2023 RAM 1500 TRX (car review)

The 2023 RAM 1500 TRX is equal parts off-road racer, load lugger and large luxury vehicle, bundled up in the body of a ute. One thing’s for sure, once you’ve hit the throttle, it’s an inexplicable adrenaline rush.

If the 6.2-litre supercharged V8 howling like a lone wolf doesn’t do it, your passengers uncontrollable giggling will egg you on to nail the throttle again. But more on that later.

High riding utes are a big deal in Australia, and it makes sense. They are far more comfortable and luxuriously appointed than the utilitarian examples of old, can carry a load and when equipped with a centre diff, can take you to some special places.

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Take all those positive attributes and ramp them up to eleventy. After a small explosion, a mushroom cloud and a few crying babies in the distance, out of the clearing smoke appears the 2023 RAM TRX.

Imposing simply isn’t enough to describe it. At just under 6.0m long, a smidgeon over 2m tall, and a fraction under 2.5m wide; it makes the factory 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler rubber, ordinarily oversized, look proportionate.

2023 RAM 1500 TRX
2023 RAM 1500 TRX

Dressed in Flame Red, a hue that grew on us – it stands out like a sore thumb in the most fantastical way. It’s really the pick though, as the other three colours wouldn’t do the menacing flared guards justice.

That sense of size translates into the cabin too. This is a genuine 5-adult seater, in complete stretch-your-legs-out comfort. Swathes of soft leather, Alcantara and soft touch materials abound.

The front pews are not only heated and cooled (along with the outer rear seats), but also electrically adjusted and provide just the right amount of bolstering to hint at the TRX’s performance intentions.

It’s worth noting that these vehicles come into Australia in a left-hook format. The world’s only RAM authorised RHD manufacturing facility in Melbourne, is tasked with the gargantuan process of converting them to right hand drive.

The finish is a credit to the team behind that. The quality of the dashboard is 100 per cent factory OEM and there is absolutely nothing in the way the car feels or looks that alludes to the work conducted.

tray
2023 RAM 1500 TRX

Ahead of the driver sits a 7.0-inch screen for the vitals, supplemented by a huge 12-inch Uconnect touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard that displays everything from HVAC controls through to your best 0-100km/h time.

Combined with the enormous (can you sense we’re running out of adjectives for size?) sunroof, the only option available with a price tag of $10,000, it is a very pleasant place to be.

Storage abounds throughout; in fact there is no chance of awkward elbow touching given the width of the centre console storage bin – which we found doubles as a great dining table on-the-go.

Wireless CarPlay and wired Android Auto are included, along with wireless smartphone charging. The latter deploys a nifty holder that secures your phone in place. Handy, presumably when you’re tackling moguls at speed in the Mojave.

This is supplemented by nine, yes nine, charging points front and rear. A 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system provides crisp and loud output, to let everyone know of your impending arrival if they didn’t hear the supercharger on approach.

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2023 RAM 1500 TRX

The RAM 1500 TRX has no ANCAP safety rating due to its size and weight, which see it classified as a truck. Despite this, it’s well furnished with multiple airbags, forward collision warning with active braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

You’ll also be thankful for the excellent 360-degree camera to help guide you in tight situations. We need to touch on utility here for a moment, because it is just that; a large utility vehicle.

The large spray-liner covered tub could easily accommodate a pallet given the space between the wheel wells, which measures a whisker under 1300mm. However, with a kerb weight of 3057kg and a GVM of 3800kg, the remaining payload is a lowly 743kg.

Remember payload includes people, and while it is equipped with a 3500kg towing kit with a built-in brake controller, there may need to be some thinking when you factor in tow ball down weight.

The TRX does give some capacity away to the more garden-variety RAM 1500 Laramie, which has a GVM of 3495kg, tow rating of 4500kg and a payload of 833kg. The main culprit for the reduced values is the magnificent 5-link coil rear suspension.

dash
Inside the 2023 RAM 1500 TRX

It features Bilstein Blackhawk e2 adaptive performance dampers that allow this vehicle to be driven at serious speed in rough conditions. Because of that, it’s unlikely that you’re going to need to pull a trailer when using this vehicle for its intended purpose.

If capacities are an issue, it’s best to look at other options, including the aforementioned Laramie. Off road performance is where this vehicle excels thanks to its huge 295mm ground clearance and 812mm wading depth.

Throw in 30.2 degrees of approach angle, 21.9 degrees of ramp breakover angle and 23.5 degrees of departure angle, and it has the requisite credentials. It has a massive amount of flex in the rear end; but tighter technical tracks were a challenge.

It’s just too big, and unless you’re a fan of bush pinstripes its best to steer clear. What it would do is mow down a stretch like the Strzelecki in creampuff-gliding goodness. The way the suspension absorbs bumps is remarkable.

On road, it’s a different animal again. It’s a true Jekyl and Hyde type character. It will happily potter around in complete comfort, with passengers enjoying the well-insulated cabin while sitting on a freeway at 110km/h with just 1600rpm on the tacho.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 RAM 1500 TRX

That smoothness is owing to the eight ratios in the torque-flight gearbox. When pushed through corners it will wallow on its soft suspension and large tyre profile, reminding you that it’s not made for finesse.

It will however reward the driver who is willing to grab it by its neck at an apex.

Coaxing the full-time four-wheel drive system to cough up a power slide is a prod of the throttle away and easy enough to steer out of, once the two front wheels get wind of what the rears are doing. It’s not graceful, but my word is it fun.

With enough space, engaging launch control in Drag Mode (one of eight different driving modes) is the best way to experience all 523kW of power and 882Nm of torque the 6.2-litre Whipple supercharged Hemi V8 can muster.

We found that 2900rpm was the best stalling point. With a firm foot on the brake and throttle to the floor until the screen gives you the green light, releasing the brake sends all occupants well into the back of their seats.

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Inside the 2023 RAM 1500 TRX

The driver will find themselves struggling to hang on to the flat bottom SRT steering wheel. In a word, it’s ferocious. With a screech it propels you to 100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds. Our best based on the on-board telemetry was 4.6 seconds.

If you’re lucky enough to do this at a drag strip, it can cross the 400m line in a little over 12 seconds. Remembering that this is a ute that weighs in at just over 3T. It left us shaking our heads and beaming at the same time – oh and that noise, it’s magnificent!

The TRX really is the perfect extravagance. It’s too big to park, it’s limited in its payload, it drinks fuel at a rate of 21.2-litres/100km and is utterly obnoxious. And this writer would trade his first born for one. Please? Santa?

The 2023 RAM 1500 TRX as tested is priced at $219,950 plus on-roads and comes with a 3-year/100,000km (whichever occurs first) warranty and 3-years/100,000km of roadside assist.

You can find out more on the RAM Trucks Australia website or by chatting to your local dealership. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

badging
2023 RAM 1500 TRX

Our test vehicle was provided by RAM Trucks Australia for review purposes. Pictures courtesy of Andrew E Hempsall.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
9.5
Exterior styling
9.5
Interior look and feel
9.5
Technology and connectivity
9
Family friendliness
8
Value for money
7

SUMMARY

Pros - that engine noise; brutal power delivery; menacing looks.
Cons - parking challenges; petrol stations; lane keep assist.
Kalen Ziflian
Kalen Ziflian
A lifelong motoring enthusiast, Kalen has a passion for anything with wheels and a motor. His passion lies in collectible Japanese performance vehicles but he’s been known to enjoy off-roading touring and camping across Australia.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> that engine noise; brutal power delivery; menacing looks.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> parking challenges; petrol stations; lane keep assist.2023 RAM 1500 TRX (car review)