Ram reshapes the food chain with 2021 Rebel TRX: [Video]

Back in 2016, Ram showcased the TRX concept which was an exercise that showcased what it would look like if Ram produced a powerful off-road truck that could take on the Ford Raptor in a battle of off-road prowess. Ram originally intended for it to be a mere one-off, but the combination of surging customer demand and the Raptor’s long reign on top of the throne finally spurred Ram engineers into action. After a COVID-19 fueled wait, we finally get to see the end result, the 2021 Rebel TRX.

Ram calls this truck “the apex predator of the truck world” and that rallying cry is very evident in the exterior styling. The TRX uses the Rebel as its foundation, but it goes in a wilder and far more radical direction than the Rebel was ever meant to go. The hood features a massive lighted hood scoop, with accompanying air extractors to help provide plenty of air and cooling for the 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi V8 lurking under the hood. The TRX is also eight inches wider than a standard Ram 1500, and engineers even added composite fenders to help accommodate the six inch wider track, and the inch wider wheels. To help accommodate the engine, Ram had to move the front axle forward by 20 mm to make room for the 35-inch off-road tires.

But remember the hood scoop we mentioned earlier? It’s part of a broader effort aimed at making this Ram look very serious and has a primal edge to it. The black front grille is actually a flow through design, and is meant to help channel large quantities of air to the V8. Functional air curtains next to the headlights help channel even more air inward, and the lights themselves are bright LED units. The rear of the truck features a massive RAM badge and a smaller TRX badge in the lower left corner. Buyers that want to adorn their beast with graphics will be happy to know that Ram will have several wild designs available to help indulge the fantasies of even the most artistically gifted off-road buyer. The Raptor like stance is no accident, and we really like the way that the truck presents itself when viewed from certain angles.

The interior of the TRX is a further example of the model’s status as a range topper, with Ram engineers using the space to help show off a few new technologies that will be baked into each truck. There will be three cabin styles (TR TR1 and TR2) with each one making the cabin more luxurious. The base TR specification makes the truck similar to its Rebel counterpart, with cloth and vinyl accents being combined with black and red contrast accents. Choosing the TR1 or TR2 packages brings the cabin up to the same high profile standards that typically defines the Ram Limited, with these packages equipping the truck with supple leather seats as well as splashes of carbon fiber and suede trim. A special “specifications plate” is another nice detail, and it not only lists how much boost the supercharger has, but also the type of supercharger used, horsepower, and a VIN number to boot.A thick flat bottomed steering wheel is lifted from the SRT parts bin, and it also brings the first ever use of paddle shifters in a Ram 1500 offering (or any Ram offering for that matter.)

However, we might as well address the elephant in the room, and that’s performance. While initial reports that suggested the TRX lineup could have more than one engine were unceremoniously shot down in today’s unveiling, what buyers do get will certainly make them raise their ears in attention. The TRX is the first Ram product (and the first body-on frame vehicle) to receive the legendary 6.2 liter Hellcat supercharged V8. This engine has already left a trail of skidmarks and shattered lap times when equipped to Dodge’s lineup of vehicles, and it’s no different here in the Ram Rebel TRX. Unlike it’s other applications, the off-road equipment and associated upgrades did force engineers to dial things back “slightly” with the Ram making a mere 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. While this technically makes it the least powerful member in the Hellcat stable, it’s still more than enough to outclass the Raptor’s 450 horsepower 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged V6.

But Ram went far beyond simply dropping in a Hellcat V8 and calling it finished, there’s far more here especially underneath its intimidating skin. Ram engineers equipped the truck’s frame with higher strength steel, and thicker rails. Ram claims that the TRX only shares 25 percent of its frame with the standard 1500 which helps the TRX have greater torsional rigidity and strength. Ram even claimed that the model could take repeated off-road abuse and jumps, with the brand perhaps referencing instances of the Raptor’s frame breaking in half after particularly high jumps (which have been caught in viral videos like this one.) An eight speed automatic helps route power to all four wheels through a part time four wheel drive system. The transfer case itself is upgraded with an upgraded chain, pinion, bearings, and clutches to help cope with the radically increased amounts of torque generated by the V8. A Dana 60 solid rear axle is also equipped, and features an electronically operated differential that should allow the truck to perform impressive power slides and hold its own out in the desert.

Pricing for the 2021 Ram Rebel TRX will start at $69,995 which comes before the $1,695 destination fee. Along with the standard model, Ram is also creating a 702 unit run of TRX Launch Edition models which will arrive to showrooms fully loaded with goodies such as beadlock wheels, Harmon Kardon 19-speaker premium audio system, a panoramic sunroof, and Anvil grey exterior paint. That model will start at $90,315 (including destination) which would make this Launch version the most expensive Ram offering in the lineup. That’s significantly more expensive than the Raptor which starts at $53,455 in SuperCab form or $56,440 in SuperCrew guise. However, the Raptor is significantly down on power, and lacks some of the Ram’s charisma.