Ford’s light and nimble Raptor goes against Ram’s heavy hitting TRX Concept

The Ford F-150 Raptor has been the high-speed off-road champ since its introduction in 2010. That all might change should Ram green-light the TRX Concept it debuted at the 2016 Texas State Fair. This beast is Hellcat-powered, boasts 37-inch tires, and a suspension system that rivals the Raptor’s underpinnings.

Both trucks have upgraded engines above their average counterparts. The Raptor boasts a high-output version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, while the Ram 1500 Rebel TRX Concept sports a detuned version of the famed Hellcat V-8. Don’t let the “detuned” term fool you – this engine still makes 575 horsepower.

Both trucks also wear unique bodywork that differs from their mundane counterparts. Unique front fascias, hoods and bumpers are found on both trucks, as well as wider fenders that cover each trucks’ expanded track. Both also feature knobby tires mounted on beadlock wheels (an option of the Raptor).

Nevertheless, there’s still plenty that separate these two prehistoric beasts. Let’s have a look.

Continue reading for the full review.

Exterior

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ram Rebel TRX Concept High Resolution Exterior
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These two trucks are undoubtedly better and more exciting versions of their regular counterparts. The exterior designs are far more engaging and intimidating the your uncle’s Ram and your brother’s F-150. The TRX is actually based on the Ram 1500 Rebel, Ram’s already modified 1500-series truck built for the adventurous types.

It still wears the Rebel’s familiar grille, but has plenty of modifications surrounding it. The hood is now taller to accommodate the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8. There’s a functional ram air scoop just above the RAM lettering. Vents in the hood help extract heat. The widened fenders cover the massive tires and feature vent-like fins by the headlights that cleverly incorporate the DOT-mandated marker lights. Remember, anything this wide requires the extra lights.

Around the side, the Rebel TRX has side-pipe exhausts for the V-8 that double as rocker guards. The fuel filler also gets a special treatment with a one-off cap. The rear fenders are equally wide. The bed has some awesome one-off features Ram included to increase the truck’s functionality. There is a tire carrier for two spares. The carrier is incorporated into the roll bar that also holds an LED light bar. The bed rails feature six handle-like, tie-down hoops that also add visual interest.

Out back, the Rebel TRX has a custom bumper with integrated tow hooks and a lower skid plate. There’s no receiver hitch to decrease the truck’s departure angle, either.

Candy apple red paint with a matt black lower tone gives the truck a menacing yet bright appearance. The red color is seen on the beadlock rings on the 18-inch wheels. The point of a beadlock wheel is that its outer rim clamps down on the tires’ bead, securing it to the wheel. This allows the driver to set lower tire pressures for off-roading without the worry of the tire coming off of the wheel.

Both trucks are pretty awesome looking, but we’ve got to give points to Ram for going over the top.

As for the Raptor, the it wears a completely different grille than the standard F-150. A new bumper and large skid plate dominate the lower portion of the front and the hood features a raised section with a heat extractor. It’s not nearly as bodacious as the Ram’s hood, but it’s still cool. The Raptor also has wider fenders, of course, matching its widened track that’s designed to give the truck more stability in high-speed desert environments.

Large fender flares keep rocks and mud from killing the paint, and steel running boards keep debris from hitting the rocker panels. They also help with getting into and out of the tall truck. Out back, the Raptor features a narrow-profile bumper that maximizes the truck’s departure angle. A receiver hitch comes standard, as do the welded-on recovery points. The EcoBoost’s dual exhaust dump out of the back on either side of the hitch.

Both trucks are pretty awesome looking, but we’ve got to give points to Ram for going over the top. Then again, the Rebel TRX is a concept while the Raptor is an actual production vehicle that had to pass the Department of Transportation’s approval.

Interior

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
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2016 Ram Rebel TRX Concept High Resolution Interior
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The issue of concept verses production crops up again inside the trucks’ cabins. The Rebel TRX features components that wouldn’t make production, including the six-point safety harnesses, the carpet-less floor, and the outlandish shifter design. Still, other aspects could technically make the cut to production.

The Raptor’s interior is far less eventful, yet still holds plenty of features not found on the standard F-150

The Rebel TRX boasts an Alcantara-covered steering wheel from the Dodge Viper and Alcantara coverings on several other components like the center armrest, seat bolsters, and door panels. A bank of auxiliary switches resides at the base of the center console, just ahead of the shifter. Speaking of which, Ram engineers removed the rotary shifter from the dash and installed this electronically controlled unit on the console. In its place, the dash now features a terrain mode selector knob that allows the driver to select between Normal, Wet/Snow, Off-Road, and Baja modes. The infotainment system was left alone. That’s not a bad thing though, as FCA’s 8.4-inch Uconnect system is one of the best in the business.

The Raptor’s interior is far less eventful, yet still holds plenty of features not found on the standard F-150. For one, the seats get a two-tone color scheme with the bolsters set in a different color. You can actually choose between three colors for this accent. Regardless of color choice, the seats come in standard cloth and optional in leather. The steering wheel also sports a red on-center mark and paddle shifters for the transmission. There’s also an optional carbon fiber package that brings the material onto the gear shifter and door panels. A bank of auxiliary switches resides on the overhead console for hooking up aftermarket items like light bars and winches.

The Ford offers a super handy 110-volt outlet right on the dashboard for charging things like laptops and cell phones. Dual zone climate control, the new SYNC3 infotainment system, and Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist are all available.

Opting for the SuperCrew cab brings a huge back seat that folds to reveal a large amount of cargo space. Legroom is nearly limo-like and the floor is completely flat to make storing stuff much easier.

Drivetrain

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Exterior
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2016 Ram Rebel TRX Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The trucks have been somewhat similar up to this point, but Ram takes a totally different approach to power generation than Ford. The Rebel TRX boats a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 most commonly known as the Hellcat V-8. It is detuned from its original 707-horsepower output down to a still-respectable 575 horsepower. Ram engineers undoubtedly did this to keep from breaking axle shafts and blowing up the transfer case. The truck runs a true dual exhaust system and proves there is no replacement for displacement. The Ram uses the familiar ZF eight-speed automatic with one-off paddle shifters on the steering column.

The Raptor does have a Torsen limited slip front differential that helps with traction, but still allows the front tires to rotate independently for easier steering.

The Ford, on the other hand, shows that high-tech computer gadgetry, port and direct fuel injection, and a pair of turbos are enough to replace displacement. At 2.7 liters smaller than the Hellcat V-8, Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 still kicks out an impressive 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. That should be more than enough to move the Raptor to triple digit speeds through the desert. Ford uses its new 10-speed automatic transmission it co-developed with General Motors. Like the Ram, paddle shifters give the driver control over gear selection.

Both trucks feature differential lockers, but the Ford only has a rear unit. The Ram features lockers on both axles for maximum traction. The Raptor does have a Torsen limited slip front differential that helps with traction, but still allows the front tires to rotate independently for easier steering.

It’s hard to say which truck would win a drag race, especially since gearing, transmission tuning, and of course horsepower and torque are all important variables. Both trucks are said to be capable of speed well above 100 mph.

Conclusion

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
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2016 Ram Rebel TRX Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Both Ford and Ram’s attempt at a high-speed off-roader are admirable. Ford, obviously deserves huge credit for creating the segment some seven years ago. Since then, Ford has grown its Raptor production exponentially thanks to its ever-growing popularity. Ram is no doubt trying to capitalize on the market. Whether Ram actually builds the truck is still unknown, but we’re definitely hoping so. Several of the Rebel TRX Concepts’ features won’t make production, however. Etiher way, we’d be trilled with this little niche segment of the full-size truck category getting more competition.

Chevrolet is very close to debuting its Colorado ZR2, so there’s that. It should compete nicely with the Raptor despite it being a midsize truck. It will likely be more maneuverable and perhaps just as fast thanks to its lighter weight and smaller footprint.

But, between the Ram and the Ford, we’d have to pick the Ram – but only if FCA gives it the green light. Its Hellcat power, hellacious looks, and serious suspension give it some serious credibility. Let us know which truck you’d pick in the comments below!

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