From the December 2020 challenge of Automotive and Driver.
There are not any gentlemanly duels within the truck wars. From torque outputs to tow scores, the evolution of the pickup performs out in slugfests of one-upmanship. That has made the Ford F-150 Raptor’s decade-long reign because the undisputed champ of high-performance manufacturing off-road vans a powerful feat. Whereas tamer Chevys, Jeeps, and Toyotas have deepened the manufacturing unit off-road pool over time, Ram’s new 1500-based TRX is the primary contender with an actual shot at unseating the Raptor from the lofty throne it created.
One look beneath the hood of the TRX—which Ram internally calls “T. rex“—reveals the seriousness of this bout: From Fiat Chrysler’s Hellcat line, this supercharged V-Eight makes 702 horsepower and, at 6.2 liters, merely dwarfs the Raptor’s 450-hp twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6. To deflate Ford’s EcoBoost additional, beneath the Ram’s airbox cowl lurks a picture of the TRX’s Cretaceous-period inspiration with a velociraptor in its mouth.
Just like the Raptor, the TRX has been fortified for its mission with a strengthened ladder body, large suspension items, and a sturdy full-time four-wheel-drive system. Each vans roll on knobby all-terrain tires almost three toes tall, which might cycle by way of greater than a foot of suspension journey with the assistance of beefy adaptive dampers with exterior reservoirs. The primary distinction right here is that the TRX’s rear axle is held in place by hyperlinks and sprung with coils versus the Raptor’s leaf-spring association—a design one may name prehistoric. Though each vans resemble their workaday siblings and may be had with virtually as many facilities, their considerably widened tracks and aggressively flared bodywork make them not possible to overlook on the street.
The TRX’s large engine and crew-cab-only configuration make it an expensive proposition, at $71,790 to begin, however it’s a must to do not forget that determine is hooked up to probably the most highly effective manufacturing unit pickup ever. Quite a few choices inflated our truck’s as-tested worth to $89,565, with $7920 of that coming from Ram’s Stage 2 Gear Group of luxurious and comfort options.
The F-150 Raptor, then again, is a relative discount contemplating its sheer badassery. It begins at $55,150 in extended-cab kind. We requested Ford to lend us the larger crew-cab model, which begins at $58,135, but it surely wasn’t “out there.” (Ford PR seemingly hoped we’d wait to conduct this comparo till their next-gen Raptor arrived with an up to date inside, rear coil springs, and a rumored blown V-8.) As an alternative, we rented a 2020 SuperCrew with $15,655 value of choices from a courageous man named James Lyons. Together with the great $10,920 Gear Group 802A Luxurious possibility (nav, 360-degree digicam, Bang & Olufsen sound system, and many others.) that seemingly all new Raptors have, the as-tested worth got here to $73,790.
Our matchup started on the check monitor after which headed west from Ann Arbor over highways and again roads to the towering coastal sand dunes of Michigan’s Silver Lake State Park—a public area the place you’ll be able to totally unleash these vans. Let loose to roam the 450 acres of hills, jumps, and open expanses, we examined each vans of their meant surroundings. One can be topped the final word off-road manufacturing pickup. The opposite’s ego can be battered. Let the battle start.
Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew
Highs: Insanely succesful off-road, lots fast, engaging base worth.
Lows: Uninspiring twin-turbo V-6, floppy dealing with, vulnerable to rear-axle hop, dated cabin.
Verdict: Ford’s hardcore F-150 wants to return to the health club.
We have spent sufficient time with the present Raptor to respect how empowering it’s to drive. It feels near invincible and appears appropriately menacing. With 86.Three inches between the fenders, it appears to hug lane strains like an 18-wheeler. And but our check truck’s 5.3-second run to 60 mph is darn fast for any pickup. It takes quite a bit to make Ford’s burliest F-150 appear dainty, however that is precisely what the TRX does.
The Raptor has no hope of successful a drag race in opposition to the supercharged Ram, requiring a whopping 5.Three seconds longer to achieve 100 mph. At relaxation, you’ll be able to hardly inform that its engine is working if a TRX is within the neighborhood. The Ford truly produces extra noise inside at full throttle—83 decibels to the Ram’s 80—however the flat, synthesized thrum of its V-6 is wholly unsatisfying.
Whereas each of those softly sprung vans return good experience consolation on any kind of pavement, the Raptor’s dealing with is sloppier. The adaptive Fox Racing dampers that had been added for 2019 do a commendable job of managing the 34.4-inch-tall BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires hanging off its long-travel suspension (13.Zero inches up entrance, 13.9 within the rear). However even with the dampers of their firmest setting, the Raptor leans and wobbles round corners, at all times feeling unsettled. The big footprint offers some stability, however the 4E-wide sneakers handle simply 0.72 g of skidpad grip on pavement—0.02 g greater than the TRX—and are seemingly a key issue within the imprecise, synthetic steering really feel. Giant midcorner bumps produce each shakes from the Ford’s body and shudders from its rear axle.
Our check truck carried out barely higher within the sand dunes. Aided by an electronically locking rear differential, an optionally available Torsen limited-slip entrance diff, and an array of chassis and drivetrain programs that tie into the Baja and Mud/Sand drive modes, the Raptor is a contact nimbler than the Ram at pace. Its in-flight perspective is best balanced, and its skill to absorb large landings with out bottoming out by no means fails to impress.
However the Raptor additionally needed to work additional onerous to maintain up with the TRX. Within the delicate, power-sapping sand, it had some hassle. The V-6’s 510 pound-feet of torque appeared to come back in surges, which precipitated Ford’s 10-speed computerized transmission to often stumble because it jockeyed gears to maintain the engine in its candy spot. Important rear-axle hop robbed the Raptor of treasured traction and momentum on steep dunes. However even when the truck discovered buy, its engine typically simply could not maintain the wheels spinning as onerous as we wished. Greater than as soon as the Raptor received caught between gears and misplaced increase whereas the TRX roared up the identical hill with energy to spare.
We admit that the majority house owners won’t ever push these vans as onerous as we did. To the overwhelming majority of drivers, a Raptor unleashed in its aspect is an otherworldly expertise. However each reign should come to an finish.
Ram 1500 TRX
Highs: Intoxicating V-Eight energy and noise, impressively versatile suspension, a Ram 1500 at its core.
Lows: Even larger than the Raptor, voracious thirst, no rear-drive setting.
Verdict: The quickest, strongest manufacturing pickup ever.
Even within the firm of the Raptor, the TRX is a automobile of extremes. The Ram stands greater than two inches taller than the Ford and is 1.7 inches wider. Its Goodyear Wrangler Territory AT tires are wider and taller than the Ford’s BFGs, too. And weighing in at 6866 kilos—869 greater than the Raptor—the TRX is as dense as a locomotive, however we’re not complaining, as a result of its strengthened body feels inflexible sufficient to help all that bulk.
The TRX’s centerpiece is the Hellcat V-8, which handily shrugs off the truck’s mass with the assistance of ZF’s heavy-duty eight-speed computerized. Interact launch management on pavement and the behemoth Ram rockets to 60 mph in an absurd 3.7 seconds—faster than a Toyota Supra 3.Zero that weighs lower than half as a lot. The TRX’s 110-mph tempo on the finish of its 12.3-second quarter-mile run is each 13 mph larger than the Raptor’s and sooner than the Ford can go flat out. The noise from the large V-Eight is simply as spectacular. From its supercharger whine to its deep idle that may be felt inside close by buildings to its diabolical full-throttle roar, the TRX is drunk on energy. Gas economic system is as horrendous as you’d anticipate; we averaged simply 9 mpg on our largely freeway journey, together with a mere Four mpg within the dunes.
That the TRX maintains a lot of the common Ram 1500’s inside consolation and on-road refinement is surprising. A lot of the credit score goes to its all-coil-spring suspension, which has basically the identical quantity of journey because the Ford’s setup but employs adaptive Bilstein dampers that ship a greater experience. They’re barely firmer than the Raptor’s dampers of their regular setting and notably extra so in Sport mode, which leads to higher physique management round corners. “It is superb how a truck this massive, heavy, and off-road oriented may be positioned so exactly on a difficult paved street,” noticed testing director Dave VanderWerp. The TRX has extra linear steering and stronger braking efficiency from 70 mph—189 toes versus 195 for the Raptor.
We initially weren’t positive how properly the TRX’s brute-force method would work off-road. It is somewhat trickier to leap than the lighter Raptor, however Baja mode softens its dampers significantly to soak up large impacts. Contemplating the Ram’s additional mass, we by no means would have thought the TRX may easy out high-speed whoop-de-doos higher than the Raptor, but it surely does.
Fast launches required some throttle modulation to maintain the Ram from spinning its tires and burrowing into the sand on the spot. However as soon as we received the truck shifting, the eight-speed computerized managed the Hemi’s full 650 pound-feet of torque with spectacular quickness and smoothness. On flat sand, the TRX clawed to 60 mph in 8.Eight seconds and reached an indicated 90 mph; the Raptor took 11.Three seconds and by no means approached that pace. Steeper-than-expected hillsides had been shortly dispatched with the flex of a proper foot, the TRX downshifting and throwing sand from all 4 Goodyears with virtually not one of the abusive axle hop that plagues its rival.
Our gripes are few: We want we may vaporize the TRX’s rear tires in a two-wheel-drive mode just like the Raptor has, but it surely presents solely 4WD Auto, 4WD Excessive, and 4WD Low settings. We might additionally like a limited-slip entrance differential to go along with the usual rear locker; the present setup makes use of the brakes to imitate a limited-slip entrance diff, and this truck’s stoppers have already got sufficient work to do. And whereas the Ram’s cabin is excessive tech and extra finely trimmed than the F-150’s, a few of the controls might be extra responsive and simpler to make use of, such because the laggy drive-mode buttons on the sprint and the forked paddle shifters that straddle audio buttons on the again of the steering wheel.
Annoyances apart, the TRX is an outrageously succesful effort primarily based on the perfect half-ton pickup at the moment out there, and so we by no means questioned its worth. Ram took the thought of the bonkers off-road truck to the subsequent degree, and that is what makes the TRX the brand new champ.
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
Let’s block advertisements! (Why?)