At a time when Toyota is killing the sporty Tacoma X-Runner and no other truck maker offers anything close to the once-popular sport truck option packages, it looks like Ford is getting back into the game, albeit with a small first step.
Called the F-150 Tremor, this all-new model in the lineup is based on the regular cab shortbed pickup and will be dressed in most of the FX4 trim package (which will include a standard manual electronic locking rear differential) with one unique difference — it will have a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 under the hood, a first for this wheelbase.
Sure, high-performance pickup truck fans will remember the Dodge Ram SRT-10's top speed records, and the Ford SVT Lightning is still a favorite at any Blue Oval event with the classic supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. However, the economic climate and consumer priorities have changed a bit since those vehicles were popular. So maybe that's why the guys at Ford Truck decided to give power-to-weight aficionados a bone with their latest creation.
Doug Scott, Ford's longtime truck group marketing manager, notes a new model like this doesn't happen by accident: "The time is right for this truck ... it probably goes back to when we decided to go in our off-road performance direction with the Raptor ... we knew that doing something for on-road performance was always going to be a very real possibility." And now the F-150 Tremor is here.
Some might want to see this new model as a direct competitor with the Ram 1500 R/T that we saw last year. No doubt there will be comparisons between the two models, or even the last-gen Lightning, but from our point of view this is probably a better foundation on which others can build from rather than the best sport truck the F-150 platform can produce.
Here's what we know so far. The lightweight 126-inch-wheelbase truck will be offered in both two- and four-wheel drive, weighing in right around 5,000 pounds, and no doubt likely will be the preferred choice of all those starved sport truck refugees looking for the best pickup to do a smoky burnout for their buddies.
Of course, this is no Lightning replacement. We've been told Ford's Special Vehicle Team had nothing to do with this project, specifically there are no performance enhancements to the truck's suspension to give it better handling during hard cornering. But that doesn't mean a small industry won't crop up around this new model to supply owners with tons of suspension and ground-effects choices. We can't wait to see what happens to this option package after a few special equipment companies get a hold of it.
Expect pricing to come out in late summer with the rest of the 2014 F-Series models, when dealerships get a chance to place their orders. At first glance, this looks like an impressive package, with a power-to-weight ratio rivaling many sports cars without any sacrifice to payload and towing numbers. And the fact that Ford is utilizing all existing parts and pieces bodes well for durability as well. You can bet we'll have more to come.