Why I’ll Be Keeping My Raptor, for Now…
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is here, but is it worth being first in line?
It's been roughly a week now since the world was introduced to the all-new 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. The flashy presentation opened with a scene from the movie Jurassic Park where a T-rex violently attacks a velociraptor, throwing it across the room. This scene set the tone for the rest of the presentation where Ram executives made it clear that they were aiming for Ford's F-150 Raptor and its desert dominance. Don't get me wrong, the TRX sounds like an amazing animal. However, at the moment it's all just on paper.
At the time of this announcement I myself am a Raptor owner. Parked in my driveway is a shiny Race Red 2013 first-generation truck. And before any weird accusations start to fly toward my inbox, my father-in-law owns a 2020 version of the famed desert explorer. So, in the family we have examples of both the first and second generations. And after spending dozens of hours poring over the Ram TRX's enormous spec sheet, I'm happy to say that I'll be keeping my Raptor, for now.
The first reason for this should be a pretty obvious one the 2021 TRX is damn expensive. Sure, even a used Raptor isn't free (I paid more than $30,000 for a 5-year-old truck with almost 90,000 miles), but with a starting price of more than $70K and a top end that's in the six figures, it'll take selling two kidneys to even get in the door for a new TRX. For even more contrast, the base TRX costs just as much as a loaded 2020 Raptor.
Building on the astronomical price tag (and I didn't even mention the potential for huge dealer markup on this first model year) is the simple fact that the truck is built to go off-road. And what happens when you go off-road, especially at high speeds? Scratches. Lots of them. How's that first deep scratch from a rogue tree branch going to feel? Talk about a gut punch to your $90,000 truck (assuming you didn't get in on the Launch Edition). And let's not even talk about destroyed front skidplates which us Raptor owners know will happen immediately, even to your TRX (serious, go back and watch the intro video again).
Then let's talk about power all 702 glorious horsepower that the Ram's supercharged 6.2L V-8 will pump out. Our 2013 F-150 Raptor has Ford's 6.2L V-8 engine, which is rated at 411 hp. Let me be the first to tell you, the truck can't even effectively put that amount of power to the dirt. Sure, the TRX will be fast on pavement, but when can you realistically use 702 hp on the street, legally. This lack of traction gets even worse for the 450-hp 3.5L EcoBoost-powered second-generation truck. Look, I want big power just like the next guy, but a quicker route to wheelspin isn't going to get me to give up the aforementioned kidney pair any quicker.
I can hear the arguments now: "But the TRX suspension is better!" Hold that thought On paper, the TRX has exactly the same amount of wheel travel as the Raptor. And the same size tires. So, even if the new Bilstein Blackhawk e2 shocks are as revolutionary as they are said to be, they are going to have to work extremely hard to control the extra 1,000 pounds of mass the TRX has over the 2020 Raptor. Another interesting thing has also been happening in the Raptor world: Some owners are quickly ditching their Fox Live Valve shocks for more traditional-style dampers that aren't controlled by the truck. What does this say about the future of the Blackhawk e2? Nobody knows. One thing is certain though, there will always be a group that opposes anything electronically controlled, so hopefully Ram's system is easy to bypass.
So, we've sorted out that the TRX suspension should be on par with that of a second-generation Raptor. At this point I'll admit that the first-generation Raptor suspension, while amazing at the time, has been (not surprisingly) surpassed. Even I have replaced the factory Fox shocks with large 3.0-inch units from ICON Vehicle Dynamics. That replacement has made it so that I can easily drive faster across rougher terrain than a factory gen-two Raptor. For far less cash we've put our first-generation Raptor in a position to be quicker in the dirt than the forthcoming TRX.
Here's the deal. I truly do wish Ram much success and hope that the company sells hundreds of thousands of TRX trucks, as Ford has done with Raptor. But for the time being, I'm not seeing a hugely compelling reason to sell my Raptor and jump on the bandwagon. Let's talk again in three years, after we see how things hold up, and when there's a few TRXs on the used market. Then I might be ready to make the switch.
Think I'm wrong? Send me an email and let me know why!