It used to be that when you talk about 4x4's or off road, the vehicles in the conversation where custom built and required certain level of aptitude to handle rough terrain. But today with pick up like the Ford Ranger Tremor you almost have no limits where to go.
There are a lot of places to explore within a couple of hours from Los Angeles. From the sand dunes at Glamis to the snowed trails in San Bernardino you can find all sorts of places to camp and enjoy a bit of nature. Getting there is becoming easier every year thanks to the advances in 4x4 technology and the factory built vehicles in the market.
The midsize Ford Ranger has been a hit . In part for its size and capabilities, and also its pricing. Now there is dedicated 4x4 pick up named Ranger Tremor that I had the opportunity to go camping with. The lava fields in Mojave can be torture for truck suspensions as you constantly are driving on loose lava rocks, sand, and steep inclines. The FX4 package features a lifted suspension with off-road tuned FOX™ 2.0 monotube dampers and rear piggyback reservoirs, specially tuned front coilover springs and rear multi leaf springs, electronic-locking rear differential, and 17" special wheels with 32-inch Continental General Grabber™ A/TX all-terrain tires. Ground clearance is almost 10 inches and with this set up you have almost 7 inches of wheel travel at the front and 8 inches in the rear axle. The Ranger Tremor has a maximum approach angle of 31 degrees, a departure angle of 25.5, and a breakover of 24.2, which means you can go over sizeable objects and steep roads a lot easier than with a regular pick up. There is a protective underbody guard too. The 4x4 technology is great, especially if you do not have much experience on rough trails. The fully automatic Trail Control system offers 4 different settings, or drive modes, that lets you take the stress out of hard spots. You can select between Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, or Normal (for highway driving) and the truck goes into a type of cruise control where the truck advances and brakes on its own.
The power train consist of the turbo charged 4 cyl 2.3L engine that has 270 HP. But the torque is 310 Ft/Lbs so it has a good low rpm pull when you drive it off road. The 10 speed automatic transmission does an excellent job keeping the right gear to match the power needed at any time. Gone are the days of being stuck from missing a gear, or too much wheel spin.
The thing that surprise me is that the truck did not lose the comfort on the hwy or city. I expected a stiff, bouncy truck on the LA Freeways but that was not the case. The interior I found comfortable and quiet and the 4 door cab is big enough for 4 people and the bed is still a work truck size. The Tremor includes standard Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking. A Lane-Keeping System that includes lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, reverse sensing and class-exclusive Blind Spot Information System with trailer and Adaptive Cruise Control. And there are levels of luxury and accessories as well . I have to admit I found it capable and definitely a good option if you are planning on going a bit further down the trails than most people.