AUTO

Ram's Rebel TRX concept gives Ford F-150 Raptor a run for its money

ram hellcat

 (Ram)

With its combination of speed and off-road ability, the Ford F-150 Raptor is virtually without peers. There are many competent off-road machines, but they all move at a much more leisurely pace. Despite competing aggressively with Ford in all things truck, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have repeatedly refused to build Raptor rivals. Until now.

The Ram Rebel TRX unveiled at the 2016 State Fair of Texas may only be a concept vehicle, but Ford had better hope Ram decides not to put it into production. Unlike the previous Ram 1500 Rebel and Ram 2500 Power Wagon, the TRX combines off-road ability with serious muscle.

Under the hood sits a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8, which may have Mopar fans screaming "Hellcat," but Ram won't use that magic word. While it has the same displacement and boasts a supercharger, this engine does produce less power than the Hellcat V8s in the Dodge Challenger and Charger. Instead of 707 horsepower, the TRX musters 575hp. That's still enough to get the truck to more than 100 mph off-road, according to Ram. It's also over 100hp above the 450hp confirmed output of the 2017 Ford Raptor.

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That power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, a fairly unusual feature on a big pickup truck. In addition to the more potent engine, engineers increased suspension travel by 40 percent compared to a standard Ram 1500 Rebel. The TRX also features a beefed-up rear axle, and 37-inch tires.

The exterior is just about as cool as the mechanical upgrades. Fender flares make the TRX look like a race truck, and accommodate its wider track. Ram also crafted a new hood to provide clearance for the V8's supercharger, and a bed "sport bar" straight out of the 1980s. The rock rails running below the doors incorporate side-exit exhaust pipes. Hopefully, Ram found a way to keep people's legs from getting burned by them.

Officially, the Ram Rebel TRX is just a concept, although rabid fans could eventually pressure Ram into putting it into production. That would be something to see. Ford's Raptor has gone unchallenged for too long.