Test Drive: 2021 Ford F-250 Tremor
2021 Ford F-250 Super Duty Platinum 4×4 Crew Cab with Tremor Off-Road Package
Class: Large Pickup Truck
Miles driven: 192
Fuel used: 17.6 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||A|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||430-hp 7.3L|
|Drive Wheels||4-wheel drive|
Real-world fuel economy: 10.9 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: N/A
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $65,515 (not including $1695 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: 7.3-liter V8 engine ($2045), Tremor Off-Road Package ($3975), Tough Bed spray-in bedliner ($595)
Price as tested: $73,825
The great: Cavernous interior; impressive towing and hauling capabilities; smooth, strong powertrain
The good: Comfy cabin boasts clever storage solutions; relatively easy to drive, considering the XXL dimensions; generous level of standard equipment
The not so good: Steep prices; fuel economy; off-road tires increase on-road noise
More Ford price and availability information
The Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks rolled into the 2021 model year with no significant changes from the year before, just some alterations to feature availability and exterior paint colors. That’s not so surprising given that ’21 is the year for a new F-150, Ford’s meal ticket on which most attention would be lavished. Besides, the F-250 and F-350 SDs had been perked up in 2020 with the additions of an optional 7.3-liter V8, 10-speed automatic transmission, and Tremor off-road equipment package.
Consumer Guide tested a 2021 F-250 with the 7.3, 10-speed, and Tremor gear. In certain ways, it wasn’t a wholly novel experience since CG sampled a similarly configured F-350—with the same Crew Cab body, 6.75-foot cargo bed, and 159.8-inch wheelbase—in 2020. Of course, the nominally 1-ton-rated F-350 had beefier underpinnings than the ¾-ton F-250, but it also came in lower-grade Lariat trim. The F-250 was kitted out in tonier Platinum trappings.
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The $3975 Tremor option is available for all 4x4s except base XL and top-line Limited models, and it requires signing up for either the 7.3 gas or Power Stroke 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8s. Tremor shakes things up via 35-inch all-terrain tires (with matching spare) on 18-inch low-gloss black-painted alloy wheels, springs that raise front ride height by two inches, electronic-locking rear differential, limited-slip diff for the front axle, twin-tube performance shock absorbers, low-profile running boards, skid plates under the transfer case and fuel tank, front air dam modified for greater approach angle, water-fording vent tubes for the transfer case and axle, and Rock Crawl and Trail Control modes to enhance off-road traction. Body-color wheel-lip moldings and Tremor identification on the cargo bed are external cues.
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Because the Tremor package virtually guarantees a place in the back row of any F-Series family photos it also means extra effort for entries and exits (passengers will find the running boards to be indispensable), and for cargo loading. Those who make the climb up into a Super Duty Platinum Crew Cab will have earned their rest on comfortable leather-upholstered seats in an exceedingly spacious cabin with large windows that give drivers—and passengers—a clear view of their surroundings. Rear seats are heated. Front seats are heated and ventilated, and include 10-way power adjustment (with memory) for the driver and 8-way power adjustment for the passenger.
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Other standard equipment at the base price of $67,210 (with delivery) includes a power sliding rear window, remote tailgate release, LED fog lights, chrome tow hooks, heated power-folding exterior mirrors, trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals with memory setting, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, satellite radio, and 110-volt power outlet. Counted among tech features are keyless entry and starting, Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen and voice-activated navigation, configurable 8-inch information screen in the instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-keeping warning, reverse sensing, and pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking.
Test Drive Gallery: 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Platinum
The Sync 3 setup is easy to understand and operate. Climate controls benefit from two convenient dials for temperature settings at either end of a pad of large, clearly marked function buttons. The information screen, activated by thumb buttons on the steering wheel, is bright and highly legible. Ample personal-storage options consist of dual glove boxes, a dash-top bin, a broad and deep covered console box, long pockets in all doors, and pouches attached to the backs of the front seats. Exposed cup holders are set in the front and back of the center console, with two more drink holders in the pull-down center armrest. The rear seat, which is wide enough for three well-fed adults, has a fold-down back and a flip-up cushion, both in a 60/40 split. For small-item storage, a built-in pop-up bin can be erected—and then secured—under the rear cushion.
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The $73,825 total for CG’s Antimatter Blue (one of the three new colors) test truck included the 7.3-liter pushrod V8, a $2045 extra that makes 430 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 475 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. Absent much of a load and running in rear-wheel drive, this engine lets the hefty F-250 run a highway with ease. Tromping the pedal for a passing burst with the 10-speed autobox in top gear is greeted by a direct, smooth downshift of six speeds and a surge of power. You’ll enjoy that feeling until it’s time to fill up. This reviewer averaged just 11.4 mpg while commuting in the truck for 117.6 miles, 55 percent of it in city-type operation. Expect that number to go down in 4-wheel-drive operation or when towing. By the way, a “short” 4×4 F-250 Crew with the 7.3 engine and 4.30:1 rear axle—the test truck’s specs—has a conventional towing limit of 15,000 pounds, can pull up to 18,600 pounds with a fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch, and haul a payload of as much as 3470 pounds.
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The chassis changes in the Tremor package make for a firm but not especially harsh ride. Some highway noise rises from the bigfoot rubber with its off-road-friendly tread, and drivers may notice a steady low-level vibration through the steering wheel when on paved surfaces. “Nimble” and “maneuverable” are not in the big fellow’s vocabulary, but steering is boosted enough to keep every drive from turning into an arm-wrestling match.
If the F-250 sounds like what you need—especially in Tremor form—take heart. No major changes are planned for the 2022 Super Dutys.
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2021 Ford F-250 Tremor Gallery
Click below for enlarged images.
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