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Ford’s F-250 Tremor: There’s a Menu For That

Available early 2023. Preproduction model shown with available features. Professorial driver on closed course. Always consult the Owner’s Manual before off-road driving, know your terrain and trail difficult, and use appropriate safety gear.

Car Reviews

Ford’s F-250 Tremor: There’s a Menu For That

The Tremor is Ford’s most work-capable off-road oriented pickup truck. Given “TREMOR” wallpaper, even on the shock absorbers, I turned a bunch of things off and did the obvious, heading for the San Andreas earthquake fault. 

And no, it was not labeled in the navigation system.

Call the Tremor Ford’s version of a Silverado ZR2 (and comparable GMC Sierra) and Ram’s Rebel HD; a Power Wagon is too mission-specific and strictly gasoline powered. It’s an exercise in bigness—your fifth-wheel better be more than five-and-a-half feet off the ground for smooth pavement towing, was too close to try under a seven-foot garage door, rides on 35-inch tires and comes only with the bigger gas engine or the high-output diesel.

If you imagine the Testoster, er, Tremor is about bragging rights, give yourself a gold star.

The high-output 6.7-liter Powerstroke diesel delivers 500 horses and 1200 lb-ft of torque, about the same horsepower and 75% of the torque in that 6.5-times heavier, 45-foot-long Prevost-chassis motorhome you just passed. In other Super Duty pickups this engine is rated to tow 20 tons, but the Tremor’s single rear-wheel configuration, off-road biased suspension and tires limit it to 10 tons. In terms of truck work it’s the least-capable Super Duty but still works best with a load.

Those tires also limit top speed to 99 mph (allow more than a football field to stop), which the unloaded Tremor can reach from a standing start in about 15 seconds and a 1/4-mile on-ramp. Floor the throttle and you’ll reach 60 in the mid-six-second range, feeling like at least a second or two were consumed shifting through a handful of the 10-speed’s gears…and it just keeps pulling.

Clearly the standard diesel would be plenty, but you won’t meet a hill that will slow your rig. The standard gas engine won’t deliver this or at-altitude performance, nor fuel economy (equal parts interstate cruising, walking-speed four wheeling and winding fun roads netted 16.7 mpg empty), but it saves $12,500 and bumps payload by 40-50%. God forbid anyone would use a big pickup to carry heavy things.

This Tremor was $40,000 more than the cheapest ($64K) version so the cab was comfy indeed: Platinum grade has some pleasant surfaces and slices of mocha trim to break up 50 shades of gray, massaging front seats allow the most of a probable 400+ mile range, the Bang & Olufsen sound system easily overcomes tire sing and wind noise, and there’s a good selection of power ports so all your gadgets new and old can be powered or charged. It also had all Ford’s trailering goodies, lane-keeping assist which is kept busy, a 12,000-pound winch, useful non-slip side steps and an optional vinyl floor. The view out is better than in a ZR2, too – and cameras all around help…even when the tailgate is down.

Controls are grouped logically, and most of them have a menu so you can adjust and configure to your heart’s content. It won’t necessarily remember what you like, and may claim to know better every time the ignition’s turned off, but I quickly developed a checklist of what to turn on and off every time I clambered in. 

If you’re somehow new to trailering, Ford’s myriad towing assists might save you embarrassment – or a lot worse. These cover everything from lining up your hitch and onboard scales (I’d still go to a truck scale for all axles) to minimize chances of going overweight or getting your money’s worth at the materials yard, to navigation that can be set to avoid height restrictions or urban turns USS Tremor has no chance of making in one go.

It offers similar assists in off-pavement travel too, with multiple drive modes, trail cruise control that handles accelerator as well as brake inputs, and cameras everywhere except underneath. A locking rear differential is standard, there is a bit of suspension flexibility and power is ample, so ground clearance, water depth or physical dimensions will likely be what stops progress. All that said, the ride—even if you’ve taken some air out of the tires—will remind you this is a 3/4-ton truck, so for much of your off-pavement travel you’ll prefer to be going less than five mph… or more than 50.

This sample was configured to do everything—a moonroof may be the only option it didn’t have and I want to see where the roof-mounted speakers relocate to—and it does indeed do everything. Yet I can’t help thinking overall it’s a compromise that doesn’t really excel at anything: it’s big for a lot of four-wheeling and many urban or suburban environments, it’s hardly the best highway cruiser and other Super Duty pickups tow and carry substantially more.

However, if you won the big buckle recently and want something to soothe your back while you tow the horses out of a muddy field and home a thousand miles, it might rock your world.

Mr. Whale's been breaking parts for 45 years and writing about it for 30. An award-winning writer, he's served as Technical Editor on several major magazines, been published in more than 40 outlets, and served as driving instructor and motoring book judge. He's a member of the Motor Press Guild, Texas Auto Writers Association, and if you say "It's OK, I'm a racer" to him he'll run to the nearest large body of water.

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