2023 Ford F-250 Super Duty Tremor Review and Test Drive
Not just for towing and hauling, the Super Duty Tremor conquers terrain, too.
When it comes to extreme hauling and towing capability, no vehicle style on the road can compare to the heavy-duty pickup truck. Ford dominates this market with the F-Series Super Duty, and the entire F-Series pickup lineup (light duty and heavy duty) has topped overall vehicle sales in the United States for more than four decades. Ford expects to continue this success by introducing the redesigned 2023 F-Series Super Duty.
Perhaps one of the most important vehicles in the Ford lineup, the F-Series Super Duty gets fresh styling inside and out, a range of new and innovative features, and improved capabilities. With class-leading towing and hauling, the Super Duty also excels off-road when you outfit one with the Tremor off-road package. Tremor equipment includes impressive technology that makes this truck even more capable when the pavement ends. The Tremor package is available for F-250 and F-350 models equipped with XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trim levels.
With hundreds of possible model, trim, cab, cargo bed, drivetrain, and rear axle configurations, there is a 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty for just about any job. Across the spectrum, 2023 Super Duty prices range from the mid-$40,000s to the low $100,000s, including the destination charge to ship the Super Duty from the factory in Louisville, Kentucky, that builds it to your local dealership.
This 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty review focuses on the F-250 model equipped with a crew cab, four-wheel drive, Platinum trim, and the Tremor package. The test truck had an optional 6.7-liter high-output turbodiesel V8 engine, reclining front seats, a retractable tonneau cover, a spray-in bedliner, and a 12,000-pound Warn winch, bringing the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $103,390, including the $1,895 destination charge. I evaluated the truck at the automaker's Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo, Michigan, and Ford provided the vehicle for this F-Series Super Duty review and paid for meals during the evaluation period.
The Super Duty Tremor Is Designed For Heavy-Duty Utility
Ford has redesigned the 2023 Super Duty, and you can spot the new truck by the distinctive styling up front that sets it apart from the previous model. Signature C-Clamp LED running lights frame the new grille, giving the truck a wide stance. The grille's cross bars get a different look depending on the trim level and option package. Other changes include integrated steps in the rear bumper and side of the cargo bed as well as new LED taillights.
Trucks equipped with the Tremor package stand out with unique badging, higher ground clearance, off-road running boards, and 35-inch off-road tires mounted to exclusive 18-inch aluminum wheels. Ford also removes the Tremor's front air dam to improve the approach angle.
This big truck boasts heavy-duty utility, but that's no reason the passengers shouldn't enjoy a spacious, comfortable cabin. The Tremor package comes only on four-door crew cab models and features cloth-trimmed seats with XLT trim and leather upholstery on higher trim levels, with heating and ventilation available to front-seat occupants and heating available for the rear seat. The seats are stylish and offer good support, although I prefer the front bucket seats separated by a large center console to the front bench seat.
Materials vary for different trim levels, but none of them feel cheap. Even the XLT — the lowest-priced trim available as a Tremor — features a clean design with intuitive, straightforward controls. The touchscreen infotainment display measures 8.0 inches in the XLT, while the higher trims get a nicely integrated 12.0-inch screen.
With such a roomy cabin, there's plenty of storage space. The covered bin in the center console is large and lockable for extra security. Dual gloveboxes provide additional storage, and there's space for smaller items below the climate controls. The cupholders feature a sliding mechanism that can turn two cupholders into four.
Rear-seat passengers have plenty of room to stretch out, and the space easily fits three adults. Legroom and headroom are class-leading, and the 43.6 inches of legroom is on par with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Multiple USB ports and a standard 110-volt power outlet add convenience for those in the rear seats.
If the rear-seat space is needed for cargo rather than people, Ford has this covered. The floor is flat, and with seat bottoms that fold up out of the way, there is plenty of room to carry any cargo that needs to stay inside and out of the elements. Additional storage cubbies can be raised from the floor, then secured below the seats.
Of course, the F-250 Super Duty is, first and foremost, a pickup truck, and Ford has added several new features to assist in the use of the truck bed. Integrated side steps located just behind the rear door and in the rear bumper conveniently provide access to the bed without having to climb in or lower the tailgate.
Another new feature is the camera and reversing sensors located at the top of the tailgate. When the tailgate is lowered, these provide the driver with a clear view to the rear to improve visibility and avoid reversing into an object.
With impressive hauling capability, it would seem difficult to overload the new Super Duty, but it can happen. To prevent overloading the truck, an onboard scale displays real time on the main display as the truck is being loaded. As an additional aid, LEDs integrated into the taillights can also provide an indication the truck is overloaded. Not only can too much weight damage the truck, it can create a dangerous driving situation.
A 12.0-inch Screen for Split-Screen Goodness
The new F-Series Super Duty uses the latest version of Ford's Sync infotainment and communications system, and it is one of the better systems on the market. Displayed on a large 12.0-inch screen in my F-250 Platinum Tremor, the system employs large, easy-to-read tiles for an excellent user experience. Static shortcuts at the bottom of the display provide quick access to essential features such as audio, phone, navigation, vehicle settings, and features.
Drivers can choose what Sync shows, and the 12.0-inch display is large enough to make a split-screen layout practical for most functions. For example, you could choose to display the navigation map as the primary feature on the left while selecting from several items to appear on the right.
My favorite for the right panel is to show the Super Duty's truck bed camera. It can be stressful to drive with cargo in the bed due to concerns over a cover or tie-downs coming loose, and a constant view of the bed on the screen can alleviate those fears.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard on all Super Duty trim levels, and Ford makes the connection process incredibly simple. Once I started the pairing process with the Super Duty, an app-like screen appeared on my Samsung Galaxy S21 with a connect button. Pressing the button, I was quickly connected and given the option to launch Android Auto. The pairing process doesn't get much easier.
Climate and audio controls below the display screen feature large knobs and buttons that are easy to see and use. With many car companies moving away from physical controls, the simple functionality of these oft-used features is quite welcome.
Primary interaction with the infotainment system is via the touchscreen, but voice control is another option. Ford was one of the early adopters of a voice interface with the original versions of Sync, and the technology works quite well. Pressing the talk button on the steering wheel activates voice recognition and launches a panel of suggested tasks on the display screen.
While driving outside of Ford's proving grounds, I asked Sync to find the closest coffee shop, change the radio station, and ultimately provide guidance back to Ford's facilities. Each time, Sync responded accurately on the first attempt.
Advanced Driving-Assistance Systems Make the F-250 Shine
Exclusive to the Super Duty Tremor is a new high-tech but simple feature called Trail Turn Assist. Once you activate this system, turning the steering wheel as far as it will go in one direction applies the brake to the rear wheel on the side the truck is turning. With a bit of acceleration, the Super Duty pivots around the braked wheel, making it possible for this huge truck to make surprisingly tight turns. I was impressed with how well this system works for maneuvering out on the trail.
With most Super Duty owners claiming to use their trucks for towing, Ford offers a range of innovative features designed to aid in this endeavor. For example, Pro Trailer Hitch Assist provides a hands-free system that can perfectly line up the truck's hitch with a trailer. With the system operating, the truck will automatically steer and reverse as long as the driver keeps pressing the Pro Trailer button, stopping with the ball directly under the trailer hitch, turning this often-frustrating task into a piece of cake.
Ford provides the Super Duty with all the commonly available advanced driving-assistance systems, although automatic emergency braking is not standard on the base-level XL. The top-level trims such as the Platinum Tremor I drove also feature intersection assist, which alerts the driver to any oncoming traffic before making a left turn, as well as blind-spot monitoring that can extend to the length of the trailer with added sensors for fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailers.
Adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assist is also standard on the upper trims, and I had the opportunity to test this out on rural back roads. While this is not a hands-free system, the truck does a great job of staying centered in the lane on its own. However, it does alert the driver to put their hands back on the wheel if no steering input is detected.
Ford offers its hands-free Blue Cruise system on the F-150, but the company says there are no current plans to add this feature to the Super Duty.
While the new F-Series Super Duty has the latest advanced safety features, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has rated the 2023 model as of this writing, as they typically do not perform crash-test evaluations of heavy-duty pickup trucks.
Super Duty Is Made for Off-Roading
Ford offers multiple engine options for the Super Duty, and the F-250 Tremor I drove came with the most powerful one: a 6.7-liter High Output turbodiesel V8 delivering 500 horsepower and a massive and class-leading 1,200 pound-feet of torque. As with the other engine options in the Super Duty, the high-output diesel gets a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Ford created a proper off-road course to test out the F-250 Tremor, and it showed how well this truck can handle itself when the pavement ends. The Tremor's suspension is the same as the rest of the Super Duty lineup, but with the larger 35-inch off-road tires, elimination of the lower air dam up front, and a slight increase in ground clearance from 10.5 inches to 10.8 inches, the Tremor had no problem tackling deep water and muddy trails.
Engage Off-Road mode and the main screen displays multiple forward camera views, making it easy to place the wheels correctly. Tire placement is even more critical when rock climbing, but with proper direction from my spotter and the direct steering response, the Tremor climbed a treacherous-looking rock pile without a problem. The ride gets bouncy at higher speeds on rough terrain, and the off-road tires make the ride a bit harsh on pavement.
While the Super Duty will not win any drag races, acceleration is strong, thanks to all that torque. Getting up to highway speed is no problem for the diesel-powered F-250, especially when the truck is unladen. I also had the opportunity to tow more than 20,000 pounds with a similarly equipped (non-Tremor) F-250, and it performed flawlessly with surprisingly strong acceleration and a confident, stable ride. Maximum capacities for the F-250 Tremor with the diesel are impressive. It can haul a payload of up to 3,643 pounds and tow up to 22,000 pounds.
As a heavy-duty truck, the Ford Super Duty does not receive fuel economy ratings from the EPA. During my driving, which included plenty of off-roading, the F-150 Tremor turbodiesel averaged between 10 and 12 mpg. I expect that a longer highway drive would achieve better results.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was how quiet the F-250 Super Duty is on the road. While the off-road tires added some bounciness to the ride, the cabin remained dead quiet. That's not what I expected from a big, blocky truck fitted with all-terrain rubber.
In addition, the Super Duty Tremor provides good steering feedback both on and off road with a predictable brake feel and response, making it remarkably easy to drive. That is, if you can find a parking spot big enough to accommodate it.
A Tough Truck to Beat
The 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty can seemingly handle any heavy-duty truck task with capability, confidence, and competence.
First and foremost is the Super Duty's hauling and towing capability, especially when equipped with the powerful high-output diesel. My test truck performed these tasks easily while boasting capabilities higher than the Chevrolet Silverado HD and Ram Heavy Duty. And with the advanced technology designed to make completing these tasks simple and easy, the F-250 Super Duty is an excellent tool.
The icing on the cake is the Tremor's off-road capability. Without diminishing its primary towing and hauling capabilities, the Tremor handles its off-road duties well, providing robust performance and a range of innovations that add to its abilities. Add in the quiet on-road manners and roomy, comfortable interior, and the F-250 Super Duty Tremor is a tough truck to beat.