By Derek Price
Ford continues to make its Tremor off-road package more widely available, including on the mid-size Ranger this year.
The Tremor package transforms the Ranger into an off-road beast, and it’s meant for people who otherwise might buy aftermarket lift kits and bigger tires to modify their trucks for higher ground clearance.
The advantage to buying it through the factory instead of the aftermarket is simple. All the off-road goodies come with the truck from the start, which is easier than installing yourself. It also qualifies for financing with the truck and comes with a factory warranty.
Is it worth the extra $4,290, though? It depends on how much you value that warranty and a well-engineered system.
The Tremor package is a serious upgrade for the Ranger. Compared to the standard 4×4 version, the Tremor is wider, has more ground clearance and suspension travel along with better angles for approach, departure and breaker — all key numbers for off-road enthusiasts.
Ford calls it “the most off-road-ready factory-built Ranger ever offered in the U.S.,” and they’re right.
FOX dampers are at the heart of the Ranger Tremor, just as they are in its much more famous big brother, the F-150 Raptor. FOX 2.0 monotone dampers with reservoirs in back help keep the truck stable over rough terrain, along with tweaks to the front and rear suspension setup.
Beefy, 32-inch Continental General Grabber all-terrain tires do a good job finding traction on rough and muddy paths.
The Tremor includes some styling upgrades, too, including handsome Magnetic gray paint, hoop-style steps and “red nostril inserts,” as Ford calls them.
Inside, the Tremor gets black accents and special “Tremor” stitching on the back of the Miko suede seats.
It can tow up to 7,500 pounds, which Ford claims is best in class, and haul a maximum payload of 1,430 pounds in the bed.
My favorite thing about the Tremor package on the Ranger is how integrated it feels. It’s impressively quiet on the pavement, even at highway speeds, and doesn’t suffer from the bounciness or harshness that plague many modified off-road trucks. It adds lots of capability but doesn’t make you suffer for it.
Like most new vehicles, the Ranger makes driving-assistance features available to help reduce the driver’s workload. Lane keeping assist, blind-spot sensors and adaptive cruise control all help with safety and awareness, although they’re only available on the higher trims.
Overall, I like the Ranger’s right-size approach, especially as full-size trucks keep getting bigger. This is a truck that can still do serious work — towing 7,500 pounds is no small feat — but is easy to park and simple to maneuver in traffic.
A 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is the only choice, but it’s a good one with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque on tap. A 10-speed automatic transmission makes precise, snappy shifts and does a good job finding and holding the right gear.
An 8-inch can run SYNC 3, Ford’s digital interface that continues to add features and get speedier with time. It also can run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to connect smartphones through the truck’s screen.
If I could improve one thing on it, that would be the interior. The cabin feels out of date and has more plastic than I like to see on any new vehicle, especially one priced uncomfortably close to $50,000 like my Tremor tester.
Pricing for the base Ranger XL starts around $25,000. Being a truck in 2021, though, prices can quickly rise as you add options and features.
The better-equipped XLT starts at $29,120, while the Lariat with leather seats, 18-inch wheels and push-button start is priced from $33,160.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2021 Ford Ranger 4×4 SuperCrew ($38,795). Options: Equipment Group 501A ($2,005), Cyber Orange paint ($595), spray-in bedliner ($495), Tremor off-road package ($4,290), SecuriCode keypad ($95), paint protection ($345). Price as tested (including $1,195 destination charge): $47,815
Wheelbase: 126.8 in.
Length: 210.8 in.
Width: 85.8 in.
Height: 71.5 in.
Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged four cylinder (270 hp, 310 ft.-lbs.)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 19 city, 19 highway
Why buy it?
The Tremor package gives the Ranger more off-road capability and avoids the need for aftermarket upgrades. It’s remarkably refined for an off-road-focused truck.