The Ram Rebel TRX Could Be The Most Capable Truck On the Market

It’s been three years since Ford re-released the F-150 Raptor (after a three-year hiatus), and we’ve been waiting for a strong challenger to come in with an uppercut. The Rebel’s distant cousin, the Jeep Gladiator, is okay and all, but Ram just proved that good things come to those who wait. This, folks, is the Ram Rebel TRX, and I’m going to explain to you how Ram made it so capable and why it just became the most capable truck in the world.

What Makes the Ram Rebel TRX so Capable?

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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After years of development, it should come as no surprise that RAM is looking to climb above the Ford F-150 Raptor and set a new standard for off-road capable vehicles.

This all starts with the new frame that’s built from high-strength steel for not only improved handling but increased durability.

A new and rebel-specific suspension system with active damping has been brought into play, and it was inspired by desert off-road racers. The front upper and lower control arms are made of forged aluminum with very specific caster and camber angles. These control arms also contribute to the extra six-inches of track width and the impressive 13-inches of wheel travel. The rear end is dominated by a Dana 60 solid rear axle with a 3.55 gear ratio, full-floating axle shops, and an electronic locking rear differential.

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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All four corners feature brand-new (and designed specifically for the Rebel) 2.5-inch Bilstein adaptive shocks that are made to withstand a lot of beating at even 100 mph. The full-time active transfer case was even revised with stronger internals to handle all the extra torque being sent through it to the wheels. Finally, Ram worked with Goodyear to create the new 35-inch Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires that measure 325/65R18 and are mounted on 18x9-inch wheels.

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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So what about specs? Well, the Rebel TRX has 11.8-inches of ground clearance and – believe it or not – can ford through up to 32-inches of water without skipping a beat. The Rebel’s approach angle comes in at 30.2-degrees, while it’s breakover angle comes in at 21.9-degrees, and its departure angle comes in at 23.5-degrees.

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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To put this into perspective, the Ford F-150 Raptor features near-identical specs, but beats out the Rebel with an extra degree of breakover angle while losing out by 0.4-degrees for the departure angle. As far as suspension travel goes, the Ford and Ram are even in the front, but the TRX manages 14 inches in the rear compared to the Raptor’s 13.9-inches.

2021 Ram TRX Off-Road Specs vs. F-150 Raptor
2021 Ram 1500 TRX 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor
Shocks 2.5-Inch Bilstein 3.0-Inch Fox
Ground Clearance 11.8 Inches 11.5 Inches
Approach Angle 30.2 Degrees 30.2 Degrees
Breakover Angle 21.9 Degrees 22.9 Degrees
Departure Angle 23.5 Degrees 23.1 Degrees
Suspension Travel 13.0 (Front) / 14.0 (Rear) Inches 13.0 (Front) / 13.9 (Rear) Inches
Water Fording 32.0 Inches 32.0 Inches

Frame

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road
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The 2021 Ram TRX’s frame is composed of 98 percent high-strength steel that uses low-torsion attributes to increase durability, stability, and handling precision.

Sections of the frame are hydroformed for dimensional accuracy, reducing the need for welding, and the side rails are fully boxed. The front rails have high-strength steel and hydroformed sections to set a strong foundation to better handle the front suspension load. Galvanized frame components are used for improved corrosion protection.

To protect critical components, including the front axle, transfer case, transmission pan and fuel tank, TRX employs five skid plates. A separate skid plate sits at the bottom of the front fascia, mitigating potential damage, and doubles as a belly pan. Heavy-gauge steel rock sliders are also an available option.

Rear Axle

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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The Rebel TRX features a Dana 60 rear axle with an axle-hop damper for improved traction and control. The center of the axle features a locking differential while new tube assemblies were required to accommodate the extra track width. New, high-strength axle shafts send power from the rear diff to the rear wheels while a new rear prop shaft was designed to accommodate increased travel while providing extra strength.

Transfer Case

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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The Ram TRX has a Borg Warner 48-13 full-time active transfer car that has been modified with upgraded internals for added strength and durability. This modification includes the following:

  • Extra clutch plates
  • Heavy Duty clutch apple bearing
  • Six-pinion planetary low-range gear
  • 20-percent wider chain
  • New main shaft
  • Longer rear half shaft
  • Rear output flange that replaces the slip yoke

The TRX’s different drive modes – Auto, Sport, Snow, Tow, Mud, and Baja – all adjust the calibration of the T-case. For rock clawing, the low gear has a ratio of 2.64:1, and there’s a neutral gear for flat towing.

Selec-Speed Control

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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One other cool feature that involves the T-case and transmission is Slec-Speed Control.

This system manages vehicle speed in 4 low (aka “4LO”) when you’re tackling rougher terrain. Essentially, it controls the throttle and braking system without your input so you can focus on steering.

This is not an automatic system, however, and must be activated via a button on the dash. You can adjusted it from 0.6-5 mph max by using the Auto Stick shift of the paddle shifters.

Tires and Wheels

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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The 2021 Ram TRX rides on 18-inch wheels wrapped in 325/65R-series tires. These are specially designed Goodyear Wrangler Territory All-Terrain tires. The treads are extra aggressive and the sidewalls have a D-load rating.

The wheels you really want, however, are the option 18x9 Beadlock-ready wheels that you can order straight from the factory when you file your order for the TRX.

As you probably saw in the reveal, the TRX is capable of carrying a full-size spare in the rear with an option mount. There is a full-size spare equipped under the bed as standard, but the bed-mounted spare really looks better.

Powertrain and Performance

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road
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You can’t build one of the most capable trucks in the world without a lot of power, so Ram went all in. Under that beefy hood sits a 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 that’s good for 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. If you put the hammer down, you can get to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds or up to 100 mph in 10.5 seconds – impressive figures for a truck. Ram also claims that the TRX can blow through a quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph. These are, of course, on-road figures, but it just goes to show how well this thing will perform off-road or in the desert.

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road
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The front end of the TRX was designed with this engine’s performance in mind, so that hood scoop provides 50-percent of the engine’s intake air while the other 50-percent comes in via the radiator grille. This new dual-intake system sucks in air through a 29-liter air box that is designed to filter out dirt, sand, and other debris. There are also two heavy-duty air filters that feature a total of 198.4 square-inches of filter surface area. The supercharger that helps force this air into the engine runs at a maximum boost pressure of 11.6 PSI with a maximum speed of 14,600 rpm.

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road
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To put these performance specs into perspective, we can again look to the Ford F-150 Raptor. That truck is powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6 that’s good for 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s power is sent through a 10-speed automatic (much like that of the new Ford Mustang) and is enough for a 5.7-second sprint to 60 mph and a top speed of 107 mph. Naturally, the TRX will be faster than the Raptor on any day, but how the two will actually perform when going off-road remains to be seen. We’ll learn more as soon as these two off-road beasts go up for real-life comparison.

2021 Ram TRX Performance vs. F-150 Raptor
2021 Ram 1500 TRX 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor
Engine Supercharged 6.2L V8 Twin-Turbo 3.5L V6
Transmission 8AT 10AT
Horsepower 702 HP 450 HP
Torque 650 LB-FT 510 LB-FT
0-60 4.5 Seconds 5.7 Seconds
Top Speed 118 MPH 107 MPH

Of course, the HEMI V-8 is built with durability in mind, so it’s full of extra-strong components. Key components include:

  • Cast-iron engine block with water jackets between the cylinders for optimal cooling
  • Forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces
  • Specially tuned dual mass crankshaft damper, burst-tested to 13,000 rpm
  • High-strength, forged-alloy pistons
  • Powder-forged connecting rods with high-load-capacity bushings and diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated piston pins
  • Piston-cooling oil jets
  • Heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads
  • Sodium-cooled exhaust valves, hollow-stem intake valves and steel-alloy heads that stand up to temperatures as high as 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius)
  • External oil cooler

How Does Ram Know That the TRX Can Survive the Harshest Beating?

Here's How Ram Made the Rebel TRX So Capable Off-Road Exterior
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It has taken years for Ram to perfect the 1500 TRX, and part of the perfection included some extreme testing. Ram says it has put various prototypes through thousands of miles of testing that included extreme environmental conditions. This included desert testing in Arizona, cold-weather testing in Michigan and Minnesota, and pushing it hard well above sea level in the mountains of Colorado, all for weeks at a time. Part of the testing included scaling sand dunes and crawling rocks in none other than Moab, Utah.

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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