New Ford Ranger Tremor proves its mettle on tough 4x4 launch route

Published Apr 15, 2024


Just when you thought Ford had saturated the Ranger range, along comes the locally built bakkie with two more options – that when you think of it – actually makes sense.

There’s a new king of the luxury double-cab segment with the Ranger Platinum and an off-road biased Ranger Tremor.

The Ranger Platinum adds the sophistication of the same-named Everest SUV into a double cab and also uses the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine capable of 184kW and 600Nm, which sees it slot in just above the Wildtrak and below the halo Raptor.

We’ll focus on the Tremor first and in another article spend some more time with the Platinum.

Based on the XLT Ranger, Ford thought it good to use the lower-specced option to add a whole lot of lekker 4x4 goodies similar to the Wildtrak X.

To give it a more bush-ready exterior appeal there’s a black honeycomb off-road grille with LED auxiliary driving lights, bolder grey exterior details on the lower sections of the bumper, H-bar, fender vents, mirror caps, door handles and rear bumper.

It gets a “Tremor” badge on the tailgate and decals on the sides and like the Wildtrak X and Raptor, a black Ford oval on the front grille and tailgate.

The extended wheel arches sit above the 265/70 R17 all-terrain general-grabber AT3 tyres on asphalt black alloys connected to specially developed Bilstein position-sensitive dampers that give the Tremor an increase of 24mm ground clearance over the XLT’s 237mm as well as a 30mm wider track.

With a proper steel bash plate, steel underbody protection for the engine, transfer case, and fuel tank, two rated front-recovery hooks, cast aluminium side steps and disk brakes all round, the Tremor is more than just a few badges and decals that have been slapped on.

It uses the same 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine with 154kW and 500Nm with a full-time four-wheel drive system and Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.

By using a dial on the centre console you can easily toggle between 2H, 4H, 4L and 4A (auto), which allows the system to figure out the best use of power and torque to the wheels.

From an off-roading point of view, whoever decided that the regular carpets would be replaced by vinyl flooring, needs a Bells. If you’ve ever been on a 4x4 excursion in the rain and mud and tried to clean the carpets afterwards, nothing but a full valet gets them remotely back to original condition.

The six-way adjustable seats are trimmed in water-resistant black vinyl adding to the ease of interior cleaning and pre-wired roof-mounted auxiliary switches allow powered accessories to be connected safely and hassle-free to a second battery for which allowance has been made in the engine bay.

The standard XLT 10.1-inch touch-screen infotainment display is replaced by Ford’s 12-inch version with the off-road Sync screen and a 360-degree camera system.

Putting the Tremor to the test on an off-road trail outside Grabouw in the Western Cape, I had a good opportunity to compare it to our long-term Ranger Wildtrak X seeing as all the 4x4 additions and engine are essentially a mirror image.

Using mud/ruts, sand and rock crawl modes the Tremor eased up and down various terrains with consummate ease (there’s also normal, eco, tow/haul, and slippery).

In rock crawl, the rear differential lock is activated automatically but it’s easily disconnected by the touch of an icon on the screen.

Like the Wildtrak X, the Tremor is fitted with trail turn assistance that brakes the inside wheel and can reduce the turning radius by up to 25%.

I had tried it on our December trip while descending down the steep Gamtoos valley into Die Hel and found that it felt as though I was being pushed towards the edge of the road. With a sheer drop of 300m I switched it off and relied on “normal” steering, deciding I’d wait for another safer day.

For this exercise I stood on the loadbin of the Tremor and let my co-driver ascend the steep and rocky trail, selectively using the feature as radioed through by the instructor.

You have to power through the initial wheel lock to make it effective but there’s a hell of a lot of grinding, scratching, wheel dragging and mechanical noise coming from the rear assembly as the system does its thing.

Call me old fashioned but I’d be more comfortable with a gold old fashioned two or three-point turn.

I’m sure it will come in handy though in 4x4 competitions where those tight pesky white PVC poles always seem to be in the way.

What I do want to take a closer look at in future is the relationship-saving pro- trailer backup assist with Trailer reverse guidance which will now be standard on the Wildtrak X, Platinum and Raptor.

As anyone who has had to reverse or guide someone with a trailer with “other right”, “other left-type” instruction can attest to, it can send emotions sky high in an instant.

It utilises the rotary selectable drive modes controller, along with the steering wheel and a suite of cameras.

A few measurements are entered into the Sync screen calibrating the trailer (including its hitch position and length). The camera tracks the trailer while reversing and guides it accordingly.

The driver rotates the knob left or right in the direction you want the trailer to go, while the system controls the steering wheel. It provides informational graphics and up to seven camera views to help reverse the trailer while the driver uses the steering wheel to control the direction determined by the system. Up to 10 trailers can be stored in the system.

For real off-road enthusiasts the Ford Ranger Tremor is a welcome addition if you want a bakkie that’s designed from the ground up for the rough stuff.

The Tremor is keenly priced at R977 500 but it’s R63 100 less than the Wildtrak X that does have some very nice-to-have extras in a bakkie.

It comes with a four-year/120 000km warranty, four-year or unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year or unlimited distance corrosion warranty.

Customers have the option of purchasing service or maintenance plans up to eight years or 135 000km. The warranty can be extended up to seven years or 200 000km.