The supertruck is here. Automakers are now giving a level of attention previously reserved for flagship supercars to a new class of off-road trucks. Examples include the Ford F-150 Raptor R and the Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX. While General Motors builds several capable off-road pickup trucks, it has not bothered with a supercharged V8 to compete with its Detroit brethren. Chevrolet actually builds two of the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8s of all time but does not offer either of these in pickup trucks.
The Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX started the supercharger wars
2021 Ram 1500 TRX | Stellantis
As soon as Dodge’s SRT division rolled out the 700-horsepower supercharged Hellcat V8 for the Charger and Challenger, Ram trucks began developing concept trucks that used it. For the 2021 model year, Ram finally released the 1500 TRX 4×4 pickup truck.
The Hellcat followed in the footsteps of the V6 Ford F-150 Raptor with long-travel suspension inspired by desert racing trucks. It rides on 35 inch all-terrain tires and features FOX racing shock absorbers.
The Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX is leading the modern factory-supercharged V8 trend. But almost fifteen years ago Toyota Racing Development (TRD) actually engineered a supercharger for the 5.7-liter Tundra V8. Truck buyers could order the supercharged Tundra as a dealer option, but when installed by a technician it actually did not void the factory warranty.
The Ram TRX forced the Ford F-150 Raptor to evolve
2022 Ford Raptor R | Ford Motor Company
Ford’s Special Vehicle Team really kicked off the widespread supertruck class when it launched the 2010 F-150 Raptor. And SVT even tried a V8 engine for the Raptor’s second generation. But when designing the third-generation Raptor, SVT returned to the powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 to keep front-end weight low. Then Ram threw a gauntlet with the TRX.
Ford decisively answered the Ram 1500 TRX with its F-150 Raptor R trim level. This 2022 truck features Ford’s own supercharged V8 (an evolution of the engine in the GT500 Mustang). It also one-ups the TRX with 37-inch tires and a taller lift.
General Motors is the final American manufacturer offering no supercharged pickup truck
Chevrolet 1500 Silverado | General Motors
So far, General Motors has made no move to wade into the supercharged V8 truck battle. That said, both GMC and Chevrolet make pickups that are off-road supertruck contenders.
The GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 are mechanically identical half-ton trucks. Their highest off-roading trim is badged as GMC’s Sierra AT4 and Chevrolet’s Silverado ZR2. Upgrades to these trims include an automatic locking rear differential, two-inch lift, and a transfer case with selectable drive modes. But the largest engine General Motors offers in these trucks is its 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated Ecotec3 V8.
Instead of a supercharged TRX-killer, General Motors is fixing its flagship supertruck hopes on electric vehicles. The revived GMC Hummer is a limited-edition electric supertruck that can go toe-to-toe with the F-150 Raptor R and the Ram 1500 TRX.
General Motors is choosing not to focus any of its energy on a supercharged powerplant. But it actually makes some of the world’s most powerful V8s without the use of superchargers. The latest Corvette ZR1 is powered by bespoke V8 which uses a Ferrari-like flat-plane crankshaft configuration to make over 600 horsepower, making it the most powerful naturally-aspirated production V8 in history. Chevrolet also holds the record for most powerful non-production naturally-aspirated V8 with its 10-liter, 1,000 horsepower ZZ 632.
Perhaps, before the future goes fully electric, we’ll see one of these two powerplants in a Silverado or Sierra shake up the supertruck war.
Learn more about the ZZ 632 crate engine or the Corvette ZR2’s exotic V8 or see the GMC Sierra’s AT4X on a trail in the video below: