2014 Ford F-150 Tremor First Test
Storm Chaser: Some Thunder, But No Lightning
When we first drove the F-150 EcoBoost in early 2011, the engine was offered in nearly every configuration and trim level of the F-150, except for one—you could not get an EcoBoost in a regular-cab, short-bed F-150. When asked why not, Ford engineers essentially said it was too much for the short chassis to handle. We weren't entirely convinced of that argument seeing that the 5.0L naturally aspirated V-8 makes just 5 hp and 40 lb-ft less torque than the EcoBoost is offered in the regular-cab, short-box Ford F-150. Regardless of Ford's initial tap-dancing around the availability of the EcoBoost in the shorty F-150, we have it now in the form of the 2014 F-150 Tremor, just one model year before the truck is going to be replaced with an all-new aluminum-bodied model.
Comparisons with the fabled Ford F-150 SVT Lightning inevitably come up in conversations about the F-150 Tremor. Certainly, the configuration of a powerful engine with the smallest body in a truck invites the comparison. But technically, Ford does have one other engine currently in the F-150 arsenal that's more powerful than the EcoBoost. The 6.2L SOHC V-8 out of the Raptor. That big-inch beast thumps out a substantial 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque, but is only offered in the SuperCab or SuperCrew configurations.
So how close does the Tremor come to filling the shoes of its legendary spiritual predecessor? Well, it depends on your perspective. On-paper, the 365 hp and 420 lb-ft output of the 3.5L EcoBoost is not that far off from the Lightning's 5.4L supercharged V-8, being down only 15 hp and 30 lb-ft. The Tremor also has the advantage of having two more gear ratios than the Lightning. Combined with a short 4.10 axle ratio, the Tremor leaps off the line after an ever-so-brief moment that it takes the turbos spool up. Its 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds is only 0.7 second slower than the Lightning, which laid down a legitimately quick 5.1-second 0-60 time and 13.9-second quarter-mile.
Not a Lightning But there's no question that between the two, the Lightning definitely has more of the authentic hot-rod feel, with the burbling V-8 exhaust note and supercharger whine under full whack. In comparison, the Tremor's 3.5 EcoBoost makes a somewhat generic-sounding V-6 groan with the whistling and gasping of the turbochargers overlaid on top of it.
The Tremor's steering ratio of 20:1 is also much less sporting than the Lightning's tight 14:1 ratio. Consequently, low-speed maneuvering often results in much arm-flailing when negotiating parking lots or U-turns.
So it's firmly established that the Tremor is definitely not a modern-day Lightning. So is it a legitimate "sport truck?" Not to damn it with faint praise, but we'd say the Tremor is definitely a "sporty" truck, although it comes a little short of being a true sport truck. Part of that is attributable to half-tons in general getting progressively bigger and beefier, something definitely borne out by comparing the specs between the 2003 and 2014 F-150. Dimensionally, the truck has grown in every direction, and weight-wise, it's gone up as well, being 427 pounds chubbier than the tenth-generation Lightning.
For all intents and purposes, the Tremor is essentially an appearance package on the FX trim, either FX2 or FX4 (depending on if you specify two or four-wheel-drive). So if you like the FX trim otherwise, you'll probably like the Tremor. Probably one of our favorite features of the truck were the superbly comfortable bucket seats. Trimmed with leather outer bolsters and suede center sections, the seats offered great long-haul comfort. Combined with the multitude of entertainment options offered by the optional MyFord Touch, the Tremor would make a decent road-trip companion for you and one other. There's even a surprisingly generous amount of storage space behind the seats, more than enough for a few duffle bags or two small hard-sided suitcases.
Performance Potential, for a Price So we've established that the Tremor in its current guise is not what we'd consider a true sport truck. Could it be transformed into one? It has the potential. A lower ride height and a quicker steering ratio would go a long way toward giving it a more sporting feel. Although the EcoBoost doesn't have that old-school sound, with a few easy bolt-on intake and exhaust upgrades and a chip tune, you could easily get it up to power levels that surpass the stock figures of the original Lightning.
But don't expect a more sporting Tremor to come out of Dearborn. Already, it's a last-hurrah special for the outgoing bodystyle, and Ford has gone on the record saying the Tremor package will not carry over into the 2015 model year. For those truck enthusiasts that like the novelty of a relatively rare model and want a starting point to create a fun custom truck, the Tremor is not a bad choice. However, our tester rang the register at $42,210 with all the goodies in 4x2 form, and $46,325 in 4x4 form, hardly an entry-level price tag.
Regular-cab half-tons are already a rare breed, and for a good reason. Once extended and crew cabs started becoming popular in the late '90s, the market decisively voted with their feet. The added cab space makes the trucks much more livable as daily drivers. Sure, regular cab, short-box trucks are sportier-looking, marginally more maneuverable, and lighter weight. But let's be honest—if you really want "sporty," get a Mustang or Corvette. Even the sportiest of trucks will not come close to the driving dynamics offered by a purpose-engineered performance car.
If you were hoping the Tremor would be the second coming of the Lightning, you'll be disappointed. But if you were hoping for a novel and eye-catching configuration of the 12th-generation F-150 that offers some driving fun with a full measure of payload and towing utility expected of a fullsize truck, the Tremor delivers.
2014 Ford F-150 Tremor
|BASE PRICE|| $37,260 (4x2)|
|PRICE AS TESTED|| $42,210 (4x2) |
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 2WD/4WD, two-passenger, two-door truck|
|ENGINE||3.5L/365hp/420-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve twin-turbocharged V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)|| 4x2 - 5,097 lb (55/45%)|
4x4 - 5,348 (56/44%)
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||213.2 x 79.2 x 74.8-76.0 inches|
|0-60 MPH|| 5.9 seconds (4x2)|
5.8 seconds (4x4)
|QUARTER MILE|| 4x2 - 14.4 sec @ 95.7 mph|
4x4 - 14.3 sec @94.4 mph
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH|| 4x2 - 115 feet|
4x4 – 118 ft
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15-16/21-22/18-19 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||211-225/153-160 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.06-1.13 lb/mile|