During the past 20 years, “light trucks” have come to dominate American highways. But, for the most part, they’re “soft-roaders,” designed to handle nothing more rugged than a gravel road or a bit of snow.
Suddenly, there’s another shift underway, drivers demanding more serious off-road capabilities. When it comes to pickups, the Ford Raptor certainly delivers — but at a significant price premium over conventional F-Series models. Now, however, Ford has another option in its expansive pickup portfolio.
While the new F-150 Tremor doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles, it is still rough and ready enough to deliver a serious off-road experience, as TheDetroitBureau.com discovered during an afternoon of driving at the Holly Oaks Off-Road Vehicle Park an hour north of Detroit. Here’s our review.
Overview: 2022 Ford F-150 Tremor First Drive
The battle for off-road supremacy accelerates with the debut of the 2022 Ford F-150 Tremor. The latest entry into the expanding F-Series line-up, the Tremor adds an array of rugged upgrades to Ford’s popular pickup family, including a standard locking rear differential, beefed up suspension and driveline gear, greater shock travel, improved approach, breakover and departure angles and an optional front Torsen limited-slip differential.
New off-road focused functions also will be added to the new truck, including Trail Control, Trail One-Pedal Drive and Trail Turn Assist.
A step up from the familiar FX4 package, but slightly less aggressive of-roader than the Ford Raptor, Tremor will be offered in three distinct versions for the new model. And while you can drive up pricing if you opt for one of the more lavishly equipped packages, the Tremor starts at a surprisingly affordable $51,200 before delivery fees and other charges.
At first glance, you’ll recognize this is a Ford F-150. But, like the rest of the F-Series family, Tremor gets a number of unique details.
It sits an inch higher up front and 1.5 inches taller in the rear. It’s 1.2-inches wider, allowing for the broader, 33-inch General Grabber tires which wrap around dark matte aluminum wheels. Serious off-roaders will appreciate Tremor’s approach angle of 27.6 degrees, breakover angle of 21.2 degrees and departure angle of 24.3 degrees .
The Tremor, on the whole, has a more aggressive look than the mainstream F-150, starting with its razor-edge hood. It borrows the Raptor’s front skid plate and distinctive bumpers and it gets running boards that are particularly useful climbing in and out, considering its added ride height. Orange accents, including front and rear tow hooks, help distinguish the Tremor from the Raptor, as well as the rest of the F-150 line-up. And dial black-tipped exhaust pipes complete the look.
All Tremor versions come with a 5.5-foot cargo bed.
Tremor’s cabin will look familiar to anyone who has already been inside the latest-generation F-150. The redesign managed to look more luxurious and rugged at the same time. How it’s outfitted depends upon which trim package you opt for, but there’s leather and lots of other upscale details if you’re willing to check the right boxes.
Bottom line, the Tremor is designed to be easy to use, whether you’ve got the foldaway gear lever — which lets you fold the shifter flat to create a large workspace — or the various trailer assist features. The backup system lets you effectively point to where you want your trailer to go and the truck will seamlessly steer for you.
Buttons atop the 12-inch touchscreen let you activate many of Tremor’s off-road features, such as One-Pedal driving. Another set of controls, just above your right knee, let you shift between two and four-wheel-drive, or four-low, while also locking or unlocking the rear differential.
As you’d expect of an F-150, Tremor’s crew cab has plenty of room for up to five passengers. And I found the driver’s seat both well-padded and able to keep me firmly in place while tackling even some of the roughest obstacles at the Holly Oaks park.
The 2022 Tremor draws power from a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. It doesn’t have quite the muscle of the high-output package in the Ford F-150 Raptor — but at 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque, it stands up quite well for itself, thank you.
The twin-turbo 6-banger is paired with a 10-speed automatic. And, as you’d expect of any serious off-roader, you’ll only be able to order the Tremor with all-wheel-drive. Even the base trim package offers a two-speed transfer case and an electronically controlled locking rear differential. If you want even more control, an optional Torsen limited-slip differential also is available for the front axle.
Final numbers depend upon the vehicle’s overall weight, but the Tremor maxes out with an 1,885-pound payload and can tow a maximum 10,900 pounds.
Another plus: the Tremor can be outfitted with a 2.0-kilowatt onboard generator with twin 120-volt outlets in the bed. That’s great news for campers, as well as those who use their truck at a worksite.
Safety and Technology
Tremor is designed to give you fingertip of control over the vehicle’s adaptive suspension and powertrain. You’ve got the previously mentioned buttons, as well as a driver mode selector that sets everything up for specific road conditions, like rock crawling, snow and sand, or mud and ruts. Rotate the dial and you’ll go in or out of four-low, tighten down the shocks and smooth out the truck’s throttle response.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect to the 2022 Ford F-150 Tremor is the Ford Trail Toolbox, a collection of features that deliver distinct advantages for off-roaders:
* Trail Control combines both Hill Climb and Hill Descent Control, letting you set a fixed speed to make it easier to climb and descend without having to work the throttle and brake. Think of it as a low-speed cruise control;
* Trail One-Pedal Drive modulates the brakes for you simply by working the throttle when you’re off-road, much like some of the latest electric vehicles. Turn it on and you seldom need to jump from throttle to brake; and
* Trail Turn Assist helps a driver make tighter turns at low speeds by applying brakes on the inside rear wheel. Essentially, you pivot around that corner, making it easy to handle turns normally difficult to make with a full-size pickup.
The digital instrument cluster keeps you clued in on what your truck is doing, and you get additional off-road readouts on the touchscreen. Among other things, you can track the angle your truck is at. And, paired with the numerous cameras built into the Tremor, you’ll be able to see where your wheels are on a narrow trail, or track the trailer you’re towing.
Another feature Ford is offering on various F-Series models this year automatically weighs the load in the cargo bed. It’s particularly useful in helping make sure you don’t overload your truck. The system can be read on the touchscreen, on a smartphone app or by watching a group of four LED lamps built into the F-150’s taillights.
My initial experience with the 2022 Ford Tremor was limited to a couple hours off-roading. So, look for a follow up when I get time to drive it around town. I expect something akin to the Ford F-150 Raptor, however, which proved to be surprisingly adept on pavement, as well as out on the trail.
Credit the adaptive suspension technology both trucks share. It can instantly recognize what you’re driving on and tighten or loosen up, as needed. Tremor’s suspension isn’t quite as sophisticated. You lose the Fox shocks and don’t have quite as much suspension travel. That said, it’s an impressive system that handled everything I threw at it on the trail at Holly Oaks.
The Grabber tires, backed up by the torquey EcoBoost V-6, never seemed to lose their grip, even on soft, powdery sand. Flipping on the limited-slip rear made it easy to crawl over rocks. And Tremor’s Trail Toolbox worked like magic. At one point, I faced a tight turn that would have put me perilously close to a steep ridge if I’d had to do a traditional K turn. Switching on Trail Turn Assist made it a no-brainer.
The various camera views made things even easier, as I learned on one particularly steep climb. As I approached the crest I otherwise would not have known that the downhill slope angled almost 45 degrees to my left.
Going off-road in a full-size pickup normally carries with it a number of unique challenges. The numerous features built into the Tremor allow you to climb, turn and otherwise navigate trails with far more ease than would have been possible in the past.
According to Ford, fully 40% of F-Series owners will go off-road at some point or other, and even more use their trucks for outdoor recreation, so the potential market for vehicles like the Raptor and Tremor is significant.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Tremor may not have all the features of the Raptor but, unless you’re heading out on the Rubicon Trail or the toughest trails in Moab, you’d likely never know the difference. Ford’s new truck readily handled everything I threw at it.
And you can outfit it much like the rest of the F-150 line-up, loading up on luxury features or fitting it with the tools you need at your camp or worksite. And with such a reasonable base price, I expect a lot of full-size truck buyers to give the new Tremor a close inspection.