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8 Things you should be most hyped about in the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX

The new Ram 1500 TRX has the Ford Raptor in its sights.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Ever since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced the 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat engine, the truck world imagined what it would be like to put that monster in a pickup truck. During the 2016 State Fair of Texas, Ram Trucks showed a concept truck that was powered by that engine. Ram said at the time that it was strictly a "concept," but we all hoped they were lying.

What they were doing, however, was waiting for the new Ram 1500 to build the platform upon. Now the 2021 Ram1500 TRX is here. It makes an unruly amount of power. It also has some new technology that hasn't been used yet on any product from the U.S. portfolio of vehicle, along with some tried-and-true components to make this one of the fastest off-road trucks on any terrain.

Supercharged 6.2-liter not-a-Hellcat V8

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In the Ram 1500 TRX, the supercharged V8 HEMI makes 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Ram claims that horsepower number is a result of the TRX having the longest exhaust of any vehicles equipped with this motor, along with extra intake plumbing to handle dirt, dust, sand, and other off-road debris.

That's gloriously 127 more horsepower than the Rebel TRX concept that debuted at the State Fair of Texas.

Just don't call it a Hellcat engine. While yes, it is the Hellcat, the folks at Dodge are the ones that are given use of the name in their vehicles. In the Jeep Trackhawk and the Ram TRX, it's just a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8. But, we'll forgive you if you call it a Hellcat.

Launch control

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

I can't say for certain if this is the first pickup truck ever equipped with launch control, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it is. Located next to the transfer case buttons, pressing the Launch button sets the truck up to accelerate the quickest.

That means a zero to 60 mph time in 4.5 seconds and a quarter mile run at 12.9 seconds with a 118-mph speed limit. Yes, that's quick, especially for a pickup.

Bilstein adaptive suspension

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2019 Ford Raptor picked up Fox's LiveValve technology for adaptive dampers. After driving a Raptor back-to-back with the old tech and the new tech, LiveValve is the way to go. Ram knew they needed to offer a comparably bonkers off-road suspension, so they called up their friends at Bilstein.

Designed exclusively for TRX, the truck features 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive shocks. They have external reservoirs for heat management. While we haven't driven the truck yet, Ram claims that this suspension will allow the truck to perform exceptionally both at high speed and in the air. Noted.

No more rotary shifter

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you've driven a modern Ram half-ton, you'll notice that the gear selector is a rotary knob on the dash. In off-road use, I've found it annoying when trying squeeze out of a tight spot that requires frequent engaging of drive and then reverse. For the TRX, Ram removed the rotary shifter and replaced it with a normal shifter in the center. Just as God intended.

There's no official word if Ram will do this swap on all Rams, but there's a chance they might.

Head-up display

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

New for Ram Trucks is a full-color head-up display (HUD) available on the top trim TRX. Ram describes the TRX as an apex predator hunting prey, so it makes sense that the driver would have a HUD to help them lock in in the competition.

In reality, it shows everything a HUD should; speed, navigation information, rev counter, and more. It changes based on the drive mode that the truck is in and has some level of customization to it. It also allows drivers to keep their eyes up on the dunes ahead while still seeing relevant cluster info - a big plus.

Trailer Reverse Steer Control

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Available on TRX – and something we wouldn't be surprised to see offered across the lineup – is Trailer Reverse Steer Control. It works like Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist, letting the driver intuitively use a knob on the dash to position a trailer directly where it needs to go. This takes the stress out of trailer backing up, boat ramps, camp sites, and more.

Unlike the Ford system, Ram's doesn't require any measuring of the trailer or placing a sticker on the tongue of the trailer. Using cameras and sensors, the Ram figures it out own its own.

Baja Mode isn't just for Raptors anymore

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

When the Raptor returned in 2017, it featured a Baja drive mode. This mode keeps the revs up, engages the four-wheel drive system, and sets up the anti-lock braking system to perform the best when jumping sand dunes along the Mexican peninsula, or anywhere else you find yourself hitting dunes at high speed.

The Ram TRX has a similar mode. It, too, adjusts everything including the suspension the make sure the truck is as quick as possible across the dunes. Ram doesn't come right out and say that the Raptor is a direct competitor to this truck, but it's obvious that Ram has every intention of being competitive against the class leader.

Bigger tires, more capability

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Finally, the Ram TRX features exclusive-to-TRX Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires. Those 325/65/R18 All-Terrain 35-inch tires are the largest fitted to a factory pickup truck.

With improved ride height the TXR has 11.8-inches of ground clearance and can ford up to 32-inches of water. That's actually two more inches than the Jeep Wrangler.

Despite the off-road credentials, the payload rating on the TRX is still 1,310 pounds and the max tow rating is 8,100 pounds, which is similar to a Ram 1500 Big Horn.

Ram calls the TRX it the ultimate expression of their 1500 half-ton pickup. It's not designed to replace the heavy-duty Ram Power Wagon, but rather suit a different type of buyer. While Ram doesn't mention the competition by name, their insistence of calling this an "apex predator" implies heavily that they're after the Raptor in more ways than one.

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Kia is offering the Sorento SUV in a hybrid form for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

New car prices keep going up so it was only a matter of time before the average new car price hit the $40,000 threshold. New quarterly analysis by Edmunds showed that the average amount borrowed for a new car in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $35,373. Buyers put an average of $4,734 down on top of that, which makes the average new car price $40,107.

Paying around $40,000 is a sweet spot in the market. It gets buyers into lower cost luxury and premium models as well as most of the mass market offerings. AutomotiveMap has put together a list of the best vehicles you can get for around the $40,000 mark.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $37,500
The Acura TLX debuted as a completely redesigned car for the 2021 model year bringing with it a new sportiness and fresh styling outside and in. The TLX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Its cabin is quite nice - decked out in leatherette upholstery with 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system, satellite radio, two USB ports, a 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen, seven-inch driver information display, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto make up just some of the items on the standard features list.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the TLX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the TLX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Pictured: 2021 Acura TLX Advance

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,490
Configure the 2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn with two-wheel drive, a crew cab, and 5'7" box to get one of the best trucks at the price point. It comes standard with Ram's tried and true 3.6-liter V6 engine, which provides a good amount of power. Cloth seating for six passengers and a five-inch infotainment screen is standard as well.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Price: $32,660
The Ford Bronco Sport Badlands trim is the most off-road capable version of the SUV, and it's no slouch. The model is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, off-road suspension, advanced four-wheel drive with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit, a Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. modes, metal bash plates, Trail Control, a 180-degree front camera with washer, front tow hooks, and rubberized flooring. The SUV rides on 17-inch Carbonized Gray-painted aluminum wheels wrapped in 28.5-inch all-terrain tires.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $36,590
The new-for-2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid comes in just two trim levels: S and EX. The upgraded EX model gets an EPA-estimated 37 mpg and has 227 total system horsepower. The features list for the Sorento Hybrid EX is long and includes a power liftgate, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, and wireless phone charger. It also comes with a host of safety and driver assist technologies like adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance assist.

2021 Genesis G70 2.0T

2021 Genesis G70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Price: $36,000
The Genesis G70 is a sports sedan you probably haven't seen that much on roads near you, but you should. They should be everywhere. For under $40,000, buyers can get their hands on a rear-wheel drive G70 2.0T with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It has the buyer's choice of gray or black leatherette upholstery.

2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL

2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Price: $39,470
The Ridgeline might not be a typical truck in the looks category, but for the 2021 model year the Honda has gotten some aesthetic beef thanks to a design refresh. The truck continues to have a trunk in its bed and now comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assist technologies. Power comes from the truck's 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.The Ridgeline is most noted for its refined and comfortable interior that's more SUV-like than truck-like. For 2021, that has only improved. The RTL grade (Ridgeline Sport is shown above) is a step up from the base model.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Touring

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,995
The Chrysler Pacifica is presently the best minivan you can buy. Its Hybrid version (shown above in the Pinnacle grade) adds plug-in electric capability to the equation offering over 30 miles of gasoline-free driving per charge and running like a typical hybrid when the battery has been depleted or the van needs some extra oomph. With the Pacifica Hybrid Touring buyers get their choice of a number of included paint colors, 17-inch machined aluminum wheels with gray pockets wrapped in all-season tires, premium cloth bucket seats in black or cognac, and a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen.

2021 Acura RDX

2019 Acura RDX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $38,400
Acura sells gobs of RDXs and it's really no mystery as to why. The SUV is fun to drive, has abundant cargo space, and is easy on the eyes. Add in the comfortable seats that offer plenty of space, and the RDX turns into one of the best family haulers out there, empty nest or not. The 2021 RDX rides on standard 19-inch glitter silver wheels, gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 272 horsepower, and has a host of infotainment features like a nine-speaker audio system, two USB ports, HD Radio, a 10.2-inch infotainment system touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and satellite radio. Buyers ca opt for all-wheel drive, which puts the vehicle just a tick over the $40,000 mark.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the RDX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the RDX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Shown: 2019 Acura RDX Advance

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Price: $35,300
Not only does the fanciest and most tech-forward Hyundai Sonata Hybrid you can buy get 47 mpg, it also has a solar roof. It also doesn't lack oomph, with 192 horsepower from its propulsion system at the ready. The car has a 12.3-inch fully-digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen. It also sports plenty of head- and legroom, cargo space, and forward visibility. Pricing for the sedan includes checking nearly every option box, which is standard for the Limited model.

2021 Kia Telluride EX

2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $37,590
Kia is selling the Telluride like gangbusters and it's not hard to see why. The three-row SUV comes standard with a 3.8-liter V6 that supplies plenty of power. Its roster of standard features on the EX trim level includes a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, Driver Talk, Quiet Mode, a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, wireless smartphone charging, six USB ports, leather-trimmed seats, and more. Add all-wheel drive for just $2,000 more.

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Sony's team is testing the Vision-S on the streets of Austria.

Photo courtesy of Sony

One year ago Sony surprised the crowds at CES with the Vision -S, a concept vehicle meant to further the discussion on safety, security, and entertainment. The vehicle has moved from concept to prototype, taking to the roads of Europe for testing.

The car has been driving the roads of Austria since December 2020, according to the company, for technical evaluation. Evaluation of what? We're so glad you asked.

If the car is technologically similar to what has presented at CES last year, on-board is Sony's imaging and sensing technologies as well as software regulated using Sony's AI, telecommunication, and cloud technologies.

Sony Vision-S The Sonny Vision S is a working vehicle prototype now. Photo courtesy of Sony

The car, which was built in cooperations with Magna Steyr, features 33 sensors, including CMOS image sensors and time of flight (ToF) sensors within the vehicle. These sensors are designed to detect and recognize people and objects inside and outside the vehicle, and provide "highly advanced driving support."

Each of the two rows of seating in the vehicle features Sony's 360 Reality Audio system. Bose has similar technology built into the Nissan Kicks.

The crossover-lie car's front seats have a panoramic screen in front of them that has the ability to display rich content.

Does this mean that Sony will begin to make cars? The quick answer is no. Sony does not appear itching to get into the car business though the products that result from this testing will likely be available to automakers offering additional competition for components in a fast-paced marketplace where the technology is evolving quickly.

The real winner here could be consumers who will benefit from the stiff completion between suppliers and be on the receiving end of better technology because of it.

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