2023 Ram TRX

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In the January, 1978 issue of Car and Driver magazine, Larry Griffen wrote a review of the 1979 Pontiac Trans-Am titled “It will not pass this way again.” It was a heads-up to the readers that ’79 would be the last time they could buy a new Trans-Am with a big (400 cubic inch, 6.6 liter) V8 engine. There were only a few of the big V8s left in stock – left over from the ’78 model year – and once they were gone, that would be it. 

So it is, again – almost.

Or rather, will be . . . soon.

2023 will be the last – or second-to-last – year that anyone will be able to buy a new Ram 1500 truck with the 6.2 liter, supercharged V8 that is the centerpiece of the TRX package. Ram’s parent company, Stellantis, has already announced the Hemi V8’s forced retirement in favor of electric or partially electric (i.e., hybrid) powertrains after the 2024 model year, which will be the last year for the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 that serves as the basis for the TRX’s supercharged, 6.2 liter version of that V8. 

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – which featured the same supercharged V8 – has already been force-retired.

Whether the TRX survives another year is anyone’s guess. And even if it does, it shall not pass this way again, after that. 

What It Is

The TRX is a very high-performance variant of the Ram 1500 half-ton pickup. And not just in terms of how powerful – and quick – it is. 

Which is a lot – and very. 

702 horsepower and 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.

Low 12s in the quarter. 

That’s what comes of putting the Dodge Charger/Challenger’s Hellcat’s engine in a truck. 

But it is also a very capable truck, featuring a lifted suspension almost a foot of ground clearance, locking differentials, 35-inch knobby all-terrain tires and a full-time 4WD system with multiple driver-selectable terrain modes, among other things.

It goes like Hell – and it goes off-road, too.

Base price is $81,150

That’s not inexpensive. But it is a deal compared with what some of its “electrified” competition costs. And not just in terms of money.

Also relative to the one other truck that’s anything like this truck. More on that in a bit.

What’s New for 2023

A Havoc Edition is available that features Baja Yellow exterior paint and Prowler Yellow interior stitching accents. 

What’s Good

Keeps up with the quickest EVs.

Leaves them behind when they run out of range.

Doesn’t bleed range from just sitting.

What’s Not So Good

The clock is ticking.

Under The Hood

An engine, first of all. Not a “frunk” – as you’ll find under the hood of electric trucks like Ford’s F-150 Lightning and the Rivian.

And not just an engine, either.

Raise the hood and behold the supercharged 6.2 liter V8 engine that powers the TRX.

Literally behold it.

It is not hidden underneath a black plastic cover, as 99 percent of all new car/truck engines are (with the result of that being they all look the same and  also no different from electric vehicle powerplants, which can’t be seen, either). The only thing on top is the dual snorkel ram air feed that seals up against the functional hood scoop, which routes cooler/denser outside air to the supercharger that sits on top of this very special version of the Hemi V8 – which is painted Hemi Orange, the same as its 426 dual-quad namesake of the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Almost no one else bothers to paint engines anymore, in part because almost everyone else hides their engines under those black plastic covers – which aren’t so much ugly as anonymizing. There’s a reason why new car dealers no longer leave the hoods of the new cars (and trucks) on their lots up. It is because there’s nothing to see. If you go to a classic car show, on the other hand, you will see every car with its hood raised, so as to show off what’s under there.

It’s the same here – only the TRX is a new classic. Fifty years from now, people will still flock to look at what’s under its hood, too.

This Hemi produces an astounding 702 horsepower (and 650 ft.-lbs. of torque). The original 426 Hemi (which was also about 6.2 liters in modern size-speak) made just 426 horsepower – or so was advertised. As it was a detuned race engine, its actual output was understated and was probably closer to 500.

But it was nowhere near 702.

That is power. Not quite the unlimited power of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars – but enough to give you an idea. And enough to get this massive, full-size truck to 60 in 3.7 seconds – which makes a dual-quad 426 Hemi equipped ’70 Charger Daytona seem like an ’84 Aries K-car in comparison.

But it is also enough to go a lot farther – much sooner – than electric rocket-trucks like the Ford Lightning and Rivian R1T, both of which are also exceedingly quick but take a very long time to get going again, if you make use of their quickness. Even at the “fastest” chargers, you’ll wait at least half an hour to put a partial charge back into either. Meanwhile, the TRX’s 33 gallon gas tank can be fully filled in about five minutes and that gives you 330 miles of city driving range and 462 on the highway. Those 33 gallons making up for the Hemi’s 10 MPG in city driving and 14 MPG on the highway thirst. 

The TRX may use a lot of gas but you will always know how much, because its range doesn’t change when the weather does or if you use accessories such as the heater and defroster when it’s cold out. If you parked it with a full tank you will still have a full tank the next morning – unlike an EV, which will “leak” range overnight (especially in the cold) if you leave it unplugged overnight.

An eight speed automatic transmission is standard, as is a full-time 4WD system specific to the TRX that features variable torque split ranging from 40/60 (front to rear) in 4WD auto, 45/55 in Snow mode, 30/70 in Sport, 25/75 in Baja, 45/55 in Mud/Sand and 50-50 in Rock crawl mode.

The two-speed transfer case has a 2.64 ratio.

This mightiest of all Ram 1500s only carries an 8,100 pound maximum tow rating (some other Ram 1500s are rated to pull as much 12,750 lbs.) which is also less than the 10,000 pound capacity touted by the Ford Lightning. However, the TRX can actually pull what it is rated to pull without having to stop shortly after you begin pulling. It does burn up more gas when pulling a trailer, of course. But you can replenish all of what you burned in about five minutes – as opposed to some of the range (in an electric truck) after waiting a half hour or longer to get it.

You may also be happy to know that this truck does not come with automatic engine stop-start (ASS) and that “advanced driver assistance technologies” such as Lane Keep Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring are . . . optional.

Ram assumes that people interested in a TRX are probably uninterested in such things. It almost makes one’s knees weak, like re-uniting with a long-lost loved one.

On The Road

Alexander Solzhenitsyn – who was imprisoned in the old Soviet Union for no legitimate reason – wrote about how he and his fellow political prisoners “burned in the camps” when they thought about how they didn’t put up a fight before being sent to them. We may “burn,” too – when we realize (in the rearview) what we might have done to prevent machines such as the TRX from being forced off the road.

It is the apotheosis of performance, capability and practicality.

And of what the free market can deliver.

Behold. A 700-plus horsepower, 12 second quarter-mile truck that can out-accelerate almost any car, that is much more useful than any car – being capable of carrying six people and their stuff plus a load in the bed and a trailer hanging off its bumper. It is orders of magnitude more practical than any electric truck – notwithstanding the absence of a “funk.”

It does not rescind practicality for the sake of performance. And it does not offer capabilities that impose liabilities if you make use of them.

But most of all, it makes you smile – every single time.

Actually, it  makes you giggle – just a little. It is like being ten again and having just successfully jumped your bike over that homemade ramp – only now to the accompaniment of the supercharger’s keening gear whine and the booming exhaust blasts emanating from the four inch twin pipes jutting from the underside of the rear bumper.

No one needs a truck like this.

But it is exactly what is wanted, especially now.

It is real in every way. Nothing ersatz – or apologetic – about it. No “sound augmentation technology” is necessary when you have a machine like this, that does not sound like a device. It signals the virtues of not being a herd creature. Of wanting nothing to do with such guilt-riddled, gelded and anodyne docility.

Or hypocrisy.

Say what you will about the TRX. It does not pretend to be what it isn’t. Unlike “electrified” trucks such as the Ford Lightning that preen green but aren’t, really – unless you view them myopically, in terms of their absent tailpipes. As if that made up for the smokestacks. As if that made any meaningful difference, given the improbability of the “climate” “changing” on account of increasing the 0.04 percent of the earth’s atmosphere that is C02 by a tiny fraction of that fraction.

Spare us, please.

Better yet, fuck off.

The TRX may be a gas hog. It is not an energy hog – or a time hog. Its existence does not require kids in the Congo to claw toxic cobalt out of pit mines, by hand. Nor oceans of water to be fouled leaching non-renewable lithium for “high voltage” batteries it does not have. No one is being pushed into buying one, either – and those who do buy one are paying full freight for theirs without any “help” from the government, funded by you.

Whew. I needed to get that off my chest.

Now it’s time to go for a drive!

Which never gets old because it is never the same – unlike every EV, which is just a device. A bigger – or smaller battery pack. A bigger – or smaller – touchscreen. Which you’ll want because you’ll need something to keep you from falling asleep. That cannot happen in the TRX. Unless you are the kind of person who can fall asleep in the middle of good sex.

It is one of the last of the taken-for-granted machines that make driving a pleasure rather than a means to an end – and no doubt that is why they are working so diligently to end machines like this. To sever the bonds of affection that once bound us to our machines, by replacing them with  . . . devices.

If you take a TRX for a test drive you will understand this – and will do whatever it takes to make it yours, while you still can.

At The Curb

Normally with half-ton trucks, you have a lot of thinking to do about which cab size and bed length to get, as well as a number of other things. With the TRX, your thinking will mostly focus on the relative handful of options you can add.

Every TRX comes essentially the same way: Crew Cab with a short (five foot) bed and – of course – the Hellcat powertrain. Also included as standard equipment is a lifted suspension with Bilstein shocks that allow 13 inches of travel and 11.8 inches of minimum ground clearance, which gives the TRX the ability to ford almost three feet of water.

Try that in a Tesla.

Visual differentiators include fender flares and – most visual of all – a functional ram-air hood that has LED lights built into it and “supercharged” callouts on either side of it.

Inside, there are gauges – not displays.

Well, there are both.

The main gauge panel still has analog instruments, supplemented to your right by an array of digital gauges that cover everything from air-fuel ratio to boost. Tap the app for Performance Pages and you can view a real-time engine dynamometer as well as keep electronic track of eighth-mile, quarter-mile and zero-to-60 runs. There is also a launch control feature but this is less necessary than it is in the rear-drive Hellcats, which are harder to control when the full fury of the supercharged V8 is unleashed. In the TRX, the 4WD system takes care of most of that.

Just punch it – and watch the world blur.

It is only when it comes time to park that you become aware of the size – the width – of the TRX. It is often wider than the space allotted in between the painted lines of supermarket parking lot spaces, effectively forcing you to take up part of another one. This will of course annoy the virtue-signalers.

But that is part of the fun.

There are a few things the TRX doesn’t come standard with, such a heated (and cooled) seats, leather/carbon fiber/suede trim and an available 900 watt, 19 speaker Harman Kardon audio system. You can also get a Heads-Up Display and a surround-view camera system. But these are things you can get in many other new vehicles.

What matters here is what they don’t offer. Which is what the TRX delivers every time you climb aboard and push the “start” button.

The Rest

All hope may not be lost.

At least insofar as the TRX Ram’s only real rival – that being the F-150 Raptor. Specifically, the new-for-2023 Raptor R – which isn’t powered by the standard Raptor’s turbocharged “Ecoboost” V6 but, instead, the Shelby Mustang’s 5.2 liter supercharged V8.

Ford, it seems, may be the one holding the candle by the darkened door.

The Bottom Line 

It’s not 1978 – but here we are, again.

And – as it was, back then – it will not pass this way, again.

. . .

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Now the EV charging stations in Commiefornia are becoming homeless camps. That is so funny, now those smirky elites get to put up with stinking hungry drug addled homeless infesting their charge stations. I find myself laughing at this.

  2. Eric, a long time ago when London introduced the “congestion charge” they exempted “green” cars from the tax. Back then, “green” cars were hybrids, like the Prius. Based on this rule, a number of European manufactures announced a bunch of hybrid versions of gas guzzling luxury cars which seemed to serve no purpose except claim such exemptions because they couldnt go more than a couple inches on the battery. At that point I remember Jeremy Clarkson once joked that as long as you put a tiny 9v drive battery in something like the hummer it will qualify for the exemption.

    Any chance, these manufacturers will, for a couple grand add such a “mild hybrid” onto such brilliant V8s to ensure they survive the attacks from the Davos crowd and other crooked politicians ? (and somehow let us deplorables get our fix)?

  3. • The Ram 3500/4500/5500 Chassis cab models equipped with gas and diesel engines that have the PTO prep option (LBN or LBV) have the capability of mounting and controlling a PTO.
    • The Aisin AS69RC automatic transmission can use devices up to 60HP and 250 ft lbs torque. While the model, the number, and HP/torque capability of the transmission have increased, the Chelsea 270 and Muncie CS6 models continue to mount to the right side of the transmission as in previous years.

    Might be interesting to mount a PTO generator on the transmission (if this is the same one as in the linked doc), a 240 V charger in the bed and rescue F150 Lightning damsels (or ladyboys) in distress?

    https://www.ramtrucks.com/BodyBuilder/service/Image?imageId=MtQrP%2FFqLY5r%2Fest8MtGjGgHzAHGUTU0WB3rWuqSY7YmQ2vEhuBWBKoD26b43NCn

  4. Well, it looks like it is just for dreams. I looked some up, and to match the higher-end versions I have in options, the TRX goes to $100K. Wow. So for me, adding $30-40K just for the awesome engine is not very smart nor practical. And I know the TRX is not for ‘practical’. I could care less about the ‘look’ and the awesome suspension, as cool as it is though.
    Just hard to justify when you enjoy the truck you have a lot and it goes really well.
    After reading this and I was out last night, I stepped on it and it made me smile.
    No Mad Max truck for me! Darn……………………
    Of course if we hit a deep depression as some are predicting and these things start sitting on lots, maybe…………………………..

  5. I could probably swing it, if I sold something of significant value. Until the taxes and insurance came due. Beside the fact I have no urgent use for it, except the smiles. I have smiles that can be bought for far less. So I could buy it, but I probably couldn’t afford to keep it. If you can, more power to you, and HAPPY trails. Keep it alive!

    • Hi John,

      I just now that – ten years from now – I will be kicking myself (hard) for not finding a way to buy one. I am still kicking myself for not having found a way to buy the ’95 Cobra R I could have bought straight from Ford back then. It would have been an investment, too – as that car is worth more today than it cost back then…

      • I own a 2001 Mustang Cobra SVT convertible. Itz slightly modified with Magnaflow exhaust, Terminator wheels, cold air intake etc. It looks like the 2003 supercharged version as it has some of the visuals of the 2003 version but is only normally aspirated. I bought it used for $14,990 when it had 26,000 miles and I use it sparingly. I do most of the maintenance myself. An old man like me has to get some kicks of course.

        BTW I am interested in the camera system you use to record your videos. It looks real good. I would appreciate your advice.

      • Eric, I kick myself all the time for not buying/doing something. We make the call based on circumstances. Here’s my worst one:
        Builder: do you want a basement? It’s gonna cost $10K.
        Me: SOofB, I know I’m going to kick myself later, but if I do $10K now on a house that is budgeted to cost $140K total, I could go bankrupt. We were literally at the point of playing credit card roulette to just get a ‘house’ in the first place. But all based on decisions. The decision was that the 60acres was way more important than the house. Not sure I believe that now, as much as we’ve enjoyed the land. However the ‘State’ took away/stole our property rights, so the 60acres is practically worthless in dollars, but we still enjoy it with the tiny house.
        10-15 yrs later, when we started making a living, that $10K was way less important than what a basement would have done for our home.
        Both of us will do the same thing 10yrs from now about this TRX. ohh well.

  6. “…We may “burn,” too…”

    Yep, Thermal runaways and toxic smoke from EV fires, but the planet will be saved! I just hope I can avoid the ‘wrong-think’ camps for awhile and continue to tell the young what was.

  7. Stellantis wants their ESG cash….lol

    Dodge Ram Reveals First EV Pickup To Take On Cybertruck

    from zh comments…
    But we already know that electric trucks can’t do truck things like hauling, towing, plowing, etc. because the battery capacity just isn’t there. Trucks aren’t about efficient commuting, they are about moving heavy things.

    EVs are great… unless you need to go more than 150 miles before conking out… or the temp drops below 40*.

    All these auto manufacturers should read the room. No one can afford these ugly high priced vehicles. Cheap plastic filled with high tech surveillance systems that cost thousands to repair a simple computer piece. How long do you got to sit at a recharge pump, if you can find one, to recharge that thing?…… its Rich People’s……… High priced techno garbage depreciating virtue signaling piece of junk.

    Pay twice as much for a truck that can’t be used as a truck.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/dodge-ram-reveals-first-ev-pickup-take-cybertruck

    • EV’s only have linear acceleration….

      Tesla plaid compared to McLaren 765LT

      The plaid is quick 0 to 60 ….about average for quick cars in the 1/4 mile…… but very slow in 1/2 mile,

      NOTE: electric motors run out of power in top end, half way to maximum rpm they start losing power, ………….

      EV’s also lose power as the battery gets low….they have more power at full charge, at 30% charge they are quite a bit slower have less power…..an ice vehicle gets quicker as the gas tank level gets lower…because they get lighter and they don’t lose power……
      EV’s also lose power if it is very hot outside or very cold……

      EV’s are all about low end torque only, ….in the 1/2 mile the McLaren is way faster, the plaid is far behind, it is a slow joke….lol……

      they always talk about tesla 0 to 60, their only strong point,….linear acceleration only…… in every other way they are horrible, bad brakes, horrible on corners, no sound, boring as hell, look horrible, very plain looking, bad quality control, take hours to charge, very short range, catch fire, they never mention how slow they are in the 1/2 mile or longer race.

      If they only advertised how slow they are in the 1/2 mile nobody would buy them…lol…or how they have zero lateral acceleration, horrible on corners, they are far too heavy, a 5000 lb to 10,000 lb pig can’t corner…..it is like a huge truck….lol

      The plaid is quick in 1/4 mile but very slow in 1/2 mile, electric motors run out of power in top end, half way to maximum rpm they start losing power, they are all about low end torque only, gas powered cars pull hard right to redline, some make way more power in the top of rev range.

      tesla plaid is quick 0 to 60, but if the road is more then a quarter mile long there is lots of cars that are quicker…………. A car that is only quick for the first 1/4 mile is a joke, roads are more then 1/4 mile long…………………….EV’s need 3 motors to be quick because they are low powered wimps, ice cars only need one engine because they make insane amounts of power.

      Another issue……In regular mode the plaid is slow and it takes too long to put in launch mode, so you can’t race at lights, so what good is it?

  8. Dam, that thing is impressive and just plain awesome. And as Jim H said, you make the words, and the truck, come alive Eric. Thank you.
    So here’s the dilemma for me. I can afford this truck (because my current truck is paid off and only 2 years old). I currently own two 5.7 late model Ram’s, in different locations, that are awesome and our powerful enough for me.
    BUT, this absolutely the Mad Max truck that will most likely never be avail again.
    My heart says, buy it, my brain says ‘how the hell would I get my dirtbikes in the back?’ (my current Ram’s have air ride and lower themselves for easier loading).
    I may just go see one to determine if the bed loading height would be a problem.

  9. ‘It signals the virtues of not being a herd creature. Of wanting nothing to do with such guilt-riddled, gelded and anodyne docility. Or hypocrisy.’ — eric

    Some real passion is on display in this review. The late Brock Yates demolished the boundaries on what automotive writers could say, half a century ago.

    Eric Peters is his literary heir. As the great V-8s expire like the passenger pigeon, missives such as ‘2023 Ram TRX’ shall not pass this way again, just as no one today could pen the song ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ or anything remotely like it.

    Get it while you can.

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