First Drive

First Drive Review: 2021 Ram TRX proves capable when driven, drifted, and launched

The 2021 Ram TRX is the chief competitor to the Ford F-150 Raptor.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Ram Trucks calls the 2021 Ram TRX an "apex predator", serving it up as a direct rival to the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. The new TRX is a heck of a truck, and that's an impressive feat considering just how bloody good the Raptor is.

A quick recap of the TRX's impressive stats. Its 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque are generated by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 4.5 seconds off the line, and it'll hit an electronically-limited 118 mph.

2021 Ram TRX The Ram TRX has a beefy exterior with bits and bobs that give it a more aggressive appearance.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's a Hellcat in pickup truck form, so it drives a lot like you'd imagine. At least, on the street. The truck's full-time all-wheel drive system prevents you from doing burnouts, but it will bias power to the rear so you can get your slide on. Sport mode stiffens up the suspension a bit and tightens up the steering. It's by no means a sports car, but engineers have done everything they could to make the truck drive well on the street. You can quickly forget you're piloting a 3-ton brick; but fortunately the 15-inch front brakes save you from getting into real trouble.

Once you get off the tarmac, as expected, the TRX really shines. The truck has 13-inches of front suspension travel, and 14-inches of travel in the rear. The truck is designed to use every inch of travel, and handle it well, thanks to the 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks. These shocks are state-of-the-art, and the same quality you'd find in bespoke off-road racers. While the Fox LiveValve in the Raptor is a good setup, driving the TRX on any off-road surface quickly shows the weaknesses of the Ford's setup. Ram's suspension feels expensive.

The TRX sits on a frame that is lengthened and beefed-up compared the traditional 1500 setup, giving it much improved body rigidity. During the product development stage, Ram engineers took a few Raptors and drove them until they broke, then made sure that they beefed up those components on the TRX. That means the TRX can handle more ridiculous terrain at more ridiculous speed, and still drive you home at the end of the day.

2021 Ram TRX The TRX is capable of having a good time, whether it's on the trail or on the track.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

While driving on a high-speed, 3-mile off-road route, the investment in strength was noticeable. It's hard to make a ladder frame rigid, even a fully boxed one. While on the Raptor – even the new one – the bed will shake a bit off-road, the TRX's bed hardly moves in similar situations and speeds. It feels solid, and it feels controllable.

Ford calls the Raptor the "911 of off-roaders," and they're right, because it's one of the best handling trucks off road. But the TRX has more stability in the same driving situations and feels just as predictable and controllable. If the Raptor does have an advantage at off-road speed, it's that it's lighter. Especially in the front where a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 naturally weighs less than a 6.2-liter V8 with a supercharger attached. The TRX's nose just feels heavier.

A raptor is a bird of prey, and I've jumped my share of Raptors in my day. The TRX is just as capable at getting airborne. In fact, the extra horsepower makes it easier to leave Terra Firma. That Bilstein suspension, though, makes coming back down easier.

2021 Ram TRX The 2021 Ram TRX has a more robust frame than the traditional Ram 1500.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Even at high speeds, when the truck returns to the ground the body motion is controlled. There's no excessive bouncing while the suspension tries to sort things out. The suspension simply compresses, rebounds, and then you're on your way. The whole time the wheels are on the ground you have traction and are in control. This truck makes jumping easy.

The TRX comes in a few different trim levels, depending on how much luxury you want in your truck. You can spec the truck to almost $100,000 and have all the amenities in a Ram 1500 Limited but be able to pre-run the Baja 1000 in comfort and style.

Or, pick up a base truck at $71,690 with destination and get the least expensive FCA product with the Hellcat engine in it and with all-wheel drive, plus a comfortable daily driver with all of the trick off-road features.

2021 Ram TRX The 2021 Ram TRX is plenty capable on paved roads as well.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It sounds better than the Raptor. It's faster than the Raptor. It flies better than the Raptor. For now, at least, the claim that the TRX is the Apex Predator of the truck world is accurate.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Kia Sorento is towing the numerals for the 2020 Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop ceremony across the country.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The journey is underway. As many Americans are eager to close out 2020, Kia is working to make the end of the year happen in style. A 2021 Kia Sorento is hauling the iconic numerals for the One Times Square ball drop ceremony across the country with planned stops in Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

"New Year's Eve is typically seen as a fresh start and a new beginning, and that holds true this year more than ever. With its rugged capability, the Kia Sorento will bring a little piece of the energy and fun of New Year's Eve in Times Square to people nationwide. This will also be a reminder that we're all in this together and that the New Year brings new opportunities and excitement," said Russell Wager, director, marketing operations, Kia Motors America.

2007 New Year's Eve Ball Drop Numerals Workers unload the giant '7' completing the "2-0-0-7" sign for the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square December 13, 2006 in New York City.Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The fourth-generation Sorento started its journey at Kia's North American headquarters in Irvine, California. Its journey will end in Times Square, the New Year's Eve heart of New York City, where the SUV and its cargo will be on display for three days along with other vehicles, before being installed on the top of One Times Square awaiting the iconic ball drop ceremony.

Kia lists the vehicle as being able to tow up to 3,500 pounds in the SX Prestige X-Line trim when equipped with the available factory-installed tow hitch, a $475 add-on.

At select points along the way, National Geographic will document the Sorento's journey, bringing stories from its stops to life through photography and video.

The publicity stunt culminates in the launch of a new creative campaign for the 2021 Sorento, which will debut during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021" on ABC. During the broadcast, you may see some Kia employees in the Times Square. They are there courtesy of the company, who will be hosting them at the event.

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BMW is adding new racing experiences to the roster at is Performance Center West.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW Performance Center Driving Schools have added to their curriculum offerings with the BMW M and M4 GT4 Experience, the M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data and Video Session, and the Race Licensing School. All courses are offered at their driving school in Thermal, California.

BMW M and M4 GT4 Experience

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

This full day program carries a $2,795 price tag and includes driving various BMW M cars and the M4 GT4 race car. Attendees start their day with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique then they receive an overview of the car and are outfitted with a racing suit and helmet. Next, they head to the Thermal Club track and get in some guided laps behind a BMW instructor, experiencing speeds up to 140 mph I the M4 GT4 race car.

The M4 GT4 model driven is the exact same as the race car driven in series around the world. It's powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces more than 430 horsepower while the rear wing, front splitter, and Continental racing tires make this car stick to the track through the corners.

Each session includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Access to professional instructors, trackside crew and support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at the BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage

BMW M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data & Video (Half Day)

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

This half-day, $4,995 program includes 125 miles of track driving in the M4 GT4 race car. Students start with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique before being outfitted for their M4 GT4 driving session. The class includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Time in the BMW M4 GT4 race car, one professional instructor and trackside support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at the BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage.
  • More miles can be purchased on the day of training. The program is designed for one driver. However, two drivers sharing a car can be arranged upon request.
  • The schedule is flexible. Please call 888-345-2269, and one of the BMW Performance Center driving instructors will reply to answer any questions and schedule the coaching session. Discounts are not allowed for this program

BMW M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data & Video (Full Day)

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

For $9,995, students get a full-day private program that includes 250 miles of track driving in the M4 GT4 race car. The days starts with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique before being fitted out for their M4 GT4. The class includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Time in the BMW M4 GT4 race car, one professional instructor and trackside support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at our BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage.
  • More miles can be purchased on the day of training. The program is designed for one driver. However, two drivers sharing a car can be arranged upon request.

Race License School: The Path to Professional

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

After you've been through BMW's Advanced M School or the Two-Day M School, BMW Performance offers a SCCA-certified school to take your skills to the next level on your way to becoming a pro driver. Students can add the one-day school to an Advanced M School or Two-Day M School session and get qualified all at once.What will be learned:

  • Learn the colors. Green. Yellow. Red - No there aren't any traffic lights on the track. But there are flags, and you'll learn what each represents while you're out there to maintain safety.
  • Passing. Don't let off. - Start off with you in a BMW, behind your instructor in theirs. They will coach you through the art of passing under both braking and acceleration. Then, we'll bring on a classmate and coach you both as you battle for first place.
  • Keep Rollin'. Practice race starts - In racing, how you start can impact how you finish, and we'll show you how to get started right in a grid set up, as well as rolling starts. Learn how to navigate with other cars on track while setting up for that first turn.

Additional information be found at https://bmwperformancecenter.com. Courses can be booked online or by calling 1-888-345-4BMW.

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