Litchfield, AZ - At the launch of the next-generation 2020 Ford Super Duty, an event we attended in mid-January, Ford also brought along models of the HD truck fitted with the Tremor off-road package.
The Tremor name is not new to Ford. Recall that in 2014, it was used with the previous generation of the Ford F-150. At the time, it was used to designate a somewhat sporty version with various interior and exterior modifications. This time, we're talking about an off-road package worthy of the name, available as an option with the new F-250 and F-350.
Ford describes the F-350 Tremor as "the best performing off-road system in the history of the Super Duty model”. Kudos to Ford moreover for making the package available on four of the six variants, specifically the XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum. Only the entry-level XL model and the Limited trim package are not eligible.
And what's the Tremor all about? We’ll start with the highlights of what's on offer, point by point, before we get into how it translates when you go off the beaten track.
The technical details
The Tremor package includes a number of modifications made to the model, whether it's the 250 or 350 series, that ensure a big boost for some of the vehicle’s capabilities of the vehicle.
The first things that jump out are the 18-inch wheels with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires on them. These are the largest tires available on a heavy-duty pickup truck on the market, and they’re designed to provide maximum traction.
The suspension, meanwhile, is two inches higher at the front, which puts the ground clearance at 10.8 inches.
Progressively adjustable springs provide a balance between performance needs for towing and the need to control body movement on trails punctuated by ruts and large boulders.
As for the rear stabilizer bar, it's tuned to reduce the effects of the shocks so that rear passengers are less likely to sway over obstacles when the suspension is severely articulated.
Twin-tube shock absorbers with 1.7-inch pistons work to control body movement. These massive, twin-tube shock absorbers have a large volume of oil to help keep internal temperatures low, while the large cross section helps improve responsiveness. At very low speeds, they're tuned for smooth damping, which is perfect and designed to get through more severe obstacles. The internal hydraulic rebound helps soften the shock of the hardest hits.
The Tremor version also uses a rear differential that can be locked with the possibility of adjustments while on the move. A new Dana limited-slip front differential is also present. In some modes, the front axle can detect when a tire has lost traction. If so, the brakes are then used to send power to the wheel that has traction.
Then there's Trail Control mode, which was first introduced with the F-150 Raptor and Ranger models. It works like off-road cruise control when in any driving mode.
It's all very technical, yes, but it gives you an idea.
The Tremor versions are also given running boards similar to those found on the Raptor editions of Ford’s trucks; matte-black trim is available, as is the grille; with the massive tires and high ground clearance, you can drive in 33 inches of water; the angle of attack is 31.65 degrees; and the exit angle is 24.51 degrees.
The Tremor Package can be used with models equipped with the 7.3L V8 engine or the 6.7L Diesel Power Stroke V8, and it can be used with single-wheel 4x4 versions that are equipped with the 6.7-foot box. For F-250 Series Diesel models, the high-capacity towing package is required.
The towing capacity is 15,000 lb with this package, and with a gooseneck hitch, it can reach up to 21,900 lb. With the 7.3L engine, load capacity is 4,210 lb.
A winch that can pull 12,000 lb is available as an option.
For the occasion of our first-drive event, an off-road route had been reserved for us to test the capabilities of the Tremor package.
This is common when launching a product that can venture off the beaten path; also common is that the terrain you’re sent to ride on is pretty basic. Picture beginner and intermediate alpine ski slopes.
Here, we were let loose on a diamond run. Especially, we were treated to an interesting cocktail of surfaces and challenges: massive rocks, steep slopes, steep descents, water obstacles, muddy terrain. In short, we really got to test out just what the Super Duty Tremor is made of.
The result was conclusive. This is not to say that the competition's models (Ram Power Wagon and GMC Sierra AT4, for example) wouldn’t have been able to cover the same route. But it would have been interesting to measure them in the same environment.
Overall, it’s clear that with the Tremor Package, Ford is offering a product tailor-made for those who want more from their ultra-rugged pickup truck.
It's not all about towing capacity when it comes to HD trucks, after all.
The Tremor option is not suited or suitable for all buyers. Consumers who decide it’s a great choice simply because it adds a rugged look to the model will be disappointed to see that it costs $5,210 to get it.
But for those who spend a lot of time off-roading, whether for work or play, it's clearly worth considering.
It’s a matter of needs and tastes, really.