Photography by Evan Sears
To celebrate its return to the half-ton sport-truck arena, Ford put together a fun afternoon for us to get some time in the passenger seat of the 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor — its first regular-cab short-bed configuration with the 365-horsepower, twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6. And not to let a good opportunity go to waste — after all NASCAR is at the Michigan International Speedway this weekend — Ford brought one of NASCAR's hottest and most successful drivers, Brad Keselowski, last year's Sprint Cup champion. Keselowksi served as our pilot during hot laps around the MIS, where the Tremor just served as a pace vehicle during the weekend's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The truck is a wonderful collection of parts-bin performance pieces that all work together as if they were all planned from the beginning back in 2009. But that isn't true. When those models came out early in 2008, the economy was in full free fall and no manufacturers were expanding their vehicle lineups. It's no surprise that when mapping out models and configurations, the EcoBoost engine was not available for a regular cab with a shortbed in either 4x2 or 4x4 configurations. However, more recently, customers have been telling dealers they want to see more performance-oriented sport packages. Ford listened, and the results will be seen in the 2014 Tremor.
The Tremor is an FX2 or FX4 pickup (determined by 2WD or 4WD) offered in the regular-cab short-bed configuration. Ford also packages 4.10:1 axle gears, the switch-operated locking rear differential, custom blacked-out 20-inch rims and 275/55R20 Pirelli Scorpion STR tires. The FX appearance package has new graphics on the hood and sides of the truck, and the Tremor name will sit (much smaller than our photos would suggest) on each bed quarter panel.
We're told using the EcoBoost engine in this truck was a little tricky because it was not designed to go into the 126-inch-wheelbase F-150, so making the engine and transmission fit with a new rear driveshaft (for both drivetrians) was a chore. The interior presented other challenges. Because the FX appearance package requires the black-leather-with-red-piping bucket seats and center console, it was reverse engineered to make it work since it wasn't designed to allow for this packaging. It also required refitting the regular cab dashboard to accommodate the MyFord Touch system. There's a tight fit at the bottom of the climate controls, which essentially crash into the center console. Thankfully it all fits and looks good.
From the passenger seat, which is where we had to stay while Keselowski drove us on a short road course inside the MIS, there seems to be plenty of throttle response when the turbos kick in. Keselowski got the backend loose for us a few times, almost drifting through two corners. We were in the 4x4 model but Keselowski was adamant about driving the truck like it would be set most of the time — in two-wheel drive with the traction control on. For the most part, he said, the nannies were quite permissive, only jumping in and pulsing the brakes when things got a little too wild (apparently some good wheel spin and small amounts of slide don't qualify — and these trucks didn't have the exact software setting the production vehicles will get).
We should note that the roof-top light bar and inset LED lights in the grille on these F-150 Tremors are only there because they're required safety equipment for pace vehicles. Likewise, the monster graphics on the bedsides were also specially designed so that race fans can see the name of the truck from the top rows of the bleachers.
We can say after 12 to 15 hot laps with Keselowski at the wheel, the brakes and tires were heated and smelling good. Still, he noted very little fade even on the final laps. It wouldn't surprise us if SVT doesn't offer some performance brake and tire upgrades for the Tremor, maybe even a lowering kit. And if it doesn't, we have no doubt there will be plenty of aftermarket companies just itching to jump right in.
In the end, our drive with Keselowski was both exciting and frustrating. Exciting because anytime you give us the chance the watch a professional dial in a set race course, it is something to behold. There's no question Keselowski has skills behind the wheel and does a pretty good interview as well (don't miss our videos of the Tremor and an interview with Keselowski). However, it was a little frustrating because the two Tremors we had at our event were such early preproduction vehicles that Ford didn't want us to develop our own driving impressions. No worries. That will come. In the meantime, we're told the Kansas City plant will be rolling these trucks off the assembly line by the end of September and they'll be in dealerships by October.
Although pricing has not been officially announced, we can assume the Tremor will not have entry-level pricing. You can figure this specialty package will cost somewhere between $35,000 and $40,000. We're guessing it will be closer to the latter. More to follow.
For the full 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor press release, click here.
For a PDF download of the Tremor specification highlights, click here.
The unique wheel and tire combination for the Tremor is specifically setup for the truck. It's worth noting there are absolutely no suspension or braking changes to the truck when compared to other FX pickups. FX2s will sit a little lower than the FX4.
The bucket seats and center console are a tight fit but give the interior a sporty look.
Our short road course test drive includes a short run on the MIS oval where Keselowski runs the truck just under 110 mph before he late-brakes, dives down the track, and squeals the tires back onto the infield road course. The traction control setup has no modifications; it's a simple on and off, with the "off" not completely off.
Even as he's running the course, Brad Keselowski comfortably talks about what he's looking for ahead in the next turn, and then the one after that.
No, these are not going to be the size of the stickers for the option package, although this is the exact font type. These stickers are unique to the preproduction trucks, so that fans at MIS would not misidentify the Ford 150 Tremor. The actual stickers will be much smaller.