Ford Delivers The Ultimate Heavy Duty Multi-Tool
Story By: Keith Hook
Photos By: Brandon Bunch
There are so many reasons to believe that we have to be in two places at once, multitask to survive our day, and expect everything we touch to serve more than one purpose. The challenge we face is trying to keep up with the expectations to deliver bigger, better, and more frequently than ever. There’s no doubt we rely on the right tools to tackle the growing to-do lists of life; from work to home and everything in between. Those tools come in many forms, and, like always, we make sure they are multi-purpose. It’s not often tools that provide the functions we demand, also offer up some personal satisfaction. Tools that can be used for both work and play are the diamonds in the rough.
The Ford F-Series line up has held the title of America’s Best Selling Truck for 40+ consecutive years. To even accomplish that for a single year is something worthy of celebration, but achieving that for 4 decades says a lot about the continued innovation even for their loyal customers to recognize. The story starts with the 6th gen F-150 truck; the 1977 model year. Disco was hitting the big screens in theaters, cassette tapes were overtaking vinyl albums for pre-recorded music, and an iconic sci-fi movie debuted, which would start a saga that continues to this day. The Ford F-Series featured technical improvements including a new 351/400 Series of V8 engines and introduced special models such as the F-100 Shorty FlareSide; a four-wheel-drive model with a 177-inch wheelbase and 6 ½ foot long FlareSide carbo bed.
The next 40 years would be filled with new platforms, new suspension systems, new frames, technical innovations, multiple generations of new engines, and even the divergence of the F-Series into two truck platforms: the F-150 and the Super Duty branded F-250 and up heavy-duty pickups.
The Ford Super Duty truck made its debut in 1999, but the name goes back to 1958 when Ford introduced the Super Duty family of V8 engines. Originally developed for the US Army as a tank powerplant, these engines were the largest mass-produced V8 engines in the world, and purely due to their durability, were in production until the early 1980s. This legacy of durability and raw power set the tone for what we see today from the aptly named Super Duty F-Series truck.
There have been four generations of the Super Duty F-Series trucks since its inception, with the current breed appearing in 2017, each offering significant design advancements over its predecessor. But even within a generation, Ford pushes improvements forward with each model year. From 2019 to 2020, the line up revised the front grille, rear tailgate, interior trim, and dropped a brand new 7.3-liter gas engine along with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Also for 2020, Ford reintroduces the Tremor name for the F-250 and F-350 Super Duty pickups. The short-lived nameplate was last used on the 2014 Ford F-150 as a sport appearance package. This new deviation is far from the original. As an off-road-oriented Super Duty, the Tremor models compete directly with the Ram 2500 Power Wagon and feature notable suspension modifications, blacked-out accents on the front grille, wheels, side emblems, and side mirrors, as well as ‘Tremor’ decals on the sides of the pickup box. Offered only as a 4X4 SuperCrew Cab model with a six-foot pickup box, the Tremor can be equipped with the new 7.3L “Godzilla” gasoline V8 engine or, like our unit, the 475 hp/1,050 lb ft. 6.7L Powerstroke Turbodiesel V8 engine with the fresh 10-speed “TorqShift” automatic transmission. With its taller stance and 35-inch tall off-road Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires on eighteen-inch matte black-painted alloy wheels gives the ability to ford water up to 33 inches deep, combined with the 10.8 inches of ground clearance there is no concern of taking the trail less traveled. Yielding crawl ratios of 53:1 for gasoline-equipped models, and 44:1 for diesel-equipped models, this chariot has true Earth moving power.
There could be a multi-part series and entire glossary of terms to describe every bell and whistle in these trucks. It seems like Ford busted out every acronym imaginable trying to define all the convenience features and amenities. The on-road nature of this award-winning F-Series lineup is nothing shy of incredible. As you’d expect from the 6.7L Powerstroke platform, it hauled everything and more that we put behind it. From light loads to heavy hauls, the chassis never blinked. Massive power and torque combined with convenient built-in features like power expanding side mirrors, integrated trailer brakes, the Trailer Reverse Guidance System, and even intelligent trailer electrical system notifications from the in-dash Command Center makes this lineup of trucks truly ideal for those that haul.
Once the trailer was disconnected, there was only one thing to do with this savage of a truck, put those off-road features to the test. We were not looking for this to satisfy the needs of high speed open desert action but rather traverse through unmaintained trails and see if this Tremor can be the family vessel to adequately find uncharted destinations of exploration and remote camping. We have years of experience throughout our Sonoran desert backyard, and definitely have our favorite spots, but we wanted to break the mold for this venture.
We charted a previously unexplored path that would keep us off any asphalt for 8-10 hours, hoping for far less traveled trails, which is exactly what we found. As soon as we hit the dirt, we dropped tire air pressure, disabled traction control, and tightened the cargo straps. The first 5 miles were heavily traveled and found cross-traffic. The trails were fairly flat and the rock-riddled sand washes were nothing much to speak of. The truck handled as you would expect for its size and weight, however the longer travel suspension allowed for a more comfortable ride at a faster pace than equivalent trucks we’ve driven. A great first impression to say the least.
The turning point for the truck was shortly after we reached the remote section of the trail, which opened with a narrowed off-camber washed out descent nestled between a mountainside on our left and a rain-ravaged ravine on our right. You can see that most vehicle tracks turned around, but this is where we wanted to see the Tremor shine. We switched to 4 wheel drive and engaged Rock Crawling Drive Mode to ensure that e-locking rear diff would spring into action. There’s a lot more to this Tremor package than most believe, there have even been improvements to springs on all four corners, as well as the shocks having hydraulic compression and rebound end stops for position-sensitive damping. Turns out, we put all of it to work. As we traversed the 30-degree descent, we found a corner of the truck in the air a few times and even crawled out of a few tire-sized washouts. The body roll never felt unstable or uneasy thanks to the newly engineered sway bars underneath. Another assistive element was the suite of cameras around the entire perimeter keeping visibility in check right in the cab.
Once back on semi-level ground, we were convinced that Ford did their homework. This 7262 lb workhorse acted more like a mountain goat than the Clydesdale that it is. We continued on, finding even more environments to test the capability of the truck including some uphills to enable the Trail Control System, essentially a cruise control for the dirt. Keeping terrain, load, and even traction in mind during its management of acceleration and braking. Just another feature that allows you to take in the surroundings and enjoy the ride.
Our destination was a little oasis of a remote reservoir that even the locals barely knew existed. We had allocated extra time to navigate in and around any obstacles that might be too much for our Tremor, but it turns out we didn’t have to backtrack even once and gave us an extra hour to get out on foot and enjoy Mother Nature at her finest. The Tremor shined in more ways than one. It’s crazy to have such multi-faceted performance out of the box, sure it comes at a hefty price tag, but what doesn’t anymore. This is one of the few trucks that I’ve driven that actually feels valuable in more than one sense of the term. It has the ability to get down the road, haul anything behind, allow more than capable off-road use, and give you all the amenities to keep your attention on what’s most important; the road, your passenger, and the adventures it delivers.