed awesome, terrifying and surprisingly sedate — when I was not doing Hellcat things with a giant truck. A truck that, by the way, costs $70,000 as a base price but teetered precariously over $87,000 with about every option available included.
Yes, the engine sounds remarkable from the second you start it up, rumbling with the kind of exhaust noises that make truck fans weak in the knees. It’s definitely going to irritate your neighbors a lot — that, I guess, is the idea — and in a parking garage it sounds like a 1960s NASCAR dirt track machine. Or two Ford Raptors. Maybe three.
Get it out on the street and it absolutely and insanely howls. I don’t think there are any other factory-fresh trucks with launch control or zero to 60 timers, if that’s your bag. It will apparently get to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
More importantly, despite its serious mass (6,350 pounds, 232.9 inches overall) and its absolutely huge, 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires (325/65R 18s), 650 pound-feet of torque means the TRX can also get to an extralegal 100 mph in 10.5 seconds, or run the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds, hitting 108 mph.
Those numbers are very important to keep in mind when tooling around, as any gas pedal stomping gets the truck dangerously fast, dangerously quick, all of the time. My TRX registered an even 9.9 mpg the entire time I drove it, and it runs on premium fuel. That is, I guess, the cost of doing business.
Blessedly, it is really, really easy to handle on pavement, minus the constant fear of sending yourself into orbit. Despite those gigantic tires, steering is one-handedly easy (don’t do that, of course) and thanks to all that off-road suspension work, it’s amazingly smooth and easy-going on the highway. Speed bumps that would set off a lesser vehicle’s car alarm melt like butter.
Now drag strips, of course, aren’t truck territory, so I took the TRX up into the hills above Central City on a snowmelt day a week and a half ago and was absolutely delighted to see that its off-road prowess is absolutely as advertised.
TRX adds an additional 2 inches of lift to the tallest Ram 1500 package, meaning you get a full 11.8 inches of clearance, with heavy-duty skid plates included for those moments when you push your luck.
I absolutely bolted up the extremely steep, fully washboarded Two Brothers Road (the one you are warned not to take as the shortcut to Central City) and other than bouncing the tonneau cover off the bed and loosening some dental work, TRX flew along with no issues whatsoever — credit the custom Bilstein Black Hawk adaptive shocks and 13 inches of wheel travel for that.
If you wish, you can scroll through a range of off-road settings; my preference was to simply pop it into 4-low or 4-high and constantly remind myself I was not actually competing in the Baja 1000.
Not surprisingly, it very easily motored up and over loose dirt and giant rocks in a 4×4 gully, with enough pedal sensitivity to make intricate off-road moves safely. Gravel roads, no problem. Snow and slush and mud, no problem. You could get used to that.
Much of the $17,000 in options went into a spacious and leather- and carbon-fiber-heavy cabin, complete with that unbelievably gigantic, vertically stacked video display, a video rear-view mirror and head-up display, a 19-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system and more.
Andy Stonehouse’s column Mountain Wheels publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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