In case you haven’t noticed, every manufacturer making a pickup truck (as well as most SUVs and crossovers) is offering some kind of serious off-road-biased trim package. In fact, some have made an art of it with vehicles the like the Ram Power Wagon, Ford F-150 Raptor, Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, Chevy ZR2 Bison, and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.
As you can see, with the exception of the Power Wagon, all of these capability-added 4×4 performance packages are on light-duty platforms (half-ton and midsize pickups), which seems to have caught the attention of Ford engineers in Dearborn as they get ready to roll out their all-new 2020 Super Duty later this year.
We recently got a chance to take a close-up look at Ford’s latest and greatest HD off-road package, called the Tremor. This new package will be offered across most of the F-250 and F-350 lineup, but only offered on 4×4 single-rear-wheel crew cab standard-box models.
No doubt you’ve already noted this is not a Super Duty Raptor, but according to Ford, this is very likely the most off-road-capable Super Duty ever. And, so far, we like what we’re seeing. We’ll know more after we drive one later this year, but for now, here are our five favorite features. As a bonus, we’ve tossed in a few suggestions Ford might want to think about for future versions.
Big Suspension Upgrades
Ford engineers started by giving their new off-road package a small 2-inch suspension lift with slightly longer front coils and small lift blocks under the rear springs to allow for a bigger wheel and tire under the newly shaped fender wells. The lift and taller tires allow for almost 2 inches of extra ground clearance and a best-in-class 33 inches of water-fording depth. Ford also includes a newly designed (shorter) front air dam to allow for a better approach angle.
Better Gear Ratios
The heart of the four-wheel-drive system, the transfer case, is relatively unchanged with its 2.64:1 low-range ratio; however, when combined with the all-new 10-speed transmission, the crawl ratios (first gear x axle gear x low range) are impressive. When equipped with the all-new 7.3-liter gas V-8 (which includes 4.30:1 axle gears), the crawl ratio is 53:1. When equipped with the newly upgraded 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 (with 3.55:1 axle gears), the crawl ratio will be 44:1.
New Drive Modes
Probably the coolest feature of the new 2020 Super Duty Tremor will be the selectable drive modes (similar to the F-150 Raptor), where drivers can choose from six distinct settings: Normal, Tow/Haul, ECO, Ice, Snow/Sand, and Rock Crawl. As you might expect, each setting changes the drivetrain, traction control, throttle mapping, and transmission shift points. In conjunction with the new 4×4 system, all Tremors will offer Trail Control (as we’ve already seen on Raptor and Ranger), which essentially works like a very low-speed cruise control.
No Payload/Towing Penalty
Unlike many other off-road performance packages, Ford engineers did not trade more off-road capability for load-carrying or trailer-towing capacity. Although we don’t have all the exact numbers yet, we were assured there would be no penalty in payload or towing numbers for any Tremor-equipped Super Duty. We’re guessing that means payload and towing capacity will stay the same as current-gen models. They could be slightly less than all-new Super Duty, which is very likely to have the highest max payload and max trailering numbers of all Super Dutys. We also like the fact that both the Tremor-equipped F-250 and F-350 can be ordered with the gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailering package.
Biggest Tires Ever
No respectable off-road package can exist without bigger and better tires and wheels; that’s why all Tremor packages comfortably fit 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac all-terrain tires with an exclusive 18-inch flat-black, matte-finish aluminum wheel—these are the biggest tires offered on any heavy-duty pickup. The setup not only looks good, but the more aggressive tread design will provide extra grip on dirt and rock. The taller tires provide better ground clearance to the truck, as well.
Overall, this new trail package looks to have all the right parts and pieces to make it a better backcountry explorer, provided the trails are wide enough, but we’re guessing there’s more to come. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this package expand to more model configurations, like a regular or super cab long bed, or even to a small number in the dual-rear-wheel crowd. Likewise, it won’t take Ford very long to realize it’ll need to offer a winch, a larger jack, some bigger tow hooks, and even some extra skidplating for owners who like to keep a wider “just in case” buffer around them. No doubt, there will be more to come.