INDIANAPOLIS — The Ford F-250 Tremor and F-150 Raptor are two of my favorite trucks, but neither fits in my Broad Ripple driveway very well. Forget fitting them into my mid-century garage or squeezing down tight city streets for dinner. Even actual trails would be a challenge. I always wished for all that big trucks offer, including space for family, friends, and camping but in a smaller package. Ford has delivered exactly that in the 2021 Ranger Tremor.
It offers all of the larger trucks’ accoutrement with dark grille surrounds, tow hooks front and rear, aggressive Continental General Grabber tires, and dark painted 17” alloy wheels. Red grille accents and Tremor graphics add pizazz. Proving its intentions, integrated step bars are mounted high to clear off-road obstacles while underbody skid plates stand by in case you don’t. Put a measuring tape to it and you’ll note 9.7” of ground clearance. The truck is nearly 1” taller and has a 1” wider stance than common Ranger 4x4s. It’s a very handsome truck with its muscular Crew Cab style.
Climb inside for a cabin that fits a family of four comfortably. It starts with thickly bolstered sport seats with suede inserts and stitched Tremor logo in the backsides, but they would be even better if heated. Dual-zone automatic climate control, intuitive infotainment screen and voice controls add points. There’s no fancy brand on the audio system, but it doesn’t need one. It provides deep bass and smooth chords whether listening to Lady Gaga or Loretta Lynn.
Devices connect via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G Wi-Fi. I also like the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel and auxiliary switches above the dash for easily connecting winches, light bars, and air compressors. Safety is enhanced by adaptive cruise, forward collision alert with auto brake, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection. There’s even a rear child reminder.
The powertrain causes no tremors, but it’s plenty peppy. Under the hood is a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission, which delivers 270 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s put to the road through an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system and electronic locking differential. Tow up to 7,500 lbs. of speedboat or RV. If you’re thinking a turbo-four equals stellar fuel economy, you’ll be disappointed by 19/19-MPG city/highway. High ground clearance and chunky tires take their toll on efficiency.
Ignoring my depleted debit card, driving the Ranger is a joy. The turbo-four is the right engine for this truck, providing torquey smooth power at virtually any speed. It’s equally happy hauling down the Interstate in the left lane, steaming up hilly highways, creeping through city traffic, or crawling over rocks. While they were installed for extreme off-roading, the FOX shocks and big tires smooth rough pavement. Where some of the Ranger’s competitors feel clunky, the Ford could have come from Europe. The fact it’s built in Michigan makes it even better.
So, what is all of this worth? A base Ranger starts at $24,820. Add all of the options on our truck, including $4,290 for the Tremor package, and you’re signing for $43,510. That’s a lot of money for a little truck, but this one is more little truck than most.
Casey Williams is former auto correspondent for WFYI and the Indianapolis Star plus a contributor to the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Auto Page. He has reviewed vehicles and covered the auto industry for over 25 years. He lives with his family in Broad Ripple. E-mail him at AutoCasey@aol.com; check his reviews on YouTube at AutoCasey.
Ford Ranger Tremor
2021 Ford Ranger Tremor
5 passengers, 4WD Pickup
Powertrain: 2.3-L T4, 10-spd trans
Output: 270 hp/310 lb.-ft.
Suspension f/r: Ind/Solid axle
Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Powertrain
Fuel economy: 19/19-MPG city/hwy
Towing: 7,500 lbs
Assembly: Wayne, MI
Base price/As-tested: $24,820/43,510