Ram Trucks has unveiled its quickest and most powerful model yet, the Ram 1500 TRX. Aimed squarely against its Blue Oval rival the Ford F-150 Raptor, the TRX is endowed with 702 hp and 881 Nm of torque from a 6.2 litre supercharged Hemi V8 engine that also powers the likes of the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat and the even more powerful Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat.

This makes its the most powerful mass-produced truck in the world, says Ram, and propels the Ram TRX from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and to a top speed of 189 km/h. Transmission comes courtesy of a ZF-sourced TorqueFlite 8HP95 eight-speed automatic gearbox, and the engine’s outputs are put to the ground via a four-wheel-drive system.

The powertrain is controlled via five drive modes; Auto, Sport, Tow, Snow and Custom; as well as three off-road modes, Mud/Sand, Rock and Baja – which control settings for the four-wheel-drive system, throttle map, transmission, suspension and electric power steering.

The engine inhales through the front grille and the bonnet scoop in equal proportions, says Ram, and both airways are routed to a 29-litre airbox which filters out dirt, sand, debris and water before these come close to being ingested by the engine.

Incoming air is also directed to the bottom of the airbox in order to divert dirt and water away before they reach the filter elements, and a one-way drain evecuates water even when the vehicle is moving.

Intake air is then drawn upwards from the airbox through twin heavy-duty filters that provide 198.4 square inches (1,280 sq cm) of filter surface area, or four times the dirt-trapping ability of its nearest rival to stop residual dust or sand before the air is ducted. The filter covers an area of 13.3 square feet (1.24 sq m) when unfolded, says Ram.

The Ram TRX transmission comes with launch control as standard, and wheel speed sensors monitor for wheel hop that may damage the driveline during launches. This varies engine torque outputs in order to help regain full grip. Jump Detection also features here, where wheel speed and ride height sensors as well as accelerometers at each corner identify when the truck is airborne.

This setup acts to prevent power spikes that could damage the driveline, and adjusts engine speed and torque, gear selection, transfer case torque split, damping rates and other powertrain and suspension component parameters through the landing phase within milliseconds, says Ram. The transfer case is a 48-13 BorgWarner full-time active unit, and there is a 2.64:1 low range ratio for rock crawling.

With the powertrain taken care of for high-speed running in adverse conditions such as in the desert, the chassis, too needs to be suitably uprated. Relative to the standard Ram 1500 range, the Ram 1500 TRX employs thicker and reshaped high-strength steel in strategic locations to increase durability and stability.

Sections of the frame are hydroformed, reducing the need for for welding, with fully boxed side rails. High-strength steel and hydroformed sections are used in the front rails to better handle front suspension loads, while galvanised frame parts offer better corrosion protection.

The Ram 1500 TRX has 11.8 inches (300 mm) of ground clearance partly from a 50 mm taller ride height compared to the rest of the Ram 1500 range, as well as from its 35-inch tyres. Front and rear suspension travel is now more than 330 mm, from the 229 mm of travel that is standard on the rest of the Ram range. Approach, breakover and departure angles are 30.2 degrees, 21.9 degrees and 23.5 degrees respectively.

The all-new independent front suspension system with active damping uses forged aluminium upper and lower control arms, while the rear five-link coil suspension is also all-new, and offers better articulation over obstacles, reduces friction and weighs less than a comparable leaf spring system, says Ram.

The 600 mm-long rear coil springs are the largest used in non-commercial production vehicle, and are rated for a maximum payload of 594 kg and a towing capacity of 3,677 kg. Here, the hard points for the rear suspension are different from those on the standard 1500 range, and features a Dana 60 rear axle with locking differential, full-floating axle shafts and an axle hop damper.

Dampers on the Ram 1500 TRX are 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive units with nitrogen-charged remote reservoirs. These also incorporate a high-strength rock shield to protect the dampers’ piston rods from debris, which is directed away through a custom-molded escape path.

Further protection comes courtesy of five skid plates for components including the front axle, transfer case, transmission pan and fuel tank. A separate skid plate protects the lower part of the front fascia and doubles as a belly pan, while heavy duty steel rock sliders are also available as an option.

Braking is handled by a two-piston monoblock caliper setup with 15-inch vented discs in front, while the rear axle gets single-piston calipers on 15-inch discs. This setup is joined by an electronic parking brake. Rolling stock as standard are 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory All-Terrain 325/65R18 tyres on 18-inch wheels in two available designs, including an 18×9-inch beadlock ready wheel.

Off-roading capability is complemented by creature comforts in the Ram TRX including the fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system, with a 12-inch configurable touchscreen that can operate two applications at once. HVAC controls are duplicated, and located on both sides of the infotainment display, while a multifunction switch bank and the optional Trailer Reverse Steer Control are located below the touchscreen.

The Ram 1500 TRX driver gets a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster with TRX-specific graphics, which also appears on the central infotainment unit. The Performance Pages function offers data such as 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) times, g-forces, gauges and engine performance, which can be downloaded into USB. Meanwhile, Off-Road Pages show ride height, transfer case position, vehicle pitch and roll as well as accessory gauges.

A forward-facing camera located under the crossbar in the grille is part of the 360-degree Surround View Camera system, and can be accessed via Off-Road Pages. Meanwhile, an optionally available digital rearview mirror can replace the traditional rearview mirror with a 9.2-inch LCD monitor, displaying video in real time from the rear-facing camera. This can also be switched off to serve as a traditional reflective mirror.

Safety kit on the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX includes a rearview parking camera with dynamic grid line view, stability control with roll mitigation and six airbags as standard. Available active safety features include blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, Ready Alert Braking and Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus.

To mark to arrival of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, the manufacturer has also released a Launch Edition that will be limited to just 702 units in the United States, to commemorate its segment-topping peak power figure of 702 hp, says Ram. The Launch Edition gets Anvil Grey paint finish that is exclusive to this limited-run variant, along with a red-and-brushed aluminium centre console badge that identifies its exclusivity.

The Launch Edition-packaged TRX gets the TRX Level 2 equipment group, which adds carbon-fibre interior trim, a colour accent package, head-up display, beadlock-capable wheels, a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, dual-pane panoramic sunroof and side exterior graphics.

In-house performance division Mopar will offer more than 100 ‘factory-engineered’ and tested parts and accessories for the Ram 1500 TRX, including off-roading lights, off-road rock rails, the RamBar, bed-mounted spare tyre carrier and more.

Manufactured at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan, the Ram 1500 TRX goes into production later this year, and pricing will start from US$69,995 (RM293,174) in the United States.