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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Bugatti is selling just 40 Divos worldwide.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Only 40 Bugatti Divos will be made. Four of them were recently delivered to U.S. customers. The latest customized version of the supercar to be delivered by the French automaker pushed the limits of what the Bugatti craftspeople are capable of. As company founder Ettore Bugatti once said: "If it is comparable, it is no longer Bugatti."

Meet the Bugatti Divo named "Lady Bug".

The Divo premiered in 2018 and shortly thereafter a prospective buyer and noted collector from the U.S. approached Bugatti with an idea in mind. They wanted a strict geometric pattern that featured diamond shapes in a unique color contrast on their Divo. The Bugatti design and development team set about figuring out how to make that happen.

Bugatti Divo "Lady Bug" design process

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

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Two special metallic paint colors were developed: Customer Special Red and Graphite. The diamond pattern was designed to run precisely from the front over the sides to the rear – matching the silhouette of the Divo.

Bugatti's team spend a year-and-a-half to develop and implement the technical and graphic solutions the Divo owner required. Adding the diamonds to the car was far more complex than they expected. They would have to be painted onto the body with precision and exact definition.

What made it so hard? According to Bugatti, "the digital patterns in the CAD program bear little resemblance to reality: owing to the three-dimensional, sculptural form of the Divo with its contours, curves and ribs, the 2D-printed diamonds became distorted on the surface of the exclusive hyper sports car. As a result, they had to be digitally modified."

Being off by as little as one millimeter would ruin the entire visual effect. The total would be 1,600 diamonds by the time the pattern was fully executed.

Weeks later, designers discovered a way to match the CAD data with reality. They ended up being able to pull the film over the deeply concave surfaces of the Divo without the diamonds becoming distorted or developing folds.

Bugatti Divo "Lady Bug" graphics application

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

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During the pattern's development, a test car was used to perfect the pattern. After the initial steps of the application process were applied to the customer's Divo, Bugatti's team need to remove each diamond. Graphite paint and a clearcoat were applied on top of the effect paint in Customer Special Red in order to invert the pattern. As part of this process, the paintwork was sanded, smoothed, checked, retouched and then re-sanded. All in, the total time spent on the paint on the customer's car alone was two weeks.

"Every Bugatti Divo is one of a kind. With the custom-made 'Lady Bug', Bugatti has demonstrated the full range of its customization expertise. What initially seemed impossible was executed to perfection by the designers and developers in collaboration with the customer," says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti."We are proud to have matched the customer's personal taste and expectations with this unique Divo. The car really demonstrates what the marque is capable of in terms of creativity and craftsmanship."

Bugatti Divo "Lady Bug"

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

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There were no changes to the car's W16 powertrain for the project.

Each Divo is priced at $5.6 million USD but buyers pay more depending on which options they choose. All Divos are produced by the Bugatti Alelier in Molsheim. The first deliveries of the supercar happened in August 2020. All models will hav been delivered by this spring.

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The Alfa Romeo Giulia is one of the models that can be found on the new CPO website.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Customers looking for certified pre-owned Alfa Romeos no longer need to pay a visit to their dealership, browse the lot, and keep their fingers crossed. The Italian automaker has launched a new version of its certified pre-owned vehicles website.

The new site allows buyers to locate, research, and purchase late-model certified pre-owned Alfas from wherever their smart device will connect to the internet.

Every Alfa Romeo certified pre-owned vehicle passes a certification process followed by a thorough reconditioning process using authentic Mopar parts. The certification process includes a 169-point inspection including a diagnostic review, service and maintenance background verification, and examination of the interior, exterior, undercarriage, unibody and multimedia.

The Alfa Romeo website now has a certified pre-owned vehicles section.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Certified Alfas are sold with a factory-backed five-year/100,000-mile Maximum Care Warranty that includes a $0 customer deductible that starts the date of the vehicle sale. Buyers can choose to upgrade that to an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. Maximum Care Warranties cover over 5,000 mechanical parts.

A CARFAX Vehicle History Report is also included, as is a three-month trial subscription to SiriusXM.Twenty-four hour roadside assistance that includes flat tire service, gas delivery, battery-jump assistance, lockout service, towing service and rental car allowance is also part of the package.

As with a new vehicle, multiple financing options are available.

Don't want to shop in person? Alfa Romeo's E-Shop option allows buyers to locate, research and purchase vehicles from home, as well as take advantage of home delivery.

The updated alfaromeousacertified.com website can now also be accessed via the alfaromeousa.com homepage.

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