The off-road trails will be a bit more crowded this spring, because the 2021 Ford Ranger Tremor pickup is about to hit the road.

Boasting more ride height, Fox off-road shocks and more, the Ranger is Ford’s answer to off-road pickup models like the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Jeep Gladiator Mojave, Nissan Frontier Pro-4X and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

The Ranger Tremor’s claim to space in that crowded market stems from a lower base price than competitors and features like:

  • 17-inch magnetic gray painted aluminum wheels
  • 32-inch General Grabber A/TX all-terrain tires
  • 9.7 inches of ground clearance
  • Electronic locking rear differential
  • Fox off-road shocks
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • 7,500-pound towing capacity
  • 1,430-pound payload
  • Hoop steps for easy access
  • Seats with contrast stitching and suede inserts

“Tremor” is a package of features. It costs $4,290, and is available on XLT and Lariat models. That means Ranger Tremor prices start around $40,000. That’s a couple of thousand dollars lower than competing midsize pickups’ off-road models.

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I tested a nicely equipped Ranger Lariat Tremor. Base price was $38,785 and $46,165 as equipped. All prices exclude destination charges.

Ford already offers Tremor versions of its larger F-150 and SuperDuty pickups. The name’s only been around for a couple of years, but has a strong following.

Driving impressions

I recently took my Tremor to Holly Oaks off-road vehicle park north of Detroit on a windy, snowy and bitterly cold day. It proved more than capable of climbing steep, icy hills, slaloming through hillside snow and delivering quiet, comfortable operation on highways and surface streets.

The Ranger Tremor’s smooth quiet on-road performance is unusual for a truck with off-road tires, but the 32-inch all-terrain Generals don’t make much of a ruckus on pavement. Wind noise is also manageable, despite the pickup’s increased ground clearance — more room for wind to swirl and whistle at highway speed.

The standard 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Torque output is highest of any gasoline engine in the segment, though it trails the Chevy Colorado ZR2 diesel substantially. Horsepower is lower than the other gasoline engines, but the quick-shifting 10-speed automatic — two more gears than anything else in the segment — offsets the disadvantage. Highway acceleration and cruising power are more than adequate.

The Ranger Tremor’s standard four-wheel drive system has a four position terrain management system for different surfaces and levels of traction, and Trail Control, which lets the driver program in speed so they can focus on avoiding obstacles and choosing the best route.

Frame-mounted front and rear recovery hooks are standard, in case you get in over your head despite the Ranger’s capability.

That capability was evident on slick, snowy hills at the off-road park. The 4WD’s snow setting navigated most slopes with ease. Shifting to the low range of gears handled the slickest, steepest spots.

The Ranger Tremor is only available with a four-door, five passenger cab. (Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press/TNS)
The Ranger Tremor is only available with a four-door, five passenger cab. (Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Comfortable, roomy interior

The Ranger Tremor is only available with a four-door, five passenger cab. The front seat is spacious, with an accommodating center console and easy to use touch screen. The rear bench seat has good leg and head room. Leather upholstery with suede inserts, accent stitching and a Tremor logo are standard.

Heavy duty rubber floor mats come standard.

Towing capacity and payload — the weight a pickup can carry in its bed and cab — are unchanged from other Rangers, giving the Tremor an advantage over most competitors over how much gear it can carry. It measures 210.8 inches long and has a 61-inch bed.

A revised suspension with Fox off-road shocks provides a smooth ride on the highway and plenty of travel and damping off-road.

Standard safety features:

  • Lane-keeping, automatic high beams
  • Blind spot and cross traffic alerts
  • Pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking

Other available features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward and reverse parking sensors
  • Keypad entry
  • Pushbutton start
  • Remote start
  • LED head and tail lights
  • Wiper-activated headlights
  • Trailer sway control
  • B&O audio
  • Navigation

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