What'll She Do? Ford F-150 Tremor Hits the Drag Strip

Pair at Milan II

By Aaron Bragman

Ford's last performance pickup truck, the F-150 SVT Lightning, was a monster. The last generation sported a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 engine pumping out 380 horsepower, pushed through the heavy-duty four-speed transmission used in the Super Duty pickups. It could easily keep up with late-1990s Mustang Cobras on race circuit tracks, but the last one rolled off the assembly line a decade ago. Since then Ford's Special Vehicle Team has focused its performance energy on the Raptor, an off-road, street-legal Baja racer that's fun in its own right, but it left the street-performance truck idea alone.

Until the advent of the 2014 F-150 Tremor, that is, which we had a good look at it earlier this year. Recently the opportunity to drive the Tremor on a drag strip presented itself. Who were we to pass it by?

While doing acceleration testing of heavy-duty pickups for our 2014 Ultimate Heavy-Duty Challenge at Milan Dragway in Milan, Mich., we slipped in a few runs in a new 2014 Tremor as well. OK, maybe more than just a few runs, but can you blame us? What would you do with your own drag strip for a day if you had a truck like this?

Conditions were just about perfect: 75 degrees and mostly sunny with a clean drag strip that got to about 114 degrees later in the day. Myself and Cars.com editor Joe Bruzek took turns throwing the twin-turbocharged Tremor down the track (sometimes against another truck that showed up — the $29,000, Hemi-powered Ram 1500 Express) just to see what she'll do.

Launching the Tremor is tricky. Leaving the traction control on means no brake-torqueing — any wheel slip will trigger the system, cutting engine power and bogging the launch. Switching the traction control off to brake-torque the transmission to build a little boost can result in overpowering everything, leading to massive axle hop and a scrubbed launch. I found the best technique was to switch off the traction control, switch on the electronic locking differential (which works only below 20 mph), brake-torque to about 2,000 rpm to build boost and use the brake like a clutch on launch to carefully but quickly pull away. That technique netted me my best time of 14.56 seconds at 93.5 mph, with a reaction time of 0.019. Not bad, but Bruzek thought he could do better — and he did.


Tremor2[5] II

He staged shallow, switched off the traction control and switched on the electronic locking rear differential, brake-torqued just a bit to build some boost — and just when he let off the brake, gave the gas a quick stab to settle the drivetrain and tighten everything up for the launch. The result was the best time of the day: 14.42 seconds at 94.5 mph.

Comparisons are going to be made with the old Lightning, and they are indeed interesting. The twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 in the Tremor makes 365 hp, which is just 5 hp more than what the 1999 Lightning made at its debut, and 15 less than when it was discontinued in 2004. It outguns the Tremor in torque too, which makes 420 pounds-feet to the Lightning's more robust 450. The Lightning made do with a four-speed automatic, while the Tremor has a six-speed, but the Tremor's lower 4.10:1 rear-end gear is more aggressive than the Lightning's standard 3.55:1 gear. Most interesting: at 5,120 pounds, the two-wheel-drive Tremor is nearly 500 pounds heavier than the old Lightning, so its power-to-weight ratio is less favorable at 14.02 pounds per hp versus 12.24 for the Lightning. The Lightning typically ran the quarter mile in the mid-13-second range, proving that weight still remains a speed killer no matter how much boost you're running.

But how did the Tremor stack up against the Hemi V-8-powered Ram 1500 Express? The cheapest V-8-powered truck in America sported 30 more horsepower than the Tremor at 395 hp, but was down 10 pound-feet of torque. It also featured a six-speed automatic, but a 3.92:1 final drive ratio, better on the highway but a disadvantage in the quarter mile. At 4,729 pounds, it's nearly 400 pounds lighter than the Tremor — its power-to-weight ratio checks in at 11.97 pounds per hp. Approaching the traps at the end of the strip, however, the Tremor was still pulling strong while the Ram was breathing hard. Time and again, the Tremor outran the Ram down the drag strip — but just barely, never finishing more than three-quarters of a truck-length ahead of the Ram. And at nearly $14,000 less than the Tremor, you're left with a lot of coin left to spend on more go-fast parts or a nicer interior. Kind of explains why the Express is a crazy-popular package for the Ram 1500, while the Tremor remains fairly rare.

Ford's Tremor shows what's possible with a strong turbo engine in a "smaller" pickup. You can't get the EcoBoost engine in the short-wheelbase, short-bed, regular-cab model in any other trim configuration. But for $43,000 and change ($46,000-plus for the 4x4 model), one expects more to have been done. A sport exhaust would be nice or some more aggressive tuning on the turbochargers to play up that whooshing turbo glory. One also expects more amenities for this price, such as standard automatic climate control and power passenger seat. Whether you choose the Tremor or the sporty Ram competitor (with crank windows no less) will likely come down to whether you're cool with turbo whoosh or prefer a rumbling bass.

Cars.com images by Aaron Bragman, Evan Sears, Kent Sundling


Tremor3[5] II

Tremore engine II

Tremor1[5] II

Tremor_01 II

Tremor_02 II

Red Ram Express burnout II






Sorry, Ford

I'll take the HEMI, with the extra money I saved I can make a down payment on my 2015 Suburban.

Changed my mind. Forget the Suburban!

With the money I'm saving I'll get a Roots for my HEMI Ram Express and reach for 460 HP.

The Ram's warranty? Naaahhhhh!

Did the ram have the 8 speed or the 6 speed. Cause if it had the 6 speed.... The 8 speed version would kill it.

If that RAM had the TorqueFlite 8 it would've waxed that a$$ hands down.

@Kevin: Totally agree, the 8-speed Hemi is very quick. The story says this Ram truck was a six-speed though.

Also, I believe the Tremor comes with 4.10 gears, this Ram had 3.90s according to the story. It's pretty close on that end.

I never understood the logic of owning a short bed reg cab pickup let alone racing one. And then add the extra expense of trying to make it quick. It makes no sense.

The ford trucks graphics looks like something from the 80s! If I was in the market to buy a truck. The ram would be my pick out of all of them. Very handsome truck!

LOL $43,000 for that POS! Tundra drive faster anyway!

$43K for a RC "sport pickup" that only runs mid-14s?! Now that the new Mustang is coming out, Ford dealers will be giving away the "old" models. Pickup a GT cheap and use the savings to buy a decent used pickup.

I own a Ram Express HEMI V8 short bed 2WD & all I can say is its a very quick pick up truck for short money! Luv it!

Ken, A regualar cab short bed is what I will call a real pickup, what pickups us to be. I used to have a regular cab Ram in college and I could haul what ever I need and it was short enough and had a tighter turnering radius for dealing with tight city campus parking. I remember plenty of times of sitting four people across the front seat in that thing, not the most comfortable but it was doable, once I had six people in it when we stopped to pickup some hot girls. they had to sit on our laps.

My 2007 Silverado 2500 6.0 gas will do the 1/4 mile at 89 mph.

The Ram had the 6 speed.

Ram sells a lot of regular cabs with 6 speeds. There are 23 regular cabs in my area and 15 have 6 speeds. All made in Mexico.


½ ton Rams are not made in Mexico, they are made in either Warren Mich, or St Loius. HD's are made in Mexico, and their build quality is superior to the American made ½ tons.

Why didn't PUTC test the 4x4 model? Brake-torque all you want in 4Hi and launch with minimal wheelspin.


In addition to the HD's, all RAM Regular Cab half tons are built at the Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Saltillo, Mexico. You can check the window stickers on the lots to confirm this.

"At 4,729 pounds, it's nearly 400 pounds lighter than the Tremor — its power-to-weight ratio checks in at 11.97 pounds per hp. Approaching the traps at the end of the strip, however, the Tremor was still pulling strong while the Ram was breathing hard. Time and again, the Tremor outran the Ram down the drag strip"

Ram was breathing hard and the EcoBoost pulling strong. The Ram was 400 pounds lighter and with the big bad 5.7L HEMI V8 should have manhandled the 3.5 V6 with or without an 8 speed according to Ram fans. They were both 6 speeds so it was a fair fight. I guess there is a replacement for displacement!

If the Ram had the 6.4L HEMI it would have killed the ecoboost.


I would not spend 40k on a "performance" pickup. If I wanted fast, I would go buy a Challenger SRT8. If for some strange reason I wanted a fast truck, I would go buy a Ram Express for cheap, do a bunch of cool mods, then invest the savings in my kids college fund.

What I'd like to know is how much will the 2015 SWB 2 dr F150 weigh? I don't understand why a Tremor is 400 lbs heavier than the Mopar V8.

If the Ram had the eight-speed, then yes, chances are it would have been at least level with the Tremor. The six-speed has a tall first gear, negating acceleration somewhat. Whereas the eight-speed has all the best bits ! I'd assume the eight-speed is an option on the Express, but standard on all other Ram 1500's.
Ram has a major news announcement next Thursday, subject yet unknown. A new 1500 SRT maybe ? We can hope. Checkout AllPar.com for further, but limited details.

This is the link to the announcement that Mike L'Alouette referenced:

Pleeeeeaaassse GM, put the 420hp 6.2 in a reg. cab SB!




The Ram 1500 Express

It says a lot about you



Ram announcement, Thursday
Posted on June 21st, 2014 • by David Zatz

Ram dealer sign

The official Chrysler blog reported that there will be a webcast Ram news conference on 11 am, Thursday, June 26, broadcast live from Chelsea, Michigan.

Viewers can ask questions on the ChryslerLive Livestream page; after the news conference, a Ram executive will address as many questions as possible.

Speculation at allpar has brought up suggestions including (in chronological order) ProMaster City (redriderbob), more VM diesels for the Ram 1500 (Norm), a split tailgate (dakrt99), merging Ram back into Dodge (willy), updates to Ram 4500/5500 (Moparian), or higher tow ratings (redriderbob). So far, there has been no consensus.

Ram's (6)5 speed is a performance robbing trans. It has upwards of 35% drivetrain loss, and poor gear ratios when compared to modern 5 and 6 speed transmissions.

The trans started life in 1999 as a 4 speed (45rfe), that had 5 forward gears. 4 normal gears, and one kick-down gear used for accelerating.
In 2003 Chrysler was able to add a 6th forward gear for a 2nd overdrive (5 gears used in normal operation, and one gear used only as a kick-down for acceleration) for better highway fuel economy and renamed the trans the 545rfe.
In 2011 Chrysler started using new electronics with the trans, also mated it to a new torque converter, and renamed it the 65rfe. Nothing was really different internally in the trans, however now the gear that was usually used for kick-downs, could now be used during normal acceleration when the driver manually selected the gear using the transmissions Electronic Range Selector, or when tow/haul mode was engaged.

Overall gear ratio is: 4.48. Which is actually closer in line with the 4 speeds used 10 to 15 years ago.

The gear ratios are:
1) 3.00:1
2) 1.67:1
3) 1.50:1 (Kick-down gear)
4) 1.00:1
5) 0.75:1
6) 0.67:1

Max torque input is 410 ft lbs.

Interesting note, the 8 speed's first 6 gears actually have a wider overall ratio (4.71) then the 65rfe has. That means if you could put 2.55 gears behind the 8 speed trans and only used the first 6 gears. The 2.55 truck would have a lower overall first gear ratio (for better acceleration) and a higher 6th gear ratio (for better highway f/e) then a 65rfe truck with 3.92 gears.

No wonder the 8 speed is such an improvement.

Good job, Ram!

Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices calling
What Ram brought you and me cannot be forgotten

I have been around the world
Looking for a new Ram truck
Who knows love can endure
And you know it will

When you see aRam for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
Cause the truth you might be running from is so small
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day
So I'm driving for tomorrow, my dreams are a dying
And my Hemi is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain
I have my truck and all her flags are a flying
She is all that I have left and Ram is her name

So we cheated and we lied and we tested
And we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do
You will survive being bested
Another hEMI Ram will come along, make me forget about loving you
At the Southern Cross


The Ram is the better buy overall. How often are you racing 14s at the lights?

You are better off buying a Chev SS for a couple of grand more is you want performance over the Tremor. It's a lot faster and can corner.

I still think the Tremor looks like a stripper with a retro late 70s Japanese decal job done.

Still, I suppose the only use for a very high powered pickup is drag racing as they don't handle. There are plenty of better options out there that are cheaper and faster and can handle better.

The difference between the Tremor and the Ram is that great overall that I would think many factors are making the Ram slower.

The Tremor is handicapped by weight, power and even aerodynamics.

It really shows that the Ford has a far better engine/drivetrain setup than the Ram.

It does appear there is a "replacement for displacement".

This is a great example of why V8s are on their last legs and why manufacturers are going for small turbo engines.

So the Ford needs more gear in the axles, and the more gear in it's trans that is standard, 4.06 vs. 3 to 1 first gear, and it needs spooled up, to return this little bit of advantage for that much money? Wow, how stupid!

@Big Al: Fords more expensive turbo has no advantage on the longer lasting Hemi. As a combo with the extra gear they have, the complete package has a slight advantage, Tenergy got it right.

These things barely sell, we see why.

And yes, the Ford graphics are terminally lame. It looks like the crap that buy-here, pay-here car dealers put on old Neons and Cobalts.

Back around 1991 there was a 454 Chevy package for the SS 1500 model. Fun. I remember when the F150 Lightning came out back in 94 or so. It was the perfect package and was really fun to drive. There was an S10 with a hot engine. A V8 Dakota. Good cheap fun.

The Tremor might be fun too, but at 40k it ain't working for me.

Couple of things......everyone is bashing the tremor because of the price but an equally equipped ram would be just as much. (Tremor is loaded, leather, touch screen, bucket seats, etc....., ram express is not),

If we want to talk about adding performance parts then the gap between the two would grow even more, not to mention you can mod the ecoboost for a whole lot cheaper.

"Wait to they put a 6.4 hemi with 410hp" and it still would not have as much as a ford or g.m. 6.2.

8speed transmission would not help the ram that much in a 1/4 mile drag race, it has to shift 1 to 2 more times then the six speed. is a LOT better transmission, Yes, would it make a big difference in a 1/4 mile race, no.


Having owned Ram's with both the 6 speed (really a 5 speed) and an 8 speed, I can tell you they aren't even in the same ballpark performance wise. The 5 speed, I mean 6 speed holds back the truck so much and is a complete dog off the line. Don't believe me, drive them both.

I have drove them both. All three to be honest (5speed, 6speed, and 8 speed), but to the tell you the truth I have not driven one with 8 speed and 3:92 which I am sure makes a difference. When the first 8 speeds came out most creditable mag., websites were not getting and faster times but they only had 3:21 gears. I will also say though, that if you look on ecoboost forums, the 4:10 in the tremors do NOT help performance. the taller gears run faster times with the ecoboost (3:31,3:55). I also want to say the I think ram makes a good truck and am not bashing them.

Hit up Livernois Motorsports for a tuner for the EB and you'll see boost go from 14 lbs to 22 lbs. You'll see that Ram go from almost there to non-existent.

But I will give that 40k for the Tremor's probably it's biggest drawback.

@HEMI MONSTER - I have to agree. If go fast is what one wants there are multiple choices superior to that of any pickup truck.

The Tremor isn't a performance truck or a followup to the Lightning. It's a sporty short wheelbase reg cab EcoBoost FX2 F-150 with luxury package, and appearance package. A crewcab model is $48k, so $40k is priced right. If you want to buy cheap, compare apples to apples. A 5.0 STX with power windows and 6 lug wheels goes for the same price as the crank window 5 lug Express and won't be made in Mexico.

Pass on this cannot see the significance. 14.42 is OK for a sedan, but not the "performance requirements" of a Pickup.

3.00, 1.67, 1.50 (kickdown), 1.00, 0.75, 0.67

4.71, 3.14, 2.10, 1.67, 1.29, 1.00, 0.84, 0.67

Axle Ratios
3.21, 3.55, 3.92

Do the math, the 6 speed strangles the hemi with torque management as well.

ford 6 speed automatic
4.17, 2.34, 1.52, 1.14, 0.86, 0.69

axle ratios
3.15, 3.31, 3.55, 3.73, 4.10

do the math, boosted engines tend to produce more consistent torque as well.

the Chrysler 8 speed is closer to fords 6 speed than the Chrysler 6 speed is to the ford 6 speed. the 8 speed is long overdue.

does any smart @$$ want to know the reverse gears too? lol jk.

for the morons that think it is apples to apples in this comparison it is like launching the 8 speed in 2nd gear when launching the 65rfe in 1st gear.

With the price of gasoline nearing $4/gal and Congress wants to increase the gas tax again any performance vehicle is going out of style.
In 1997 the United States used 22 million barrels a day, NOW we are using 11 million, the reason why they are raising the gas tax is because the government is getting less revenue collected from the gas taxes cause we are using less, plus they are talking about taxing your mileage.
Everybody I know brags about the great gas mileage they get instead about its performance.
Most vehicles have gas mileage dash displays.
PUTC should have a "gas mileage shoot out" on all the pickups. That would be a more interesting story than a performance pickup nobody wants.

All serious performance vehicles are matched with high quality performance brake systems with oversize calipers and rotors.
The faster it goes the faster it needs to stop.
So if you think the plastic piston calipers on the Tremor are high quality then you are living in make believe land.
The Tremor has the same low quality brakes as any other F-150

Boy, another great comment regarding fuel usage in the US.

The US's take on fuel tax in 2011 is over $41 billion.

This is damn sight larger than the 1997 tax take on fuel of $28 billion.

This sort of shoots down your argument.


Senators propose 12-cent gas tax increase

Don't Riase the Gas Tax

Sounds like BAFO has a bad case of Big Govn't Illness.

If the fund doesn't have enough money to pay for maintaining highways, then the Congress should quit using the money for bike trails and light rail and other such boutique bullship.

Boy, you obviously can't read to well. Can you.

The figures you put forward are incorrect.

I mention nothing on how to allot the revenue. Do I?

Where do I mention light rail or bike trails??

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