Road Test Review – 2023 Ram 1500 TRX Review – This Beast Has Claws- Can It Stand Up To The Raptor R?

When Ram first unveiled the Ram 1500 TRX several years ago, it was very clear that they wanted to go above and beyond in their quest to dethrone the Ford Raptor. Unlike the Raptor, the Ram had a 700-plus horsepower, a 6.2-liter, supercharged Hellcat V8, and enough performance upgrades and swagger to outshine a Silverado ZR2.

This mishmash of performance insanity allowed the Ram TRX to rapidly ascend to the top of the off-road performance truck food chain. But the marketplace is evolving, and with the Raptor getting a new V8-powered “R” variant, can the 2023 TRX hang on to its spot at the top? Or has the Raptor managed to dethrone the performance king?

 

TRX Has Styling That Leaps Out Of A Magazine

At first glance, the 2023 Ram 1500 TRX looks like it was made for a real-life magazine cover. The core Ram 1500 DNA is still here, but the TRX amplifies its personality thanks to a number of upgrades. The bulging fenders are bigger than what you get on a standard Ram 1500 and were designed to accommodate not only the large 35-inch Goodyear Territory all-terrain tires but also a three-inch lift from the upgraded off-road suspension.

The front fascia gets a new front grille, and the reworked front hood gets new scoops that all help channel cold air to the supercharged V8 lurking under the hood. The changes also help the truck look meaner than before, and this was further complimented by the bold red paint and black accents on our tester, which drew plenty of stares, especially in downtown Romeo. The TRX’s monster truck-like proportions also played to its detriment too, with tight streets and narrow parking lots forcing the TRX to move gingerly about. This truck prefers the open trail and wide straights anyway, and its ergonomic flaws melt away when you give the TRX plenty of room to roam. The lack of a formal side step also forced shorter occupants to use the grab handles to climb up into the truck.

The TRX also can’t carry as much cargo as other Ram variants, with our tester only being able to tow 8,100 lbs (versus the 12,750 lb rating seen in other Ram models.) That’s 100 lbs less than the Raptor, and the difference between the TRX and its corporate counterparts becomes more apparent when you look at cargo capacity, with the TRX only being able to haul 1,310 lbs of stuff. That’s also 80 less than the Ford, but it’s still enough to haul dirt bikes or other adventure-focused gear.

 

TRX Takes Ram Interiors To The Next Level

The Ram 1500 continues to be a benchmark for the segment when it comes to interior refinement and design, and it comes as no surprise to see that the TRX takes this core structure and builds it up a notch. The TRX is crew cab only, and base models come with cloth upholstery. But opt for either the TR1 or TR2 packages, and the interior undergoes a transformation with the TR2 package on our tester, adding microsuede surfacing, carbon fiber accents, and plenty of leather upholstery. The TRX also gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel with large shift paddles, but a floor shifter is also located in the center console.

The crew cab layout gives occupants plenty of room to stretch out in the backseat, and all TRX models come standard with a 12.0-inch infotainment system that comes bundled with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The large tablet-like screen can be split into separate sections for various sub-menus or even be configured to have the map take up a large chunk of the space. There are physical controls for select items, but this 12-inch screen is perhaps one of the best that we have encountered in the full-size pickup segment. The 19-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio system also pumps out the jams, and Ram designers even added in a number of easter eggs (many of them meant to poke fun at the Raptor.) We found a few, but Ram says more are hidden away, just waiting to be discovered by owners.

 

Hellcat Performance Rules, Is Slightly Neutered For TRX Duty

Performance for the  Ram 1500 TRX comes from the same 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V8 that sees duty in the Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Durango. Unlike others of its breed which are capable of surpassing the 800-horsepower barrier, the truck’s frame and off-road components forced engineers to dial it back slightly (and we use that term loosely) to 702 hp. That’s less than its corporate stablemates but is two horses more than what you get in the Raptor R. The top speed has also been throttled down to 118 mph (to help the truck cope with the power). The sprint to 0 to 60 mph blew by in 3.7 seconds, and the Ram revealed itself to be a surprisingly agile truck. While the large off-road tires will always keep it from matching formal performance cars in corner carving, the TRX makes up for it by offering an impressive amount of ride comfort.

This high level of comfort will do little to distract you from the sight of the TRX’s rapidly descending gas gauge, with our tester only getting a paltry 10 mpg in city driving and 14 mpg in freeway commuting. Those figures are lower than the V6-powered Raptor, which gets 15 mpg, but matches the Raptor R’s 10 mpg. The R does get a 1 mpg advantage over the TRX in freeway driving despite the Ford having slightly bigger 37-inch off-road tires. An eight-speed automatic is the lone transmission here, and while it gives up two cogs to the Ford, it makes up for it by offering smoother shifts and less gear hunting.

Large 15-inch front brakes provide plenty of stopping power, and the TRX comes with an extensive assortment of underbody-mounted metal plates to help protect the vulnerable underside from damage. Bilstein remote-reservoir dampers and electronic locking differential, and other upgrades also make the TRX more than capable of slaying any trail. Sadly, Metro Detroit doesn’t have such wild extremes, but look for the performance on hand to make a weekend trek to Holly Oaks ORV park enjoyable or even the wintery commute more manageable. Steering in our tester was a bit vague at times, but putting the truck in Sport mode helped sharpen it up.

 

Value Quotient:

Pricing for the 2023 Ram 1500 TRX starts at $86,450, which gets you into a cloth-equipped base model. However, look for the bulk of TRX models to arrive with plenty of optional equipment, with our tester proving to be a classic follower of this philosophy. Our tester arrived with the TR2 package and a whole host of other optional extras, which helped push the final as-tested price to over $107,000.

That’s a mighty sum of change for a super-powered off-road truck, but it’s important to remember that this price is still less than the $109,945 base Raptor R model with the Ford surpassing the TRX when it’s equipped with its own share of optional extras. The TRX and other trucks like it are the last remaining examples of wild ICE-powered performance, and with the Ram REV providing a glimpse into Ram’s electrified future, the TRX could be the last of the breed when it comes to traditional off-road performance trucks. In the meantime, we suggest getting behind the wheel of the TRX if you can; it’s more than eager to please, especially in the right performance environment.

 

 

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.

Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.

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