2021 Ram 1500 TRX vs. Ford F-150 Raptor

Pickup trucks seem to have a bit of an attitude. Perhaps it’s because they’re purpose-built vehicles, capable of transporting people and engineered to haul cargo, tow trailers, and traverse mountains. So, no matter their size, “cute” is rarely, if ever, an appropriate descriptor. 

Ram 1500 TRX vs. Ford F-150 Raptor Front Views

This vehicular persona isn’t meant to offend. Trucks just happen to be there, minding their own business, and ready to get to work. Generally speaking, anyway. Because, on occasion, you’ll come across a pickup with so much attitude, it doesn’t know what to do with it. There is nothing else to be but bold. 

We’re talking performance pickups, specifically the old standby Ford F-150 Raptor and the all-new Ram 1500 TRX. These born-in-Michigan power wheels don’t merely jump sand dunes, though that certainly is fun. No, these trucks can completely alter the landscape. And in case you weren’t sure which four-wheeler beast is best suited for conquering the toughest off-road trail, according to Ram, it’s the 1500 TRX.

Warning shots have been fired courtesy of two easy-to-spot Easter eggs in the Ram 1500 TRX— both of which display a Tyrannosaurus rex overwhelming a velociraptor. Subtle? Of course not. Full-size pickups are hardly known for being coy or, in this case, playing fair.

A Short History of the High-Performance Off-Roader

To say the Ford F-150 Raptor is an old man isn’t a stretch. Engineered by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT), the first iteration debuted in the summer of 2009 as the 2010 Ford SVT Raptor. All new and all brawn, the SVT Raptor was unveiled in a Southern California desert to showcase its high-powered off-road performance. The #trucklife hashtag likely hadn’t been born yet, but 4x4 junkies and wannabes were salivating. There was nothing like it, and there wouldn’t be. Until this year. 

On sale by the end of 2020, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is the first challenger in the dune-crushing category. There are rumors of an equally potent Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 arriving possibly in 2022, but, for now, we’ll leave that as fan forum fodder. 

Although the names “Raptor” and “TRX” may appear to be obvious references to those cinema-favorite carnivores of the Jurassic period, both automakers consider them happy accidents. Per Ford, “Raptor” was merely a placeholder until the team came up with something better. (They didn’t.) And in Ram circles, “TRX” just happened to be available in its copyright folder. (That was easy.) The [veloci]raptor and T. rex battle actually started via internet message boards. (Of course.) 

2021 Ram 1500 TRX vs. Ford F-150 Raptor

Ram 1500 TRX vs. Ford F-150 Raptor Rear Views

Side by side, the Ford F-150 Raptor and Ram 1500 TRX certainly look the part of high-power puddle jumpers. The F-150 Raptor is available in SuperCab and SuperCrew configurations while the 1500 TRX is crew cab only. Dimensionally, both pickups size up similarly.

Comparing only the four-door models, the Ford sits on a 146.0-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 231.9 inches. The Ram features a 145.1-inch wheelbase but stretches out 232.9 inches. The 1500 TRX does measure a couple of inches larger in height and width than the F-150 Raptor. The Ram has an 88.0-inch waist and stands 80.9 inches off of the ground. Ford’s truck is a slimmer 86.3 inches and a shorter 78.5 inches tall. Ground clearance is in Ram’s favor as well. Its 11.8 inches beat Ford’s 11.5. The Raptor also has a smaller bed at 5.5 feet versus the TRX with 5 feet 7 inches.

As expected, both have large all-terrain tires. The Ford F-150 Raptor features a set of 315/70R17-sized BFGoodrich T/A KO2s wrapped around either a 17-inch beadlock-capable or non-beadlock-capable wheel. The Ram 1500 TRX gets 325/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory rubber paired with a standard 18-inch wheel or optional beadlock-capable version. When it comes to tackling the terrain, things are mostly even there, too.

Both the F-150 Raptor and 1500 TRX have a 30.2-degree approach angle. Breakover angle is nearly identical at 21.8 degrees for the Ford and 21.9 degrees for the Ram. The Raptor’s departure angle is an even 23.0 degrees versus the 23.5 degrees on the TRX. For water crossings, both the Raptor and TRX can travel across depths of up to 32 inches.

By the Powertrain Invested in Me

Under the hood is where the numbers get lopsided. Keep in mind that Ford is redesigning the F-Series for 2021, and while there is no official word on whether a third-generation F-150 Raptor will join the lineup, chances are excellent. And it’s a good bet it will be more potent than the 2020 version.

For now, the 2020 F-150 Raptor is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Requiring premium fuel, the engine makes 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. The SuperCrew features a 36-gallon tank (26 for the SuperCab) with an EPA-tested fuel economy of 15 city, 18 highway, and 16 combined mpg. 

As for the Ram, it went to Hellcat and back. Featuring a 6.2-liter Hemi supercharged V-8 — the very same engine of the SRT Hellcat family within the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) portfolio (e.g., Grand Cherokee, Durango, Charger, and Challenger) —the 1500 TRX produces a bonkers 702 hp and 650 lb.-ft. and is paired with an 8-speed automatic. 

Enthusiast publications have clocked the Raptor with a zero-to-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds. No doubt, that’s impressive for a truck with a 5,697-pound curb weight. But the TRX, even though it tips the scales at 6,350 pounds, thunders by the Raptor with a 4.5-second zero-to-60 mph result. Other performance figures, courtesy of Ram, are a 12.9-second quarter-mile at 108 mph, zero-to-100 mph in 10.5 seconds, and a top speed of 118 mph. And let’s not forget to mention how gloriously angrier the TRX’s Hellcat V-8 would sound compared to the Raptor’s EcoBoost V-6. 

Anything You Can Do…

But these are top-shelf off-road trucks. While the 1500 TRX’s sprint to 60 mph may be exhilarating on highway on-ramps, on the OHV trail, it would translate as overkill. Both trucks are similar in terms of suspension, utilizing control arm independent suspensions up front with coil-over dampers and solid axles in the rear. The Raptor’s rear-end is configured with leaf springs while the TRX opts for coil springs. Both also feature advanced sport-tuned shock absorbers: Fox Racing Shox for the Ford, Bilstein e2 Blackhawks for the Ram.

For the drivetrain, the F-150 Raptor has a 4.10:1 final-drive ratio in the front and rear with an optional Torsen limited-slip differential for the front. Conversely, the 1500 TRX features a 3.55 ratio with a Dana 60 in the rear that also comes standard with an electronically locking differential. In 4-Lo, both use a two-speed 2.64:1 ratio.

And because off-road really means any terrain not paved, both the Raptor and TRX feature some kind of drive mode management system to properly calibrate the four-wheel drive, steering, throttle response, transmission, etc. In the Ford, these include Normal, Baja, Rock Crawl, Sport, Mud/Sand, Wet/Snow, and Tow. The Ram sets up its modes as Auto, Sport, Tow, Snow, and Custom with Off-Road separately adding Mud/Sand, Rock, and Baja. And, of course, a launch control button also is standard, because Hellcat.

If you’re interested in bringing trailered toys, both the crew-cab models offer similar tow ratings: 8,000 and 8,100 pounds for the Ford and Ram, respectively. With payload, the TRX wins with 1,310 pounds to the Raptor’s 1,200-lb carrying capability.

Gadgets and Gizmos Aplenty 

Ford F-150 Raptor vs. Ram 1500 TRX Dashboards

There’s no shortage of technology for either performance vehicle either. From safety to infotainment, both have numerous standard features and plenty of packaged options. 

Familiar in the Ford is the Wi-Fi hotspot-ready Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen display. With the Raptor comes additional off-road aids such as a 360-degree camera view, trail control, and trailer towing assistance. 

Being completely new, the Ram 1500 TRX has the benefit of flashier upgrades. There’s a larger 12-inch display with Uconnect 4C infotainment technology. The Ram also debuts FCA’s new head-up display as well as drive modes and off-road pages within the Uconnect system. Like the Raptor, the TRX offers trail control, a 360-degree camera, and trailering aids like reverse steering control. An optional digital rearview camera provides an extra set of eyes via wider sightlines within the 9.2-inch LCD monitor.

Which is Better? Ram TRX or Ford Raptor?

Short of any head-to-head, in-the-driver’s-seat comparison, this is merely a battle of spec sheets. Yes, the TRX is bigger, faster, and more boastful, but off-roading is as much about sand stomping as it is low-and-slow rock crawling. And though these high-performance trucks can practically go anywhere and carry anything, that luxury has a price all its own. 

The 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor starts at $53,455 (not including a $1,695 destination charge). The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX starts at $69,995 (plus $1,695 destination). A TRX Launch Edition, which is limited to 702 units (a nod to the vehicle’s horsepower rating), starts at $88,570. 

With these super trucks, even the bottom line is as bold as their stance.

The information in this article is from Ford and Ram. It was accurate on October 1, 2020, but it may have changed since that date.