The Ford Raptor has been ripping through deserts and sitting in Starbucks drive-thrus for 7 years now, with updates to suspension technology here and a new engine there since release, and a new generation is finally upon us. Based on the new F-150 platform, with its lightweight aluminum construction, the new Raptor is some 500 pounds lighter than the previous model. More powerful too, with Ford making the decision to drop the old 6.2L V8 in favor of the 450-horse 3.5L twin turbo EcoBoost motor. The Raptor has been a huge success for Ford, in both sales and media attention, and it’s always sort of baffled me that other truck manufacturers never tried to step up to the plate to attempt a coup on the dune-eating king. Sure, there’s been the Reaper and the Ram Runner, but those boiled down to being over-priced aftermarket kits. One could also mention the aggressive looking Ram Rebel and Toyota’s TRD Pro line, but those have more bark than bite. Ram has been taking notes though, and has fired a warning shot in Ford’s direction, in the form of the Rebel TRX Concept.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way, this truck is just a concept. I don’t know how many Facebook truck-bro pages, spammy Twitter accounts, and even a few “reputable” automotive websites I’ve seen yelling from the rooftops about this new Hellcat-powered Raptor-eating beast going on sale as a 2017 model and other nonsense. Is there going to be a production Rebel TRX? Ram obviously won't comment on the future of the product, but I wouldn’t say that it was too far-fetched to assume a TRX, in some form, will eventually hit showroom floors. The concept isn’t outlandish for the most part, I’m not saying that the side-exit pipes and spare tire carrier will definitely be included, but a widebody with some big tires being spun by a supercharged V8 should be well within Ram’s skillset. Ram is no stranger to the off-road world, with the Power Wagon being the currently undisputed master of off-road capable full-sized pickup trucks, and I’m sure their buddies over at Jeep would have a few comments to make in regards to how they could properly build a mud-slinger. The Viper ACR, the all wheel drive Challenger GT, Challenger T/A, and the Wrangler-based pickup were all just concepts a year or two ago too, those are seeing (or have already seen) the light of day so it’s obvious FCA is at least considering producing something to fight the Raptor with. The Rebel TRX is just Ram dipping their toes in the deep end to see what the people want.
The people, apparently, want boost. Where Ford opted to replace two cylinders with two turbochargers, Ram is suggesting that a truck of this caliber should retain all 8 cylinders and make boost with a belt-driven blower. Ram claims that the supercharged 6.2L is good for 575 horsepower, but there has not been many specifics outside of those figures. Obviously, people see “6.2L supercharged HEMI” and make the Hellcat connection, but I don’t actually see any official comments from Ram using the Hellcat name. There’s most likely a relationship there, but there’s also the glaring lack of about 132hp from that spec list, so it’s not identical to the Hellcat. 575hp is still mind-numbing, I’ve seen a few people complain about it having “only” that figure, but I’m pretty sure we’ve become desensitized to what horsepower actually is. Remember, the new Raptor is rated at 450hp, and the most powerful pickup I can think of off the top of my head is probably the Viper-powered SRT-10 Ram which was rated at a positively stupid 500 horsepower. This (theoretical but entirely plausible) supercharged Hemi still dwarfs the horsepower ratings of even the most powerful half-tons ever made, so untwist those panties and put the salt shakers away.
That power is sent into Ram’s TorqueFlite 8HP70 (a variant of the ZF 8HP) which can be found in Ram 1500s already. I don’t have much to say here, other than giving Ram a sincere thank you for putting the gear selector in the console like a normal vehicle instead of that goofy little dial shifter they usually match to the 8 speed. Oh, also there are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel if you’re into that kind of thing. The concept shows us multiple drive mode settings: Normal, Wet/Snow, Off-road and Baja.
I know that engines and transmissions are very exciting, but being an off-road focused vehicle, what’s underneath the truck is probably more important. Long story short, they gutted an ordinary Ram, then replaced every suspension component with something bigger and badder. Travel has gone from 9 inches in a regular 1500 to 13 inches. The Ram 1500 is a little unique in that it uses coils in the rear suspension instead of leaf springs, which would give the TRX an advantage when it comes to hopping across sand dunes. What is very important though is how much Ram has stressed that the actual frame of the truck is essentially the same as the regular 1500, and that all the mounting points for these hardcore suspension components mount up to the exact same points as the vanilla suspension components in the vanilla 1500. This is important because it means that building a truck like this for production should be fairly easy for Ram.
Just like with track cars and their sticky, soft compound tires, the shoes make all the difference when it comes to off-roading. The Rebel TRX concept is dressed up in what appear to be 37 inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts and if I were a betting man, I’d almost guarantee that these won’t see a production version of the TRX. They aren’t an insane tire, but they’re definitely a mud-focused tire. See, the Power Wagon and Ford Raptor are both the go-to factory off-road capable pickups, with the Power Wagon being the brutish rock crawler and the Raptor being the swift Prerunner, but strangely enough both of them seem to lack a little in the rubber department. See, the Power Wagon shows up in Goodyear Wrangler All Terrains, and the Raptor sits on BFG T/As… both perfectly acceptable tires for what the Raptor and Power Wagon are typically used for, like dropping the kids off at school, picking up groceries, and driving down an old haul road to get to your cottage on weekends. All terrain type tires are exactly that, designed to be sufficient on the paved roads and some off-road duty, and for people who actually use their Raptors for ripping across deserts and drive their Power Wagons up sides of mountains, tires are considered to be a necessary modification. Think of all-terrains like all-season tires, they give up being good at 1 thing so they can be OK at 2 or 3 things. These big, knobby mud-terrain style tires are almost comparable to a high-performance summer tire on a track car, they’re going to be really good at ripping up a trail but they will also be expensive to replace, wear poorly and quickly on pavement, make lots of road noise, and could potentially have a more harsh ride. Ram could put the overly-aggressive Toyos on, but realistically they would just annoy a large portion of their target market, and the guys who actually are crazy enough to go off-roading in a brand new $70k pickup are probably also the type of people to want to modify a truck with tires to fit their own preferences anyway. Another item that probably won’t see production are the beadlocks on the rims, as they’re illegal in a handful of States for street use.
Personally, I’m excited about the actual body of the truck. The wide fenders keeping the tires tucked in look absolutely menacing, with air vents that are going to get so caked with mud after 10 minutes of playing. The nose of the truck is also riddled with vents and holes and the new hood houses a pair of heat extractors, no doubt this supercharged engine needs all the air it can get and keeping itself cool is probably a concern, you can see a bit of inspiration taken from the Hellcat twins in this regard. The bumpers look rugged, have beefy tow hooks protruding from them, and look like they would facilitate pretty decent departure and approach angles. The side exit exhaust is unique and really adds to the truck's overall attitude. Ram has been shoving the gigantic “RAM” badging down our throats for a couple years now, much to my distaste, but while I still prefer the classic crosshair grille and normal-sized Ram badge on the tailgate, I do admit that I don’t hate this look on the Rebel TRX. The box has an interesting integrated rail system running down the sides, and a badass looking spare tire carrier holding 2 full sized replacements really tie the trophy-truck theme together.
The interior looks like what the Viper’s interior would look like... if the Viper were a half ton truck. Black with red accents are the common theme, with bits of carbon fiber decoration sprinkled across the dash. The seats look to have some pretty hefty bolstering, however, I’m not sure if the harnesses shown would make it to a production version of the truck though. The steering wheel looks to be a flat-bottomed and bolstered version of the wheel found in more typical Rams. One of my favorite touches on the interior is the door handle, a simple piece of fabric with “RELEASE” across it, again, not sure if that’s something Chrysler would have the gall to put in a production truck, but it would be super neat if they did.
One last thing I need to point out before I leave to start working on my get-rich-quick scheme so I can afford one if/when it comes out: The name. Now, I can’t take credit for this (I’m nowhere near clever enough to pick up on it), but I’ve seen it circulating the net. TRX = T-Rex. You know, the big, scary dinosaur, the one that makes the raptors in Jurassic Park run with their tails tucked when they hear him stomping up. Yes, yes, I know that TRX4 has been a package on Ram trucks in the past, and I’m not sure how intentional the name was, but it’s a fitting one nonetheless.
Overall, the Rebel TRX looks like the result of a Hellcat, Ram 1500, and Raptor all getting locked in a garage together for about 9 months, and I am more than OK with the results. Chrysler, if you’re reading this, your “concept” basically looks production ready and I can’t think of a reason not to send it to the assembly line.