PHOENIX — Ford should have an extra-large hit on its hands in the 2020 F-Series Super Duty Tremor, a massive pickup kitted out for off-road adventures, but graced with easy steering and a comfortable ride for easy everyday use.
The Tremor also gets a number of upgrades Ford added across the line of F-series Super Duty pickups.
Built in Louisville, Ky., the Super Duties are the true workhorses of the F-series line. They offer bigger engines, a drastically re-engineered frame and towing capacities that beggar the imagination: up to 37,000 pounds for the F-450, 32,500 with an F-350 and 24,200 for the F-250. An F-350 can also carry up to 7,850 pounds of payload in its cab and bed.
For work and play
With capability like that, it’s no surprise the pickups like the Super Duty — and Chevrolet, GMC and Ram HDs — are vehicles of choice for people who tow heavy and expensive loads like horses, house trailers, farm and construction supplies. Super Duty pickup MSRPs start at $33,705 and top out at $90,530. A little quality time with the option list can probably push the pickup into six figures.
The pickups are on sale now.
The Super Duty’s towing and payload capacities lead the segment, making Ford the current leader in one of the Truck War’s fierce arms races.
Increasingly, though, business people use vehicles like the F-250 and F-350 for play as well as work.
That’s where the Tremor comes in.
The Tremor option package raises the truck and adds a number of features for serious off-roading.
It’s available on XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models of the F-250 and F-350.
A harrowing drive through a rock quarry in the Arizona desert proved the Tremor’s off-road credentials. Looking up what was at least a 30-degree slope of thick red clay, I asked my co-pilot, a Ford off-road and suspension engineer, “Do I engage four-wheel drive low?”
“Nah. That’d be too easy,” he grinned. “Just keep the wheels turning.”
And up we went. The quarry also included an axle-breaker of a rock crawl, dirt moguls, gluey mud, can’t-see-the-bottom hill descents and a couple of trenches that alternately left a rear or front wheel hanging in midair.
Piece of cake. The Super Duties are far too long for twisting recreational trails like the famous Rubicon, but it’s unlikely there are many work sites they won’t master.
Amazingly, given its off-road capability, the Tremor was smooth and reasonably quiet at highway speeds on road and in suburban driving. The shocks that absorbed off-road abuse and towing heavy loads delivered a surprisingly comfortable ride when the truck was unladen.
Towing made easy
The Super Duty cabs are identical to F-series cabs. The four-door crew cab I drove on my day in the desert had limo-like passenger space and all the mod cons: wireless charging, navigation, heated and ventilated seats, Apple CarPlay and so on.
The Tremor I drove stickered at $77,430, excluding the $1,595 destination charge. The big ticket items were the $3,975 Tremor package, $10,495 for the powerful and quiet 6.7L diesel and $2,730 for a high-capacity towing package.
The Super Duty adds a number of features, including Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which makes backing up with a long trailer easy. The system uses a dial on the dash to steer the truck.
Unlike the steering wheel, which you must turn in the opposite direction from normal reversing when you’re hauling a trailer, the trailer turns in the same direction as the dial.
That makes backing up considerably more intuitive for novices who dread looking like an idiot while backing a boat to the ramp. The system works with gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers, as you’d expect with the Super Duties’ extravagant towing capacities.
The combination of the dial and a camera on the back of the trailer made it easy to back a 32-foot trailer around a corner and into a standard bay.
Pulling 9,400 pounds up a 3,000-foot grade was equally easy, thanks largely to the diesel V8 engine’s 475 hp and class-leading 1,050 pound-feet of torque. The Tremor is also available with Ford’s massive new 7.3L gasoline V8 that generates 430 hp and 475 pound-feet of torque.
2020 Ford Super Duty pickups at a glance
Medium-duty pickups with a range of capacities, lengths and cabs
Assembled in Louisville, Kentucky
6.2L gasoline V8:
385 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm; 430 pound-feet of torque @ 3,800
Six-speed automatic transmission
7.3L gasoline V8:
430 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 475 pound-feet of torque @ 4,000
Ten-speed automatic transmission
475 hp @ 2,800 rpm; 1,050 pound-feet of torque @ 1,600 rpm
Ten-speed automatic transmission
Note: The EPA does not rate the fuel economy of medium-duty vehicles.
All Tremors have:
A low range of gears
Electronically controlled rock crawling mode
Trail control, an electronic system introduced on the F-150 Raptor
Hill descent control
The ability to ford 33 inches of water
35-inch tires on 18-inch wheels
10.4 inches of ground clearance
Other new features include:
Integrated Warn winch
4G LE modem and Wi-Fi
Blind-spot alert with trailer coverage
Automatic front braking
LED quad headlights