- Of the three notable off-road variants of the F-150, which is best at what?
- We tested the FX4, Tremor and Raptor off-road, on-road and at our test track to see the differences.
The Ford F-150 is the Edmunds Top Rated truck, and it takes a lot to occupy that top spot. Like other full-size pickup trucks, the F-150 has big towing capacity, it can haul a lot of gear in the bed, and it has a number of high-tech options that are worth checking out.
The F-150’s trump card, however, is the fact that it’s one of the most customizable trucks you can buy. It comes with your choice of six different engines, several cab configurations, and six trim levels — including three off-road variants that can tackle trails with ease. We took a closer look at those three off-roaders to see what they’re good at and where they struggle.
Which trucks did we test?
In our quest to find out which F-150 offers the best balance of capability both on- and off-road, we tested three different full-size Fords. All three were crew-cab configurations with short beds. The first was a midlevel Lariat trim with the added FX4 Off-Road package. For our test, we used a Lariat with the PowerBoost option, which adds a hybrid powertrain that combines a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor for a whopping 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque. The PowerBoost also adds an enormously powerful onboard electrical system that puts out 7.2 kilowatts of power at its peak. Through a series of plugs in the bed, it can power all sorts of things including tools, laptop chargers, electric stoves and even mini refrigerators.
Next up, we tested an F-150 in the Tremor trim with the standard turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (no hybrid system here) rated at 400 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. The Tremor builds on the FX4’s off-road equipment with bigger tires, more hardcore suspension hardware, extra ground clearance, and a locking rear differential.
From there, we went straight to the top of the lineup: the Ford F-150 Raptor with the optional 37-inch tire package. Along with wider bodywork, a more powerful version of the 3.5-liter V6 (450 hp, 510 lb-ft) and some serious upgrades underneath, this version of the Raptor gets 37-inch tall tires, beadlock wheels and a coil-spring rear suspension.
How did our three F-150s perform?
That depends on the surface. When it came to the test track, the three trucks were neck-and-neck-and-neck. Remarkably, they all went from zero to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds, crossing the quarter mile in about 14 seconds. Even with the power differences between the three, it was nearly a dead heat.
On highways and in daily life, doing tasks like commuting to work or picking the kids up from school, the FX4 was the clear winner. It was easiest to park and the easiest to drive. The Tremor was similarly easy to live with, but being a bit higher off the ground, it was harder to get in and out of. The Raptor is an entirely different beast — it has large side steps, but the tires and fenders are so massive that it has a hard time fitting in any real-world parking spot. It’s also very difficult to get in and out of, especially for kids or shorter adults.
Off-road, it was a different story. While the FX4 and Tremor could easily put down plenty of miles on the pavement or the light trails, they couldn’t match the Raptor’s capability. When it came to extreme articulation, speed, suspension rebound and large off-road obstacles, the Raptor was the clear winner. All the Raptor’s upgrades also make it the most comfortable over broken roads or bumpy off-road surfaces like rocks.
Picking an F-150 for off-roading means you’ll have plenty of choices, but it’s not one size fits all. The Raptor is for high-speed desert activities, big jumps, and lots of sand dunes. It’s also for people who love really big fenders. The Tremor? It does the Goldilocks trick. It’s not too big but it’s also not too small. It can tackle serious off-road obstacles and provide plenty of ground clearance for big rocks, and it does so without the drawbacks of the Raptor. The FX4 is a nice weekend off-roader, but it’s stopped dead in its tracks by big obstacles. It’s for the casual back-country enthusiast who wants a truck to live with on a daily basis.
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