2023 RAM 1500 TRX review (video)

Brett Davis

If you’re rich and your real estate portfolio contains a ranch or large property, the RAM 1500 TRX is what you want. Stop waisting time with all the pretenders out there. This is the pride male lion that all others follow and look up to.

Sure, the Ford F-150 Raptor pioneered this macho go-anywhere vehicle type. But even it is no match for the TRX’s colossal 702hp supercharged V8 engine. The Ford makes do with a twin-turbo V6 that produces just 450hp – a Raptor R model uses a 5.2L V8 offering 700hp.

Prices in Australia are mesospheric, partly due to the fact the RAM 1500 TRX lands here in left-hand drive and needs to be converted. This is all done in Melbourne through Walkinshaw Automotive after being imported by Ateco. It is quite an exclusive model as well.

At the time of writing there were just 176 examples officially delivered to customers, of an initial 300 units. Ateco says it is working on the next 300 units. Basically, if you want one, get in line. But also be prepared to part ways with a retail price of $199,950, plus around $13,000 for on-road costs (based on NSW rates).

2023 RAM 1500 TRX – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8 petrol
Output: 523kW@6100rpm / 882Nm@4800rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Four-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×9.0, 325/65
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2973kg
Power-to-weight: 5.68:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 19.6L/100km
Economy during test: 17.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 125L/91 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 26.68kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.23 seconds*
0-100km/h: 4.50 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.01 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.18 seconds at 158.7km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.944g*
100-0km/h braking: 3.55 seconds at 43.54 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.008g*
Decibel at idle: 56*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 88*
Priced from: $199,950[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different


What a monster this is. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s ghastly or over-the-top, or just plan silly, this thing has a LOT of presence. It dominates the road and its surroundings. We had fun watching the typical tailgating Ford Rangers and Toyota HiLuxes stepping back from us out on the busy motorways around Sydney (true story). Usually these guys are all up in your rear-view mirror. Not here. Not with this much muscle. They don’t want to take any chances and they know who is boss.

Measuring a whopping 2235mm wide, it’s wider than pretty much any SUV, and, incredibly, it’s 151mm wider than the regular RAM 1500 Laramie. So as you may have already assumed this isn’t the ideal shopping car park companion. It barely fits in the spaces for width, and flat-out doesn’t for length, measuring 5929mm. Most common dual-cab utes on the market, which are almost annoyingly long in tight situations, are about 5.0-5.2 metres long. This has another metre.

If you’re not stuffing around in car parks though the RAM 1500 TRX’s size does come in handy. The cabin. It is bloody massive. Proper legroom for all five seating positions, with almost limousine levels of reach in the back seat.

Rear passengers are presented with a chunky console with cup holders (not just flip-down ones from the middle seat), as well as climate vents and a quartet of charging ports (two USB, two USB-C). If size really matters to you and is a top priority, look no further.

Up the front the cockpit is surprisingly civilised and luxurious. It is strange to see conventional seats up front and not some outrageously colourful or heavily-bolstered racing buckets. Nope, just conventional, comfortable chairs.

Subtle suede slivers implanted in the seat bottom and inner-back provide some grip, but generally, lateral support is minimal. This is not ideal if the entrance to your ranch has been modelled to replicate a special stage from the Baja Rally.

We adore the level of detail and measures applied in the name of practicality. There are spots to put your things and the controls are perfectly positioned for quick reach, while the on-board media and vehicle settings are mostly housed within the huge 12-inch vertical-oriented touch-screen. This runs FCA’s fantastic Uconnect operating system and it includes some tasty, TRX-exclusive Performance Pages and menus to play around with, including on-board acceleration timers (more on that below).

Despite the impressiveness of the screen, RAM has not shoved everything into it. The main climate controls are neatly plotted around the screen with physical buttons, which we find much easier to use while on the go than in-screen controls, and some of the drive settings such as lane-keep assist can be deactivated at the touch of a button. The TRX also adds a switchboard of auxiliary buttons for easy connection of external/aftermarket accessories, as well as a trailer brake controller built in.

If you are planning to lug around lumps of miscellaneousness on your property, be mindful that the TRX’s payload is rated at only 767kg (or 743kg if you have optioned for the full sunroof, as tested). That’s not much. In fact, most dual-cab diesel utes on the market are rated upwards of 900kg.

The towing capacity is at the standard 3500kg, however, the regular RAM 1500 is cleared for 4500kg. This is due to crazy Bilstein dynamic dampers and hardcore suspension. So, it’s just a matter of using your regular 1500 for the hard work and leaving your TRX for play. The tray bed measures 1.7 metres long and almost 1.7m wide, with 1295mm between the arches.

2023 RAM 1500 TRX – THE DRIVE

How can you argue with 700hp. Just say it out loud. Seven hundred horsepower. Hear that. That’s the sound of bragging rights and winning any arguments down at the pub. The TRX has a completely different powertrain over the regular 1500, running a 6.2-litre V8 (up from 5.7L) and a Roots-type supercharger pushing up to 11psi of charge pressure into the induction.

Otherwise known as the Hellcat engine, it is the most powerful unit of any standard ute or pickup truck available in Australia, and one of two remaining supercharged V8s on the new-car market (with the Land Rover Defender V8). The TRX was marketed as the quickest and most powerful pickup truck in the world when it launched back in 2021. But we think it has probably been overtaken now if you include the likes of the Rivian R1T (835hp).

What does this feel like out on the road? Aside from big, the engine is just so mighty. It thunders and rumbles like a HEMI, and jumps up to speeds like a street machine heading to Summernats. The whine of the supercharger is loud and clear, particularly during the middle of the rev range. You can rev it up, too. Unlike most utes with diesel engines. Peak power is reached at 6100rpm and peak torque, all 882Nm, is available from 4800rpm. You could argue that superchargers are not as efficient as turbochargers because they require more revs to build boost.

You could also argue that 4800rpm is a bit peaky. However, that argument is quickly squashed. Because there is still a 6.2-litre V8 in there, running a compression ratio of 9.5:1. We haven’t seen a torque chart but we’re guessing there is a heap of torque available just off idle. It certainly feels like there is. At around 3000rpm it pulls really nicely, holding a beautiful deep baritone note while charging forward majestically and proudly.

Okay, so what about the performance? RAM says it’ll do 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. You need to give the brake pedal a man-sized press to get the launch control system to work, which took us more than a few attempts, but we can confirm it will meet the company’s claims. We ran a bunch of 4.7-second runs and finally finished hitting 4.50 seconds exactly.

The on-board performance timer showed a best of 3.9 seconds, and 4.3 seconds in parallel with our best run. This means the in-built timer is running off the speedo/gearbox speed rather than true speed. We use a Vbox Sport, which runs on GPS and is a product of Racelogic – globally recognised in the industry for highly accurate data-logging equipment.

Obviously fuel consumption isn’t going to be a bother for you if you’ve just spent $200k on a Tonka truck. But, if you are concerned, the official rating is 19.6L/100km. We actually scored an average of 17.5L/100km during our week of testing, covering around 800km, involving suburban, motorway, off road and performance testing driving styles. The 125L tank translates to a theoretical average range (based on 19.6L/100km) of 638km. Using a fuel price average of $2.15, that’s about 268 bucks to fill from empty. According to the owner’s manual, it can run on 91 RON fuel.

Regardless of the epic performance and eye-opening fuel consumption, the RAM 1500 TRX deserves heaps of credit for its ride quality. It comes standard with Bilstein Active Terrain Dynamics dampers that measure a thick 2.5 inches, wrapped in heavy-duty coil springs at all four corners. The combination provides excellent on-road comfort and the ability to absorb huge impacts, such as jumping.

RAM’s official press photos include a number of shots showing a TRX getting some wicked air. This means you can too and it shouldn’t break. Roundabouts? Those pesky shopping centre car park ramps? Or maybe just build a jump in between your ranch and letterbox to make the postal run more entertaining. We would.

On the road the handling isn’t sporty or agile. Body roll is kept to an absolute minimum, which is very impressive. But the steering is really vague and doesn’t communicate what the front tyres are doing, until the last minute. But don’t worry as that last minute is more like seconds because the standard Goodyear Wrangler Territory RT (rugged terrain) tyres are not designed for tarmac rallies.

It is, as expected, a bit cumbersome in tight switchbacks, and with a tare weight of 2973kg, it does require a moment to catch up with itself during such scenarios. Big flexible tyres are partly to blame here but the steering system also includes about 1cm of play on-centre where nothing happens at all during movement within that tolerance. This takes a few drives to get used to.

Don’t worry, though. This is not supposed to run rings around an MX-5 up a mountain road. It was designed to carve rings on paddocks or on sand, and dig trenches in mud. And that’s where this thing really shines. With 295mm of ground clearance, and massive 325/65 tyres, the off-road performance is just insane.

We tried to bog it in our, frankly, pretty moderate off-road test area of choice and it just laughed at us, using merely half of its horsepowers to hiccup out of a slump. It doesn’t care. It will crush anything. There is a rear diff lock with proper Dana axles, but seriously, we doubt you’ll ever need to press that button.

If you have one or have one on order, do us a favour and see if you can get it bogged. We reckon this would be so much fun on a big property with a tractor on standby. Unfortunately, our budget during testing doesn’t have allowances for standby tractors, so we had to resort to fairly rough muddy tracks and dirt roads. It was almost embarrassing, for us. The TRX really is a Tyrannosaurus-ReX.

2023 RAM 1500 TRX – THE VIDEO


What a machine. What a toy. What a bloody brilliant idea. A 702hp V8 ute/pickup truck that’s properly refined and practical inside, that also offers all the heavy-duty capability of the others, and the off-road characteristics and performance not too dissimilar to a monster truck. If you’ve come this far in this review and still need convincing, take one for a test drive. You’ll be grinning for the rest of the day.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– One of the best cabins in the business; practical, ergonomic, spacious, and tech-laden without being over the top
– 702hp Hellcat supercharged V8
– Bilstein suspension offers quality ride yet withstands big jumps
– Unstoppable off road
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Vague steering
– $200,000-plus
– Limited availability[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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