Americans build stuff, go places and haul heavy loads. Consequently we buy trucks, and lots of them. In fact we can’t get enough of these versatile vehicles. Ford’s capable F-150 is one of if not the most popular of the bunch, and after a few days in the saddle of an earth-quaking Tremor model it’s not hard to understand why.
|Engine: A 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 puts out 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. |
Transmission: A six-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox available.
Fuel Economy: Officially rated for 15 MPG city, 21 MPG highway, 17 MPG combined.
Price: The 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor we evaluated cost $46,325, including $1,195 in destination fees.
The F-150 lineup is like a Mongolian barbecue; there’s something for everyone. Offerings range from the fleet-grade XL trim level to the Baja-ready SVT Raptor to the luxurious Limited model, with numerous other versions filling up the spaces in between.
But where does the Tremor fit into the F-Series family? Well, unlike other variants this truck is bred for the street. It’s got style and stance in spades, but all that shapeliness is backed up with genuine substance. It’s also limited production; if you don’t get a 2014 you’re out of luck.
The Tremor package is available on FX2 and FX4 trim levels. The model we evaluated happens to be the latter and is equipped with four-wheel drive, among many other goodies. It also comes with things like HID headlamps, power adjustable pedals as well as unique exterior decals.
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Beyond that, Tremor customers get Ford’s FX Appearance Package, which includes features like tubular running boards, unique leather sport seats, painted 20-inch wheels and special interior trim. The Power Equipment Group and Trailer Tow Package are also included, and pretty self-explanatory.
One notable option is the Tremor Plus Package, which costs an additional $1,995. Naturally our test truck was so equipped, giving us a navigation system, rearview camera, remote start and tailgate step to list but a handful of its features. Not surprisingly the Tremor is expensive, like, forget-about-sending-your-kids-to-college pricey. The model we evaluated cost $46,325, including $1,195 in shipping and handling fees.
Unlike a run-of-the-mill work truck the Tremor is quite a looker. Its graphics are tasteful and bring to mind the dearly departed BOSS 302 Mustang; massive matte-black wheels give it a sinister appearance.
Only offered with a regular-cab body, the Tremor is refreshingly truncated. Extended-body trucks with extra seats have become so popular in recent years that it’s quite uncommon to see a pickup with just one bench.
The Tremor’s six-and-a-half-foot bed is plenty spacious and very deep; the tailgate step makes it easy to climb into the box. Additionally, the cargo area has been coated with an indestructible spray-in liner to keep scratches, dents and rust at bay for the long haul. At $475 this option is a no-brainer. In fact, why isn’t it standard?
Stepping up like a trucker, the Tremor’s cockpit provides a near-panoramic view of the road. Its A-pillars are pretty small and the sightlines generous. With four-wheel drive it rides nice and tall, giving motorists a commanding view of the road.
Overall the Tremor’s cabin is pretty nice, though it feels bigger than an open-pit strip mine. It’s huge in just about every dimension. Additionally, there’s roughly a foot of space behind the seats (of which there are only two); the room back there is impressive for a regular-cab truck, providing an area to stash tools, shopping bags or firearms.
In the center of the gauges, there’s a nice color screen that displays all kinds of information, from trip data and fuel economy to maintenance-related statistics. It’s easy to navigate through the menu structure thanks to an intuitive five-way control pad on the steering wheel’s left spoke.
Likewise the single-zone climate-control system is a piece of cake to use. Buttons direct airflow where you want it and knobs adjust temperature and fan speed. This layout is so simple and effective it makes us wonder why other manufacturers feel the need to complicate matters with obtuse interfaces.
The F-150’s interior is solid and well built with zero squeaks or rattles, but some of the materials are a little disappointing. The dash top for instance is a seemingly endless expanse of shiny plastic with a texture that was looks like it was modeled after elephant skin. Also, some of the switchgear is a generation behind what Ford uses in its other vehicles. Oh well, the F-150 is about to be replaced by a totally new model and this version has aged pretty gracefully despite hard-hitting competition from GM and Ram.
3.5 On The Richter Scale
The Tremor is powered by Ford’s ever-capable 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. Armed with a phalanx of advanced technologies including twin turbocharging, direct fuel injection and variable camshaft timing it delivers 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, 90 percent of which is available between 1,700 to 5,000 RPM. That means you’ve got ample torque no matter where the tachometer needle is pointing.
The engine is matched to a responsive six-speed automatic transmission that works well. Ensuring rapid acceleration, the truck also features a 4.10 axle ratio. Additionally, the rear differential can be electronically locked for enhanced traction.
Quakin’ and Shakin’
Tremors may have the style to send shockwaves through the sport-truck market but how do they drive? In short, they’re almost as nice in motion as they are sitting still.
The EcoBoost V6 is an absolute darling; it’s smooth and responsive, delivering V8-levels of performance with slightly lower fuel consumption.
In typical Ford fashion it’s tuned for torque, and as a result puts out bucket loads of twist. Whether you’re just off idle or spinning at five grand, the EcoBoost V6 delivers the goods. You don’t have to wind this engine out to get moving, which makes driving a fairly relaxed affair. Oh, and even though it feels placid and tranquil it’ll still roast the rear tires with ease if you turn traction control off.
Best of all this drivetrain combination is pretty efficient. The Tremor stickers at 15 MPG in the city and 21 on the highway. Combined it ought to deliver 17 MPG, though after a week of testing I managed to average about 16, which isn’t too bad.
Despite robust performance and responsible economy Ford’s force-fed six is missing one critical thing: sound. Regrettably it sort of moans as it goes about its business; there’s no passionate rumble or high-strung warble, just a groaning sound, like an annoyed teenager sighing when asked to take the trash out. Don’t be disappointed, but it doesn’t roar like a V8.
Runnin’ down the road the Tremor’s steering feels sturdy and nicely weighted but pretty remote. It tracks like it’s on rails, but you never really have a good idea of how much grip the front tires have.
One other downside is the truck’s ride. It’s surprisingly stiff and jiggly over Michigan’s cratered roads, which to be fair resemble the streets of Berlin circa April 1945. Even relatively small bumps and potholes cause the Tremor’s body to shake and you to get annoyed. Maybe that’s where the name comes from? Its big rims probably don’t help ride quality.
The 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor is undoubtedly a nice rig. Its elevated ride height and clear sight lines are appreciated; its drivetrain performance is great and the fuel economy isn’t too bad, either. It even looks cool and has a surprising amount of storage space despite its regular-cab body.
But at the end of the day it’s hard to recommend this pickup to everyday truck customers. Remember, it stickers for more than 46 grand! You can get an SVT Raptor for that much, and any number of other really capable vehicles. When you consider the fact that the entire F-150 lineup is getting redesigned for the 2015 model year and is expected to lose a significant amount of weight thanks to an aluminum body, you’re probably better off skipping this one.