Check out the all-new 2015 Ford F-150!
Our first 4 just arrived on December 18th!
Check out the all-new 2015 Ford F-150!
Our first 4 just arrived on December 18th!
2015 Ford F-150: Competitors Can't Hold a Magnet to the Latest F-Series
With an aluminum body and bed, the F-150 goes on a massive diet.
The importance of the new-for-2015 Ford F-150 pickup probably doesn't need to be highlighted-but we like to write, so here's a refresher: For the past 30-odd years, the F-150 has been the bestselling vehicle in the U.S., period. To you, this means you'll see a lot of F-150s every day, old and new, doesn't matter, you will see one-or 150. To Ford, having the F-150 is akin to having an obscure, rich uncle die every single year, leaving behind a pile of cash. It's a constant-pretending for a moment that the Ford Motor Company has an endless annual supply of faceless, loaded, and doomed extended family members-there to add icing atop the balance sheet in good years and help prop up the company in the bad years.
With the F-150's relatively comfortable sales dominance in both the pickup segment and the passenger-vehicle market overall, it would be understandable-smart, even-for Ford to simply nip the truck here and tuck it there and call the result "new." However, with the 2015 F-150, Ford did not play this safe game; it instead turned the playbook upside-down and turned out a truly new product. For such a stoically American vehicle format, the pickup truck rarely invokes the word "revolutionary," but we think Ford's new workhorse might just have earned such consideration. That's because instead of a steel cab, the F-150 has a lightweight (and surely pricey) aluminum cab, as we predicted, which chops up to a claimed 700 pounds from the truck's curb weight.
Built Ford Tough, Audi Light
The pickup truck hasn't evolved much; most still have a solid axle in back (and even up front), a ladder frame, and a whole heck of a lot of steel throughout. This isn't a dig against the truck, though, since for the most part, the thing's seemingly outdated features are precisely those that give it such capability. Ford looked at the truck's layout and found that while steel is certainly useful in the frame, it's not really that pertinent in the cab and bed. Enter the F-150's aluminum cab and bed, which are bolted to a fully boxed steel frame. That frame, too, has seen a weight reduction, thanks to its higher mix of high-strength steel (77 percent, versus 23 percent in the outgoing rig), of 60 pounds. Don't worry, hard-core haulers, Ford says the new chassis is more rigid, too, and it still rides on leaf springs in back and coil springs up front.
Consider us slightly skeptical of Ford's claims until we weigh a 2015 F-150 for ourselves. We hope our skepticism proves unfounded, but it wasn't long ago that Land Rover claimed its 2013 Range Rover-which switched to all-aluminum construction-cut nearly 900 pounds from the previous model's weight, when in fact it was only a few-hundred-pounds lighter. Based on Ford's claims, we figure base, two-wheel-drive 2015 F-150s will manage to easily slip beneath the 5000-pound mark.
Styling-wise, starting from the outside of the truck and working in, it's clear Ford heard the positive ruckus made over its handsome Atlas concept. The 2015 F-150 more or less looks like a slightly toned-down and narrower version of that show truck, and we must say we dig it. Up front, there's a bold and chunky face that's visually taller and blockier than the current F-150's and features more three-dimensional detailing. While there's nothing really new between the truck's face and its caboose, at least the caboose does get more styling attention than before. An angular panel spans the tailgate between the taillights, which, like the headlights, are more angular and seem to interlock with the surrounding sheetmetal. Available full LED head- and taillamps lend an upscale touch, and the tailgate can be damped-like the 2014 Chevy Silverado's-and features a more integrated tailgate step.
Within that aluminum cab, the F-150 sees a commensurate uptick in style, with the exterior's strong character echoed in the shapes on the dash and door panels. Again, three-dimensionality is the key phrase here, with angular HVAC vents protruding dramatically from the dashboard and higher trim levels even getting padded, stitched panels between the vents. The theme carries over to the doors, which have beefy grab handles and a multi-tiered look. Ford's MyFord Touch touch-screen infotainment system is available, as is an eight-inch color driver display screen in the gauge cluster.
Shuffling Its Deck of Engines, Ford Draws Out Two New Ones
Ford isn't taking the F-150's slimmer physique, ahem, lightly when it comes to the truck's engine choices. The automaker has adjusted the F-150's quad-engine lineup to reflect its diet, downsizing the base V-6 engine to a 3.5-liter unit (from 3.7 liters) and paring its V-8 lineup in half, dropping the 6.2-liter V-8 in favor of just the 5.0-liter "Coyote" V-8. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 remains, but there's now a compact 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, too. The new EcoBoost also features twin turbocharging, as well as a light compacted-graphite-iron block like the F-series Super Duty's 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine uses and a standard stop-start feature. The heads are aluminum to-you guessed it-further save weight, and it has a composite intake manifold.
We don't yet have output figures for any of the F-150's four engines, but we can at least button down the lowest power to expect from the carryover 5.0 V-8 and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost. Look for the eight to make at least 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.5-liter EcoBoost should make 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. At launch, all four engines will send power to either the rear or all four wheels via six-speed automatic transmissions, but don't be surprised to see the new 10-speed auto Ford's working on with GM to appear in the next few years.
Even Its Features Have Features
In recent years, the concept of the "luxury pickup truck" has caught on like the flu among journalists at the Detroit auto show, which is to say quickly. Ford, like its competitors in Auburn Hills and the Renaissance Center, knows this all too well, and is equipping the 2015 F-150 accordingly. Its options list includes stuff like adaptive cruise control, LED spotlights for the bed and side mirrors, a 360-degree parking camera, trailer-hitch assist (a backup camera add-on that helps guide drivers when backing up to a trailer), and a remote-locking tailgate. Ford doesn't skimp on the safety front, either, and will offer lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, second-row seatbelt airbags, and its signature Curve Control electronic stability control program that helps mitigate overzealous corner
So far, Ford has announced five F-150 trim levels for when the truck goes on sale near the end of this year: XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum, and King Ranch. Three bed lengths-5.5 feet, 6.5 feet, and 8 feet-are available, as are regular, extended Supercab, and four-door Supercrew cab styles. Base XL trucks come standard with a cloth bench seat and a 2.3-inch gauge cluster screen and a 4.2-inch dashboard display. All four engines are available, as is the choice of two- or four-wheel drive. Step up to the XLT for a chrome grille and bumpers, 17-inch wheels, and Ford's SYNC system. The Lariat limits the engine choice to either the 2.7-liter EcoBoost or the 5.0-liter V-8 and brings standard 18-inch wheels, LED pickup bed lighting, a backup camera with trailer hitch assist, SYNC with MyFord Touch, and the eight-inch gauge-cluster display. Platinum models get standard leather seats, wood trim, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, a Sony sound system, full-LED headlights and taillights, a satin-finished grille, and come only in the four-door Supercab body with the 5.0-liter V-8. Finally, the cowboy-themed King Ranch hits the scene with the usual leather and wood filigree, a unique grille, standard 5.0-liter, heated and cooled front seats (the rears and steering wheel are just heated), a remote tailgate release, LED spotlights, two-tone paint, and a 10-speaker Sony audio system.
Of course, choice has never been lacking in the pickup-truck game; lightweighting measures, however, have been. The boldness of Ford's move to equip the F-150 with an aluminum body cannot be understated enough-especially with so much on the line. Should, for whatever reason, the choice to go aluminum go south on Ford, that decision could have very serious consequences for the company as a whole. We're not hard-core truck guys, but to play devil's advocate for a moment, there are quite a few ways this could happen. First, we could see buyers being wary of a truck that isn't all steel. Aluminum is a softer metal than steel, and we're curious to see how fleet customers respond to potentially higher cost of repairing or replacing aluminum components. Second, Ford has yet to reveal pricing for its fancy new F-150; if it wants to remain competitive, it can't raise prices significantly. But can Ford make money charging roughly $22,000 for such an aluminum-intensive vehicle? If it continues to sell close to a million of the things per year, we see no reason it can't-so here's hoping customers embrace the bold, because as twisted as it sounds, Ford needs its uncles to keep dying, er, we mean, the F-150 to continue selling well.