SAN DIEGO — The engine inside the RAM TRX pickup was something no one asked for.
Half a decade ago, engineers inside Dodge’s SRT division — secretly! — took the brand’s excellent 6.4L V8 and fixed an enormous supercharger that boosted it to an astonishing 707 horsepower before showing it to Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis in a meeting that I imagine started with “so, we did a thing…”
The rest is muscle car history. Christened “Hellcat,” and, in a glorious example of corporate synergy, the monster motor was fitted to the Dodge Challenger coupe, the Dodge Charger sedan, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, and my test car this week, the RAM 1500 pickup.
The RAM 1500 is no stranger to enormous V8 engines; what with an entire ad campaign based around the question, “that thing got a HEMI?” But the Hellcat is a different beast entirely. Now a 6.2L V8 with that giant supercharger, the RAM TRX makes 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Now I know what you’re thinking: does a pickup truck need 702 horsepower?
No, it does not. But it’s glorious.
When I first drove a Dodge Charger Hellcat, I giggled every time at so much as brushed the throttle. The roar of the exhaust and the way the big sedan leaped forward at the slightest provocation was like a dopamine injection straight to the brain. The effect was intoxicating.
The RAM TRX — pronounced T-Rex, like the dinosaur — is just like that, but more so. The RAM 1500 pickup upon which it’s based is not a small vehicle. It’s gigantic. And it has no business accelerating as quickly as it does. With a 0-60MPH time under four seconds, helped along by full-time four-wheel drive, the TRX is capable of besting many purpose-built sports cars in a drag race.
The cost of all this noise and fury is felt in the fuel economy, with an EPA-estimated 14 on the highway and 10 in the city. With sufficient enthusiasm, it’s not hard to drive the truck straight into single-digit MPGs.
If you’re buying the TRX, which lands near $80,000 well-equipped, you’re probably not too worried about the fuel economy even with gas chasing $6 per gallon. In fact, for many buyers, poor mileage is perhaps considered a feature.
With big stickers, massive fenders, a scooped hood, gigantic brakes and suspension, the TRX has an imposing presence. It’s unmistakably something special, even before you fire it up, and it’s one of those vehicles that people absolutely despise or completely adore.
Undoubtedly the most bonkers, insane, craziest truck available
Inside, the big RAM is much less controversial. It’s a TRX-ified version of the most luxurious RAM 1500 pickup version. There’s an enormous, vertical center screen and leather bits everywhere. It’s spacious, with tons of cargo space in the back and room for four tall adults. The sports seats are incredibly comfortable, and, except for the enormous climb into the lifted cab (and the fuel economy), the TRX is an excellent everyday truck.
Thanks to the off-road suspension and 35-inch all-terrain tires, the TRX absorbs even the worst potholes with little disturbance to the cabin occupants. Of course, the TRX is meant to rip across the desert dunes rather than the concrete jungle, but it gets the job done nevertheless. And while there are undoubtedly some TRX buyers who will head out to Glamis or Dumont Dunes to take full advantage of the truck’s impressive abilities, many more — perhaps most — will see nothing more adventurous than a dirt backroad.
But who cares? This is a lifestyle truck, and the folks buying it know exactly what they’re getting: a raucous good time with copious throttle-induced dopamine injections and derisive looks from their neighbor with the Nissan Leaf, since another feature of the TRX is ticking off EV owners.
There’s no logical reason to buy a RAM TRX, and like there’s no logical reason for it to exist, aside from being rather profitable for RAM. But logic and reason don’t need to play into it. It’s a truck to make the buyer happy. If you have $80,000 and want a pickup truck, you have no shortage of choice.
For that price, you can get a Ford F-150 Raptor (the most direct competition for the TRX, at least until the V8-powered F-150 Raptor R comes out later this year), an electric Rivian R1T (which makes even more horsepower than the TRX does, wildly), or a luxury-focused GMC Sierra Denali.
But the TRX is undoubtedly the most bonkers, insane, craziest truck available today. And if you think those are features rather than downsides, this RAM is the pickup for you.