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Ram TRX: Launch Control – Two Ways

Car Reviews

Ram TRX: Launch Control – Two Ways

Ram TRX: 

Launch Control – Two Ways

When you have a great pickup – and both Dodge and SRT live right down the hall – trucks like the Ram TRX happen. Better yet, the bean counters are almost as smart as the engineers and let them build it, with a warranty to boot. 

Deep within the leather-and-suede cab confines – amongst the drive mode control on the real-carbon-fiber trimmed dash – is a button resembling a dragstrip Christmas tree, redundantly labeled ‘launch’. Departing with alacrity doesn’t require it, because planting your right foot immediately converts gasoline to forward motion in copious amounts of both. I could quote all sorts of test numbers, but most impressive was reaching 70 mph from rest in less than six seconds, with 500 pounds of campers and gear on board…in a silty riverbed. 

Every single person who rode in this truck said naughty words.

Of course, you can also launch a TRX off the ground to extremely low altitudes. Plenty of under-the-influencers have mistakenly thought the TRX was a desert-racing Trophy Truck, and while I’m okay thinning out the gene pool I do wish they’d stop wrecking the hardware. I’ve gone airborne in a number of cars and trucks, and assuming you apply common sense (hint: work your way up and know what’s on the other side of the crest) a TRX will land gently on most surfaces.

Lest you haven’t figured it out, the TRX is not a race truck and repeals neither the laws of physics nor gravity, even if you stripped it of all the save-you-from-yourself electronics. It will, however, cross uneven terrain at speed better than most new production vehicles at this price—I can think of two that might be better, as evidenced by traversing a dirt powerline road faster than the 80-mph traffic on the adjacent interstate. There are enough mode adjustments for any situation, in the unlikely event an SRT default isn’t ideal.

While suspension travel is the key to off-pavement performance it pays big dividends on the highway as well, the TRX soaking up major undulations with ease. It also handles quite well, especially for a nearly-seven-feet tall, 3.5-ton brick with plenty of airspace underneath; again, this is not a surprise given it was tuned by the same dynamics engineers who post lap records in Vipers. Only the 35-inch tires with 40psi in them transmit some sharper impacts, and are at least partially responsible for the top-speed limiter because the only tires this size that go much faster come on airplanes.

Abundant axle articulation make slower trails and four wheeling as simple as the flying, with two disclaimers: First, the TRX is eight inches wider than a normal full-size pickup and may not fit; and second, the roll stiffness means a Ram Power Wagon might be a gentler ride on rutted or rocky trails that induce lateral motion.

Road-tripping to your trail or campsite is downright cushy, and while the supercharger whine is often in the background the gunfire erupting from tailpipes occurs only in certain modes. With cab refinement arguably equal to a Ram Limited or Longhorn one can comfortably take friends to the opera, and when they ask about sidesteps remind them it’s an off-road truck and ground clearance is the priority. Please motor quietly so as not to one-up the orchestra’s overture.

As a pal explained to an onlooker that I was the TRX-driving rich guy, I told them I was rich until I got a $100,000 truck and pumped $150 in gas every day. That’s because the TRX’s chiseled brick profile essentially means you’re facing a headwind every time you select Drive. You can indeed better the EPA highway rating of 14 at a steady, flat-ground 65, but figure 10 most other places and watch range-remaining drop much faster in slow going, even if you don’t need much throttle. On the plus side, the 33-gallon tank is standard and 70 pounds of fuel in jugs will add 100 miles of range in minutes, no plug required.

Normally I dislike black vehicles like my tester, especially in southern backcountry, but I like it on the TRX because it mutes all the (functional) scoops, vents and flares. I’m less excited about the (part of an option package) flat-bottom steering wheel that doesn’t shuffle through the hands smoothly, and the shift paddles can be useful but they’re split so you can still use the audio controls back side of the horizontal spokes and the paddles introduce myriad reflections on the instruments.

A TRX proves Michigan engineers are every bit as good as their European counterparts—it’s much easier to control dynamics on a low-slung two-ton sedan than a heavy box this size. As a result, the $104K as-tested ask seems reasonable, especially if you have access to the wide-open spaces it’s built for.

Got that, Texas?

photos by GR Whale

Mr. Whale's been breaking parts for 45 years and writing about it for 30. An award-winning writer, he's served as Technical Editor on several major magazines, been published in more than 40 outlets, and served as driving instructor and motoring book judge. He's a member of the Motor Press Guild, Texas Auto Writers Association, and if you say "It's OK, I'm a racer" to him he'll run to the nearest large body of water.

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