Off-Roading

Ford's new Tremor Package proves ready to play at the off-road playground

Ford's truck engineering team has taken the Super Duty to the next level.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Before test driving the 2020 Ford F-350, I climbed to the rim of the Custom Landscape Materials Big Horn Quarry near Wickenburg, Arizona to whet my appetite for what lay ahead. With the excitement of a child arriving at an amusement park and assessing the rides, I eyeballed the off-road playground with its snaking track that started with a climb over a stretch of jagged rocks that led to steep uphill and downhill grades; over patches of deep, gooey mud; through water crossings; and across off-camber sidehills at sharp angles. I was enthralled.

The track was designed by Ford Trucks engineer Bobby Keith to show off the prowess of the 2020 Ford Super Duty when equipped with its new Tremor Off-Road Package. The 1.1-mile-long test track is the most extreme course Keith has ever built.

2020 Ford Super Duty Tremor Journalists put the Ford Super Duty to the test on an trying off-road course.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

What is the Ford Super Duty Tremor Off-Road Package?

The Tremor Off-Road Package is a collection of off-road hardware, as well as unique tuning for the truck's steering and a smaller sway bar to provide greater maneuverability in tight turns and over uneven terrain. Elevating the truck are beefy Goodyear tires mounted on a set of unique 18-inch matte-finished black wheels, plus an extra two inches of lift giving the pickup a best-in-class 10.8 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford nearly three feet of water. Aiding with the best approach and departure angles of any Super Duty ever is a 5-inch shorter air dam that provides impressive 31.65-degree and 24.51-degree angles, respectively.

Also unique to the package is rock-crawl mode; an upgraded suspension with different spring rates; off-road running boards for damage control; and skid plates from the FX4. Tremor uses a locking rear differential that engages with electronic shift-on-the-fly, and a new Dana limited-slip front differential. Trail Control, a crawl program that debuted on the Ford F-150 Raptor and Ranger operates like a cruise control for uphills and rough terrain.

The Tremor package ($3,975) can be ordered can be ordered on XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trims for F-250 and F-350 models, powered by the all-new 7.3-liter gas V8 or the updated third-generation diesel engine. It can be specified for 4x4 single-rear-wheel SuperCrew trucks with a 6.75-foot box. Available as a factory-ordered or dealer-installed package is a $3,000 Warn winch add-on with synthetic line (rather than steel cable) that is integrated into the front bumper; it meets crash standards and is operated by a wireless remote.

Of note, towing and payload are similar to non-Tremor models that command best-in-class ratings.

2020 For DSuper Duty Tremor The already-capable truck is able to tackle tough terrain with ease.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

How does it stack up against the competition?

The Super Duty with the Tremor Off-Road Package takes Ford's FX4 models to a new level. Rock-crawl mode and Trail Control get traction to the ground and provide plenty of grunt (models equipped with a 7.3-liter gas engine have a 53:1 crawl ratio while trucks with the 6.7-liter diesel power plant have a 44:1 crawl ratio).

It gets high marks for its serious off-road cred and goes beyond similar offerings from Ram and GM. Ram's Power Wagon is available on 2500 models only. While the Power Wagon has many appealing attributes, such as a disconnecting sway bar and locking differentials for both the front and rear, Tremor's set-up works laudably. The Super Duty Tremor's smaller 24 mm sway bar and other engineering upgrades were effective for twist and articulation and gave a smooth, mannered ride with progressive-rate springs for duty on rugged terrain, as well as for heavy-duty towing performance.

General Motors' AT4 grade is available on Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 2500, and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500. It adds some similar attributes but the Tremor pulls ahead with greater towing capacity, payload capacity, ground clearance, and water-fording depth than the Ram and GM trucks.

The GMC, Ram, and Ford trucks have the best-appointed interiors of the lot. All have new camera technologies, with GM's 15-camera view being the best pick for towing tasks.

2020 Ford Super Duty Ford built the Tremor Off-Road Package to take on trails with ease.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

How did it do?

There's no doubting that the Tremor Off-Road Package is capable of doing exactly what it was designed for. In combination with the prowess of the F-350, as tested the Super Duty took on 33-inches of water fording with ease, smoothly held its own on a 15-degree off-camber hill, walked over 45-degree angled logs, and scooted up a 29-degree hill climb without hesitation. The Ford's camera system helped with low-sitting obstacles and peeking over hills, as advertised.

Ford Trucks engineers have made the package able to conquer some of the toughest terrain you're likely to find when you're on the farm, up a back road, or simply off the beaten path. The model isn't a Jeep competitor and it's not meant to be. This heavy-duty truck is able to get work and play done, son.

McKinley Thompson Jr. was Ford's first African American designer and his influence lives on today.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford's design studio has churned out some of the most iconic models of all time. They're models so iconic that they need only be mentioned by one name - Explorer, Mustang, Bronco. With the Bronco, the design and engineering teams at Ford created not just the first Ford 4x4 sports-utility vehicle, but an iconic vehicle that has millions of fans nationwide.

McKinley Thompson Jr., like many automotive enthusiasts had his interest in the industry sparked by particular vehicle. The silver-gray DeSoto Airflow caught his eye when he was around 12 years old. "It just so happened that the clouds opened up for the sunshine to come through," he said in an interview documented by The Henry Ford. "It lit that car up like a searchlight." Thompson recalled running toward it, but the light turned green. "I was never so impressed with anything in all my life," he said. "I knew that's what I wanted to do – I wanted to be an automobile designer."

1963 Ford Bronco prototype This is one of the initial prototypes of the Ford Bronco from 1963.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

After high school, Thompson served in the Army Signal Corps in World War II, learning drafting and working as an engineering layout coordinator. After the war, Thompson found he couldn't kick his enthusiasm for car design - not that he wanted to. In the early 1950s, he entered a design contest in Motor Trend magazine, submitting a turbine car with a reinforced plastic body. Both of those concepts were trendy in postwar America. That design won him the contest and solidified his decision to go to art

The Queens, New York was hired at Ford Motor Company in 1956 fresh out of the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California with a degree in transportation design. Thompson is one of the many noted alumni the college has produced. The extensive list of venerable automotive designers that includes Chris Bangle (former Chief of Design at BMW), Wayne Cherry (Vice President of Global Design at General Motors), Willie G. Davidson (Vice President of Styling at Harley-Davidson), Larry Shinoda (Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang designer), Jeff Teague (former Vice President of Global Design at Ford).

He was the first African American designer that the company hired, 10 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball but 12 years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was illegal. His first assignments included working on a light-duty cab-forward truck and Ford GT40, and several concept sketches for the soon-to-be Ford Mustang.

Thompson also worked on the futuristic space-age Ford Gyron, a two-wheeled concept car that was on display at the Century of Progress exhibit at the Ford Rotunda in 1961.

Ford Gyron The Ford Gyron, a two-wheeled, gyroscopically-stabilised concept car, designed by Alex Tremulis and Syd Mead, USA, circa 1961. A fiberglass show car was exhibited at the Detroit Motor Show in 1961. Photo by Getty Images

"McKinley was a man who followed his dreams and wound up making history," said Ford Bronco interior designer Christopher Young. "He not only broke through the color barrier in the world of automotive design, he helped create some of the most iconic consumer products ever – from the Ford Mustang, Thunderbird and Bronco – designs that are not only timeless but have been studied by generations of designers."

It was Thompson's sketch of a prospective 4x4 that would influence a buyers for generations. "Package Proposal #5 for Bronco" was rendered July 24, 1963. Its design attributes carried over to the final first-generation Bronco design. In Thompson's proposed design showed the form and function of the wheels positioned at the far corners of the body for a confident and aggressive go-anywhere stance, while the curve of the wheel arches smoothing out conveyed speed.

Package Proposal #5 for Bronco This is Package Proposal #5 for Bronco, the sketch series that set the iconic design in motion.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"I believe the hardest thing for a person like McKinley to do was working within the constraints given him to make a beautiful product," said Young. "Engineering dictates size and functionality, then manufacturing limits how it can be stamped and assembled, and finance says you have to build it for a low price."

In the years following the Bronco project, Thompson continued to have a transformative influence on the brand, and on the world. From 1969 to 1979, he worked to create high dream car in a rented garage in Detroit. He insisted the help of Wallace Triplett, who had also broken the color barrier as the first African American draftee to play for the Detroit Lions in 1949.

Together, they built a prototype and pitched the plans to burgeoning automakers in developing nations. Thompson hoped to change these countries for the better, much the same way Henry Ford envisioned with the Model T. That project never came to fruition.

1966 Ford Bronco From the first-generation Bronco to today, the model has had an exterior that sends the message that it's adventure-ready.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

After his retirement from Ford in 1984, Thompson moved to Arizona and worked to design and build a concept he envisioned as an affordable all-purpose vehicle named the Warrior. The small utility vehicle was based on a one-piece fiberglass body.

A new program by Ford and Lincoln allows app users to shop for Nationwide insurance via app.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Shopping for new insurance? Ford and Lincoln have partnered with Nationwide to help owners of the companies' vehicles obtain the right type of insurance for their needs. All the "paperwork" can be done electronically via the FordPass or Lincoln Way app.

Ford Insure and Lincoln Motor Company Insure, powered by Nationwide, offer an all-digital way to secure usage-based insurance coverage through Ford Motor Credit Company's licensed insurance agency. As part of the usage-based insurance plan, Ford Insure and Lincoln Motor Company Insure policyholders consent to be enrolled in Nationwide's SmartRide usage-based insurance program and will share their vehicle connectivity information with Nationwide for the initial six-month policy.

2020 Lincoln Corsair A number of Ford and Lincoln models are eligible for the insurance.Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

To get a quote, users simply have to log on to their FordPass or Lincoln Way app, click on the insurance tile, fill in some information, and submit the information. To assist with the process, the app automatically fills in key vehicle information on the form.

According to a release, "customers in 39 states with qualifying 2020 Ford or Lincoln vehicles can purchase a policy in minutes and become eligible to save up to 40 percent."

"This is the latest way we're improving the customer experience," said Elena Ford, chief customer experience officer at Ford Motor Company. "Insure makes getting insurance easier for connected-vehicle customers to cover one of their biggest investments – their vehicle – while saving money."

Once customers purchase a policy, the connected vehicle will track and share distance driven, hard braking and accelerating, idle time and night driving to establish a policy rate for renewal. The data are shared with Nationwide through the vehicle's embedded modem, eliminating the need for a special app or vehicle plug-in device. Any discount will be applied when the policy is renewed.

2020 Lincoln Aviator Users in 39 states are eligible for the insurance.Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

As part of the plan, customers will have access to Nationwide's standard Accident Forgiveness option, as well as crash repairs using genuine Ford parts.

"Customers want to be able to purchase auto insurance as quickly and easily as possible," said Brad Lemons, Nationwide's senior vice president of Personal Lines Product and Underwriting. "Ford and Nationwide are bringing together the best of our businesses to help make this happen in a way that is sure to delight our customers."

States where Ford Insure and Lincoln Motor Company Insure are available include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. Launches in other states are planned over time.

The insurance offer starts with these models: 2020 Ford Explorer, Fusion, Mustang, Transit Connect, Escape, Edge, EcoSport, Expedition, F-Series Super Duty, Transit, Ranger and the upcoming all-new 2021 F-150; and 2020 Lincoln Aviator, MKZ, Corsair, Nautilus and Navigator.