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2022 TRX Lead

2022 Ram 1500 TRX—Test Drive Review

The Ultimate High-Speed, High-Flying Hauler

It’s hard not to gush about the TRX. After all, this is the truck of our off-roading dreams. Yes, the Ford Raptor (https://www.4wheelparts.com/the-dirt/2021-ford-raptor-first-drive/) started the factory high-performance off-road truck trend back in 2010 and in its current form, the Raptor is an incredibly potent and capable package. But the TRX is in another league thanks to the wild 702 hp supercharged V8 under its hood. 

It’s downright bonkers.

Here is a massive fullsize truck with a long-travel suspension riding on 35-inch tires that can scorch the pavement to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. That’s not just impressive—it’s pure insanity. Our buddy Harry Wagner tested the beast (https://www.4wheelparts.com/the-dirt/first-drive-2021-ram-1500-trx-hits-the-dirt/) almost two years ago at Ram’s first drive media event. And that drive proved the engineers that developed the TRX designed it for abuse too. Wagner wrote, “Ram not only let us jump the trucks at the track, they actively encouraged it!”

Since then, the TRX has been an enormous hit for Ram. Want proof? Despite the truck’s eye-watering $70,000 base price and more than $90,000 fully loaded sticker price, dealers are still able to tack on steep markups. And these trucks still scoot off the showroom floor. The TRX is an easy sell. 

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The TRX is so compelling, we wanted to get some seat time with the truck on our own turf. So we borrowed a 2022 model year TRX ($91,725) to find out how it performs when subjected to our usual test drive schedule on the streets of LA and in the trails up at Hungry Valley SVRA in Gorman, CA. Not long ago, we spent time with a 2021 Ford Raptor on 37-inch tires. So we wondered, is the TRX really still the truck to beat? With memories of that red Raptor seared in our skull, we fired up that high-strung supercharged Hellcat V8 and hit the dirt. 


The Hardware

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One of the most interesting things about the Ram TRX is how little the truck shares with a standard-issue 1500 beneath the skin. Ram says 75 percent of the chassis system is unique compared to other light-duty Rams. The frame itself is up-gauged and there are additional reinforcements everywhere. It’s so different that the wheelbase is slightly altered too (less than an inch), just to make sure those big tires can fully stuff into the fenders.
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And speaking of fenders, like its archrival at Ford, the TRX has massively blistered sheet metal to cover the tires and widened track. After all, the TRX is a full 8-inches wider than a normal Ram 1500. These fenders look a little boxier compared to the ones on the Raptor, and thanks to that massive hood scoop, gives the TRX a menacing maw. And that scoop not only helps feed the big V8 but it has serious dirt filtering capability.
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No surprise that the TRX’s front and rear suspension systems are key to its performance. Up front, there are new forged upper and lower A-arms that provide 13-inches of wheel travel. Overall, the suspension is three inches wider and provides a two-inch lift over a Ram 1500. The TRX-specific half shafts use a sliding design so that they can accommodate the extreme angles of wheel travel. Damping is handled by Bilstein’s new 2.6-inch Blackhawk e2 active dampers that changes characteristics based upon the mode selected in the cab. The shocks can modify tuning for compression and rebound throughout the entire suspension stroke. The front diff is the same 8.5-inch open unit found in other Ram 1500s, So the front axle relies upon brake-based traction control to limit tire slip. To slow this monster down, the TRX has giant 15-inch discs at each corner. 
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In the rear, the Ram’s five-link coil-sprung suspension gets a thorough makeover as well. The links are longer and have TRX-specific mounts compared to a normal 1500. From maximum bump to droop, the suspension has 14-inches of movement. The TRX has the same Bilstein dampers here plus an additional one on top of the axle to help control axle wrap. The Bilsteins have a built-in system that acts like a bump stop of sorts with three zones of bottom out control. 
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The rear axle is unique in the 4X4 industry. It is a special heavy-duty full-floating Dana 60 with a 10-inch ring gear and an electronic locking differential. It also comes loaded with rather tame 3.55:1 gears. Imagine how hard this beast would launch with 4.10:1s? The gears spin 18X9 inch wheels wrapped with 315/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires.
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The heart of the TRX is under the hood. And what lies beneath that scooped hood is unlike any engine in any other pickup. It’s easily the most potent truck engine ever offered. The 6.2-liter supercharged V8, otherwise known as the Hellcat, powers many impressive Dodge cars and SUVs like the Challenger, Charger and Durango. Here this Hellcat makes 702 hp at 6,100 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. It comes hooked to an 8-speed automatic and is channeled through a two- speed Borg Warner 48-13 transfer case with 2.64:1 low range. But here’s the unique thing, this truck is all-wheel drive, all the time. That’s right, there is no 2WD mode. Just street-friendly all-wheel drive that can vary torque between the front and rear axle (in Auto mode the split is 40:60), as well as a choice of high range and low range with a traditional 50:50 torque split. As much as we’d like to rip some smokey-tire burnouts in the TRX (and burnouts would be way easy) all-wheel drive has two benefits: it makes sure the power is turned into traction and it keeps the stress levels lower on those drivetrain components. 
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When it comes to flex and clearance, how does the TRX stack up against its rival, the Raptor? Well that depends upon which Raptor you’re testing. Our buddy Dan Edmunds (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcXVMdMO1S0) ramped a TRX and found it to score an RTI of 602 on his ramp. Four Wheeler tested a 35-inch tire Raptor (https://www.motortrend.com/reviews/2021-ford-f-150-raptor-wins-pickup-truck-of-the-year/) and it flexed slightly better at 617. But that’s so close, it’s pretty much a wash when it comes to real world articulation. However if you go for the 37-inch tire Raptor, which limits some of that suspension movement to keep those big tires out of the fenders, it will flex less. Edmunds found the Raptor with 37s ramped a 537 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vcjkYS04RI).

We measured a foot of clearance under the front diff and 10.5-inches under the rear axle of the TRX. The 37-inch tire Raptor we last tested had about two inches more clearance up front and about a half inch better in the rear. The TRX has an approach angle of 30 degrees, a departure angle of 23.5 degrees and a breakover angle of 21.9 degrees. The last Raptor we tested (with 37-inch tires) had an approach angle of 33.1 degrees, departure angle of 24.9 degrees breakover of  24.4 degrees—all better numbers. The TRX can handle a payload of 1,300 lbs and tow an 8,100 lb. trailer. And those specs are nearly the same for the Raptor.



On the Street

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If there’s another 4X4 that’s more fun-to-drive on the street than this one, we haven’t driven it. Yes, the Wrangler 392 clocks in with a close second. But nothing can match the thrust or the thrill of this Ram. It’s just plain lunacy. Car and Driver proved just how quick these trucks can be, hitting 60 mph in 3.7-seconds and covering the ¼ mile in 12.3 seconds. Those are sports car numbers to be sure. And the accompanying supercharger whine mixed with the wild cracks, pops and growls from the exhaust is a soundtrack every truck fan can enjoy. But the engine isn’t even the best part. It’s the suspension. 
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The TRX’s suspension is velvety smooth on any road surface. Our notes on ride quality said, “better than Raptor” multiple times. The Ram and Bilstein engineers have really nailed the calibrations here. And even though the ride is soft, it doesn’t feel ponderous on the street. The truck doesn’t wallow around on its suspension when you hit a corner either, especially in Sport mode which really cinches down the suspension. That mode also wakes up the transmission with more aggressive shifts and adds some heft to the steering. If this were our truck, we’d drive it in Sport mode all day long.
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Ram offers one of the best full size pickup interiors—period. And because our TRX was loaded with options, it came with all the goodies inside including leather ventilated seats. Our truck also featured an upgraded console with nicer materials, including a suede-like covering as well as upscale dash padding. The 12-inch Uconnect display is standard here and works flawlessly. If you’re looking for a flashy interior with splashes of bright colors and over-the-top logos, this is not your truck. The TRX’s interior is handsome and subtle. There are a few TRX badges around the cabin but for the most part, the mood is understated and cool. 
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On the freeway, the TRX’s cushy ride quality continues. And as long as you don’t dig too deep into the throttle, the Ram is fairly quiet too. The torque reserves here are unlike anything we’ve experienced in a light duty truck. The TRX just absolutely cooks with such little effort. On most highways it will loaf along at 1600 rpm at 70 mph. And the torque is there to propel the Ram up most grades without the need to downshift. But what’s really fun is to lay into the throttle here and see the speedometer climb like nothing else. This truck just pulls so hard, it’s no surprise the top speed had to be governed at 118 mph—the TRX would probably pull all the way to 150 mph.

As one might expect, the TRX guzzles fuel at an alarming rate. The EPA rates the TRX at 10 mpg in the city and 14 mpg on the highway. In our testing we saw 9.8 mpg which is worse than the last Raptor we tested (13.8 mpg). So, be prepared for all that fun to put a dent in your wallet at the pump.


On the Trail

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Our first impression of the TRX in the dirt? This is one of those few machines that allow you to drive straight from the pavement to some fairly challenging off-road obstacles without touching a button or moving a lever. A TRX in its default all-wheel drive mode is insanely good off-road. The suspension’s impressive articulation and supple tuning keep the tires in contact with the trail. And thanks to the beastly motor, the TRX can tackle events that would stop most other stock 4X4s—even in low range. 
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Unlike some modern four-wheel drive vehicles, the TRX’s transfer case buttons are easy to find and easy and work quickly. Similarly, the TRX’s drive modes (Auto, Sport, Tow, Custom, Mud/Sand, Rock and Baja) can be accessed by a button or on the infotainment screen. There’s enough space to show exactly what changes when you swap modes. And those large virtual buttons on the screen are perfectly suited to toggling between modes while bouncing around off-road.
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In Rock mode, with the transfer case in Low, the TRX makes short work of moderate trail obstacles. Just lock that rear axle, and the Dodge can creep through deep gullies and larger moguls without breaking a sweat. The deep torque reserves of the supercharged V8 allow the TRX to crawl as if it had another set of low range gears. The roughest sections that max out articulation at both ends, require the traction control to help up front to limit wheel spin. And it does an admirable job. But it would be helpful to have a limited-slip like the Raptor or a true locker. There were several instances where we attempted to climb an obstacle and the climbing tire would spin first, causing us to have to readjust our line.
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On our standard test hill, the TRX had plenty of traction to crawl to the top without drama. We had the truck in Rock mode with the rear end locked and the TRX could claw its way up with just a bit of tirespin from the frontend. On some less-rutted climbs, we could dig deeper into the powerband and let the RPMs fly. Boy is this truck fun. We could imagine the TRX would absolutely dominate a muddy Midwest hillclimb.
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The TRX is certainly adept at crawling but it’s naturally in the higher speed terrain that this beast truly shines. You can tackle the steepest motocross-style whoops at around 20 mph. Most of the 4X4s we test here can barely make it into the teens. Overall, the TRX felt better-suited to this punishment than the Raptor we last tested. The damping control is simply exquisite. We never felt a harsh bottom out. On smaller, more spaced out bumps, the TRX simply eats them alive. But the best part about it is that the ride and handling feels so controlled. Baja mode is perfectly calibrated. You can pile on the kind of speed that makes you ask yourself, “do I need a roll cage here?” The answer is…probably. If we owned one of these trucks—we’d be tempted to cage it.
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Deep sand is no match for the TRX. Just make sure you disable the stability control and you can dive right in with the truck in Auto mode. Because the TRX has full-time all-wheel drive, there’s no loss of traction driving from street to sand. But for the most fun, you’re going to want to shift into Baja mode. It absolutely transforms the experience. The TRX becomes a point and shoot sand weapon. Nothing you can buy off the showroom floor can accelerate out of a deep sand hole like the TRX. It’s absolutely bonkers. It pulls so hard in sand that it feels like a modified vehicle. Need a pickup to take to the dunes on a regular basis? This is it.
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On the rough road section of the park, the TRX wasn’t as comfortable as we would have imagined. On this day, the track was much more chewed up than it normally is. So we had to keep the speeds down somewhat. We could feel the body and chassis shaking a bit as we touched 35 mph. But on this day on that road, a normal 4X4 would be struggling at 20 mph. So the TRX does allow more speed on really choppy terrain than any other rig we’ve tested. And on the milder dirt roads, the TRX just melts the washboards.


The Bottom Line

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If we had a choice of any new truck to use for off-road fun, the TRX would absolutely be that truck. It’s not only good at everything from a technical standpoint but it’s also more entertaining than any other 4X4 when it comes to high-speed four wheeling. Okay, our test truck does cost $91,725. And that’s a lot to spend on any 4X4. If you could find one, a base TRX is $72,390 which strikes us as a deal. And that’s especially true considering when the last Raptor we tested cost $82,000 and change. The TRX feels like it should be more expensive than the Raptor largely because it just doesn’t have the motor to compete—yet. But the Raptor R is coming. And as soon as we know more, we’ll let you know.