Off-Road Testing a 2020 Ford F-250 Tremor | Coastal Carolina Sand-Pit | Full Review

Off-Road Testing a 2020 Ford F-250 Tremor | Coastal Carolina Sand-Pit | Full Review


Few trucks have garnered more attention than the 2020+ Tremor Super Duty. Its combination of styling and capability is the thing of which truck-lovers dream. Then you have to take into account the two exceptional powertrain options available on the Tremor. The 3rd Gen 6.7L Powerstroke diesel is a turbocharged steel-piston’ed beast, while the 7.3L Godzilla V8 has curb-stomped all other gasoline fired competition. We’ve covered different aspects of the Tremor several times over the past year, but recently we had the opportunity to test one in its natural environment – Off-Road.

By now, I’m sure you guys are familiar with the features that make the Tremor package a bit step above the common FX4 Off Road package. The Super Duty Tremor features:

· Wrangler Duratrac 35-inch off-road tires
· Upgraded springs and twin-tube dampers with internal hydraulic rebound to better control body motion
· A two-inch lift front and rear
· Front Dana limited-slip differential
· Locking rear differential with shift-on-the-fly engagement
· Skid plates to protect the transfer case and gas tank
· Shorter overhangs to improve the approach angle
· Extended-axle vent tubes
· A unique “rock crawl” driving mode with a 53:1 (gas) or 44:1 (diesel) crawl ratio

The Tremor package is a testament to the adage of the sum of the components being greater than any single feature. While each individual part taken alone is not ground breaking, their combination creates a truck that uncompromisingly handles both big truck on-road and off-road duties like nothing else on the market (what’s the payload rating of a Power Wagon again)?


This one isn't my favorite color, Ford "Work Truck" (Oxford) White, but even with the pearl it's pretty close.

Our particular test truck was equipped with the 430HP & 475TQ 7.3L pushrod Godzilla V8. We’ve been a fan of that engine since we first broke the news of its existence a couple years back. It’s a great engine, and if you are tiered of the endless money-pit that is ‘recreational’ diesel ownership the 7.3L is the engine for you. Besides the ‘Zilla, our test Tremor was not a super heavily equipped truck. The one option it featured that really stood out to me was the stowable loading ramps. While they aren’t something I would use in my everyday activities, I could see them being quit handy for anyone with a quad or dirt bike. The manner in which they attach to a groove in the bed makes them far safer (re: less likely to fall off) than anything I used back in my riding days.


A split bench seat is not a common sight in Ford press trucks, but I find it very functional.

Our testing environment was a simple one, a tight trail extremely loose sugar sand off of a quarry road. It’s the kind of place where speed helps and weight hurts. Exactly the kind of place where you’d want to run a 7,000 pound heavy duty truck (sarcasm emphasized). In the extremely fine and deep sugar sand we were dealing two things really come into play: light weight (and the ability to spread weight over a large contact patch), and preserving momentum. Going too slow in a heavy vehicle can easily result in it digging in and burying itself up to the axles. Though the aggressive tires along with a rear locker and front LSD will set us up for the best performance we could hope for.


The Dana Super 60 front axle is a highly coveted and respected piece of off-road hardware.

With those factors in mind we set off down the trail. However, only a few hundred yards in we stumbled upon a waterhole of unknown depth and bottom condition. The area had received several inches of rain over the past few days so there was a chance this particular hole could be a bit treacherous. I had been down this particular trail a few times in the past and doubted the water would be much more than 2 feet deep, which is well within the Tremor’s fording capabilities. But the bottom conditions did concern me. If it was just wet sand, that’s not an issue. That produces a fairly hard driving surface. However, if some Caroling gumbo clay was hiding beneath the surface it would be a different case entirely. Being that I didn’t want to back all the way out the trail and probably scrap my only chance to test this particular Tremor off-road, I decided to just go for it.


Have a quad or motorcycle you haul on the regular? Ford's optional bed-stowed ramps may be just what you're looking for. They are very grippy and quite heavy duty.

In this situation, carrying some momentum through the hole seemed to be the best option. So that’s what I tried, and everything went wonderfully…… until it didn’t. While the water depth and bottom were no problem for the Tremor, my right foot did uncover a weakness in its design. I went at the hole a bit too aggressively, pushing water over the hood. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue. However, for the past few years Ford has designing their air intake with ever larger open scoops. While this is great for delivering a cool dense air charge into the engine, it does like it when you shove a couple gallons of muddy water down its throat. And that’s exactly what we did. Though our momentum nearly carried us completely out of the water, I managed to kill the engine just shy of making it to dry land. To put it mildly, this situation could be bad.


The 7.3L Godzilla V8, this dirty girl can put in some work.

We found ourselves sitting in water, in a bricked truck that weighs 7,000 pound, several miles off road, and there was no help to be found anywhere nearby. There were essentially two options; start walking or start working. A decision was made, it was time to assess the situation. I tried cranking the engine. It would turn over and try to start, but it would not run. That’s actually a good sign. The engine isn’t hydro-locked. We figured the air filter had to be soaked, so Rich (my unfortunate passenger on this test drive) got volunteered to climb out and pull the filter. Not surprisingly, the factor paper filter was completely saturated but the water in the box had already drained out through a hole in the bottom. More good news though, there was no sign of water beyond the filter further down the intake tract.


The South Carolina sugar sand makes it pretty easy to bury a 7,000 pound truck up to its Dana 275 rear axle.

While this little misadventure did expose a vulnerability, it also shows that the factory air filter may have been designed with just such a scenario in mind. With the thoroughly soaked filter removed and resting comfortably in the bed, the 7.3L Godzilla roared back to life and returned us safely to dry land. Though there were a multitude of check engine lights present, the truck ran fine. We finished up the off-road portion of our test, which the truck handled magnificently, and returned back to home base. Once we cleared the codes and installed a new dry air filter everything was back to normal. Had an aftermarket air filter been installed that few well may have not been the case. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re going to venture into some water with any newer Ford truck. It’s also an opportunity for an ambitious aftermarket company to design a snorkel kit for the Tremor Super Duty, which would probably look pretty bitchin’. All of this is covered in our full review video:

Back on the pavement, the Tremor is everything you could ask for from a full size truck that is highly capable of full size work. The ride is firm, without being harsh. The handling is better than expected, the brakes have serious stopping power, acceleration is brisk, and mileage isn’t eye wateringly terrible (~13MPG). The only complaint I have is with the factory equipped Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires. I’m simply not a fan of them. To be sure, they do a decent job off-road. However, the level of on-road noise and roughness is far greater than acceptable given their off-road capability. I feel a Nitto Ridge Grappler is better off-road and an order of magnitude better on-road. But that’s a personal preference issue, and one that is easily solved. I’d just call up Discount Tire Direct and order some Nittos, and probably go up a size or two while I’m at it.


A full-size matching spare is a thing of beauty on a truck equipped like the Tremor. Getting stuck in the woods with a basic spare could mean the difference between making it home and calling for help.

I think Ford has finally set out on the right path with the Tremor line of trucks (Super Duty, F-150, and Ranger). Over the years the Tremor nameplate has found its way onto a Ranger equipped big stereo and a parts-bin built F-150 (which I happen to like). The current lineup offers a nice upgrade in performance over the standard FX4 package without stepping on the toes of a Ford Performance model (such as the Raptor) or giving up utility; all at a reasonable price. For me, it’s a no-brainer. If I were in the market for any new Ford truck, I’d check the Tremor option box on the order form. It’s just that simple.


This hidden storage compartment under the front center seat is a nice surprise. It could easily fit a full-size 1911 and enough brass to max out a credit card (at today's prices).


The front Torsen differential in the Dana Super 60 is easily one of my favorite features in the Tremor. I'd add one to any Super Duty that didn't come equipped with it.

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Interesting video comparison, Sid. Definitely to the eye, the new truck (especially the front clip) looks bigger.

The changes Ford made to the rear doors coupled with shortened the hood slightly was a smart move. Ford's really on target with these new trucks.

Thanks Bob. I really like the new trucks. I just wish I could configure one the way I really want it.
I like the Goodyear Duratrac tires. At least on my truck a 01' F250 4 door 4x4. I have the equivalent size tire, height wise at 35" but it is a 315x70x16. My truck weights 7,800 lbs empty and those tires are not only quiet at highway speed, they are almost unstoppable in the snow. We get a lot of snow in Maine and I use my truck to plow my 600' long driveway. It is a beast. It probably also helps that I have Torsen differentials front and rear. I towed a 12,000 lb 24' triple axle trailer 3,200 miles across the county and those tires were never noisy and rode like a champ.

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