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Payne: Ram TRX breaks 4-second 0-60 mph speed barrier

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Pickup trucks have a new king of the hill.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has become the first production truck to break the four second 0-60 mph acceleration barrier, according to The Detroit News and Ram real-world testing.

In its first media test last week in Nevada, the 702-horsepower monster rocketed from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, shattering Ram’s own estimate of 4.5 seconds for the supercharged truck. Perhaps as impressive, the TRX (pronounced T-Rex) recorded a 5.1 second 0-60 time off-road (dirt-gravel mix) time. The off-road sprint equals the on-road 0-60 time recorded by the 450-horsepower Ford F-150 Raptor, until now the fastest truck in production.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is the first sub-4 second production pickup at 3.9 seconds.

The TRX and Raptor — joined by the 2022 GMC Hummer EV this week — make up a new class of super truck capable of sports car-like acceleration while boasting astonishing off-road capabilities. The electric motor-driven Hummer claims a 0-60 time of 3 seconds when it debuts late next year.

The highly anticipated Ram — its engine bay stuffed with the same supercharged, 6.2-liter V8 engine found in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat — is the first truck to take on the Raptor, which has wowed the motorhead community since its introduction in 2008. Currently equipped with the same twin-turbo V-6 engine found in the Ford GT supercar and state-of-the-art, performance Fox shocks, the Raptor brought Baja 1000-capable equipment to the pickup realm. Its heights were not challenged — until now.

The TRX isn’t the first speed freak that Ram has brought to market. Car and Driver has been the media baseline for 0-60 tests over the years, and it recorded the 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10 (Ram was under the Dodge brand then) at 4.9 seconds. A missile on wheels, the SRT-10 didn’t have off-road aspirations but came equipped with the same 500-horse, 8.3-liter V-10 engine found in the Viper supercar. The Ford SVT F-150 Lightning stuffed in a supercharged V-8 back in 2001 and hit 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. The 2008 Toyota Tundra TRD achieved a torrid 4.5 seconds.

Today’s standard-issue pickups are hardly weaklings. Car and Driver recorded the 2019 Ram 1500 at 6.0 seconds 0-60 when equipped with a 395-hp, 5.7-liter V-8. The TRX is a whole different animal, though.

Its 0-60 dash is comparable to a Chevy Camaro SS muscle car. Though, to be sure, the $89,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk — with the same Hellcat engine lurking under the hood — still has 0-60 mph bragging rights in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV brand stable with a 3.5-second time.

Similar to supercars like the Corvette C8 or Porsche 911 that routinely record sub-3.0 second 0-60 times, the top-shelf TRX uses launch control to achieve its astonishing drag times.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX recorded 3.9 seconds 0-60 mph time (right) and 5.1 seconds off-road.

Hit the Launch Control button on the truck’s dash. Flatten the brake pedal. Bury the accelerator pedal. Wait for the revs to level at 2200 RPM. Release brake. The truck explodes forward with electronics managing the four-wheel-drive system for slip.

The grip of the 4WD drive system — particularly during off-road acceleration tests — is impressive. As is the visceral appeal. The Hellcat engine’s supercharger shrieks above the roar of the V-8. No wonder it’s named after the T-Rex predator.

The Ram’s speed capabilities come despite a considerable 850-pound weight disadvantage over the lighter Raptor. In addition to the V-8 boat anchor up front, the Ram’s ladder frame has been strengthened for off-road punishment.

Media tests included multiple laps around Nevada’s winding off-road Wild West Motorsport race track, where the Ram was launched four feet into the air at 65 mph over jumps. The impact was cushioned by competition Bilstein shocks, which, similar to Raptor, are capable of 14 inches of travel.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is the first sub-4 second production pickup at 3.9 seconds.

TRX is distinguished over other Ram trucks by its swollen fenders, 13-inch wide-by-35 inch tall tires and big hood scoop. And its $70,095 price tag.

That puts it well above the $55,000 Raptor, but is below the starting price for the electric Hummer at $79,995. Indeed, with its boisterous V-8 and luxurious interior with 12-inch Tesla-like screen, the TRX pickup indicates there is plenty of life in the ol’ gas engine yet.

Loaded with options, the Ram will cost about $95,000 next to the top trim $112,000 Hummer. Despite its thirsty 12 mpg fuel economy, the V8-powered TRX claims about 400 miles of range compared to the Hummer’s electric 350. Gas station infrastructure is much friendlier to off-road adventure seekers than the sparse national fast-charging network.

TRX will roar into dealerships in the late fourth quarter of 2020.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.