RAM TRX Review: We Drove a Truck in a Volcano


Our automotive and off-road driving expert Bryon Dorr got a chance to put the RAM 1500 TRX to the test in a volcanic moonscape outside Flagstaff, Ariz. He came back even more impressed than he already was with this apex predator in the off-road truck world.

It’s hard not to be impressed with a truck that packs 702 supercharged ponies under the hood, has 14 inches of suspension travel, 35-inch tires, and driving modes like “Baja” and “launch control” — all from the factory.

Wrap all that off-road capability and fun into a super-well-appointed luxury truck, and you have a winner.

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Sure, there are a few drawbacks to the RAM TRX. For starters, it’s a massive 88 inches wide (that’s 8 inches wider than a standard RAM 1500).

It also doesn’t have 2WD mode, which means it’s a lot harder to drift on pavement and guzzles premium dino juice quite quickly. Oh yeah, and it will set you back way north of the $70,000 starting price, quite possibly north of $100,000 with current crazy dealer “market adjustment” fees.

I wrote a first drive review about the RAM 1500 TRX about a year ago before it was available to the public. Since then, the truck has been selling quickly across the world, and I’ve had a few more opportunities to get behind the wheel again.

My latest TRX driving adventure was in the Cinder Hills OHV area outside Flagstaff, Ariz.

Volcano Driving

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After a short highway jaunt where the TRX easily went way too quick, we hopped off the pavement and aired down. The rest of the day was full of fast gravel, super steep hills, windy, rocky two-track, and whooped-out, deep, loose cinder.

The hills were on the sides, and inside of, cinder cones. These dormant volcanoes last erupted about 900 years ago and have since been slowly eroding and breaking down.

The Cinders, as it’s known, is the only area in Arizona where you can free-range off-road without worrying about staying on designated routes. It’s also a really unique landscape that suits the big, powerful TRX perfectly.

RAM 1500 TRX
Powering up and out of the volcanic crater. It’s way steeper and looser than it looks. Many a vehicle has been stuck in the bottom of this crater, but not the TRX.

The big tires, big wheel travel, and crazy-impressive Bilstein shocks on the TRX are perfectly suited for soaking up the rocky, whooped-out paths all over the Cinders.

Combine those attributes with big horsepower, smart driving modes, and impressive comfort, and you have the recipe for a really good day of off-road adventuring — at way higher speeds than any other stock vehicle is capable of.

TRX Comfort

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The TRX interior offers a great mix of materials and special attention to the touchpoints. It just feels good to be in a TRX! The suede touchpoints feel sporty and luxurious at the same point. RAM went the extra mile with this treatment, even wrapping the grab/”oh shit” handles in suede.

The seats are quite adjustable and comfortable. They’re also heated and cooled, but they sadly don’t offer a massage feature. Backseat passengers also get a pretty comfortable bench seat and generous legroom.

The huge 12-inch touchscreen dominates the center of the dashboard and offers great graphics and loads of features. However, I’m not impressed with the load times of some of the pages or the overly large number of buttons surrounding the screen.

It’s also a bit annoying how many screen button taps are required to pull up the front trail camera. But you can add the trail cam to the customizable “dock” at the bottom of the screen.

In the TRX, you also get a center console gear selector. I find this type of gear selector infinitely better than the rotary dial selector found in most RAM 1500 models. On the steering wheel, you also get metal paddle shifters that not only feel good to the touch but also work quite quickly and smoothly.

Turn Off the Nannies

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With great horsepower comes great responsibility. For a vehicle manufacturer to offer insane horsepower, like the TRX’s 702 ponies, there need to be quite a few driver-assistance aids (computer nannies) to help keep the average driver from instantly wrapping this machine around the nearest telephone pole.

The TRX, of course, comes with a full suite of computer assistance to help you keep the vehicle in control and harness the big power coming from under the hood. It also has full-time 4WD/AWD, because 2WD would just beg for lots of smoky burnouts and drifts.

This truck weighs over 6,396 pounds, which can create a lot of momentum in one direction and be extremely difficult to reign back in without the power being sent to all four wheels and computer nannies to keep you in check.

I like the option to turn the nannies off and drift if I want to. While you can’t turn absolutely everything off, and can’t put the TRX in 2WD mode, there’s a quick way to turn off most of the nannies. Just press and hold the ESC (electronic stability control) button on the center console for 5 seconds and wait for the beep.

My favorite way to drive the TRX is in 4WD Auto, in Baja driving mode, and with all the nannies turned off. Sure, it’s a bit twitchier and can bite you a bit easier, but it’s oh so fun!

Depress the skinny pedal with authority and listen to that supercharger force massive amounts of air into the engine. The whine is addictive!

2022 RAM 1500 TRX Ignition Edition

2022 Ram 1500 TRX Ignition Edition
2022 Ram 1500 TRX Ignition Edition

Sadly, I didn’t get to see the new Ignition edition TRX in person. And I very much love orange vehicles.

The latest special-edition TRX model, it just debuted last week at the Texas State Fair. The Ignition consists of a lot of orange inside and out, new graphics on the bedsides, and a new machined wheel look.

Only 875 of the 2022 RAM 1500 TRX will be sold in the U.S. So they’ll no doubt come at a premium markup from the dealers that manage to get their hands on them. With sticker pricing starting at $93,280, these are going to be very expensive trucks. The TRX Ignition goes on sale in late 2021.

Apex Predator

If you were wondering, the only way the new Ford Raptor beats the TRX is by having a 2WD mode and by offering 37-inch tires from the factory. Otherwise, the TRX remains the apex predator of the off-road truck world.

Is there a better tool for getting your friends and outdoor gear off the beaten path quickly and with a smile on your face? No — no there isn’t. Of course, that’s only true if you can get past the price tag, size, and fuel economy (10 mpg city, 14 mpg highway, and 12 combined mpg).

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