Behind the Wheel

2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Tremor Review: A beautiful, big, and beefy brute

The 2020 Ford F-250 Tremor is a beast on and off the streets.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

America is a big place. We have big mountains and big monuments and big highways and even bigger open spaces. There's Yosemite, Big Sky, the Grand Canyon and the Ford F-250 Super Duty Tremor.

The Tremor package is a new standard for the Ford Super Duty with a $3,975 price tag that adds on with 35-inch off-road tires (the largest fitted to a heavy-duty pickup), skid plates, black aluminum wheels, new suspension hardware and nearly two-inches of lift. There's also a limited slip front differential and a locking diff out back, with a feature called Trail Control that lets you set a low-speed cruise control so all you have to do is steer.

It takes a big, incredibly capable truck and makes it even more incredibly capable. It's Ford's competitor to the GMC Sierra HD AT4 and the Ram Power Wagon, and yes, of course, I tested it extensively by driving it around on the roads and parking lots of Southern California.

The truck is designed to be more off-road capable than a traditional Super Duty truck.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Yes, it's an off-road beast and it would be equally at home in a rocky desert or a logging trail as it is in the urban jungle, but plenty of Tremor buyers will never go off road with it — but they will enjoy the visual upgrades and will be able to tell their friends about its off-road chops, too.

See, the Super Duty Tremor looks awesome. Those huge chunky tires on the matte black wheels are fantastic. The front grille? That's black too, along with a lot of the trim and the fender extensions and the fixed side-step. It's a murdered out machine.

My test unit also included the $2,045 "Godzilla" 7.3-liter V8 engine, making 430 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. A $10,000 upfit 6.7-liter turbodiesel is available too, which makes a mind-boggling 1,050 pound-feet of torque, which may be necessary if you need to relocate a small town. As is, it can tow well into the tens of thousands of pounds depending on whether you use a conventional hitch or the gooseneck, or several tons worth of payload.

The Super Duty retains its towing ability with the package.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Its do-it-all attitude makes it very competitive within the newly created "heavy duty off-road pickup truck" segment.

I can hear you asking already about fuel economy. What fuel economy? This thing is so big they don't even require fuel economy ratings on it. And on a $73,465 truck, do you really care? No, you do not. It does hold 34 gallons of fuel, however, which means your fill-ups will be under $100 as long as gas stays below $3 per gallon.

What else? It's incredibly difficult to park unless you have a wide open parking lot, though the surround cameras really help. It's the usual Ford Super Duty setup inside, though it doesn't have the latest and greatest infotainment system that the new F-150 has - that will come in a future update. But, it does have a quad-barrel convertible cupholder that turns a storage bin in the center console into an extra two cupholders if you're picking up coffee for the whole worksite.

Visibility is tremendous except for directly in front of the massive front grille, which is large enough to hide a smallish adult so be sure you know what's around because this thing feels a bit like a locomotive when setting off. The ten-speed transmission is invisible, and there's always prodigious power no matter what you're doing when you stab the throttle (at least when you aren't towing).

202 The Ford pickup enjoys increased ground clearance.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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The truck isn't exactly stable on the highway, however. The huge tires and sprongy (yes, I made that word up) suspension means it does tend to drift a bit in your lane. That's all well and good, until your lanes narrow because you're in a construction zone and then you realize — at 75 mph — just how large this truck is. That said, people do get out of the way when they see you coming.

That's the point, right? You buy this truck because either you need to traverse a log-strewn Forest Service road or because you work-hard-play-harder in the mud, or because you want people to look at your truck and think either of those things might be true. Regardless, the Super Duty Tremor gets the job done.

In fact, it gets the job done so well that Ford is bringing the Tremor package to both the smaller trucks in the lineup, the F-150 and the Ranger. Those won't have quite the gravitas of the big boy Super Duty, but expect them to perform well just the same.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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