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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Ford Ranger Tremor sends proper ‘mini Raptor’ shockwave

The replacement for the previous generation FX4 recieves proper off-road hardware instead of being an XLT with an appearance package.

Along with the debut of the Platinum this week, the introduction of the Tremor nameplate adds yet another new trim level designation to now the 26 model Ford Ranger range in South Africa.

What the FX4 should have been

A recent but also established nomenclature denoting off-road variants of the F-150, Maverick and market specific Ranger in North America, the Tremor replaces the FX4 version of the previous generation Ranger, but in an ironic twist, not as an appearance package based on the XLT.

ALSO READ: Sticker prices slapped on Ford Ranger Platinum and Tremor

While still modelled on the trim grade found beneath the Wildtrak in the Ranger line-up, the Tremor has the same off-road intended focus the FX4 did in the States, but not, as mentioned, in South Africa where the upgraded go-anywhere hardware never featured.

Ford Ranger Tremor South African launch
Tubular sports bar from the FX4 has been supplemented by the side bumper seat and steel side-steps.

Also originally touted as a European-market only model similar to the Platinum, the Tremor’s arrival after being confirmed for South Africa in 2024 as Ford’s 100th anniversary celebration last year, sees it becoming the de facto flagship XLT variant solely offered as a double cab similar to the FX4, but exclusively with four-wheel-drive.

The third-tier model in Ford’s off-road Ranger range after the Wildtrak X and Raptor, the Tremor, affectionally titled “Raptor ultra light”, proved anything but a soft hitter at the national launch in the Western Cape, of which a large part involved extensive off-roading on the testing Grabouw 4×4 Trail that in some places, obtains a level 5 4×4 course grading.

Purposeful looks

Not simply a special edition as the Tremor name replaces the FX4 globally, the newcomer’s differences from the XLT not only involves aesthetics, but also mechanical alterations to the T6.2 platform and chassis.

On the first glance, the ruggedness becomes apparent as in the addition to the black grille, bashplate underneath the restyled bumper that extends to underneath the fuel tanks and transfer case, and LED headlights, the standard XLT 17-inch wheels have been replaced by machined model specific alloys of the diameter wrapped in General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyres.

Driving Ford's new off-road Ranger
Grey 17-inch alloy wheels are wrapped from the off in General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyres.

As with the Platinum, the Tremor loses-out on the adjustable Flexible Rack sport bars, replaced in this instance by a tubular steel item derived from the FX4.

Elsewhere, Ford has added cast aluminium side-steps, the side loadbox steps from the Wildtrak and Wildtrak X, a spray-on binliner and a pair of tow hooks beneath the bashplate.

A black rear bumper, extended wheel arches finished in Boulder Grey and orange Tremor badges on the tailgate and side of the loadbin rounds the exterior off, together with seven colours choices; Frozen White, Agate Black, Iconic Silver, Carbonised Grey, Blue Lightning, Lucid Red and a model exclusive hue called Conquer Grey.

The “Raptorised” touches

In contrast to the FX4 and Platinum, the Tremor reserves its biggest additions for underneath its skin, where the front and rear tracks measure 30 mm wider and the standard shock absorbers replaced by the Bilstein mono-tube position-sensitive dampers from the Wildtrak X.

This, together with the all-terrain footwear, results in a 24 mm ground clearance to 261 mm, plus the same departure, breakover and approach angles as the Wildtrak X, namely 24-degrees or 27-degrees depending on the fitting of a towbar, 24-degrees and 32-degrees.

Driving Ford's new off-road Ranger
Highlight of the Tremor is the position-sensitive damping Bilstein shock absorbers and dampers.

Its wading depth staying steady at 800 mm and towing capacity at 3 500 kg, the Tremor does, however, become the recipient of the Trail Turn Assist and Trail Control systems, as well as Rock Crawl function that only becomes active in low range.

Excluding the rock traversing setting, the Terrain Management system comprises six modes; Eco, Normal, Slippery, Tow/Haul, Mud/Ruts and Sand, plus off-road readouts within the instrument cluster and infotainment system.

Launch of Ranger Tremor
Forward facing camera is active and provides a detailed view of the terrain ahead.

In addition, the fitting of the 360-degree surround-view camera system means drivers can opt for a forward facing view displayed on the latter as a means of providing a better visual of possible dangers ahead when off-roading.

Backing-up the standard issue rear diff-lock from the XLT, the Tremor also gets the same drive selectors for the four-wheel-drive system, namely 2H, 4A, 4H and 4L.

Restrained but styled accordingly inside

Inside, the interior receives bespoke touches from the XLT, or as one observer described it, a cabin similar to a “plaas bakkie” as a result of Ford having swapped-out the floor mats and carpets for washable water-resistant vinyl.

Launch of Ranger Tremor
Based on the XLT means the Tremor’s interior has the same specification level, but with a few added extras.

A touch that extends to the seat upholstery, the Tremor retains the six overhead auxiliary switches and leather steering wheel from the XLT, but adds a wireless smartphone charger and orange Tremor embroidery work on the front seatbacks.

On the infotainment side, the 12-inch SYNC 4A system has been fitted as standard, but not the 12.4-inch instrument cluster as the eight-inch display has been carried over.

The off-road drive

Staking its claim for its intended use off-road and not as an alternative to the Platinum’s upmarket intentions, the Tremor immediately surprised not only when the going got tough, but also on-road.

Its suspension, wider track and tyres failing to realise any preconceived refinement and road noise fears, the Tremor felt resoundingly comfortable and quiet at the national limit, while also livelier than the Platinum more than likely as a result of its lower kerb mass.

Launch of Ranger Tremor
Off-road readouts within the instrument cluster provides an accurate readout when put into use.

Powered by the 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel Panther engine, the weight drop and the engine’s willingness to spread its 154kW/500Nm more widely than the Platinum’s V6, left it feeling more responsive and quicker off the mark.

Similarly, the General Motors co-developed 10-speed automatic gearbox reacted quicker with crisper shifts and without the hesitation experienced in the Platinum.

Ford Ranger Tremor South African launch
A wider, by 30 mm front and rear track, plus the suspension and off-road tyres, has resulted in a 24 mm ground clearance increase to 261 mm.

As laudable as its on-road performance had been, the Tremor came alive in the confines of the 4×4 route where a decent amount of skill is required to avoid being caught by dongas or worse, plummeting down the side of the mountain into a deep ravine.

With a combination of 4A and 4H selected, the latter in conjunction with the Rock Crawl, the Tremor made light work of the course by easily clearing the dongas and badly washed out sections with ease.

Ford Ranger Tremor South African launch
Grabouw 4×4 Route proved a challenging one for the convoy of Tremors.

Besides the surround-view camera tech, the fitting of the Trail Control system proved easy to get accustomed to.

Billed as “off-road cruise control” by Ford’s top brass, the system allows the set speed to be adjusted depending on the terrain, where it stays until otherwise changed.

Driving Ford's new off-road Ranger
Vinyl covered floors omit carpets and are fully washable.

Not as easy to get accustomed to, the Trail Turn Assist system proved decidedly unnerving and anything but pleasant first time around.

Said to reduce turn-in by 25%, the setup locks the turning the rear wheel going into a corner as a means of aiding entry into tight bends.

Launch of Ranger Tremor
Tremor badged seats are trimmed vinyl to aid cleaning after off-roading.

A sensation described as driving with the handbrake on almost counterinitiative to its functions, it still works a treat and besides rotating the Tremor with ease, also eliminated the embarrassment of selecting reverse at any stage.

Comfortable on a route badly rutted in areas, the Tremor returned from its mountain jaunt without rattles or noises, or indeed serious battle marks in spite of sometimes having been on three wheels.


A more viable option it may be over the Wildtrak X, the R977 500 asked by the Ford Ranger Tremor remains anything but cheap considering its XLT foundations, and omission of certain features that warrants its X-affixed sibling’s R78 600 premium.

Driving Ford's new off-road Ranger
Tremor name has long been used in North America, but debuts for the first time in South Africa as replacement for FX4.

Priced under the psychological R1-million mark though, the trade-off in “lost” toys won’t, admittedly, be missed by buyers keen on wanting off-road gadgets, but not willing to part with a seven figure amount.

Nowhere near a Raptor alternative, the Tremor does, however, represent a strong substitute for the Wildtrak X and as such, makes for a tantalising package murmurings at the launch describes as the “ideal Ranger” on-road and off-road.

NOW READ: Platinum attired and Tremor sending Ford Rangers coming in 2024

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