Rumors are never-ending, especially in the world of trucks. It seems like years ago we were all but sure of a Ford Raptor-fighting Ram, though as we turn to the new decade, we've yet to see anything from the Fiat-Chrysler brand. That said, a pair of Ram test mules spied near Chicago lead us to believe a Hellcat-powered TRX could be on its way soon, along with a surprise Ford Ranger competitor that could wear the Dakota nameplate.
A member of the Chicagoland Petrolheads and Car Spotters Facebook group posted the set of photos around noon Saturday, showing the test mules from a passerby POV. There's no telling what else Ram might be hiding under all the full-size pickup's black cladding, though its stance is undeniably aggressive. The large tire, small wheel combo further hints at an off-road-focused ethos, as does the high-riding suspension. Few specifics have been mentioned regarding the TRX in the past, but we wouldn't be surprised to find a 707-horsepower Hemi under the hood given FCA's affection for the supercharged lump.
In order to truly compete with the Raptor, however, the TRX will need more than just power. Suspension is perhaps the most important component when it comes to a desert-slayer, and the Ford's Fox internal bypass shocks are some of the best in the biz. It's possible the Ram could utilize the same units, though there are other factors to consider including weight.
As for the smaller Ram, which appears to ride on a comparatively teensy wheelbase, one guess could be that the automaker is looking to enter the competitive mid-size truck segment. Ford and Chevrolet already have an established stake there, and companies like Nissan prove there's long-lasting interest in the class. Again, details are few and far between since Ram doesn't have any compact engines in its lineup. It could potentially borrow the turbo-four from Jeep, or the 3.6-liter V6 with eTorque hybrid assist, but it's all pure speculation at this point.
Some commenters point out that it could be a Jeep Wagoneer powertrain test mule. The model is expected to ride on the Ram 1500 platform, so this could also be a plausible explanation.
The Drive has reached out to Ram for comment on these trucks, which were spied near Interstate 294 North. Automakers, including FCA, are known to test at off-road parks in that area so it's possible these prototypes could've been traveling back to Detroit after a round of 4x4 trials.
We'll update this space once we receive the automaker's response.