America’s most famous SUV specialist is finally going electric.
Jeep shared the first images of its debut series production EV at a press event on Tuesday. The SUV, which currently does not yet have a name, will be here soon, too. Parent company Stellantis said it hopes to launch the vehicle next year.
As exciting as Jeep’s first EV may be, some brand loyalists will surely be disappointed that the SUV is not based on the Grand Cherokee or Wrangler. Unfortunately, the company’s first battery-powered offering looks quite similar to the brand’s compact crossover, the Compass. The only real differences we can spot are more protective cladding and a faux grille with what looks like an illuminated “e” on it. It’s not the first design that leaps to mind when you think of the 77-year-old brand, but perhaps that’s the point.
Jeep’s first all-electric SUV
Beyond its exterior, the only other thing we know about the marque’s first EV is that it will arrive in early 2023. The unnamed vehicle isn’t the only battery-powered Jeep to look forward to, though. The all-electric Wrangler is expected to follow in 2024. The brand, which already sells several plug-in hybrid models, announced last summer that it plans to sell “zero-emission” versions of all its vehicles by 2025. Though no specific models have been confirmed, that would suggest that a Rubicon EV is also on the way.
Jeep sister company Ram, also teased its first EVs, the ProMaster EV and battery-powered Ram 1500. The van will be released in 2023, after Jeep’s first EV. Meanwhile, the Ram 1500 is set to launch in 2024. Stellantis brand Dodge also has its first electric muscle car due that year.
A teaser image of the battery-powered Ram 1500
Stellantis acknowledged that it’s late to the electric truck party but claimed that its first battery-powered pickup will beat the competition in terms of range, charge times, towing and payload, according to Car and Driver. Neither Stellants or Ram offered information about the truck’s rumored range extender, but they did share a more revealing images of the vehicle.
The electric revolution has been underway for a while now. It appears that Jeep has finally accepted it.
Ram Trucks may be late to the electric pickup party, but they could come with a feature no other EV has.
The automaker’s CEO Mike Koval Jr. suggested that the forthcoming truck will come equipped with its own range extender in an interview with EV Pulse. The executive said the feature will help the brand’s battery-powered Ram 1500 EV “push past” the competition.
A range extender is a small combustion engine that can be used to recharge an EV’s battery. It could prove to be vital on long drives, especially when charging stations are few and far between (something that will hopefully become less of an issue in the coming years). The motor could also help alleviate some of the stress towing takes on an electric truck’s battery. The Rivian R1T, for example, can travel 314 miles on a single charge, but reportedly loses around 50 percent of its range when towing a maximum load of 11,000 pounds.
A teaser image of the Ram 1500 EV
Koval said the range extender might be available as an add-on, but it’s not entirely clear how that would work. It would also beg a question: Is the brand’s pickup actually an EV with the range extender or would be considered a plug hybrid plug-in—only one that gets most of its power from an all-electric drive unit?
As of now, range extenders aren’t being offered on any other EV trucks, like the GMC Hummer EV or Ford F-150 Lightning. However, Ford did patent a removable range extender for the electric F-150 in 2020, which resembles a toolbox in the bed of the truck, according to The Drive. It’s unclear if Ram’s device would be a modular accessory or a fixed part of the vehicle. One thing is certain: No one likes losing space in their pickup bed, so it will likely have to be a small unit to be a desirable add-on.
The automaker has previously said that the Ram 1500 EV will arrive in 2024 and have a range of 500 miles. With the extender, you’ll also be able to add 20 miles of range every minute it’s connected to a charger. While those are the only concrete details we have right now, the brand recently launched Ram Revolution, a website that provides a closer look at the marque’s EV plan and allows consumers to provide input regarding future vehicles.
Either way, it sounds like you can expect something a little different when the 1500 EV finally arrives.
I was advised to approach the jump at 55 mph, so in the interest of investigative journalism, I hit it at 65 mph. OK, I was behind the wheel of the 702 hp Ram 1500 TRX, so pushing it was purely for my own thrill. Now serving as Ram’s halo truck, the TRX is the answer to Ford’s F-150 Raptor. Though long before jumping the TRX or driving it 100-plus mph off road, you need only press the start button to suss out that Ram’s primary message is, “Your move, Ford.”
You’ve long heard the tired adage “there’s no replacement for displacement,” but as soon as the TRX’s 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 is fired up, those words blare inside your mind with marching-band fanfare. The Ram’s opening rumble basically emasculates the Raptor’s gurgle. The numbers further delineate this point. The TRX’s supercharged V-8 is 252 hp stronger and offers 140 ft lbs more twist than the Raptor’s twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6. The TRX, however, is 653 pounds heavier than the Raptor, so straight-line acceleration doesn’t feel drastically different between the two.
Catching air in the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. Photo: Courtesy of FCA US LLC.
Still, the TRX is one quick beast. Engage launch control, and you can hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Six ticks later and you’re barreling past 100 mph on the way to a 12.9-second quarter-mile at 108 mph. From behind the wheel, the truck doesn’t seem as quick as those numbers suggest, but the stopwatch doesn’t lie. In the Raptor, it took me roughly four seconds to accelerate from 65 to 80 mph. On the same stretch of highway, the “T-Rex” climbed the same spread in half the time.
The model starts at $71,790, but falls just under six figures if fully loaded. Photo: Courtesy of FCA US LLC.
The TRX’s cabin probably does too good of a job isolating you from the outside world, thus the lack of agreement between the stopwatch and the seat of the pants. The interior seems recording-booth quiet and finishing-school refined. In addition to heated and ventilated leather seats, my loaded tester also featured a leather-wrapped dash with carbon-fiber accents, as well as beautiful suede trim on the center console and door cards. As premium as the TRX’s interior is, it appears that Ram designers envisioned the cabin of a mythical Lincoln-badged Raptor, and then set that as the target to meet or exceed. That said, the TRX could stand to lose the tacky center console specs plaque, as well as the loud “TRX” embroidery underneath the front-seat headrests.
The TRX’s supercharged V-8 is 252 hp stronger and offers 140 ft lbs more torque than the Ford Raptor’s twin-turbocharged V-6. Photo: Courtesy of FCA US LLC.
There’s plenty of tech to complement the model’s abundant creature comforts. Taking center stage is the standard 12-inch Uconnect 4C touchscreen that can interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as an available 900-watt, 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. That’s enough wattage to get your heart pumping fast enough to make you want to blast through just about any trail or fly like Michael Jordan across a set of dunes.
Tearing through the track at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nev., the TRX made me feel like an accomplished trophy-truck racer living a real-life version of the “Super Off Road” arcade game. Whether hitting jumps 10 mph too fast or at the recommended speeds, the big-bad Ram is quite the softie. Though my eyes could see that I was returning to terra firma after a second in the air, as far as my butt was concerned, I was touching down into a foam pit.
The 1500 TRX can hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and run a quarter-mile time of 12.9 seconds. Photo: Courtesy of FCA US LLC.
It was actually in the turns where I was most impressed with the new Raptor-fighting Ram. Left-foot braking in the Baja drive mode relaxes the stability control, which allowed me to achieve a respectable drift angle through turn one. Crew-cab pickups are really easy to drift thanks to their outrageously long wheelbases (145.1 inches in this truck’s case), but the TRX’s outstanding steering helped with the fun here. The sedan-like 16.3:1 ratio helps the big Ram feel more maneuverable on the track, as well as on the road. As you dial in more lock on paved roads, the steering even communicates that the truck is leaning harder on its chunky tread blocks. I never thought I’d be praising a truck’s steering feel in this day and age, but the Ram TRX’s steering is so good, I consider it the best rack I’ve ever experienced in a pickup.
The truck has a 145.1-inch wheelbase. Photo: Courtesy of FCA US LLC.
Now, you’re not going to canyon-carve in a Ram TRX, but still, the truck is pretty composed in the corners. There’s body roll, but not as much as you’ll find in the Raptor, although the TRX’s ride quality is just as lovely. A nicely calibrated brake pedal is connected to 15-inch brake rotors at all four corners, which makes easy work of halting this 6,350-pound behemoth.
The privilege of eating Raptors is going to cost you. The Ram TRX starts at $71,790, including $1,695 for destination. That’s about $13,000 more than the base price of a Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew, but the TRX is easily worth the difference. Expect to pay more than $97,000 if you tick every option box, but that’s a bargain considering a high-end trophy truck can cost roughly a million bucks.
Interior accoutrements include heated and ventilated leather seats, a 12-inch touchscreen and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Photo: Courtesy of FCA US LLC.
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX brings the Ford F-150 Raptor’s theme into the new decade, with more power, performance, durability, tech, luxury, and, perhaps most importantly of all, bragging rights. Ram may have come out with a better alternative to the Raptor, but FCA’s truck brand can’t be complacent. Ford has a new F-150 Raptor soon coming around the corner, and chances are it’ll give the TRX a run for its money. Bust out your popcorn, because this upcoming Detroit battle is definitely going to be a blockbuster.