Mountain Wheels: Ford’s Tremor packages amplify both Super Duty and Ranger presence
While the full-size and smaller edition of the Bronco and the new Mach-E Mustang and F-150 Lightning electrics got most of the attention this year, Ford is still built on more standard trucks — as big and rugged as possible.
So here’s an overview of two iterations of the new Tremor build package, an ultra-sturdy and rugged off-road rendition available on two very different ends of the Ford truck family: The F-250 Super Duty and the smaller Ranger pickup. That sort of upgrade does not so far seem to be in the works for the new, smaller Maverick pickup, but you never know.
The Super Duty Tremor can be ordered for the gargantuan F-250 or the even larger F-350, with equally boisterous power options: a 7.3-liter V-8 or a 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel that, like the competition, now offers four-digit torque output (1,050 pound-feet).
I got the baby of that range, an impossibly tall and long F-250 Crew Cab with the 385-horsepower, 7.3-liter engine, 35-inch mud tires on low-gloss, 18-inch black painted wheels and even a 12,000-pound Warn winch as a built-in option — all for a little over $67,000.
At 266 inches, that made it officially the longest truck I think I’ve ever driven, and the lift and tires mean the bed rails are very far off the ground (5 feet, 6 inches, for real). The drive shaft and enormous exhaust system are all there for you to see, as a result.
Logistics and maneuverability become issues to actually consider in a truck that’s almost impossible to access, turn around or drive comfortably on those stretches of Interstate 70 before things were recently repaved.
But if you’re looking for stupendous, nearly Raptor-styled off-road capability — and brawn that puts other truck-dudes to shame — plus all of the enormous towing capacity of the Super Duty line, this was certainly one to beat.
They’ve lifted the front end with unique springs to boost that ride height, added performance shocks to improve backcountry ride and capability and also included the relatively sophisticated Trail Control system, including a rock-crawl setting for absolutely gigantic truck-on-rock action, I guess.
Off-road, its bonky bravado is indeed tamed by that suspension setup. Get it into actual mud and you see what Tremor was built for. Granted, it’s so tall and wide that it eats up any trail you’d consider attacking, and the times I did need to do a 180 on even public gravel roads, that provided challenges I’d never considered in a pickup truck.
I found myself envious of that 1,050 pound-feet of diesel torque as, frankly, the 7.3-liter gas engine’s output felt just a tiny bit short in my steepest uphill travels. And as I took Loveland Pass generating 6 mpg as I did, I guessed that this was all the trade-off for superlatives that overlap all other superlatives.
It’s maybe a little low key inside, especially after seeing the redesigned gloss and digital light show of the new F-150s and their electric/hybrid renditions. Drive modes are hidden in the shift stalk, and the 4×4 switchgear is simple to use. But the leather is pleasant, the center console the size of a hot tub and the details all quite attractive.
Meanwhile, the Tremor Off-Road pack for the 2021 Ranger, a $4,290 upgrade on the SuperCrew 4×4 version of the truck I drove earlier this year, also provided some distinctive looks and added capability to the American version of what is internationally a 10-year-old vehicle. Mine, including a spray-in bedliner and a trailer tow package, topped out at $48,100.
Tremor makes Ranger feel a bit more contemporary and perhaps more patriotic than Tacoma or Frontier’s dedicated 4×4 versions. Its 32-inch all-terrain tires, cool painted alloy wheels, Fox dampers and a boosted ride height also pushed Ranger’s envelope just a bit. I admired the six-switch bank of controls for all the LED lamps and accessories you’d like to throw at it.
Power from the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo that’s standard on Ranger wavered between being just right and maybe a bit conservative. The 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque allowed the Ranger to fly over the passes and cruise comfortably, but in low-speed situations I found the turbo lag to be quite prominent. The 10-speed transmission allowed for simple thumb-shifted downhill speed control.
As it is already on the smaller side, a lifted Ranger with very large tires lost a bit of its ride and cornering stability on the highway (my friends thought I was in a Mustang, not a tall-but-small truck, and I did not feel like pushing my luck). But off-road travel is indeed the Tremor’s forte.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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