There seem to be three basic types of pickup trucks in the industry nowadays. The little ones are for suburban drivers, basically a small SUV with the rear exposed, then there are commercial trucks, either luxury pickups with a surprising array of premium features or bare bones pickup trucks for job sites where it’s all about towing and hauling capacity. While the RAM 1500 line might bridge the latter two categorizations, the 2021 RAM 1500 TRX is very clearly in the middle category: A big, luxury pickup truck. RAM offered me the chance to drive one for a week and I accepted, curious what it would be like to cruise around the ‘burbs in such a monster, one that you have to pull yourself into and slide out of, and one that is just about exactly the width of a standard parking spot with its wide design.
Turns out that it’s really fun. Better yet, from the outside it just looks really big and if you didn’t peek inside, you might not even realize that it’s so lovely inside. But, as always, let’s start with the exterior view:
The timing was pretty good as we had a snowstorm hit during my loaner period, so rather than staying pristine, the truck showed off some of its rough driving capabilities too (remember, it is a 4×4, so bad weather wasn’t going to slow this vehicle down). What you can’t really see is the massive ground clearance.
You can see that the tires are massive, but it really becomes obvious when you look in the back:
Yes, a surprising amount of storage and haul space is consumed by the spare tire (to be fair, the vehicle has the optional spare wheel mount, without which the tire would be stowed underneath, freeing up lots of space). Not sure how you’d handle that on a job site if you did opt for the flat bed mount, but this vehicle seems to be just as much about towing, at least with the crew cab configuration.
One more view of the back:
You’re asking So what’s the towing capacity? and that’s a great question. According to RAM, the TRX can pull 8,100 pounds and carry over 1,300 pounds of payload. If you’re comparing, that’s 100 pounds more than the Ford F-150 Raptor in towing capacity and 120 pounds more in payload than the F-150 Raptor.
Given the massively powerful – and horribly fuel inefficient – engine, a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8 SRT, I don’t doubt that it could easily tow 3-4 tons of trailer, cargo, other vehicle, whatever was needed. This is a vehicle that has power to spare, in fact, and you realize that when you notice a few features from the Challenger have snuck in, including launch control:
Yes, an easy way to switch between various drive systems, but oh, that launch control on the right! Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t able to test it out because even when I was on a road that by eyeball looked perfectly level, the system still complained it wasn’t sufficiently level for the burst of acceleration. That’s okay, though, my guess is that it would have probably consumed a few gallons given its fuel efficiency.
So what is the rated mileage of the RAM 1500 TRX? 10/14, an average of 12mpg. I drove mostly suburban areas and you can see in this main gauge display closeup what I saw:
Yes, that’s 10.1mpg. If I had to haul a trailer from Denver to Kansas City, for example, about 600 miles, that’d work out to a fuel burn of 60 gallons or, at $3.50/gal, $210 in fuel, one way. The truck features a 33-gallon fuel tank which means you’ll be paying over $100 for each fill-up too. This is the lowest mileage vehicle I think I’ve ever driven and, to be fair, this is not a suburban truck for someone who occasionally pops into Home Depot for project supplies and tows a few bikes on a hitch mount. The RAM 1500 TRX is about power much more than fuel efficiency, so perhaps it’s a bit daft even discussing this aspect of the drive experience. What do you think?
On a brighter note, the interior of the truck is gorgeous and astonishingly roomy:
Remember, this is the size of truck where back before bucket seats, the front bench seat would have easily had space for three adults. Now that middle seat space is taken up by a wide central console with cup holders, gear holders, a wireless phone charger, and an armrest storage space that’s plenty big enough for a couple of six-packs of non-alcoholic drinks (of course!).
Taking inspiration perhaps from Tesla, the center console has a vertically oriented screen which offers a lot of space to display information:
With buttons on screen and on all four sides of the display, it will take you a while to figure out every single control and feature, no question. Also note that on the lower right there are four charging plugs, two USB-C and two USB-3. This vehicle has a lot of power outlets, sure to keep your crew happy with their phone chargers, laptops, tablets, and similar.
Speaking of your crew, the legroom for the back passengers is exceptional:
This is just a roomy vehicle clearly designed for adults in the front and back, and the rear space is an absolute pleasure after driving so many cars and SUVs where rear passenger legroom is one of the most obvious areas of compromise.
Indeed, RAM doesn’t stint on power plugs and control for the rear passengers either:
Ultimately, the 2021 RAM 1500 TRX Crew Cab 4×4 delivers exactly what it promises: A big, powerful and rugged truck ready for any job you throw at it and any road you want to drive down. Is it expensive? Yes. Does it have horrible fuel efficiency? Yes. But if you need a big vehicle for your crew, along with haul and towing capacity to get your gear to the most remote spot, then the RAM 1500 TRX might just be a great match for you anyway. Me? I’ll go back to my compact SUV and revel in the ease of parking it at the local supermarket.
CONFIGURATION: 2021 RAM 1500 TRX Crew Cab 4×4 in Billet Silver Metallic exterior, Black interior, with a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8 SRT engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. MSRP: $69,995. Optional Equipment: Technology Group, Trailer Tow Group, Advanced Safety Group, Bed Utility Group, Lower Two-Tone Paint, TRX Carbon-Fiber Package, TRX Level 2 Equipment Group, Rear Folding Seats, Rock Rails, Premium Sound, Bed Mounted Tire Carrier, 18×9 Beadlock Capable Aluminum Wheels. AS DRIVEN: $91,555.
Disclosure: RAM loaned me this truck for a week to drive in return for this candid review. Thanks, RAM!