A black 2022 Ram 2500 is shown from the front at an angle while kicking up dust off-road after leaving a Ram dealer.

Inside and Out: Ram

You know a good pickup when you see it on the road. You don’t necessarily have to know the engine type, read the specs, or see the inside to know that you’re looking at a quality vehicle. Just a quick zip past a quality pickup, and you know that there’s something special going on. Such is a common reaction when seeing a Ram truck, whether it is cruising down the road, towing a heavy load, or parked at a Ram dealer.

Now, before we go into any further detail, let’s take a pause. What’s the difference between Ram and Dodge? Are they the same brand? No. While these two brands were once the same, they are now independent of each other. The big difference is that Dodge now focuses on high-speed performance vehicles while Ram focuses on heavy-duty work trucks.

Ram’s work since the split has been very influential in the automotive industry, and independence has proven to be fruitful for both brands. Ram has significantly increased its lineup and set new standards for the industry. You can tell when you see one, but Ram offers far more than meets the eye. The 2022 Ram 1500, specifically, has a special trick up its sleeve to make it the highest-performing pickup truck you’ll find on the market. Join me for a closer look.

Capability You Can Count On

The biggest question with a pickup truck is usually not about its design or technology. Those things are important but are usually not the big factor when it comes to a truck. The big factor when it comes to a truck is, of course, performance and capability. A cool interior is great, and everyone loves a fancy screen, but those things don’t compensate for poor performance. You need a truck that does the work you require. So can the 2022 Ram 1500 do that work?

Is 702 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque enough power to get that work done? No, this is not a joke. The 2022 Ram 1500 TRX actually provides 702 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. That is more horsepower than you’ll find on any other production gasoline truck, a number rivaling even the newly-acclaimed electric trucks. So, how does the 2022 Ram 1500 TRX reach such numbers? Well, there’s a new engine in town.

The 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 is equipped with––you guessed it––a supercharger. Everything works better when it’s supercharged (just think about the difference before and after your coffee in the morning), and the Ram is no different. The supercharger produces almost instantaneous torque, allowing the truck to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. No, this is not an EV we’re talking about. This is the 2022 Ram 1500 TRX. This is a serious game-changer for the whole pickup truck segment across all brands.

It is amazing how much of a difference the supercharger makes. The engine just below the supercharged V8 in the Ram lineup––the 5.7-liter HEMI V8––caps out at 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. So the supercharger adds 307 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque; many engines have a difference in their total capability, but the new supercharged HEMI completely shatters our perception of what we thought a pickup truck could accomplish.

A red 2022 Ram 1500 TRX is shown from the front while driving through sand.

Refined Architecture

Plenty of power is great, but a good engine only goes so far if the vehicle in which it rests is not well-built. A vehicle’s architecture should provide the skeleton that the engine animates. In a pickup truck, you want an architecture that is strong and durable, not only in appearance but in actuality. It does you no good if your truck looks like a champion but never actually performs like a champion. So how does the Ram 1500 provide the architecture necessary to perform like a champion?

Well, for the 2022 model year, its frame (the literal skeleton) is made of 98% high-strength steel. This is great news. The frame is one of the most important parts because what you see with your eyes is not what truly matters. It does matter, but it is not what matters most. A lot of what we see on the surface level with a truck is more about aesthetics and design, whereas the true strength of the vehicle lies beneath the surface. 98% is, by all standards, excellent.

With almost 100% high-strength steel, the 2022 Ram 1500 offers a maximum towing capacity of 12,750 lbs and a maximum payload capacity of 2,300 lbs. Those are seriously good numbers, and this is only on the Ram 1500. We are not talking about the Ram 2500 or above; this is the starting level! You don’t want a vehicle that uses its looks to deceive you into thinking it has strength that it does not have, but you do want one that makes its true strength clear through its looks. That is what the 2022 Ram 1500 does, and you could even say it’s being a little bit too modest in its looks.

A black 2022 Ram 1500 is shown from the front at an angle.

Ram 1500 vs Ram 1500 TRX

You may have noticed by now that we’ve been talking about two variations of the same truck: The Ram 1500 and the Ram 1500 TRX. So what’s the difference? The Ram 1500 is the starting level of Ram trucks. Now, sometimes we hear “starting level,” and we jump to the conclusion that it is the “weakest.” But keep in mind the facts and numbers we have just discussed. Those are not “starting level” specs, so the Ram starts where many trucks max out. The TRX, while still being a Ram 1500, takes it to a new level by focusing on performance and design fit for fierce off-roading.

You’ll notice right away that the exterior design of the TRX is much bolder, in part due to the large “RAM” printed in bold letters across the grille. But the whole vehicle takes on a much stronger stance, thanks to its wider fenders and creative exterior lighting. As we mentioned, the TRX offers significantly more power with its 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8. So, the TRX certainly offers objectively higher performance specs than the regular Ram 1500.

But keep in mind the difference in purpose. If you need a truck that is mostly for utility and work purposes, the Ram 1500 may actually serve you better since it provides a greater focus on towing and payload, while the TRX is mostly focused on off-roading and adventurous driving. Everything in the TRX is oriented toward off-roading, and because it offers so much extra power, it needs to change some other things about its architecture, including its tire size (35-inches) and shocks (Bilstein Black Hawk e2). So what’s the big picture?

The Ram 1500 TRX offers more objective grit and power, but it has a different purpose than the Ram 1500. Less power does not automatically mean a worse vehicle; it means that different vehicles require different engines in order to perform at their highest level for their given purpose. The TRX is a very exciting vehicle, but it may not be the vehicle for big-time towers. Likewise, if someone is an avid off-roader, there would be no logic in settling for the Ram 1500 when the Ram 1500 TRX is clearly offering a significantly better off-roading experience with more power.

Dodging a Bullet

I stand by what I said at the beginning: Ram’s official separation from Dodge has been a fruitful development for the brand. Ram trucks are certainly bold on the exterior, proving their power even before you take a look under the hood. But, there is a temptation to judge a truck based on its design alone, and drivers can dodge a significant bullet by making sure that the exterior design is actually indicative of interior power. You can puff up a truck’s exterior to make it look great, but if the performance doesn’t come through, that puff will quickly fade. The Ram 1500 is certainly an eye-catching truck; chances are that your eye has followed one for an extra second or two on the road. But it has the chops to back up its looks.