2022 Ford Ranger Tremor

PHOENIX — When it comes to hard core off-road capability, the Ford Ranger sat in the parking lot watching competitors like Chevy Colorado ZR2, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Jeep Gladiator (in Rubicon or Moab trim levels) hit the rough stuff: steep boulder-strewn trails, deep sand, and streams. Ranger’s FX4 off-road trim did add a rear differential locker and skid plates, but it was no match for and couldn’t go places the Jeep or Tacoma tackled.

That was until now, with the introduction of the Ranger Tremor edition, available as a $4,290 upgrade package option on SuperCrew in XLT or Lariat trims (tested here). Ford makes you first add a Sport Appearance package too, so the real cost is actually $5,960. But, it still falls short of our hoped for “Ranger Raptor” that remains on our Blue Oval wish list.

Building off the FX4 Off-Road Package, Tremor isn’t merely an appearance trim package with color accents, badging and rugged wheels. It adds off-road specific front coil springs and new multi-leaf rear spring packs that improve suspension travel to 6.5 and 8.1 inches, respectively, with lifted and tuned Fox 2.0 monotube dampers controlling wheel movement.  Rear piggyback reservoirs, specially tuned front coilover and rear multi leaf springs, 32-inch Continental General Grabber A/TX all-terrain tires, and dash-mounted six-switch auxiliary power pack adds to Tremor’s capability.

Outside, exclusive Tremor cues include a unique grille with black cross bars and red nostril inserts, front and rear recovery hooks, optional hood and body graphics, Magnetic-painted alloy wheels and removable hoop-style steps beneath each door that mostly serve to collect dirt and mud and get your jeans dirty every time you step out of the truck. There’s also a full-sized matched spare tire nicely packaged under the bed, behind the rear axle.

Inside, the cabin is replete with durable hard plastics, not unusual for the class. Armrests and door panels are fitted with padded material, heated seats are leather Miko “synthetic” with sueded cloth perforated inserts that are soft to the touch and designed to stay cooler in hot climates. Red “TREMOR” identification is embossed on the upper shoulder area of the seat. The driver’s seat is supportive, height-adjustable and quite comfortable with ample room and adjustments, even for tall drivers. The rear seat is typical for the class, not overly roomy but generally comfortable if the trip isn’t excessively long.

Built-in technology includes an 8-inch touchscreen with available SYNC3, navigation, FordPass Connect 4GWi-Fi hotspot telematics modem, pushbutton start with auto start/stop tech, SIRIUS/XM radio, and universal garage door opener.

Driver assist features add lane keeping assist, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, remote keyless entry, reverse sensing and rear-view camera, vehicle perimeter alarm and securilock anti-theft system.  

Our Tremor was powered by the standard 2.3-liter, 270-horsepower four-cylinder engine and 310 lb.-ft of torque along with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The 4X4 Tremor comes with Ford’s Terrain Management system with four drive modes (Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand). There’s also a six-switch auxiliary power bank atop the center stack for customers to add their own upgrades such as an air compressor, power winch and other accessories.

We found power from the 2.3-liter adequate, but it suffered from noticeable turbo lag and an engine drone at cruising speeds. Acceleration from a stop and when passing was easily accomplished without drama. Handling was expectedly compliant with confident handling and cornering with on-center steering.

The Tremor package expands the Ranger’s stance by one inch, improves ground clearance, front and rear suspension travel, and approach, departure, and breakover angles. Given the fire dangers in the rugged Arizona mountainous desert, we were unable to access our usual off-road testing routes with the Tremor since most trails were temporarily closed. Still, we managed some impressive locations on private property and were more than impressed with Tremor’s capability on rocky outcrops, hood-and-sky-view-only inclines, muddy-bottomed creeks and deep sand washes. We clunked, scraped and bottomed out several times testing the limits of the skid plates, and accomplished low-speed rock crawling without incident.

Tremor doesn’t match the capability of Jeep’s Rubicon Gladiator, but pays dividends on paved road ride and handling quality. It beats the Colorado and Tacoma on engine performance, fuel economy, maximum payload (1430-pounds), best-in-class towing (7,500 pounds), and interior aesthetics.

This wasn’t the first time we drove a Ranger, but it quickly became our favorite and we came away especially impressed. It felt like a completely different Ranger than past models.

Ford Ranger may not lead all competitors, but it is certainly on par with them, and did outperform in several areas. We found it incredibly easy to live with on long hauls, neighborhood errands, and both on and off-road. It is certainly capable for the vast majority of duties it is called upon to handle. The Tremor package is an attractive upgrade to the Ranger, earning it worthy consideration against Toyota, Chevy and Jeep competitors. Well done Ford… Now for the Raptor edition of the Ranger.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $38,980 including destination & delivery
Price as Tested: $47,955
Engine/Transmission: 2.3-liter, 270-horsepower. 310-lb-ft of torque turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission and 4X4 wheel drive.
Fuel Economy: 19/19/19 MPG – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: Five

Crash Test Ratings: Government overall four out of five stars combined of frontal, side and rollover.

Where Built: Michigan Assembly Plant

Competes With:
Chevy Colorado ZR2
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and Moab
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Fab Features:
Attractive/capable Tremor upgrade for an aging truck
Loved the Ranger’s Trail Control feature
Convenience of the six auxiliary switches

— Jim Prueter