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FORD F-150 TREMOR: WHY IT’S NOT A HYBRID, AND OTHER NEW DETAILS

We Also Got To Drive The Third Installment Of The Tremor Truck Family

2021 2022 Ford F-150 Tremor First Drive Holly Oaks
Image Copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

The 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor delivers much of what customers are looking for, and almost nothing they don’t. For the money, anyway. Starting at just under $50,000 USD, the Tremor comes in at a price point that’s more affordable than the last-generation F-150 Raptor, leaving the new Raptor to jump into the mid-$60,000 range as its base price, just above a fully loaded Tremor. And while it doesn’t have the dune blasting ethos of America’s favorite off-road pickup truck, the F-150 Tremor does slot itself in the wide open space between the F-150 FX4 package, and the Raptor above it.

We also had the opportunity to drive the new F-150 Tremor, as well as have a conversation with F-150 Product Marketing Manager Joe McCarty. We had more than a few curiosities answered, and we figured to share them with you.

On Why The Ford F-150 Tremor Isn’t A Hybrid

The 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid pickup truck utilizes the same 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine as the Tremor, but without the added complexity (and output) of electrification. McCarty bases this decision on customer needs.

“Right now it’s just the 3.5L because it has the right balance between towing capability, horsepower and torque,” said McCarty. “The (PowerBoost) hybrid is our horsepower and torque leader, but the 3.5L is our towing leader. For this customer we wanted to achieve a strong towing performance… the 3.5L (EcoBoost) is the sweet spot for that.”

The key words are “right now,” which could perhaps leave the door open for additional powertrains in the F-150 Tremor down the road. But as for why it’s not a diesel, MC&T reported that Ford has dropped the 3.0L Power Stroke V6 from the F-150 lineup in favor of the PowerBoost hybrid system. So there’s that.

“(The 3.5L EcoBoost) allows (customers) to reach their towing destinations with confidence. Their favorite camp spot they’re trying to get to, they can get to it more easily while towing what they want to tow.”

The 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor is rated to tow up to 10,900 pounds. An F-150 PowerBoost can tow up to 12,400 pounds, but doesn’t have a more buoyant off-road suspension system that tends to drop payload and tow ratings in favor of superior compliance. For example, the new Raptor can only tow 8,200 pounds, making the Tremor the superior workhorse. But the Raptor can certainly jump farther.

Antimatter Blue 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Considering The Importance Of The F-150, Why Was The Tremor Introduced After Super Duty And Ranger Tremor?

“It’s a matter of our product development cycle, really,” said McCarty. “The Super Duty Tremor came first, then Ranger, then (F-150 Tremor) followed pretty soon after. They’re a pretty rapid succession when you really take a step back and look at it. This is our first opportunity to bring it to the F-150.”

Why Not Bumper Cutouts Like On The Chevrolet Silverado ZR2?

The closest and most obvious competition on the market right now are trucks like the Ram 1500 Rebel and Nissan Titan Pro-4X. But on the way early next year is the more formidable 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2, with a locking front differential, Multimatic DSSV dampers, and unique bumper cutouts that yield more contact range to the front and rear tires. The F-150 Product Marketing Manager says all of that is not what this demographic is necessarily looking for.

“We did take it to research and got a real sense of what people wanted,” said McCarty. “They didn’t want it to be too over the top, they wanted it to look purposeful and could tow and haul whatever they wanted to. To be a daily driver but also have some uniqueness to the appearance.”

Much of the looks came down to how customers personalize their trucks over time.

“A lot of the design of the F-150 Tremor was inspired by how customers modify their trucks with aftermarket parts,” he said. “Things like lifting it, giving it a wider track, and bigger tires, those are inspired by how customers treat their trucks already. But adding real off-road capability from the factory is what the real goal was.”

Overall, the design of the 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor is rather subtle, based on its capabilities.

“We don’t bring things that are just ornamentations…  they need to serve a purpose.”

2021 Ford F-150 Tremor First Drive Review Off-Road Pickup Truck Holly Oaks ORV Park
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Will The Ford F-150 Tremor Ever See 35-Inch Or 37-Inch Tires Like The Raptor?

We asked Joe about a potential F-150 Tremor “35 Package” or a “37 Package” like on the F-150 Raptor. Like bumper cutouts, Ford deems this hardware unnecessary from the factory when it comes to the F-150 Tremor.

“F-150 Raptor has 35- and 37-(inch tires), those really work well. I would say the (Tremor and Raptor) have been engineered for different use cases,” he said. “F-150 Raptor is the desert runner, F-150 Tremor is really a trail vehicle, and you don’t really need 35s or 37s to really master the trail.”

We were once told by F-150 Raptor engineers that the big 37-inch tires are optimal for the trail than the stock 35-inch tires the truck comes with. Meanwhile, the F-150 Tremor comes standard with 33-inchers. Different tire size can effect overall ground clearance, approach/departure and breakover angles, as well as total contact patch off road. Hence why the first thing so many off-road enthusiasts do is get a bigger set of rubbers.

“Customers can always add bigger tires if they want,” McCarty admits. It should be noted that the Silverado ZR2 also comes with 33-inch tires, matching the Tremor.

On Why The 8.8-Inch Torsen Front Differential Is Optional

“We’re trying to keep the entry price down. So if we don’t have to force things that aren’t necessary or valued by all customers then we’re not going to force that.”

Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Will Overlanders Go For The F-150 Tremor?

Half-ton trucks are a bit of an anomaly when it comes to the booming overlanding space. Upfitters like the esteemed American Expedition Vehicles see little to no reason in bothering to offer any enhancements to half ton trucks, as they’ve once told us. Mostly because customers simply fall into a binary: more agile and recreational midsize trucks like the Colorado ZR2 Bison, or highly capable and tough three-quarter and full-ton trucks like the Ram HD-based Prospector XL.

F-150 is ‘workreation‘ and Super Duty is more work oriented. You see some overlanding interest in that segment of vehicle for a lot of functional reasons, much like the jobsite or the farmsite,” said McCarty. “Then you have midsize like the Ranger which is more like outdoor adventure and recreation. F-150 is the sweet spot between the two (hence ‘workreation’). I think the overlanding play makes sense in this segment, but it’s not obviously in one of the two camps.”

Perhaps Roush Overland is looking to change this paradigm up a bit.

2021 Ford F-150 Tremor Driving Impressions

We only spent 30 minutes or so behind the wheel of the first-ever 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor. For the initiated, the trail trampling truck is a well-equipped and competent machine that can take on almost everything that Holly Oaks ORV Park can throw at it. For the more ham-fisted, we witnessed certain automotive media “professionals” smack the underbody of the Tremor on rocky obstacles. But we suppose that’s what the underbody plating is for: ham-fisted auto journos.

What really makes the Tremor a standout in the segment is its Trail Turn Assist system. Also found on the Ford Bronco, Trail Turn Assist will lock the brake of the inside rear wheel relative to the steering direction of the truck. The noise can be a little unsettling at first – I thought it was drivetrain binding – but otherwise it makes this 7-foot wide by 19-foot long truck less likely to get stuck in a trail kink, or smack a tree on the turnout. It’s not quite as sophisticated as four-wheel steering, but it’s a rather clever cost-effective solution for a vehicle segment that continues to swell in size.

Image via Ford.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.

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