In recent years, one could describe any attempt to keep track of RAM trucks – RAM Rebel / Power Wagon / TRX developments as ‘dazzling’ to say the least. Especially in regard to the latter, it has felt like a steady stream of ambitious yet ill-estimated time lines and reliance upon the internet rumor mill to gain any kind of understanding as to where development stands. Not that we haven’t had other Fiat-Chrysler news to keep us distracted.
There’s been no shortage of hi-po’d low-volume offerings served up in recent years, and – while we love such iconic FCA offerings as the Hellcat, Demon and Trackhawk – it’s RAM’s advertised Raptor Killer, endearingly referred to as the ’T-REX’ that has always felt just out of reach. And unfortunately, with summer 2019 winding down, we’ve only taken measured steps forward in terms of understanding what the RAM Rebel TRX actually is.
It was at the 2016 State Fair of Texas that RAM’s Jim Morrison stood at the head of a press conference, throwing out sales and marketing bullets, positioned in front of a billowy tarp carefully concealing the TRX concept in its earliest public form. A direct offshoot of the 2015 Rebel, retaining about 20% of its design, supplemented with more flair and power. At the time, the TRX was expected to come powered by a 6.2-liter V8 which – at 575 hp – would have made it the most powerful factory-built half-ton pickup in history.
Rebel TRX Features
Other notable features of the Candy Apple Red concept (summarized so effectively at the time by pickuptrucks.com) included:
- Six 37-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires (two spares in the bed)
- Four inches of suspension lift that provides 13 inches of travel at each wheel
- A heavy-duty eight-speed transmission with paddle shifters and a console stick
- Unique front and rear fenders that give the Rebel TRX 6 more inches of width
- Custom bed grab handles around the perimeter and a distinctive light bar
- Rear axle is a heavy-duty Dynatrac Pro 60 with a locking differential
- The front axle is from a standard Ram 1500 but has stronger constant-velocity-joint half shafts
- Heavy-duty 15-inch rotors and six-piston brakes in front; 14-inch rotors in back
- An upgraded BorgWarner transfer case with Normal, Wet/Snow, Off-Road and Baja modes that changes throttle, steering and traction sensitivities
Some of you might recall ears perking up, all over the place. Countless articles were written, while teasers and widespread speculation seemed to pop up everywhere. It was even ventured that the concept would become a production reality as early as 2017. Unfortunately, rumors of the TRX’s release were vastly overestimated in late 2016. One can only assume that, with the continued favor earned by the Raptor, FCA knew that they’d have to put their best effort forth in order to be a legitimate contender. But whether or not the past three years have given them the time (and inspiration) required to do, still remains to be seen).
So, what’s the ‘latest and greatest’ of the rumors to rear their head as of late? Well (and we’ll preface this by reiterating that, at this point, we’re simply sharing published rumors) forty RAM Rebel TRX prototypes have been built by an undisclosed Detroit-based company. Based upon standard production builds of the RAM 1500, thirty in black and 10 in white were shipped to the unnamed conversion company, and at least one was built with the Demon powerhouse under its hood. The others come powered by the Hellcat mill with an air induction system likened to that of a Viper. And while it was reported that each one of the these feature a dial shifter, it’s expected that the actual production models will feature the slap shifter, as one would expect.
So, What Else?
Well, mixing what we know with the rumored reports, there’s no surprise in claims that the TRX prototypes feature a redesigned and reinforced chassis. What we’ve had little advance insight into was the nature of its suspension. Well, according to the sources mentioned above, the suspension of the TRX has (reasonably and predictably) been designed and engineered to measure up against the Fox Racing suspension offered up for the game-changing Raptor. That said, it was reported that each of the TRX’s four corners would boast dual Bilstein shocks. Further details included the presence of ARB Air Locker installation on both axles, for superior traction, and the odd pairing of 6-lug front wheels, as opposed to the 8 found in the rear.
And, of course, the publication was clear to emphasize that – despite their confidence in the source – they have been unable to confirm if any of the above was “100% legitimate”. Not that we ever should have doubted them, because it was little more than a month later before they were back – this time with a barrage of photos and videos taken during testing at Michigan’s Silver Lake Sand Dunes, and a handful of specs to share. (Note: Both videos and pictures are credited to Jordan Denhoed).
Not that the test mules weren’t camouflaged. Blacked-out with a blend of fender extensions none of the vehicles being tested were indicative of finished design – but the more rugged design and stature, when compared to traditional RAM 1500 builds, was immediately appreciable and evident – especially with the Laramie Black front end.
Powertrains were all but confirmed as the 707 hp Hellcat mated to a 10-speed automatic (no surprise) however there was no confirmation of any mules equipped with the 840 hp Demon mill. That said, everything previously reported on, regarding suspension and chassis, seemed to be verified. Now if only we had a release date, or even more than a vague confirmation that the TRX was being served up for the 2021 model year. With an equal number of rumors that they won’t hit showroom floors until 2022, it’s important not to get carried away with our anticipation.
That said, there is a tertiary rumor that a TR variant of the Rebel is also in development. Designed to offer capable (if slightly less aggressive) off-road prowess, the TR will reportedly serve up around 520 hp courtesy of a naturally aspirated 7.0-liter V8 engine. And while there are no hard numbers to share, it’s logical to slot its pricing below that of the TRX.
So, let’s talk about that for a minute. Starting price for a bare-bones 2019 RAM Rebel comes in around $45,190 MSRP. If the TRX is expected to slot in near the top of the lineup, one might estimate a starting price point somewhere in the $60,000-$70,000 range. Of course, that’s starting price, and we’d fully expect more ambitious TRX builds to edge towards those six-figure price tags that are becoming all-too-common these days. And if the TR does prove itself as a separate reality, we can assume that price tag will start somewhere around the $55,000 mark.
What are your thoughts? Are you excited about the RAM Rebel TRX (and possibly even the TR)? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.